When Will the Palestinians Make 'Painful Concessions' for Peace?

During her visit to Israel on July 16, at meetings held with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton pushed Israel to make gestures to strengthen the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, according to Israeli press reports.  Once again, the Obama administration is expecting Israel to make concessions that would entice the Palestinian president to return to the negotiating table, but what about parity?  What concessions, painful or otherwise, have the Palestinians been pushed to make?

Should Abbas be bribed monetarily by the Obama administration and its western allies to return to “peace” negotiations?  Will he be willing to compromise on the Palestinian right of return, or on recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland?  The answer is no.

Addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24, 2011, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “We must… find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians, and that will mean painful concessions on Israel’s part that include ceding some places that are part of the Jewish homelands.”  The Palestinian response came fast and furious from Nabil Shaath, a top aide to Mahmoud Abbas.  Shaath told the Associated Press that the outlines of the peace deal described by Netanyahu constituted a “declaration of war.”

What exactly did Netanyahu propose that constituted, according to Shaath, a “declaration of war”? Netanyahu said that “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.” Netanyahu also alluded to President Obama’s statement that “Israel’s borders after any peace agreement will be different than they were before the 1967 war.”  Netanyahu proceeded to explain that the reason a peace agreement hasn’t been struck between Israel and the Palestinians is that the other side is "unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.”  Netanyahu added: "It is time for the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stand before his people and say 'I will accept a Jewish state.'”

According to the AP, Shaath said that Netanyahu’s proposal ignores the Israeli-Arab borders that existed before the 1967 war -- lines that Shaath alleged President Obama delineated in May 2011.

One principle features of a two-state solution is the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Another is providing Israel with secure, i.e., strategic, if not historical, boundaries.  That was the spirit and essence of UNSC Resolution 242, which premised “territories (not all) for peace.” However, it was an agreement directed at the Arab states and Israel, as the Palestinians were not even a party to it. Nowhere did UNSC Resolution 242 compel Israel to return to the June 4, 1967, borders; moreover, it conditioned Israeli withdrawal from captured territories on an Arab peace agreement and recognition of Israel.  Both Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel and received all the captured territories.  It is interesting to note that in 1988, Jordan turned responsibility for negotiating the future of the West Bank over to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Oslo Accords, which were signed at the White House lawn in 1993, specified a gradual return of Israeli-held territory to the PLO with Area A (Palestinian cities and towns) under full Palestinian control, Area B (rural areas) under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control, and Area C (Israeli settlements with 350,000 Jews, and a sparsely populated area with less than 50,000 Palestinians) under full Israeli control. It further conditioned gradual Israeli withdrawal on the Palestinian Authority ceasing its murderous incitement against Israel and Jews in the mosques, media, and educational system.  The Accords also called for mutual recognition and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. And it demanded that the PA eradicate the terrorist infrastructure and maintain a police force not an army.