Commentary Magazine


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So How’s the Bribe-a-Thon Going?

The Obama team keeps insisting that the “problem” in the non-direct, non-peace talks (it has been two months since the last talks, and no one but the Obama administration seems all that concerned) is Israel settlements and hence has been pursuing a policy first of threats and now of bribes to induce Israel to stop building homes for Jews. But, alas, reality intrudes, and it is obvious to all but the Obami that the problem is much more fundamental. This report explains:

The Fatah Revolutionary Council concluded its fifth convention in Ramallah over the weekend by declaring its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The council also urged the Palestinian Authority leadership to work toward foiling a new Israeli law requiring a referendum before any withdrawal from Jerusalem and the Golan Heights that has not been passed by two thirds of the Knesset. …

“The council affirms its rejection of the so-called Jewish state or any other formula that could achieve this goal,” said a statement issued by the council.
“The council also renews its refusal for the establishment of any racist state based on religion in accordance with international law and human rights conventions.”

The council made its statement as Israel awaits a document from the US which would set out an incentives package in exchange for a 90-day freeze on new settlement construction based on the terms of the 10- month moratorium on such activity which expired on September 26.

You can understand why the Israelis might regard a 90-day freeze as irrelevant. An Israeli official comments: “I would ask the Palestinians the following question: If the Jewish state is fundamentally illegitimate in your eyes, what sort of peace are you offering us? It is clear that their refusal to recognize the Jewish state’s legitimacy is the true obstacle to peace and reconciliation.” If that is so, why indulge the Obama team in its misguided scheme — and why suggest that U.S. vetoes of anti-Israel UN resolutions are now a matter of negotiation?

It is curious indeed that the Obama team has yet to produce the written confirmation of the proposed settlement-freeze deal. Should be an easy thing to do, no? Perhaps the deal is not the deal. In any event, the problem is not too many settlements; it is, as it has been for 60 years, too little desire for peace by the Palestinians.