Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, "does not believe in peace," and urged world leaders to pile pressure on him. "Benjamin Netanyahu never believed in a two-state solution or accepted signed agreements and does not want to stop settlement activity. This is obvious," Abbas told the official Palestinian news agency. "We have to tell the world that this man does not believe in peace, so how should we deal with him? Let's put the ball in the world's court so that it puts pressure on him and assumes its responsibilities."
Abbas' remarks came hours after Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister at the helm of a right-wing government that has said it will hold talks with the Palestinians but isn't committed to the two-state solution. "We will carry out peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority with a view to reaching a final accord," Netanyahu said Tuesday. "Under the final accord, the Palestinians will have all the rights to govern themselves except those that can put in danger the security and existence of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said.
The Palestinian Authority said Netanyahu's statements "mark a start that is not encouraging" and urged US President Barack Obama - who has vowed to actively pursue peace talks - to put pressure on Israel.
All of which is a rich irony coming from a man whose own mandate to govern the Palestinian Authority has expired and whose government is in civil disarray. Very little news is reported worldwide on the extent of the civil war Fatah and Hamas. Yes, we hear unity talks are ongoing or unity talks have broken down but it’s the day to day chaos of the civil war which threatens any agreement that is not widely reported. In fact, one can be forgiven into believing all is relatively stable in the Palestinian House.
Furthermore, Netanyahu’s record is considerably brighter than Abbas. Not only did Netanyahu honour the spirit of the Oslo Accords (a crucial mistake in my opinion) he signed the Wye Agreement. While Abbas has yet to fully implement the pre-road conditions which Abbas signed on to on the behalf of the Palestinians.
Even if an agreement was pressured into being tomorrow and duly signed, the Israeli settlements completely disbanded; there would be no peace because the Palestinian society is a state divided. The Palestinians at this point cannot deliver on any point while there is an ongoing civil war being waged in their society.
But Abbas other failure as leader of the Palestinians is in not demanding Netanyahu answer why he will not sign onto a ‘two-state’ solution, and what conditions need to be realized in the Palestinian Authority which would allow Netanyahu to make a commitment to a ‘two-state’ solution as a viable option.
Even if there are no conditions which could arise to make Netanyahu change his mind; this needs to be stated as well as ensuring Netanyahu commits publicly with what he is prepared to do or offer. While campaigning Netanyahu committed his party towards working for financial prosperity of the Palestinian Authority but it remains merely in the realm of campaign rhetoric of the airy-fairy sort. If Abbas was any kind of leader he would be demanding the details and concrete commitments. This must be the basis of any negotiations and anything else is subterfuge by both the Israelis and Palestinians and gives cover to umpteen lies and distortions.
In the end, I am at a loss to understand what Abbas has done to prepare his people for peace and reconciliation with their neighbors - the Israelis. Certainly, if Abbas was committed to the peace process as he claims - this kind of thing would not be encouraged and we could reasonably assume a statement issued from his office would issued forthwith - saying so.
But go ahead, pilloried Israel, even bully the Israelis into making painful and significant concessions but don’t act surprised and shocked when the bombs continue to go off in Tel Aviv, Haifa, or Jerusalem or kassams continue to be launched against Sderot, Ashdod or Ashkelon. And don’t bother sending your ‘condolences’ for the victims.