MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al), who was an adviser to former Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat and keeps in close contact with his successor Mahmoud Abbas, is accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of doing “everything he can” to prevent a peace agreement with the PA.
“Netanyahu is not saying anything new. He is doing everything, absolutely everything, so that an agreement won’t happen. So why should anyone wonder why the Palestinian leadership is skeptical? It is closer to appealing to the UN institutions than to signing an agreement,” Tibi told Al-Monitor in an interview, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the region for yet another visit as part of his push for peace.
Tibi, who boasted that he speaks to Abbas “a lot”, also told the website that the PA chief will “never, ever concede [eastern] Jerusalem, the sovereignty of the Palestinian state nor the issue of the [Jordan] Valley and an Israeli presence there.”
He added, “[Eastern] Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state. There is no other possibility. Any other proposal of ‘a neighborhood here, Abu Dis there,’ is just a sorry joke.”
Tibi also reiterated Abbas’s position that “not a single Israeli soldier will remain” in the future Palestinian state after an agreement is signed.
“Abu Mazen presented his stance regarding the American security team, that he is willing to accept another international force, but not an Israeli one, and for a short, delimited time period,” he said. “Kerry’s proposal also talked about 10 years in which implementation will be monitored. Who will monitor the implementation? Kerry? The Americans? Israel! This he rejected angrily and out of hand because it is an unfair proposal.”
In addition, said Tibi, Abbas “won’t recognize a Jewish state because the PLO already recognized the State of Israel’s right to exist. That’s it, enough. A Jewish state is a political position. I as a Knesset member oppose it.”
“Kerry said a while ago, that we have never been so close to an agreement. I don’t know what his basis for this is. With all due respect for the American secretary of state, I think that we are very far from an agreement,” declared Tibi, adding, “At the moment the odds are higher for a diplomatic confrontation than reaching a diplomatic arrangement between the two sides.”
Netanyahu, charged Tibi, “is doing everything so that there won’t be an agreement: He builds settlements, closes his eyes to hallucinatory bills like that of [Likud Knesset member] Miri Regev to annex the Jordan Valley, and mainly in the positions he presents in the negotiations.”
Abbas, according to Tibi, “knows in his heart that he can leave the stage in a few years without an agreement, because opposite him is a prime minister who is not a real partner to his vision of two states. Netanyahu wants a [Palestinian] patronage state, a pygmy state, with an [Israeli] presence in the Jordan Valley, with settlement blocs.”
He also referred to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s groundbreaking offer to Abbas, which included 94% of Judea and Samaria and shared control of Jerusalem.
“The maximum proposed by Olmert did not approach the minimum that Abu Mazen needed in order to reach an agreement,” said Tibi.
“Regarding Netanyahu, if he does not reach a two-state agreement with Abu Mazen there will never be such an agreement because the window of opportunity will be narrowed. There are two options: one-state or two-states solution. If Netanyahu will wipe out the vision of the two-state solution, he’ll have to confront the vision of the one-state [reality],” he threatened.
“Netanyahu has to choose, and like every Israeli leader when given two alternatives, he chooses the third alternative that is not under discussion, that is, the status quo,” he added.
Tibi predicted that in 2014 “the occupation will lead to tremendous international pressures that we haven’t seen until now. They will put pressure on Israel. Israel will be pushed to the corner because of Netanyahu’s policy and because the world wants to end the occupation.”
He also said that the talks will fail and Abbas will follow through with his threat to turn to UN institutions.
“There are more than 60 agencies in the UN, and sooner or later he will turn to them,” said Tibi. “That will cause a diplomatic confrontation. That is the right of the Palestinian Authority: a country that builds settlements in the midst of negotiations cannot revoke the diplomatic right or duty of the Palestinians. The Palestine state was accepted in the UN, therefore it is allowed to be a member. Once time played into Israel’s hands; now time plays into Palestinian hands.”