Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — currently in the 60th month of his 48-month term, a declared non-candidate for re-election (in the event there is ever another Palestinian election), presently governing only half of the putative Palestinian state — has told Haaretz that a peace agreement could be reached within six months if Israel will make more pre-negotiation concessions.
Peace could be reached not only in our time but with four full months left over to complete Netanyahu’s 10-month settlement freeze. Abbas will hold the football himself.
Not even those on the Left in Israel believe in this process any more. Ari Shavit, writing in today’s Haaretz, notes that:
There’s one small problem: Similar things were said to us when the Beilin-Abbas agreement was formulated in 1995. Similar things were said to us on the eve of Camp David 2000. Similar things were promised us when the Geneva Initiative was signed in 2003. Similar things were promised us when Israel went to Annapolis in 2007.
Six months is in fact exactly what Abbas promised at the beginning of the Annapolis Process in 2007, only to reject still another Israeli offer of a state 12 months later.
Shavit encapsulates in a single paragraph the reason there is currently no prospect of peace, with or without additional Israeli concessions, made before or after negotiations begin:
With Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip, arming itself to the teeth and enjoying the support of about one-third of the Palestinians, it has the right to veto any diplomatic progress. With Fatah unwilling to recognize the Jewish nation-state and objecting to a demilitarized Palestinian state, there is no chance for a peace treaty.
Perhaps one day there will be another Palestinian presidential election, with a candidate campaigning on a platform calling for recognition of a Jewish state and acceptance of a demilitarized Palestinian one. Perhaps one day the Palestinians will elect such a person. But today there is no such candidate, nor even another scheduled election. The Palestinian peace movement consists of recycled interviews with Haaretz.