Moving the goalposts on Palestinian statehood
05/27/2011 - 11:27
James Besser

Republican lawmakers and some pro-Israel groups are in an snit about President Obama's call for Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations, with the starting point being the 1967 borders – with negotiated land swaps.

Is what they're saying that there should never be a real Palestinian state? Because if you reject the idea of starting with the 67 borders and negotiating from there, that may be what you're advocating, intentionally or not.

Starting from the '67 borders, with appropriate land swaps, has been the underlying assumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from the beginning and the position of every recent Israeli government , along with the idea that the “final status” issues to be negotiated include Jerusalem and refugees.

Now, you're branded anti-Israel if you say the exact status of Jerusalem must be worked out between the parties, or that the Palestinian refugee issue must be addressed (rather than rejected from the outset), or that the 1967 borders, with negotiated land swaps, should be the basis of negotiations.

What the people advocating these positions don't say is that the inevitable bottom line of their argument is that Israel must keep so much West Bank land that there cannot possibly be a viable Palestinian state.

That, in essence, is what pro-Israel groups are arguing for – whether they mean it or not - when they lash out at President Obama's position on the negotiations, and that's what members of Congress are basically advocating when they join the attack.

The goal posts have been moved by those Israeli leaders and their friends here who oppose creation of a Palestinian state – period. Even as they argue for conditions that make a real Palestinian state all but impossible, they insist they support a two-state solution.

Maybe it's time those taking this position are a little more up front about exactly what it is they are advocating.

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Mr. Besser,
Shortly after the 1967 war, Israel put a real offer of peace on the table. They vowed not to return to the vulnerable armistice lines of 1948 and '49 or to a divided Jerusalem, and yet to be "unbelievably generous in working out peace terms," as Foreign Minister Abba Eban put it. In direct talks with Arab countries, "everything is negotiable," he said. This was before there were any settlements.
Three months later, at Khartoum, the Arab response was no recognition, no negotiations, no peace.
Here we are, 44 years and tens of thousands of dead later, and now the Arabs and Obama suggest Israel should repeat that offer and agree to negotiations based on it.
I don't know about you, but in my life, I don't get to re-make decisions that turned out bad. If I did, my stock portfolio would be worth a whole lot more.
I don't think any nation in history has said to another nation, if you don't like the outcome of a choice you have made, come back to us and we'll renegotiate it.
Time does go on and goalposts do move (if your horizon is longer than a day). There may be some who oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, but I'm not one of them. What I oppose are Arab governments and people who, time after time, choose war with Jews over real peace.

Really appreciate this piece of observation since all or nothing doesn't resemble negotiation but merely subjugation. This piece really gets to the heart of negotiation by starting at a point and then redrawing the effort to assure safety, security, and peace for both parties to learn to live in respect for each other and understanding that surely G-d would want for His creation. Sometimes it seems to be forgotten that ALL humans are G-d's children and this sibling rivalry must grieve His heart. Is not the admonition to ALL of us reside in Micah 6:8..."Do justice, Love Kindness, Walk humbly with G-d". Justice with kindness seems to rely on walking with G-d.

All very brilliant. But guess what. The palestinians don't seem to have gotten the word

Given the outcry over President Obama's restatement of the obvious, and agreed-on, general outlines of a Palestinian/Israeli peace negotiations; and absent even a gesture by Israel toward resuming negotiations in the spirit of generosity that Prime Minister Netanyahu so prided himself on pledging in his speech to Congress; I fear, Mr. Besser, that your analysis is right. And I think you are the only one I've heard on the Jewish/Israeli side to have made this painful argument so plainly. (In a complementary way, Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg, has imagined an "entanglement" scenario that brings about a one-state solution, ending in an apartheid-like state or a Palestinian-majority state, if Israelis continue to move the goal post.)

With the guide lines in place here in area to respond, it is hard to express my thoughts but remove them and allow me to cross over these guidelines and you'll hear me loud an clear.

Mr Besser missed the point expressed by many Jewish people regarding the comments spelled out by President Obama. It is impossible to achieve an outline for peace, when Hamas has forged an agreement with Fatah. And until the Palestinian leadership acknowledges Israel's right to exist, there will never be peace. Sometimes no deal is superior to an agreement that will weaken Israel and serve as a threat to its survival. And to outline a solution in public at this juncture seems to be ill timed at best.
Most Jews along with Mr. Besser, hope for a viable real peace plan. However, in the past few days, we have witnessed the resignation of US Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, the attempt to storm the Israeli embassy in Egypt, violent Nakba observances, and border infiltrations along the entire Israel border.
Although a lasting sustaining peace would be a wonderful achievement by the Obama administration, a phony peace for the sake of appeasing the world will be reminiscent of the Paris Peace accords which also had so much promise. This bold treaty which was undertaken because the American public demanded it, and because President Nixon needed it done to fulfill a campaign promise and to distract the public from Watergate. Unfortunately within two years, the agreement collasped when the Communists took full advantage of America's weakness after Watergate and the World's desire to see that conflict end.. I wonder if Mr. Besser sees the same parallels.

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