Incredulity... best word I can come up with when I read the reaction of Israel's international "allies" such as the UK and US, to Israel's announcement that its building houses in areas already long developed as suburbs of Jerusalem. How does one damage a non existent peace process, and why should Israel care about the wishes of Palestinian leaders who showed last week they couldn't give a damn about Israel or the West's concerns? Why should Israel care about the views of the UK, US and EU, who pay for the Palestinian Authority, but were unable to stop it from such a destructive path away from direct talks?
Lets just remember last week that these same countries were asking Palestinian 'president' Abbas not to go to the UN, saying it would have negative consequences to the already moribund peace process - what "consequences" were they thinking of? Clearly not any reaction from Israel, judging by their horror this week at Israel's announcement! How emasculated is the UK, EU & US? Abbas gets all his aid from these countries, and yet they could not stop him??
From Israel's perspective, Abbas's action were a message to her and the world that he believes he can get his Palestinian state without any agreement with Israel, and regardless of what the international community says - that he can little by little create a fait accomplis that Israel will just have to accept. Israel has always said, over multiple governments "just talk to us". William Hague, Britain's foreign minister said on the eve of the UN vote, that it was obvious the Palestinians had been avoiding talks for some time. We know from Wikileak revelations that former PM Olmert had offered the Palestinians 97% of what they are asking for, only to have his demands rejected. It is unthinkable that aid continued to flow to his corrupt Palestinian Authority after he rejected what was essentially everything he had wanted and far more than he could have realistically hoped for from Israel! The aid giving states had the leverage to say to Abbas "this is it - take this opportunity or you are on your own" - they stayed silent and continued to pay their taxpayers money in to his outstretched hand.
The current government, under Binyamin "Bibi' Netanyahu, froze settlement constructions for a clearly stated 10 month period, as a strong gesture to the Palestinians that there was a window for negotiation and someone willing to take risks to talk. This was politically painful for Bibi, alienating his core support, but it was his belief that if settlements were the sticking point in negotiations, then such a huge public gesture would create the good will necessary for talks to resume. The Palestinians did nothing until the very end of the period, only making a fuss as Bibi's 10 months ended. What a wasted opportunity. Where was the indignant British, US and EU governments during this freeze,' encouraging ..no FORCING Abbas to the table? They were writing Aid checks!
So a week after the ridiculous UN vote, with an election around the corner, and a country dealing with the aftermath of weeks of bombing from the one part of the Palestinian world that is independent, Bibi is doing what he warned he would do last week: He is clearly showing that if Abbas does not care about the Oslo agreements (as demonstrated by his UN stunt) then Bibi too is not bound by them either. If Palestinians want to change that, and want to define theirs and Israels borders then they know what to they need to do - sit down and talk. No pre-conditions, no barriers to solutions, no inflammatory statements - talk.
Lets also be frank - if Abbas really wants a state, then there will be no rejecting a solution that gives him 97% of what he asks for coming into the negotiations! There will be compromise and pain for both sides, and in the end the parties have to weigh up their gains and losses and decide if the current situation is better for their people than the agreement on the table. Can anyone tell me honestly, that they believe that since Arafat rejected the Camp David agreement and since Abbas walked away from Olmert's 97% offer, that the Palestinian people are better for it? Bibi says he is still open to negotiate and if Abbas was a truly "courageous man of peace" as Hague described him last week, then he'd call Bibi's bluff and be at that table ready to build his people a future, not running to the UN and threatening International court actions! If the indignant UK, US & EU really wanted peace in the region, they'd put their pens and check books in their pockets until they see Abbas at that table.
The rest of the world needs to stop enabling the Palestinians in their delaying tactics and their provocations and de-legitimization of Israel - if as Hague has said, they are avoiding talks, then there should be no voting for them in or even abstaining in the UN, no promises of aid to prop up a Palestinian Authority that is a big part of the problem. Its all very well pressuring Israel not to do anything to set the process back, but if the international community allows Abbas years of doing precisely that, then it is those aid giving countries that have brought this situation about. Abbas leads an authority entirely dependent on this foreign aid, generously given. It isn't as if the international community does not have in its hands the very tool that it needs to bring him to the negotiating table. Not using that tool, by threatening his only source of income, whilst pressuring Israel not to set back a peace process that has not in reality been active for several years, is ridiculous.
The answer to the Arab-Israel issue is negotiations, not how many homes Israel does or doesn't build. Therefore, the world must bring the parties to the table. Israel is already there, waiting. If the Palestinians need to be forced, then I say to the world, force them. Take away their aid the way a millionaire cuts of the allowance of his playboy son - Abbas acts as if the power is in his hands - he's wrong, its in William Hague's , Brussels and Obama's hands!
But ask yourself this - The Palestinians weep to the world about their desire for a state, so why do I need to write this blog? Why an earth would anyone need to threaten them to commence serious negotiations? Why aren't they at that table? If you can answer that, you can understand Israel's position!