The Crisis in the Peace Talks Was Pre-Planned by the Palestinians

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Jonathan D. Halevi - In March 2014, Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, prepared a 65-page document that surveys the diplomatic process and offers a list of recommendations for the PA to achieve Palestinian sovereignty in the territories demarcated by the 1967 lines. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has recently implemented some of these recommendations. The recommendations include submitting a request to immediately join the Geneva Conventions; declaring the impossibility of extending the negotiations after the end of the nine-month period on April 29, 2014; and opposing the Israeli proposal that the settlement blocs become part of Israel in any final agreement. The plan also includes activating bilateral committees with Russia, the EU, and the UN, and cooperating with the monitoring committee of the Arab Peace Initiative, to muster support for the Palestinian anti-settlement position; urging the states of the world to uphold the European Union's guidelines regarding settlement activity; and escalating the peaceful popular struggle against settlements and the [security] fence. The PA's latest moves reflect the long-term strategy Abbas has been implementing, which involves using diplomatic means to obtain international recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state along the 1967 lines without the Palestinians having to make concessions on the fundamental issues of the conflict, particularly the refugee issue and what is called the "right of return." The signing of the 15 international conventions is part of a gradual Palestinian move to statehood which, unlike a unilateral declaration of statehood, does not occur with one move. Abbas has previously made political moves in defiance of the United States and Israel without fearing the pressures and threats directed at him, as in his November 2012 appeal to the UN General Assembly for an upgrade of the PLO's status to UN nonmember observer state. Now, too, he feels confident in his ability to take unilateral steps without incurring serious damage. The Palestinians believe they can use the diplomatic-legal arena to overcome Israel's power and gradually subject it to diplomatic and economic pressures to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank in a way similar to Israel's unconditional withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2014-04-10 00:00:00

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