Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fond of claiming that there is a stalemate with regard to peace negotiations, it is clear that the international community and the Palestinian Authority are fully in tune with what Israel ultimately desires. Now that the two-state paradigm is recognised as convenient terminology to keep up the facade of exerting efforts for peace, Netanyahu and the PA can settle comfortably into their complementary roles.
After meeting with Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron declared his country to be willing “to support all diplomatic efforts towards this end within the parameters of peace recognised by the international community.” In calling for negotiations to move forward, the Times of Israel reported that Macron insisted that “international law should be respected by all”, a vague utterance that was clarified as a reference to Israel’s illegal settlement expansion. The statement follows the usual ritual of drawing attention to Israeli violations of international law but refusing to do anything to stop them.
Meanwhile, ahead of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Palestinian Foreign Minister gave an interview to Xinhua, reiterating how the PA is not imposing any preconditions on a return to negotiations. “We consider that political negotiation is the main road to reach peace,” claimed Riyad Al-Maliki, “and we are ready to engage at the same time if Israel declares its commitment to the two-state solution as the main and only solution to the political process.”
In the interview’s conclusion, though, Al-Maliki does hint at preconditions. Israel, he states, “must declare its commitment to the two-state solution and end settlement activity in order to return to negotiations.” However, this is framed by the minister as an international demand, rather than a Palestinian condition. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from this is that the PA has no will to seek autonomy or place Palestinian demands as a priority. Hence, his assertion that there are no Palestinian preconditions holds true and indicates a high level of betrayal.
One must also keep in mind how the PA has constantly elevated US President Donald Trump’s obscure efforts to broker a deal. On previous occasions, waiting for America to make a move was used to signal a political hindrance which the PA could not fight against; waiting in the Trump era, however, is portrayed as a process of good faith, despite the fact that Israel’s belligerence has increased while the PA’s only response has been to call for Palestinian resistance on the streets before arresting those individuals heeding the call who are thus considered to be subversive.
For Netanyahu, it matters little whether the PA waits passively or with resentment. It is only the internationally-recognised Palestinian leadership that deems it necessary to distinguish between phases in waiting as if one form supersedes the value of the other. Having accommodated Israel and the international community for so long — making concession after concession with nothing in return — the PA might as well admit the appeal of negotiations about the two-state compromise as far as its own agenda is concerned. To all intents and purposes, the PA has long since relegated Palestine to a memory and the absence of any assertiveness in favour of Palestinian rights has seen the options available to the people dwindle. It is only Israel that can expect to gain anything from the concept of negotiations, regardless of whether they actually recommence or remain stalled. No matter what happens, Israel is assured that it is in a win-win position.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.