Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where the peace talks currently stand

Israel’s 10 month moratorium on building new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank expired on September 26. This brought peace talks to standstill. Minutes after settlement freeze expired, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement calling on Mr. Abbas “to continue the good and sincere talks that we have just started, in order to reach an historic peace agreement between our two peoples.” But Mr. Netanyahu made no reference to the settlement freeze, which Mr. Abbas has said repeatedly, must be extended in order for the Palestinians to remain in negotiations with Israel.

America has offered Israel an incentive package in exchange for a 60 day extension of the settlement freeze. Allegedly Israel has been promised a lengthy “transitional period” for security on the eastern border of a future Palestinian (which would include Israel’s ability to retain IDF presence in the Jordan Valley). Military hardware and a pledge to veto U.N. resolutions relating to Arab-Israeli peace for a year have also been promised by the Americans.

By accepting this offer, Israel would keep alive the peace talks. However the political make-up of Israel makes it difficult for Netanyahu to accept this offer. He would need the approval of a settlement freeze extension from his 29-member Cabinet or at least his 15-member Security Cabinet, and he doesn’t have enough votes yet in those bodies. Furthermore Netanyahu’s greatest political fear is of a repeat of 1999, when after making concessions to the Palestinians at Wye Plantation, he lost his right-wing political support base and was defeated by Barak in the election. This time round Netanyahu wants to avoid accepting an American package, going ahead with the peacemaking, and then losing the next election to Kadima’s Tzipi Livni.

1 comment:

William said...

Hi Joanna

This is good - and interesting re Netanyahu towards the end.