Israel: Palestinian must make gestures, too

Friday, October 15, 2010 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his German counterpart during a visit to Berlin on Thursday that one of the major difficulties hindering the Middle East peace process is that Israelis have lost all trust in the Palestinians, and the Palestinians are doing nothing to change that.

Lieberman noted that Israel has made numerous gestures over the past decade, including the surrender of huge swaths of land, the arming of a Palestinian para-military force and a public commitment to eventually establish an independent Palestinian state.

But the Palestinians, too, must show “goodwill,” insisted Lieberman.

During a cabinet meeting this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that an official Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state would go a very long way toward relieving Israeli concerns regarding the land-for-peace process.

“Such a move by the Palestinian Authority would serve as a trust-building step, one that would open up a new horizon of hope and trust among broad sections of the Israeli public who, in light of the events of the past decade, have lost their confidence in the Palestinians’ desire to end the conflict,” said Netanyahu.

But the Palestinians continue to insist that it is all or nothing. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas this week reiterated that Israel can call itself whatever it wants, but that he will never recognize it as the Jewish state.

That position is in line with the Palestinian “phased plan” for Israel’s ultimate destruction that Abbas helped formulate, together with Yasser Arafat, decades ago. That plan calls for grabbing hold of whatever land the Palestinian leadership can via negotiations, while not granting any legitimacy to the Israeli side, thereby setting the stage for a future assault on what remains of the Jewish state.

The international community fails to recognize that the rejection by Abbas of Israel’s position regarding its identity for the sake of a lasting peace is evidence that the Palestinians, even the most “moderate” among them, remain dedicated to the eventual destruction of Israel.

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