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With the end of the PA-Hamas ‘government’, we can now expect greater international pressure on Israel to embark again on the ‘peace-process’ with the PA. Indeed, only recently PM Netanyahu announced a readiness for such talks. This may have been advantageous from an image point of view. But it also involves a serious difficulty which can easily be rectified.

The difficulty is that simply agreeing to peace-process negotiations with the PA creates a false impression by fostering the incorrect belief that that a win-win solution to the conflict is possible.

This severely damages Israel. As long as the Palestinians and the wider Arab world refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state, and to deny 2 states for 2 peoples, there can be no implementation of the favorite solution of the international community – the 2-state solution.

A diplomatic own-goal

That is, agreeing to talks as if a win-win solution to the conflict were feasible in these circumstances obscures from view the zero-sum/winner-takes-all strategy of the Palestinians. As a result, this remains the unseen driving force of the conflict (see Abbas’ Cairo Interview and The Israeli Demand that Palestinians Accept Israel as a Jewish State ).

Without this being exposed, those who profess to believe that peace will only be achieved by an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will continue to blame Israel for not agreeing to withdraw. Israel’s diplomatic approach is thus a key element that reinforces the belief that Israel is yet again to blame for the inevitable failure of any talks.

In other words, the continued lack of international awareness of the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state is in part due to Israel’s own international diplomatic stance. This in turn is reflected in its inadequate public diplomacy on this core issue.

Solving the problem

Therefore, a better response is to welcome the end of the so-called Palestinian ‘Unity Government’ with Hamas and to hope that at last the way is open for substantive negotiations for an end to the conflict on the basis of Palestinian acceptance of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Making this acceptance a condition for supposedly substantial negotiations thus places the central issue of any conceivable solution based on 2 states for 2 peoples at the center of Israel’s international and public diplomacy. Naturally, this needs non-stop promotion by Israel’s hasbara apparatus.

By bringing the core issue into the open, it will be far easier to blame the Palestinians when negotiations fail – or if the Palestinians refuse to negotiate. It will also be of enormous help to Israel’s friends internationally (see The Israeli Demand that Palestinians Accept Israel as a Jewish State).

The ‘Netanyahu’ objection

As usual, the Palestinians, along with others in their wake, will protest that Netanyahu is totally insincere in his public appeals for negotiations. That is to say, his claimed desire for an agreement is assumed to be a pretense; that he does not genuinely believe in the 2-State Solution.

But if Netanyahu were engaged in such a deceit, it would be very simple to test and expose. All Abbas, the Palestinian leadership and the Arab League need do is call the bluff by the simple method of accepting Israel as a Jewish state – and then by appealing directly to the Israeli public.

This would gain Abbas access to the bimah in the Knesset in about 5 minutes flat (see, Abbas Speaks to the Knesset). But Abbas hasn’t and he won’t; nor will his vast hinterland of ‘support’ in the Arab world.

This failure reveals the chief reason for the Palestinian refusal to negotiate: the knowledge that the issue of acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state will be at the heart of any negotiation for two states. As a result, negotiations with this as a central feature would risk exposing Palestinian intransigence and blow the cover for their diplomatic efforts to isolate Israel. Therefore, Netanyahu’s repeated calls for mutual acceptance have been met by continued Palestinian rejection.

From the Palestinians, who have no intention of reaching a final agreement based on 2-states for 2-peoples, this is not a surprise. But it should thoroughly alarm those who perpetually anticipate such an agreement and claim that this is what the Palestinians want. It could also counter and embarrass those states who support Palestinian statehood and prefer to ignore such matters – or at least, not to know them publicly.

The Lord Londonderry solution

With an end-of-conflict deal with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world nowhere in sight, the question arises of what to do in its absence. A similar problem was ‘solved’ by Lord Londonderry in the early 1930’s.

As an extremely wealthy and well-connected member of the British government, and cousin of Winston Churchill, Lord Londonderry believed that Britain should reach an accommodation with Hitler. He also believed that Britain could reach an accommodation with Hitler. But just in case this proved impossible, he was committed to using his governmental position to build as many fighter planes as possible.

Regrettably, when out of government, he became increasingly strident in his efforts to promote a deal with Hitler. As a result, his political position moved steadily towards Germany until his efforts took on a noticeable pro-Nazi appearance. Although he never became a fascist like Sir Oswald Mosley, by becoming an apologist for Hitler he effectively disgraced himself.

Unlike Lord Londonderry’s ever narrowing view of diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany, Israel is in serious need of a far more open diplomatic strategy. To deal with the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, Israel’s international and public diplomacy needs to expose this rejection rather than inadvertently cover it up.

 

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