Sunday, August 23, 2009
Israeli leader Netanyahu flies into week of contentious talks with U.S., Europe
Maybe the leaders of England and Germany will be able to understand what U.S. leaders seem to be unable to grasp during talks this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Europe. A freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank is reportedly the top of the agenda for Netanyahu's meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell in London on Tuesday and Wednesday, and with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, according to the Reuters international news service. The Palestinian Authority insists on such a freeze before it will agree to negotiate with Israel on a peace deal, and Israel actually is committed to a freeze under the George W. Bush-era road map peace framework. But as readers of this blog realize, the settlement issue is merely a distraction from the real issue -- do Israel's neighbors, particularly the Palestinian Authority, want to live in peace and cooperation with Israel. The louder Palestinian leaders insist on making a freeze a condition of talks, the louder they are answering that question with "no." New towns with homes for hundreds of thousands of people are a material asset to a poor country -- why wouldn't any country want that? The issue for Palestinian leaders is that they don't think their people will accept Jewish people being their neighbors and will vote them out of office if peace happens. The failure to prepare their people for peace with Israel is is an utter dereliction of their duty as leaders. They are still funding school curricula that teach Palestinian children to distrust and hate Jewish people -- people who will be their neighbors whenever peace finally comes to the region. There is no reason why settlements built by Israel on land destined to be part of a Palestinian state can't be part of that state -- unless the Palestinian government is planning a country with no Jewish people allowed. If that's the case, then Palestinian leaders have no desire to live in peace with Israel, because peace necessarily involves people living side-by-side in understood cooperation. If the leaders do not want peace with Israel, then all they are doing is buying time until they can resume warfare against the Jewish state. And that is what Netanyahu needs to explain to England, Germany and the U.S. envoy during his trip to Europe.