The European Union’s new ban on areas located beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines will do nothing to advance peace talks, Finance Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Friday.
In fact, said Lapid in an op-ed which appeared in the New York Times, the ban will simply encourage terrorist groups.
“As the American secretary of state, John Kerry, leads new efforts to reinvigorate peace talks among Israelis and Palestinians, one of the obstacles — if not the main one — is the presence of extremist Palestinians and their supporters,” he wrote. “I’m referring to a diverse group of thugs with automatic weapons: Hamas, Hizbullah, Al Qaeda and fighters backed by Iran. They are all demanding the same thing of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority: Stall. From their perspective, as long as the Palestinians steer clear of the negotiating table, their situation will improve.
“The premise of this militant Palestinian rejectionism is rather simple: As the years pass, the international isolation of Israel will increase,” wrote Lapid. “Indeed, the campaign of delegitimizing the Jewish state — a campaign financed primarily by Arab oil — has gained momentum in recent years. The only thing that can stop it is the resumption of peace negotiations.
“Each time Israel makes a gesture or undertakes a confidence-building measure, the automatic rifles in Ramallah are loaded and cocked. ‘If you agree to sit with the Israelis,’ they warn Mr. Abbas, ‘you will be betraying us and betraying Allah.’
“These enemies are powerful, but their argument has recently weakened,” according to Lapid. “The determination of Mr. Kerry, coupled with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s explicit endorsement of a two-state solution, have opened, for the first time in a long time, a window of opportunity for the resumption of talks.
“It won’t be easy or quick, but for the time being the stranglehold of the extremists has been impaired. One example: I have been able, over the past few months, to publicly conduct meetings with my Palestinian counterpart, Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, to transfer tax monies for the Palestinian Authority (some of which were collected inside Israel proper) and to begin open discussions on joint Israeli-Palestinian economic ventures.
“However, this nascent cooperation is in jeopardy now, because of the well-intentioned but misguided folks in Brussels who do not appreciate the nuances of our region,” wrote Lapid. “In one fell swoop, they have emboldened the extremists, allowing them to triumphantly claim to Mr. Abbas. ‘You see, we were right all along. You must not negotiate. We don’t have to do anything. The international community will do our job for us.’
According to Lapid, “The world shouldn’t make things easier for extremists. It’s challenging enough to remain sane and pursue peace in this crowded, problematic neighborhood of ours. We do not need our friends overseas to make it even more difficult. The EU would do well to revoke its decision.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)