Blogs: Paul Pillar
Israeli Hardliners Harden Further
The Netanyahu government's repeated claim that it wants to negotiate with the Palestinians should be described as the charade that it is. It is understandable that Palestinian leaders have no desire to engage in talks that have no prospect of leading to anything, when such engagement would just mean participating in the charade while the occupation continues and more facts are built on the occupied ground. The insincerity is all the more obvious when Netanyahu speaks of talks with “no preconditions” while at the same time insisting that the Palestinians pronounce Israel to be a “Jewish state”—a precondition that implicitly limits how the issue of Palestinian refugees and right of return can be resolved, and also would mean the Palestinian leadership formally signing on to a declaration that non-Jewish Israelis are second-class citizens. Those are the only things such a pronouncement would mean. The Palestinian leadership long ago recognized, formally and unequivocally, the state of Israel. As Palestinian leaders have noted, that state is free to describe itself any way it wants.
With the American political system still wearing its usual straitjacket on this issue, the main hope right now for taking any steps out of this tragic situation lies with the French initiative. If the United States is to do anything helpful any time in the foreseeable future, it probably will have to come in the remaining eight months of the Obama administration. One of the two presumptive presidential nominees speaks of taking U.S.-Israeli relations “to the next level”—and it is safe to assume she doesn't mean that the next level will consist of imposing consequences for the continued occupation. The other presumptive presidential nominee caused nervous moments in the Israel lobby when he talked about being impartial, but the nerves were soothed with a speech to AIPAC that said all the “right” things. And now he has Sheldon Adelson and Adelson's heavyweight bankroll on his side, with everything that implies for this nominee's future posture on Israel-related issues if he were to be elected.
Image: Avigdor Lieberman. US Embassy Tel Aviv photo.