Monday, January 13, 2014

Abbas Denies His Authority to Make Cardinal Decisions for a Lasting Peace Agreement

Jonathan D. Halevi
  • Mahmoud Abbas is not a serious partner for negotiating with Israel because he does not have the authority to make decisions for the Palestinian people. His rejection of any authority to make historic decisions regarding a political compromise closes the door to any stable, lasting solution for two states living in peace next to each other.
  • Abbas outlined his positions on January 10, 2014, at a meeting in Ramallah, where he demanded full sovereignty in all the territory conquered by Israel from the Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt in the defensive war it fought in 1967 ("the '67 lands"), and especially in the area called "eastern Jerusalem," which includes the Old City, the Temple Mount, the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and other Jewish historical sites. Without an Israeli withdrawal from eastern Jerusalem and all the Jewish holy sites located there, in the eyes of Abbas, there is no Palestinian leader who has the authority to sign a political agreement with Israel.
  • Abbas has a similar attitude regarding what the Palestinians call "the right of return," which Abbas claims is the "personal right" of every refugee and his descendants for all generations, and that no Palestinian institutions have any authority to decide on this right in place of the individual. With this claim, Abbas is undermining a basic assumption of Israel and the U.S. regarding the political negotiations, according to which he can represent the Palestinian people on the issues at the heart of the conflict and make historic decisions in their name.
  • Abbas' words express a clear message that the Palestinians see the negotiations as simply a tool to achieve Palestinian rights according to the Palestinian viewpoint, and they are not seeking a way to compromise with Israel on essential issues. The Palestinian approach is one of "a peace based on justice" as compared with the Israeli approach of "a peace based on compromise."
  • The Palestinian strategy has been revealed in full. The current political negotiations, or any future negotiations, cannot bring about a signed, stable, and lasting political agreement that will bring an end to the conflict and all claims. The first Palestinian objective in their order of priorities is to receive full sovereignty on the territory of 1967 - while leaving the conflict wide open.
Click here to read the full article.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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