Israel: Palestinians leave little hope for peace

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 |  Ryan Jones  

For Israelis, the unilateral motion by the Palestinian Authority to gain admittance to the UN as a sovereign nation epitomized the Palestinian approach to the peace process over the entirety of the past 15 years.

In short, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it in numerous interviews while visiting the US this week, "the Palestinians want a state, but don't want to give us peace."

On top of seeking to achieve their political goals in the absence of an agreement with Israel, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' speech to the UN was, in most Israelis' eyes, an act of incitement.

Abbas' speech, during which he all but labeled Israel as illegitimate, "distorted the historical record and showed open hatred and hostility for the Jewish state," Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told Japanese Ambassador Haruhisa Takeuchi on Monday.

Prior to his speech, Abbas' delegation handed out maps of "Palestine" to UN members. The maps erased Israel completely and replaced the entire Jewish state with a Palestinian one.

Rivlin concluded that Abbas' actions "leave little hope [for peace]."

Nevertheless, Netanyahu and Western leaders continue to urge Abbas to return to the negotiating table.

At the weekend, the Middle East Quartet - the US, EU, Russia and the UN - submitted a proposal for the immediate resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The proposal calls on both sides to set aside their differences and return to the negotiating table without preconditions. The Quartet plan envisions a rapid series of meetings, including a summit in Moscow, concluding with a final status peace deal to be signed no later than December 2012.

Israeli officials responded favorably to the proposal, while the Palestinians rejected it outright.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki called the Quartet proposal "incomplete" because it failed to incorporate the Palestinians' preconditions - that Israel immediately halt all Jewish building in Judea and Samaria and agree to the pre-1967 armistice lines as the future border even before negotiations have begun.

The Palestinian side's intransigence was clear for all to see.

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Army Radio on Tuesday that the Palestinian insistence on preconditions is not consistent with the terms of the peace process or American policy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said she spoke to Abbas by telephone "insisting" that he reopen peace talks with Israel based on the Quartet's proposal.

Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres on Monday urged Abbas to "not waste time."

Netanyahu expressed in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press his concern that Abbas and the Palestinians are trying to "detour negotiations" in such a way as to make a genuine peace impossible to achieve.

"They're trying to get a state to continue the conflict with Israel rather than to end it," stated Netanyahu.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote on the Palestinian motion for statehood in the coming weeks, but there are rumors it may purposefully delay the issue. If it does come to a vote, the US has vowed to veto the motion.

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