Who Stands Against Peace?

Palestinians Are Sounding Reasonable as Israel Drifts Right

getty images

By J.J. Goldberg

Published November 29, 2012, issue of December 07, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The last days of November 2012 were an awkward time for Israel in the international arena. After years of presenting itself as the reasonable party in the conflict, saddled with a Palestinian negotiating partner that won’t negotiate, its ruling Likud party wound up a two-day Knesset primary vote on November 26 by choosing a slate of candidates dominated by hard-line rightists who oppose Israeli-Palestinian compromise and reject Palestinian statehood.

The next day, Tuesday the 27th, the Palestine Liberation Organization formally asked the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a non-member state “living side by side in peace and security with Israel.” As expected, the proposed state would be set up “on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, with delineation of final borders to be determined in final status negotiations.” The negotiations would let Israel seek border adjustments to protect its airport and preserve its main settlement blocs.

The timing of the two events could hardly be worse from Israel’s point of view. Israel objects to the very idea of the Palestinians asking the United Nations to grant them statehood. According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Palestine’s ultimate status is to be decided in direct negotiations between them, not by an outside party.

Israeli spokesmen say the Palestinian U.N. gambit is a violation of the 1993 accords. This sounds a bit rich coming from people who’ve spent the last 19 years denouncing the accords as an Israeli “suicide pact,” but that’s politics for you.

More to the point, defining the contours of the Palestinian state “on the basis of the pre-1967 borders” is a poison pill, at least to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. In his view, this pre-empts the biggest question before talks even begin, leaving only details to be negotiated. Netanyahu insists negotiations commence without such preconditions. The Palestinians’ U.N. bid looks like an end run. It lets them come to the table on his terms while the world body watches and keeps score.

However you slice it, the events make for terrible Israeli P.R. Just when the Palestinians are putting their best face forward, asking for international certification of their desire to live peacefully alongside Israel, Israel’s political system adopts a blueprint for a government after the January elections that seemingly has nothing to offer the Palestinians but the back of a fist.

Further complicating Israel’s position, the PLO resolution calls “for a way to be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states.” That should be music to Israeli ears. It’s the first formal international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, at least since the handful of embassies once located there decamped for Tel Aviv in the early 1980s. If the holy city’s status were resolved, it would clear the path for America and the other 85 countries with embassies in greater Tel Aviv to end the insult and move their offices to the capital. That is, if Israel were to willing to play ball and allow a Palestinian capital in the city’s eastern half.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.