Netanyahu Makes Big New Plan: He has agreed to Sit Down with Palestinians and Negotiate Based on ’67 Borders With Swaps. Of course, this has this been the Understood Basis Since 1993. Oh, and didn’t Someone Else mention this less than three months ago?
First, here is the report from the AP via Yahoo News:
TV: Israel agrees to negotiate over pre-’67 lines
“…In a speech about the Middle East in May, Obama proposed negotiations based on the pre-1967 line with agreed swaps of territory between Israel and a Palestinian state. Netanyahu reacted angrily, insisting that Israel would not withdraw from all of the West Bank, though that was not what Obama proposed.
Now Netanyahu is basically accepting that framework, according to Channel 2 TV, offering to trade Israeli territory on its side of the line for West Bank land where its main settlements are located…
Part of the reason, he [an anonymous Israeli official] said, was that Israel is seeking to persuade the Palestinians to drop their initiative to win U.N. recognition of their state next month, something the Palestinians are doing out of frustration with stalled peace efforts.
In an eerie parallel to the debt crisis Kabuki theatre that we have been watching here in the U.S. (and it is far from over, IMHO – this has just been the warm-up, wait until we really get to election season), the Israelis and the Palestinians have each painted themselves into a corner – on opposite side of the room. Netanyahu’s ‘refusal’ to negotiate based upon ’67 borders with swaps was like taking the negotiations back to square one. Not only impossible, but insulting. On the other hand, Abbas’ plan to go to the UN is fraught with dangers – probably more for himself than for Israel. One of General Sharoni’s points when he was in town last week was that Abbas needs to “deliver some goods” for his people or his leadership will weaken significantly. On the surface, if the Palestinians are able to obtain “observer State” status in a vote by the General Assembly” (the U.S. will almost certainly veto full admission to the U.N. in the Security Council), it would appear to be a victory for Abbas. However, nothing on the ground will change. As a matter of fact, Israel could well tighten its security regimen in anticipation of increased resistance – whether violent or non-violent. Therefore, the “expectation gap” of the Palestinians in the West Bank could well expand – which could actually bring the situation from simmering to boiling – and could possibly spin out of control.
Bottom line: Signs are that Abbas will jump on this opportunity right away and use it as a rationale for postponing the push to the UN. Then, the question will remain as to whether this is just a gambit on Bibi’s part to head Abu Mazen off at the UN pass – or whether he is really ready to move the peace process forward.
But there is another issue that the American Jewish community – and the U.S. Congress for that matter – must face. Will those who mercilessly criticized the President back in May, now “apologize” to him? Shouldn’t they? Because less than three months after the President was excoriated by Netanyahu, members of Congress, and many in the American Jewish community – the Prime Minister of Israel has now come around to exactly what Obama presented regarding borders in his two speeches (you can read key passages from those speeches here: http://beyondzs.com/2011/07/23/another-look-at-the-obama-and-netanyahu-speeches-given-in-may/). I hope that all who criticized the President then, will now come out and admit they were wrong in doing so. Or, alternatively, I hope they will level the same criticism at Prime Minister Netanyahu as they did at Obama back then.
Rhetorical Question: If “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” was so terrible in May – how can it be a good idea now?
- Netanyahu said to be ready to deal on borders (cbc.ca)
- Middle East peace process boost as Netanyahu ‘ready to negotiate borders’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Netanyahu signals new Palestinian state talks (independent.co.uk)
- TV: Israel agrees to negotiate over pre-’67 lines – Houston Chronicle (news.google.com)
- Report: ’67 Borders Agreement (timesunion.com)
- Israel ‘ready to negotiate borders with Palestinians’ (telegraph.co.uk)