Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators are warning each other over what will happen if each walks away from the negotiating table — and neither is talking about the subject for which they were brought to the table.
Israel has warned the PA that if the entity does not cease its violations of an agreement to refrain from joining international treaties and organizations, the Jewish State will respond with more unilateral actions of its own.
And the Palestinian Authority negotiators are responding that they just don’t care — they will simply sign more international treaties and conventions, including one giving the entity membership at the International Criminal Court in The Hague — and establish recognition for their entity as a new country, albeit one without recognized, negotiated borders, that way.
Both are adroitly avoiding the real reason they are sitting there: how to wrestle with the knotty problem of finding a solution to an unsolvable crisis — a looming deadline for talks on an issue that cannot be solved to anyone’s satisfaction by Western standards. The Palestinian Authority is actually TWO entities, not one: Gaza, run by Hamas, and Ramallah-controlled areas of Judea & Samaria. Worse, all of these populations have now been effectively brainwashed into thorough hatred of Jews and Israel — fed on a daily diet of media incitement sponsored by the PA government and the surrounding Arab nations, in total violation of the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords.
There is no way to dial that back, even if they wanted to — and perhaps some of the PA leaders do — but most of them would not even if they could. The question now is how to keep this fiasco from blowing up in everyone’s faces while keeping American mediators — who tend to complicate the picture and only make things worse — at bay.
But at least Israelis and PA negotiators are meeting — until this point, the Americans have been at the table for every single encounter since November, and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose presence was required, has not been.
The PA negotiators allegedly refused to come to the table without them; but one has only to read the autobiographies of the founders of Israel to see what was going on in negotiations during prior wars to wonder what the real story is behind this account as well. What is certain is that the media is only hearing part of the tale — and the public even less.
Regardless, the PA move is intended to create a de facto recognition of the entity as an independent sovereign nation by evading the Oslo Accords. The 1993 agreement signed by the late PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin require the PA to negotiate a final status agreement with Israel. It includes a requirement for the PA to abandon terror and negotiate final borders, among other issues.
The Israeli sanctions have already begun. Jerusalem has begun to deduct sums from taxes it collects each month – some $110 million — on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The money will be used to pay down the massive debt the PA owes to Israel for the electricity it receives, use of Israeli hospitals and provision of specialized medical care. The PA owes Israel nearly half a billion shekels. The PA is screaming over the reduction of the funds because the taxes Israel collects and transfers to its coffers each month represent nearly two-thirds of its income.
Nevertheless, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Nabil Shaath brushed aside the Israeli threat when speaking with reporters on Sunday after a meeting with a German delegation in the Samaria-based PA capital of Ramallah. The move, he said, “will not stop us from joining international treaties and conventions,” according to the PA news agency WAFA.
The two sides met Sunday without American mediators over whether to keep talking after the official April 29 deadline for “talks” runs out.
Special envoy to the Middle East, Martin Indyk, returned to the U.S. for the holiday of Passover after four intense meetings with the two sides last week failed to break the deadlock.
About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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