Neutralizing the Palestinian Internationalization Strategy

(Institute for National Security Studies) Amos Yadlin and Kobi Michael - Eight years ago the Palestinians adopted an "internationalization strategy" reflecting their hope that the international community would accept their demands: (1) establishment of a Palestinian state, (2) on the basis of the 1967 lines, (3) with east Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians hoped to achieve this without having to contribute the minimum demanded by Israel for achievement of an agreement: committing to an end of conflict and finality of claims; waiving the right of return; and agreeing to security arrangements that to some extent would limit their sovereignty. It appears that the Palestinians are having difficulty in internalizing two major changes that have made their internationalization strategy much less relevant: the Trump administration is not committed to the Palestinians to the same degree as was the Obama administration, and the Israeli narrative is closer to the outlook of the current administration than the Palestinian narrative. In addition, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become less important in the Arab world and in the international community. Ten million Syrian refugees, a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and instability in Iraq and Libya have shunted the Palestinian issue to the region's political sidelines. Israel's interest requires coordination and understanding with the U.S. on the truly significant challenges in the region: Iranian subversion and terrorism, the conflict in Syria, and the need to strengthen Egypt and Jordan as stabilizing elements. Paradoxically, the Palestinian internationalization strategy has prevented progress toward a solution to the conflict. Making it unmistakably clear to the Palestinians that they must return to the negotiating process and mutual give and take, and also accept transitional and interim arrangements as preferable alternatives to the status quo, will engender greater potential for progress than during the Obama administration. As an initial sign to the Palestinians that the rules of the game have changed, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is in order. An American retreat from this pledge, as a result of the Palestinian threat aimed at preventing this measure, will weaken America's stature and become an incentive for the Palestinians to adhere to a strategy of bypassing Israel and evading direct negotiations. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads Tel Aviv University's INSS. Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at INSS, was deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry for Strategic Affairs.

2017-03-23 00:00:00

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