Israeli Minister of Internal Security Avi Dichter on Saturday joined a growing chorus of leading Israeli politicians warning against conducting final status peace negotiations with the Palestinians at this time.
“Now is not the time to discuss a permanent agreement with the Palestinians,” Dichter told an annual anti-terrorism gathering at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. “There isn't a chance to have a comprehensive permanent agreement under the existing conditions and anyone who thinks it's the way to go needs to open their eyes and stop dreaming.”
Dicther noted that the Hamas takeover in Gaza earlier in the summer was evidence that regime of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was not a viable peace partner that could deliver on its commitments.
That assessment echoed a document published last Thursday by Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman.
In a new vision statement for his Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Lieberman wrote that “the land for peace principle is wrong and misleading. The presupposition that the root of the Israeli-Arab dispute is territorial, and that therefore territorial concessions would lead to peace… does not agree with past experience.”
Lieberman said that if anything, the previous ten years of peacemaking with the Palestinian Authority had shown that “territorial concessions... lead directly to escalation and an increase in terror.”
In an address to the Knesset last Tuesday, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu was more to the point: “There is simply no Palestinian partner.”
A day earlier, Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz strongly urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against making “irreversible concessions” to the Palestinians. Mofaz insisted that the ruling Kadima Party hold an emergency meeting to set “red lines” ahead of a major peace summit scheduled to take place in Washington in November.
Olmert, Abbas and the Bush Administration have hinted that the summit will conclude with at least a declaration of principles laying the foundation for a final status peace agreement.