Sunday

26th Jan 2020

Opinion

Israel: Negotiations cannot be bypassed

  • The old town in Jerusalem - at the heart of competing views on how to end the decades-old conflict (Photo: Hadar)

The situation in our part of the Middle East does not appear to make much sense at first glance. Israel has declared that it supports the establishment of two states for two peoples - which includes a Palestinian state. The Palestinians say they want a state. So why do two seemingly identical positions not lead to the expected outcome? The answer is simple - both sides hold opposing views on the means to reach this goal.

Israel believes that a Palestinian state should be achieved as the result of a comprehensive and genuine peace process. Negotiations remain the only means to reach agreement on the complicated issues that surround the establishment of a new state.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is attempting to bypass talks and create a state without making peace with Israel. This is the motivation behind their refusal to participate in serious negotiations for nearly three years, as well as their decision to turn to the UN for recognition.

There is an unbridgeable gap between a state with peace and a state without peace. The future of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians lies in that difference. Will the Palestinians have a country from which they launch further attacks on Israel or will they build a country which will live in peaceful coexistence with their neighbour?

Instead of negotiating, the Palestinians are assailing Israel with diplomatic warfare. They have orchestrated a recognition bid at the UN, in direct violation of the Oslo Accords the PA signed with Israel, which specifically forbid unilateral action to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza.

It has become increasingly clear that the Palestinian Authority is not very interested in peace negotiations. This unfortunate turn of events is demonstrated by the ever growing list of preconditions the Palestinians have set for the resumption of negotiations.

The first precondition laid out by the PA was an end to settlement activity. They then proceeded to ignore the 10-month moratorium on West Bank building initiated by Israel, deciding to negotiate only after nine and a half months had passed. After six hours of talks, they abandoned negotiations once again. Then they demanded that before talks begin, Israel must surrender to their demands and recognize the 1949 cease-fire lines (erroneously referred to as the 1967 borders) as the borders of a future Palestinian state. Now there are press reports that a third precondition is on its way - a release of convicted Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails.

Furthermore, as part of their strategy of avoiding direct negotiations they have chosen to disregard the urgent appeal issued by the Quartet, in which the European Union plays a crucial role, on September 23rd: "to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions."

In the meantime, the Palestinians are attempting to portray settlements as the true obstacle to peace. Yet the Palestinians were waging war for decades before there was a single settlement in the West Bank. As one wag recently noted, the PLO (the father of the PA) is an "organization created in 1964 to end the 1967 occupation."

While the Palestinian Authority is prosecuting diplomatic warfare, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is engaged in real warfare - firing missile after missile at the civilians of southern Israel. Last May, the Palestinian Authority entered into a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, disregarding that terrorist organization's covenant (which calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews), its rejection of any peace process and its murderous terrorist attacks.

Israel is facing two Palestinian entities - one that strikes with violence, the other with diplomatic papers; one that uses Grad missiles, the other political plots.

The only way the Palestinians will ever achieve a state is through direct negotiations aimed at putting an end to their conflict with Israel and establishing a relationship of peace and co-operation. For this reason Israel has called time and again for a return to the negotiating table.

Europe and the rest of the international community should clarify to the Palestinian Authority that it cannot bypass peace talks and persuade it finally to return to the negotiating table.

The writer is ambassador of Israel to the EU.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal

The moment Europe revels in its carbon-free transport system, most of the cars that emitted too much for EU standards will still be driving around for years somewhere else in the world.

Eastern Partnership must now improve media freedoms

The EU can hardly criticise Eastern Partnership countries for disrespecting media freedom. Five EU member states, including current presidency Croatia, came below Armenia and Georgia in the 2019 RSF Press Freedom Index. Bulgaria ranked nine places behind Ukraine.

Column

What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?

The Libya case might finally give the EU some strategic clarity. This sounds like a small thing, but EU foreign policy is in such bad shape that it would be a big leap forward.

Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?

The European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance demands Germany give up its resistance to the Anti-Discrimination Directive and suggest the commission and centre-right parties exert further pressure on Polish and Hungarian authorities to improve conditions for the LGBT+ community and people.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftist MEPs to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

Column

Why nations are egomaniacs

A nation, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, is not capable of altruism. Even less so, if such a group has formed on the basis of strong emotions and casts itself as the "saviour of the nation".

Maltese murder - the next rule-of-law crisis in EU?

While Poland's government is escalating its rule of law crisis by introducing even more drastic measures against the country's judges, another problem is looming over the EU's commitment to upholding the rule of law: Malta.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us