– A CLEAR FAILURE
Just a year ago Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas used to make the 12 km distance between his Capital Ramallah, in the outskirts of Jerusalem, to the chamber of the Israeli PM in Central Jerusalem as a routine of about once a month. Abu Ala, his negotiator, made the way sometimes twice a week to negotiate with his counterpart Tzipi Livni. This routine of almost daily negotiation was never dependent on the ongoing buildings in the Jewish settlements – on the contrary – they were meant to, finally, stop the building and evacuate the Jewish settlers for the sake of peace.
In the last round of talks with the Israeli PM Ehud Eulmert, Israel offered a full and total withdrawal of Israelis from 97% from the West Bank (Israel already withdrew from 100% of Gaza Strip), an exterritorial corridor between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a principal recognition of the Palestinian “right of return”, with the acceptance to allow few thousands older Palestinians to return and resettle in Israel. Those offers were made amide some buildings in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and should have had Mahmoud Abbas accepted the offer the Palestinians could have, nowadays, an independent state of their own, while Israel would have been torn from within in an unprecedented attempt to evacuate over 60,000 settlers. Mahmoud Abbas rejected the offer because, as he said in the interview published, on Friday 05/29/2009, in the Washington Post, “The gaps were wide”. He was never asked to explain what the gape is exactly (see – Imbroglio).
When USA president Barack Obama raised his demand for total freeze of any Jewish building in the “Occupied Territories”, including East Jerusalem, and at the same time pressured Israel to overlook illegal Palestinian construction in East Jerusalem (most of the Palestinian construction in Jerusalem is perfectly legal), he clearly outlined his vision of the final outcome of the negotiation – the former temporary green line between Jordan and Israel prior to 06/04/1967 and a total disregarding of the dramatic changes on the ground in the last 42 years. President Bush addressed the issue in a letter to former Israeli PM Aric Sharon, in 04/2005, in which he said that any final solution between Israel and Palestine must take into account the reality and will be solved through exchange of territories.
Putting the sketch of the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation as a pre-condition to even start them, put the Palestinian side in a wait and see position in which they were hoping Barack Obama will do the job for them.
Nowadays, a year after Israeli Palestinian negotiations were an almost daily routine, it took an exhausting, failing attempt of USA envoy George Mitchell, who was forced to go back and forth the 12 km between Ramallah and Jerusalem five times, to agree about the precondition to any negotiation. There is no chance that the Palestinians will agree on any thing less then what USA President put forward as his precondition. It took a direct US presidential interference just to summon the Israeli and Palestinian leadership together in New York, 12,000 km away from Ramallah and Jerusalem, for a short photo opportunity, today, Thursday 09/22/2009.