Tuesday, August 24, 2010
24 August '10
In yesterday’s post, I discussed some of the negative consequences of Israel’s habit of treating its own negotiating demands as unimportant. But there is another devastating consequence: its effect on international public opinion.
Take the latest Israel Project poll, which found that even in America, normally a pro-Israel bastion, only 45 percent of respondents believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is committed to peace, and only 51 percent — down from 63 percent last year — think America should support Israel.
The second finding isn’t due solely to the first, but neither is it unrelated: even Americans who realize that peace isn’t possible now expect Israel to be committed to it in principle.
So why do Americans think Netanyahu doesn’t want peace? Well, everyone knows the Palestinians have demands that he refuses to meet (like a pre-negotiations commitment to the 1949 armistice lines); they say so constantly. But few people realize Israel has demands the Palestinians have consistently refused to meet because Israel doesn’t say so.
To understand how deep this Israeli pathology runs, consider official Israel’s response to a New York Times editorial earlier this month. The editorial urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct talks with Israel but sympathized with the fear he “no doubt” feels that Netanyahu “will use the process to give the illusion of progress while never addressing Palestinian concerns about borders, security, refugees and the future of Jerusalem” — and that despite this, “the Palestinians will be blamed if negotiations fail.”
Based on past experience, the reverse is far more likely: in previous talks, Israel made massive concessions on these issues while the Palestinian made no concessions at all to Israel’s concerns, yet most of the world still blamed Israel. The Times, however, neglected to mention that possibility.
(Read full post)
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