Thus it has happened! Or – it will happen, next week. Or, more exactly, it will begin happening, if nothing unpredictable occurs. It will either happen or not.But – joking apart. The most intense efforts by the US Secretary of States bore fruit at last. The sides agreed to meet.
Still the atmosphere around the forthcoming talks is highly sceptical. There is a lot of talks about Israelis and Palestinians being dragged to negotiation table against their will, almost by their collars. But even if so, there is no symmetry in the motives of reluctance from two sides. Makhmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leaders are scared by probable failure of the negotiations. Netanyahu and his environment are afraid – one never knows – of the positive result.
In fact, Netanyahu is quite aware that any substantial progress toward the two-states solution will endanger the integrity of his coalition, and besides he may remain isolated within his own Likud party. Prominent representatives of the “national camp” repeat unanimously that the final settlement of the conflict – that is an officially proclaimed goal of the talks – is out of question. At the same time, if the negotiations fail, Netanyahu’s stake is small. For Makhmoud Abbas the risks are much higher and amount to more than his personal leadership.
Well, it is politician’s habit not to look into the future beyond their terms of office. The politician’s entire life is a tactical game, race against time. By the way, our prime-minister had tactical reasons for resuming negotiations: freeing himself from Kerry’s pressure, ensuring another several months of quiet in the international arena.Still one cannot exclude some shifts in Netanyahu’s consciousness, in his apprehension of general situation. The last steps of the European Community, though pretty well declarative, display an important warning sine. The amazement that our establishment demonstrates on the occasion – why, how, we are shocked! – looks hypocritical. To anybody who isn’t blind it was clear long ago that it would come to this. The policy, that has been pursued de facto, was simply articulated by means of official directive. Europeans follow this course very correctly, but consistently. They make it clear that there’ll be no “reverse”. Until the status-quo remains intact the sanctions against the Israeli settlement policy will continue and, may be, even broaden. Take it for granted.
The matter is by no means a boycott or delegitimization of Israel. International community – represented in this case by the EC – simply tells us: you get out of step, we will never agree with the Israeli stand on territories and settlements.
Our right-wingers would respond: it doesn’t matter, one can live with this. The main thing is not to retreat, to stand still. Yet It is not clear, where will lead us this way of standing still (even if “on our ground”). This crucial question was asked many times, but we never heard an answer, although it is not so difficult to evaluate variants and perspectives.
If the negotiations fail or get stuck, then, regardless of who will be blamed more, Europeans and many other countries will continue their line of restricted sanctions against Israel and increasing Palestinian sovereignty. The general public (NGOs etc.) will be more and more active in carrying out protest campaigns.
But more serious scenario is also possible. Today’s relative calm in the territories may easily change into actions of protest and disobedience from Palestinian side, and this can provoke forceful response of the IDF. After that the situation may develop unpredictably. One should keep in mind that Palestine is now a UNO member, even if not enjoying full rights. Diplomatic demarches and appeals to International Court will follow inevitably, which will bring to our country a lot of harm – political, juridical and economical.
The flood of “Arab Spring” in the area between “the river and the sea” – it’s a more near and direct threat than the gradual emergence of the “bi-national state”. But the last option is also quite real in case of failure or stalling of the negotiation process. I only hope that our prime-minister and other leaders consider such a perspective with full seriousness and responsibility.
Some figures of our ruling coalition, for example Akunis and Lieberman, stated already that the aim of Israel in the negotiations should be reaching an intermediate solution. May be it that’s right from the tactical point. But agreement, as is generally known, emerges from the consent of both sides. It is hard to believe that this option will suffice Palestinian public and the PA leaders.
In addition to this such a decision would only freeze the situation which does not become any healthier with the time. We can postpone the final settlement as much as we want – it will not change its general parameters for the best. At the same time numerous experts, well acquainted with Palestinian reality, say unambiguously that we will not find Palestinian leader more sensible and more committed to political solution than Makhmoud Abbas. And this in spite of complicated situation “on the ground” that prompts him to demonstrate obstinacy and intractability.
Thus what will happen? Nobody knows. Scepticism is strong and hopes are moderate. It is not possible to read in politicians’ hearts and minds. We’d better try and sort out our own interests and attitudes. They say, the agreement, if and when it is reached, will be submitted to referendum. I am not sure it is a good decision, but if the Knesset decrees, so it will be. For this occasion it is worth for all of us to prepare beforehand: to look at the problem with a fresh eye, to abandon stereotypes and propagandistic rubbish, to evaluate anew risks and opportunities.
The autor’s translation from russian