Sunday, July 11, 2010

Palestinian rhetoric on Israeli settlements is just talk

Anybody can say anything about whatever they want to about anything, and it is with that understanding that Sunday's statement by former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei about Israeli "settlements" in Jerusalem being a "time bomb" should be viewed. Qurei and Israeli opposition leader Tsipi Livni, the former foreign minister, urged moderates on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work harder to settle their differences. "The Jerusalem situation, I think, is a time bomb if it continues in this way," Qurei said a meeting of academics in Jerusalem, according to the Reuters international news service. "It has an impact on the Palestinian people . . . and on trust on both sides." Qurei was discussing Israel's continuing construction of housing for its citizens in formerly Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem, often after demolishing Palestinian-owned housing. "It is 19 years since Oslo and things remain as is," Qurei said, referring to the historic agreement that recognized Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank of the Jordan River, which Israel captured, along with East Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war, and led to the return from exile of Yasir Arafat. Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for reaching the Oslo Accords. But the lasting peace that seemed within reach in 1993 no longer appears at hand, not after the years of violence and mistrust that supplanted what turned out to be naive optimism -- on both sides. If the Israelis assumed that their Arab enemies, with whom they had already fought three all-out wars, were now willing to accept their Jewish neighbors as equals, and if Palestinian leaders assumed they were on the fast-track to statehood without having to undo the hatred they had been planting in the hearts of their people and convince them to work for peace, they both were tragically mistaken. The repeated failure of all parties to accept these realities are responsible for the current situation.

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