...Herzog and Livni can promise -- as much as they want -- Israeli voters that they will "revive" the peace process with the Palestinians. But what the voters need to realize is that the Palestinian Authority has already made a strategic decision to try to force a solution on Israel through the international community, and not negotiations. The voters also need to know that any deal with Abbas and the PA is not a recipe for peace and coexistence.
10 February '15..
So far, the Palestinians have shown little interest, if any at all, in the upcoming Israeli elections, slated for March 17.
But if there is one thing most Palestinians would like to see, it is the removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties from power.
The Palestinians, in many ways, seem to have joined the "Just Not Bibi" (Netanyahu's nickname), or "Anyone But Bibi," campaign launched by the heads of his rival Zionist Camp, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
In private, some Palestinian Authority [PA] officials in Ramallah expressed their hope this week that Netanyahu will be defeated in the election.
Although the PA's official policy is not to meddle in the internal affairs of Israel, these officials also voiced hope that Herzog and Livni will form the next government.
"Anyone is better than Netanyahu," said a senior official in Ramallah. Although we are skeptical about the positions of Herzog and Livni, we still believe that they are good for the Palestinians and the peace process."
One official pointed out that Herzog has travelled to Ramallah at least twice over the past two years to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Unlike Netanyahu, Herzog and Livni do see President Mahmoud Abbas as a peace partner," the official said. "This is already a good sign that they are planning to adopt a completely different policy."
Indeed, Herzog himself has given the Palestinians good reason to be hopeful. After meeting with President Abbas in Ramallah in December 2003, Herzog stated: "My impression was that we have a partner willing to go far to achieve peace, to take creative, brave steps on core issues."
Similarly, the Palestinians say they have been encouraged by Livni's readiness to make "far-reaching concessions" for the sake of peace. They point to a recent interview Livni gave to The Jerusalem Post, in which she did not rule out the possibility of dividing Jerusalem. In that interview, she also said that while Abbas "was once a terrorist, he isn't anymore."
Echoing Palestinian enthusiasm toward Livni, Al-Jazeera's "Palestine Papers," which were revealed in 2011, quoted former PLO negotiator Ahmed Qurei as telling her: "I'd vote for you."
The "Palestine Papers" is a collection of "secret" documents concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
The documents also showed that chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat had offered to appear at public events alongside Livni to strengthen her party's position.
The documents revealed that Palestinian Authority officials also sought Washington's aid to boost Livni. In October 2009 meetings with Obama Administration officials, Erekat asked: "Why not get rid of [Yisrael Beitenu chairman] Lieberman and bring Livni [into the government coalition]?"
The "Palestine Papers" suggest that most Palestinian negotiators are strongly supportive of Livni, according to Al-Jazeera's analysis of the confidential documents.
Another reason why Palestinians are excited about Livni is the fact that she was a member of Ehud Olmert's government when the former prime minister offered the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank -- an offer that was ultimately rejected by Abbas.
Now the Palestinian Authority is hoping that a government headed by Herzog and Livni would restart the peace talks from the point where they ended during the Olmert government. This means that the Palestinians are not going to accept anything less than what they rejected back then.
Of course, there are other Palestinians who disagree, arguing that despite her apparent moderate views, Livni has also displayed a hardline policy on some of the core issues, first and foremost the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel. They also cite her insistence on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and her role in the 2008-2009 Gaza war.
At the end of the day, it does not really matter who forms the next government in Israel. Herzog and Livni are not going to offer the PA much more than what former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert presented in the past 15 years.
The next Israeli government will also face two Palestinian camps: one that is demanding 100% of what Israel took in 1948, and a second that is asking for almost 100% of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
And let us not forget that the two Palestinian camps -- Hamas and Fatah -- are still at war with each other. So even if the future Israeli government manages to strike a deal with President Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, it is certain that Hamas and many other Palestinians will reject it.
While Hamas continues to seek the destruction of Israel through violence and terrorism, the Palestinian Authority is working hard to isolate and delegitimize Israel through diplomatic means. The PA appears determined to pursue its campaign, regardless of the outcome of the Israeli elections.
Neither Herzog nor Livni will be able to stop the Palestinians from filing "war crimes" charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court. Moreover, they will not be able to change the current policy of the Palestinian Authority, which is based on imposing a solution on Israel with the help of the international community.
Herzog and Livni can promise -- as much as they want -- Israeli voters that they will "revive" the peace process with the Palestinians. But what the voters need to realize is that the Palestinian Authority has already made a strategic decision to try to force a solution on Israel through the international community, and not negotiations. The voters also need to know that any deal with Abbas and the PA is not a recipe for peace and coexistence.
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