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PA Issues Ultimatum to Israel: Talk - or Else

The PA, feeling it is fully armed diplomatically after it won informal UN recognition, now says Israel has six months to talk – or else.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/11/2012, 8:16 AM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority, feeling it is fully armed diplomatically after it won informal UN recognition, now says Israel has six months to talk – or else.

Flying the “peace process” slogan despite Fatah’s unity with the Hamas terrorist organization, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat told PA radio the “peace process” is a golden principle but then incorrectly stated that “according to all previously signed agreements and international law, [it] is the withdrawal of Israel to the June 4, 1967 borderline, including Jerusalem.”

Mainstream media have accepted his claims as fact, but in truth, the Oslo Accords “peace process” specifically calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate final borders. It also commits the Palestinian Authority to halt terror and incitement, conditions that have not been upheld and which have been effectively canceled by Abbas’ unity with Hamas, which vows to destroy Israel.

Erekat said a second principle is resuming what he called negotiations based on an offer of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who proposed that the PA take over almost all of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem. The PA rejected the offer, but Erekat said that the negotiations “should not start from scratch like Netanyahu wants them to be.”

Thirdly, he is setting “a six-month time-table for the negotiations to reach an agreement over all final status issues. Settlement activity should be halted during this period of time and Palestinian prisoners should be released in accordance with previously signed agreements and not as preconditions."

Erekat did not say what would happen if the deadline passes, but the Palestinian Authority is feeling its oats following its support in the United Nations and is banking on international pressure to force Israel's hand. Only two handfuls of countries, most prominently the United States, opposed the UN resolution.

The European Union so far has shown it is in the Palestinian Authority’ back pocket, declaring its “dismay” over Israel’s intentions to building approximately 3,000 more homes for Jews in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, particularly in the “E-1” area of Maaleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

Until the UN vote, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had been banking on the EU’s financial help and on President Barack Obama’s diplomatic support. The Obama administration essentially played out its hand by voting against the UN resolution, leaving Abbas totally dependent on the European community, which is struggling with recession and social unrest.

Peter Beinart, who has constantly bashed Israel, wrote in the Daily Beast that Obama’s apparently low profile towards the Palestinian Authority-Israeli conflict actually is intended to push Israel into a corner. 

“Once America stops trying to save Israel from the consequences of its actions, the logic goes, and once Israel feels the full brunt of its mounting international isolation, its leaders will be scared into changing course,” he wrote, but added it could  be a “bad bet.”

“Israeli politics have swung so far right that some of Netanyahu’s strongest rivals are now ultra-hawks who consider him too soft. In that environment, resisting global pressure by pushing forward with settlement growth may actually help him in the polls,” Beinart wrote.

Thomas Friedman, The New York Times chief critic of Israel, sees it differently. He wrote two years ago that the Obama administration would be better off writing off the “peace process” since, in his view, neither side really is interested.

Friedman also wrote last month that Obama has a very good reason to turn his attention away from Israel and the PA – the US economy.

“Obama has his marching orders from the American people: Focus on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, not on Bethlehem, Palestine, and focus on getting us out of quagmires (Afghanistan) not into them (Syria),” according to Friedman.

“There will surely be a new secretary of state visiting you [Israel] next year with the umpteenth road map for ‘confidence-building measures’ between Israelis and Palestinians. He or she may even tell you that ‘this is the year of decision.’ Be careful. We’ve been there before. If you Google ‘Year of decision in the Middle East,’ you’ll get more than 100,000,000 links."

Still declaring that Israel will suffer by not surrendering the strategic areas of Judea and Samaria, which also are historically Jewish and now include nearly 300,000 Jews, Friedman wrote that after Camp David, Oslo and the Arab Spring, the United States has learned, “We can amplify what they start, but we can’t create it. We can provide the mediation and even the catering, but it’s got to start with them….

“We really have work to do at home. Soon Americans will be asked to pay more taxes for less government. It’s coming. It will not make us isolationists, but it will change our mood and make us much pickier about where we’ll get involved. That means only a radical change by Palestinians or Israelis will get us to fully re-engage.”