Friday, July 30, 2010

Arab League rhetoric ignores the facts

Thursday's declaration by the Arab League that it favored direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel whenever PA President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to participate is the height of arrogance. After all, the intransigence of the very 21 countries that make up the League of Arab States is responsible for the perpetually unsettled political situation in the Middle East and the political and economic isolation of the Palestinian people. Of course, the league is free to continue to blame the situation on Israel, but false rhetoric does not become truthful merely by how often or how vehemently it is repeated. The league issued its declaration after Abbas briefed members of its peace process committee at a meeting in Cairo, according to the Reuters international news service. League members agreed to send a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama outlining Palestinian concerns over the negotiating process with Israel in the face of that country's refusal to extend a 10-month partial ban on settlement construction after Sept. 25, Reuters said. "There is a green light from the Arabs to go to direct negotiations if we receive terms of reference (for the negotiations) in line with the letter," Nabil Abu Rdainah, a senior Abbas aide, told Reuters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants direct negotiations with Abbas to begin immediately, but his coalition is tied to pro-settler political parties that adamantly oppose extending the partial settlement freeze. The prospects for a breakthrough in such talks is, of course, unclear. But nobody should forget how the situation got to this point. Instead of accepting Palestinians and Jews as brothers and neighbors, which they clearly are, Arab states have chosen to keep Palestinians who fled the three wars they started in refugee camps for decades and to keep maintain a constant state of hostilities against Israel, first as warring enemies and now through radical proxy groups.

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