If Israel completely halts construction in the settlements, negotiations with the Palestinians on a final-status agreement can be completed within six months, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Haaretz Tuesday, adding that Israel needn't declare the freeze, just carry it out.
Abbas, who appeared self-assured and upbeat during the exclusive interview, said the Palestinians had no preconditions for talks with Israel [sic] but wanted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet his obligations to the road map, which calls for a cessation of construction in the settlements. [hat tip: Rick Richman]
We're well past Abbas's self-imposed deadline, everyone thought the peace talks were going nowhere and that Abbas conferring with the Arab League was just a formality--to support his boycott of peace talks.
But instead: Arab League endorses direct talks
Arab League foreign ministers on Thursday authorized the Palestinian Authority to enter into direct negotiations with Israel, but left it up to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to decide on the timing.Leave it to Abbas to decide on the timing?
Jerusalem immediately welcomed the decision, taken at a special meeting in Cairo, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issuing a statement saying he was “prepared to begin direct and honest discussions with the Palestinian Authority in the coming days.”
We've already seen how that has been working.
Still, this is supposed to be promising, but let's not forget just how reliant Israel's alleged peace partner is on the 22 countries of the Arab League.
One senior Israeli official said that the League’s decision could have been “much worse,” and that it could have piled on a number of conditions for Abbas before enabling him to enter the talks.Interesting metaphor--so just how many plays do you think Abbas can really call on his own before he is forced to go back to the sidelines and confer with his 22 coaches?
“Abbas now has the backing to go into the talks,” the official said, adding that the Arab League gave him the ball to do with it what he wanted.
Here are some comments from one of them:
The Qatari minister said that Thursday’s meeting did not discuss when and how the direct talks would take place. “The Palestinians will decide when conditions are suitable for the negotiations,” he said.Other than leaving it to Abbas to decide when to resume talks--which does sort of seem like an endorsement of the status quo--note that the Qatari minister insists that the Arabs will stick to their 'principles'--so just who do you think he was referring to when he said "there's a price for peace"?
“We are sure that Israel is not serious about the peace process,” the minister said. “Israel just wants to waste time. On the other hand, we are confident that the US is serious and we are sure of Obama’s intentions to achieve peace.”
He said that the Arab ministers were originally opposed to direct talks with Israel, but changed their mind due to the “situation in the Arab world.”
He added: “Whether we hold indirect or direct talks with Israel, there will be no progress as long as [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is around. But we want to prove to the world that we want peace, without giving up our principles, and that there’s a price for peace.” [emphasis added]
In other words--don't expect any concessions. No negotiating.
So now after Netanyahu says to Abbas: Put up or shut up!
- According to Qatar: "We are sure that Israel is not serious about the peace process."
- According to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa: "This is what we are trying to prevent by proving that they are not serious."
Abbas/Arab League responds: No, you put up or shut up!
Just how far can they get, daring each other/calling what they think is each other's bluff?
It's a heck of a way to negotiate peace.
And before you shrug and say, "well, at least it's something"--here is Muhammad Dahlan, a senior Fatah official:
“We continue to insist on receiving assurances before moving to direct talks that would serve as a reference for the peace process and would be based on the two-state solution,” Dahlan said. “It’s clear to us that the US administration has failed to get any assurances from Israel. Nor has it managed to change the Israeli government’s position. Therefore we declare that we won’t move to direct negotiations until the conditions set by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are fulfilled.”There, feel better now?
Check out Israel Matzav: Arab League agrees to direct talks but....
and Elder of Zion: The "Direct Talks" Farce
Crossposted on Soccer Dad
Technorati Tag: Abbas and Arab League and Proximity Talks.