Israeli politicians, left, right and center, are resorting again to their familiar clichés to trade accusations over where ongoing negotiation with the Palestinians should or should not be going. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have other plans, the first of which is to terminate peace talks with Israel.
In that sense, little has changed in the thirteen years since the United States began taking a hand in the “Middle East peace process.”
In 2000, President Bill Clinton brought Israel’s prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Camp David, purportedly to knock their heads together for a peace agreement. He was perfectly aware that Palestinian plans were in place for the suicide bombing intifada war a month hence in September, and that nothing would come of the heavily televised encounter.
In the repeat performance today, those three faces have changed but little else. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have compiled a peace proposal. But when it was put before Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, his mind was elsewhere.
Without waiting for the peace talks to wind down the end of April, as agreed, Abbas, according to intelligences reports, was deep in plans to enlist 63 international organizations for a massive anti-Israel boycott. The same number of teams was busy drawing up separate applications for these organizations to join boycotts against Israel in every field of endeavor, according to their respective spheres.
Among the addresses is the International Court at the Hague which is to be asked to indict Israel for hundreds if not thousands of alleged war crimes and the practice of apartheid.
Abbas is fond of telling everyone that he is against terrorism. He is therefore setting up a “diplomatic intifada” – without the violence the Palestinians demonstrated in their former assaults on the Jewish state. However, debkafile’s counter-terror sources have found that, in recent weeks, Abbas and his security agencies have lost control of suburbs in the West Bank towns under their rule, and especially the 19 refugee camps which have been taken over by local armed militias.
These militias, as well as Hamas, Jihad Islami and other violent bands, are getting organized for a fresh outbreak of terrorist operations including suicide bombers.
In the Nablus and Bethlehem areas of the West Bank, some Palestinian gangs are also preparing to shoot Qassam rockets at Jerusalem and other Israel towns.
In the year 2000, the Israeli powers-that-be, led by the IDF Chief of staff at the time, Shaul Mofaz, kept Palestinian preparations for their intifada away from the public notice, so as not to upset peace diplomacy.
The incumbent army chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, likewise complies with government directives to keep the true situation dark so as not to derail Kerry’s peace efforts.
The State Department spokeswoman was correct when she declared, in a rebuke to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s derogatory comments, that the Secretary was working night and day to ensure Israel’s security and future.
At the same time, the forthcoming eruption of a Palestinian diplomatic-terrorist war on Israel will not only terminate yet another peace process, it will gravely jeopardize Israel’s legitimacy and international credibility, which is its object.
It has to be said that Netanyahu went a lot further toward meeting Palestinian demands than expected, including extensive territorial concessions in Jerusalem. He is gambling on major concessions convincing the Obama administration that if anyone is to blame for the negotiations running aground when they do, it is not Israel.
debkafile questions the effectiveness of this high-wire tactic. Once Palestinian violence explodes, no one in the international community will want to remember precisely how far Netanyahu and Kerry were willing to go along the path of peace.
Thirteen years ago, questions focused on whether Yasser Arafat had orchestrated the suicide attacks on Israeli civilians or whether it was spontaenous. This time, the same circles will try and show that Abbas is not responsible for the terrorism and maintain that his diplomatic campaign is legitimate.
While pacifying Washington with one hand, Netanyahu ought, with the other, to be making a start on reorganizing the economy and the army for the challenges awaiting the country in just four months.
This he does not appear to be doing – and is under no popular pressure to do so. Israel’s media fill their screens and front pages obsessively with tidbits of scandal and endless items on crime, parading mob leaders, their victims and their lawyers in long interviews and segments.
There is scant room left over for serious reporting on security and national affairs. And so the prime minister and his government can conceal worrying realities from the public fairly undisturbed.
Any utterances heard from government ministers tend to be just hot air – such as Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s solemn advice for Israel to part from the Palestinians in peace.
How does this sort of diplo-babble fit in with the Palestinian rejection this week of Kerry’s own proposals for keeping the negotiations afloat, on the grounds that they promised the Palestinians nothing but a state without frontiers, a capital, or border crossings.
Abbas’s tactics are built around never parting from Israel, but staying uncomfortably close and proving to the world that Israel is an occupying power which denies them independence. Disengagement would spoil the game which has kept Abbas in power since Nov. 2004 as Arafat’s successor.
Calls on the prime minister from the political left wing to take “courageous steps” are likewise divorced from this reality. However courageous his steps may be, Abbas will still say they are not enough and try and squeeze more. Nothing Israeli or the most diligent US Secretary of State does will divert him from this strategy and the path he has set himself.
Some time in April, therefore, Israel will face the onset of a disastrous Palestinian diplomatic assault on its legitimacy, backed by their friends in many countries. Only time will tell how it evolves.