Sunday, April 13, 2014

Unilateral action

In my recent posting entitled "the blame game" I omitted reference to the approval for the construction of 700 homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, that was announced as the ill-fated talks were breaking down.  Both Pres. Abbas and US Secty of State Kerry referred to this as a reason for the breakdown of the talks and of course, blamed Israel.  But, actually this announcement, as all such announcements, are merely routinely made by a Committee of the Housing Ministry.  The actual construction will not take place for maybe a year or two, and can easily be stopped at any stage.  So to blame this announcement for the break-down of the talks is merely Palestinian propaganda, that US Secty Kerry and others eagerly repeated.
Also, I did not address the fact that one reason PM Netanyahu cancelled the release the last batch of prisoners to the PA is that among them are 12 Israeli Arabs.  There are many in Israel who cannot see any justification for releasing to the PA these Israeli citizens who have been found guilty in an Israeli court of terrorism or related charges.  Naftali Bennett of the Bayit Yehudi party has announced publicly that if these prisoners are released he will take his party out of the Coalition.  He claims that making such a release to the PA negates Israeli sovereignty and will set a bad precedent.  PM Netanyahu avoided a crisis by not releasing the last batch of prisoners, but it was a mistake to agree to release Israeli Arabs in the first place.
There has been little comment about a speech Pres. Abbas gave, after he torpedoed the talks, in which he laid out new conditions before he would continue the talks.  To his previous preconditions, that Israel release Palestinian prisoners and accept the 1967 ceasefire lines as the border of the Palestinian State, he added that Israel must release all Palestinian prisoners, that Israel must institute a full halt on all construction in the West Bank and that Israel must accept the right of return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel. He also insisted that Israel must recognize Palestinian sovereignty in all of the area C that they occupy under the Oslo Accords.  Without Israel agreeing to these preconditions he will not continue negotiating. Since he knows there is no chance whatsoever of Israel accepting these preconditions, this is intended to be an end game. 
Secty of State Kerry continues to blame Israel whenever he has the chance.  But, the State Dept. spokesperson Jan Psaki repeatedly explains that Kerry doesn't really mean it, he really blames both sides equally.  If that is true why isn't he castigating Pres. Abbas for sabotaging the talks by taking the PA's case unilaterally to the UN and other agencies well before the April 29 deadline for the talks to end.  It was all planned and prepared in advance, including the intention to blame Israel.  But, Israel is not without means to respond.  PM Netanyahu announced that Israel will deduct a portion of the taxes that it collects for the PA in the amount that it has given to the released prisoners as a payment for their terrorist activity and for payment for electricity and water supplied by Israel to the PA.  Psaki referred to these unilateral reactions by Israel as "unfortunate."  If there are more unilateral actions by the PA that evade the requirement for negotiating a peace agreement, then Israel could cease the payments altogether, as well as blocking all PA shipments that are sent from Israeli ports and stopping all foreign payments to the PA that go through Israeli financial institutions. Ultimately Israel could simply re-occupy and annex land that it would have received in any agreed land-swaps.  For taking unilateral action and subverting the peace process the Palestinians must be made to suffer, and they will find that Israel can also take unilateral actions.  


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