Regional media reports over the weekend indicated that Israel is set to accept US Secretary of State John Kerry's framework proposal for reaching a final status peace agreement, while the Palestinians are looking to stall or outright reject the plan.
Israel's Channel 2 News reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are all prepared to sign off on a non-binding version of the proposals, which, among other things, recommends:
- The division of Jerusalem, though without going into specifics;
- A gradual Israeli withdrawal from most of the "West Bank," while retaining control over large Jewish settlement blocs;
- A limited land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the settlement blocs;
- Recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state"; and
- Compensation for so-called "Palestinian refugees," but no "right of return" to Israel-proper.
Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper last week quoted senior Palestinian Authority official Yasser Abed Rabbo as rejecting the American proposal as "Israeli ideas."
Like his boss, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Rabbo has made the "right of return" for millions of Palestinians to Israel a non-negotiable point in the peace process.
On the related point of recognizing Israel as a "Jewish state," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told his audience at a conference in Munich last week that he could never agree to such a condition, as doing so amounted to "asking him to change his narrative."
Erekat went on to claim that his ancestors had lived in the region for "5,500 years before [biblical leader of Israel] Joshua Ben-Nun came and burned my hometown Jericho." Of course, such a claim means that Erekat and his Palestinian Authority colleagues are either liars, or are in possession of time-travel technology.
You see, the Palestinians claim to be Arabs. They also rightly claim that the Arabs are descendants of Abraham through his son Ishmael. And, as any casual student of history knows, Jericho was around long before the time of Abraham, meaning that the patriarch's offspring couldn't possibly have been around for the founding of the "oldest city on earth."
Meanwhile, Abbas' envoy to Iran, Jibril Rajoub, avoided such flights of fancy, and went straight to making threats. "If the talks fail, armed struggle against [Israel] could be a strategic solution for the Palestinian people," Rajoub was quoted as telling Iranian media, emphasizing that Palestinians "never abandoned the solution of an armed uprising."