The Palestinian Authority refuses to compromise in any way whatsoever in negotiations with Israel, maintaining its demands for a full Israeli withdrawal from all lands liberated in 1967, establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, and a full return to their original homes the families that fled Israel when it was established in 1948.
While that is disappointing to many Israelis, it is helpful to Israelis who do not want to surrender large parts of the Land of Israel for the establishment of what would surely be a Hamas-style terrorist state in the heartland of Israel, said Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin. “The stubbornness of the Palestinian Authority sometimes helps,” he said, comparing the refusal to bend in negotiations with Israel to the hard-heartedness of the Biblical Pharaoh – a hard-heartedness that eventually freed the Jews from being enslaved to him.
Elkin spoke to Arutz Sheva as commentators, politicians, and pundits analyzed the latest proposals being bandied about by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as secret talks between Israel and the PA continue. Over the past few days, speculation has risen regarding the possibility that the government coalition could experience tension in the wake of a possible agreement, with Finance Minister Yair Lapid saying Sunday night that any coalition partner that would not support a final-status arrangement with the PA has no place in the government.
“I am not sure that anything is actually happening, because the talks are secret,” Elkin said. “But I would not go out on a limb and say that everything is fine.” With the negotiations, by all accounts, still leaving many important issues as yet unexplored, Elkin said that he would probably tend to agree that little, if anything, would result from the current round of talks.
However, he said, there were positive signs for Israel in the current negotiations. Among the signs is a greater willingness in Europe and the U.S. to demand PA concessions in the talks, after spending several months focusing pressure exclusively on the Jewish state. The PA continues its demands for full Israeli withdrawals from all of Judea and Samaria as well as from Jerusalem, and the inundation of Israel by descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948.
Israel, he said, through patient explanation of the facts and effective presentations, has succeeded in presenting its case – that the PA's positions are unreasonable, and that negotiations need to be a two-way street. Moreover, the PA uses international donations to support terrorism, and that the PA continues its incitement against Israel, Elkin said.
With that, Elkin added, Israel needs to realize that Kerry and his boss, President Obama, have put their names on the line in sponsoring negotiations – and that Israel may be in the line of fire of American pressure to concede more than is wise to the PA.
Elkin said that Israel was treading a fine line in its relationship with the U.S. regarding the talks. “We will do whatever we can to keep Israelis safe, and if we can do this without clashing with the Americans, that would be best,” he said.
“No one wants to fight, especially in public. But if in the end we have no choice and there is a clash between Israel's security and America's demands, Prime Minister Netanyahu will have to stand up for Israel's interests. It saddens me that this very clear fact is not clear to many in Israel, both in the opposition and coalition,” he added.