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Contentions

Principles and Preconditions

Peace processors never fade away — they just ask Israel to take more risks for peace. Martin Indyk suggests that Benjamin Netanyahu used the “not unreasonable” concerns about the security dangers presented by a Palestinian state to avoid taking the all-important risks for peace:

Whatever else happened in the private Netanyahu-Obama meeting, [Netanyahu] certainly didn’t sound like he was willing to take any risks for peace. Reflecting his fear of antagonizing his right-wing supporters, Netanyahu avoided publicly committing himself to accepting an independent Palestinian state as the outcome of peace negotiations. Instead, he spoke of “self-government” for the Palestinians and laid down what sounded like a new precondition: The Palestinians would have to “allow Israel the means to defend itself.”

According to Indyk, Netanyahu’s “new precondition” would mean “a Palestinian state minus the means to defend itself, or to control its airspace, or its international passageways” — a “well-practiced Netanyahu negotiating tactic” to “raise the bar as high as possible.”

Even the Clinton Parameters, the high-water mark of the “peace process,” envisioned a “non-militarized” Palestinian state whose airspace would be subject to “special arrangements for Israeli training and operational needs,” with borders subject to an international force for “security and deterrent purposes.” If Palestinians want a state with an army or airspace that could threaten Tel Aviv or Ben-Gurion airport, or unencumbered ability to import weapons through its borders, they seek a state that would violate not a “new precondition” but a necessary first principle: that any such state “allow Israel the means to defend itself.”

Perhaps when Mahmoud Abbas visits Washington later this month, Indyk will suggest he publicly commit himself to accepting a Jewish state as the outcome of peace negotiations. It would take one of the basic tools of peace processors — the “confidence-building gesture” — and require it for the first time from Palestinians, rather than from Israelis who have seen the risks they have taken for peace result in too many wars.



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