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MEMO: Palestinian Provocations Undermining U.S. Peace Efforts
Rather than responding to Israel’s efforts to negotiate peace, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is engaging in diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state. The PA is choosing reconciliation with Hamas over talks with Israel, and is campaigning internationally to isolate Israel. The United States—which is trying to facilitate direct peace talks—should strongly oppose PA provocations and veto Palestinian attempts to seek U.N. Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state outside negotiations with Israel.
Palestinian preconditions are blocking U.S. and Israeli efforts to restart peace talks:
• PA President Mahmoud Abbas is blocking the resumption of talks by setting onerous preconditions on issues that are supposed to be solved through negotiations.
• The Palestinians wasted nearly 10 months of an unprecedented Israeli moratorium on housing starts in the West Bank by avoiding negotiations. Now they refuse to talk with Israel until the Jewish state halts all construction in the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem.
• The Palestinians have now stepped up their preconditions by demanding that Israel publicly commit that a Palestinian state will be based on the pre-June 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps.
• According to prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements, all final status issues—including settlements, borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security—are to be determined through negotiations, not predetermined prior to talks.
The Palestinians are implementing a strategy of diplomatic warfare to isolate Israel and avoid talks:
• At the same time the PA is refusing to talk with Israel, it has launched a campaign outside the negotiations process to win admission as a full member of the United Nations by this September.
• By avoiding negotiations and seeking recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinians are violating past agreements with Israel that say the conflict must be solved through direct negotiations between the parties.
• Abbas, in a May 16 New York Times op-ed, said the admission of a Palestinian state into the United Nations is not part of a strategy to solve the conflict, but a way to perpetuate it. He said this step “would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one.”
• President Obama has publically rejected the Palestinian unilateral approach at the United Nations, saying on May 22 that “no vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.” On May 25, Obama called the Palestinian efforts at the U.N. a “mistake.”
• While demanding the immediate recognition of a Palestinian state prior to final-status negotiations, Palestinian leaders continue to refuse to affirm Israel’s status as the homeland of the Jewish people, as President Obama has articulated.
• In fact, the PA is backing efforts aimed at delegitimizing the existence of the Jewish state. The PA supported efforts by Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza to overrun Israel’s borders during the “Nakba” protests in May against the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
• Abbas praised the protestors that violated Israel’s borders, saying, “Their precious blood … was spilt for the sake of our nation’s freedom.”
Abbas’ decision to sign a unity deal with Hamas is another major blow to U.S.-led peace efforts:
• Rather than talking with Israel, Abbas signed a deal to form a unity government with Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group bent on destroying Israel.
• Under the April 27 accord between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas did not accept the Quartet’s (U.S., U.N., E.U. and Russia) conditions of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence and endorsing previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements in order to participate in the transitional government and election.
• Fatah appears to have decided to reconcile with Hamas rather than abide by its peace commitments to Israel, under which it is required to fight terror. Incorporating an unreformed Hamas into the PA makes it impossible for the Palestinians to meet these commitments.
• Hamas’ past involvement in political activity has not moderated or otherwise altered its stated goal of destroying Israel and building a radical Islamist society.
• President Obama has made clear that Israel cannot reach an agreement with Hamas, saying, “No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction—and we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements.”
In contrast to the PA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated Israel’s commitment to direct negotiations and peace:
• During the past two years, Netanyahu has taken far-reaching steps toward substantive talks with the Palestinians—calling for a Palestinian state, reducing barriers to movement in the West Bank and implementing the 10-month moratorium on new West Bank housing construction.
• In a joint meeting of Congress on May 24, Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s desire for peace with the Palestinians, delivering his most far-reaching statements on the peace process to date by outlining steps Israel would take to facilitate a two-state solution to the conflict.
• Acknowledging that Israel is prepared to make painful decisions to make peace, Netanyahu said that while settlements remain a final-status issue to be addressed in talks, “in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders.”
• While restating Israel’s longstanding position that Jerusalem will remain united, he added that “with creativity and with goodwill, a solution can be found.”