Israel: What Peace Deal?
After it appeared there might be a possibility the US might broker a “final accord” following the meeting in New York, Israel is pouring cold water on the idea:
Israel’s powerful foreign minister declared Thursday that there is no chance of reaching a final accord with the Palestinians any time soon, casting a pall over the U.S. Mideast envoy’s latest effort to get peace talks moving again.
Peacemaking policy in Israel is decided by the prime minister’s office, and not the foreign ministry. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman carries significant weight in Israeli decision-making, and his is a sentiment common among confidants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Or, said another way, Lieberman is only saying what Netanyahu is thinking. With all the happy talk coming out of the Obama administration after the President managed to get Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the same room in New York, you’d have thought peace talks and happy days were just around the corner.
Not so says Lieberman:
Lieberman told Israel Radio on Thursday that anyone who thinks the two sides can soon reach a deal ending their decades-old conflict “doesn’t understand the situation and is spreading delusions.”
What the two sides should do, he said, was to come up with a long-term interim arrangement that would ensure prosperity, security and stability, and leave the tough issues “to a much later stage.”
This approach runs counter to U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal quickly. Obama has declared that establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is a vital U.S. interest. Also, Israel would not find a Palestinian partner for putting off a resolution to the conflict indefinitely.
Lieberman’s view does not bode well for U.S. attempts to restart negotiations.
The non-negotiable point for both sides is settlements on the West Bank. Abbas won’t go to the negotiating table without them and Netanyahu refuses to freeze such settlements permanently. Without a resolution on that, there are no negotiations, and such a resolution seems improbable at the moment.