Akiva Eldar
Haaretz (Opinion)
July 26, 2011 - 12:00am

On Monday, Barak Ravid revealed to readers of this newspaper that the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem was considering punishing the Palestinians for their declaration of statehood by scrapping the Oslo Accords.

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This "threat" is akin to a fellow saying he'll cut off his own nose to spite someone else's face. If the Oslo Accords did not exist, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have had to invent them.

The document, and in particular the section that confiscates 60 percent of the Palestinians' land in the West Bank (Area C ) and grants Israeli settlers exclusive access to it, should be placed in a safe by the right-wing and guarded by an elite army unit. And this is why this childish "threat," which has been hovering in the air ever since Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first waved it at European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton a month ago, is not making much of an impression on Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen ); the Palestinian president continues to gather international support for the UN vote expected to take place in September.

Netanyahu's advisors, who came up with the "threat," could learn a thing or two about diplomacy and the media from Abbas' staff. The last and most interesting lesson deals with neutralizing the land mine of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which Netanyahu has placed at the Palestinians' feet.

During his visit to Ankara over the weekend, Abbas hinted at the version of the declaration to be given to the UN General Assembly and the Security Council that will include an explicit reference to General Assembly Resolution 181, made on November 29, 1947 - the same resolution that declared the establishment of a Jewish state. The suggestion will include a quotation from the Palestinian Declaration of Independence of December 1988, which was based on Resolution 181 and noted specifically that the resolution "divided Palestine into two countries, one Arab and the other Jewish."

In an interview with the Al-Hayat daily, one of Abbas's close advisors, Azam al Ahmad, emphasized that Resolution 181 was the source of authority for defining the two neighboring states. And in this way, the Palestinians let the air out of Netanyahu's Jewish state balloon, which the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC managed to sell to U.S. President Obama.

In an article published over the weekend in the online journal, Foreign Policy, Daniel Levy, a senior member of the Washington think tank, the New America Foundation, discloses that in a meeting of the leaders of the Quartet last week in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requested of the UN secretary-general and her colleagues in the European Union and Russia to support a general declaration of "two states for two people, Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people."

Levy, whose information stems from a source at the highest levels of the Quartet, adds that Clinton did not stop there. At a time when Palestinians were hanging onto Obama's May 19 speech at the U.S. State Department (the June 4, 1967 borders and territory swaps by agreement as the basis for negotiations ), the U.S. secretary of state instead presented the Quartet with the president's speech that he gave a few days later to a conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC: "Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different to the one that existed on June 4, 1967 ... and allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides."

This version is nearly identical to a letter sent by former President George W. Bush to Ariel Sharon in return for the disengagement from Gaza. Obama offered this to Netanyahu for free. As a bonus, the Americans asked the Quartet to declare that the solution of two states for two nations not be achieved by a process taking place at the UN, and that it should not be expected that a state would conduct negotiations with a terror organization sworn to destroy it.

And what did the U.S. offer the Quartet in place of a UN vote and Palestinian reconciliation? "A call to the sides to return to direct negotiations, to start with preparations to maximize chances of success."

Netanyahu couldn't have put this nothing-at-all any better himself. It's no wonder that the Quartet meeting achieved nothing. It seems that Stratagem No. 181 wasn't enough to keep Obama's Security Council veto in check. The casting of votes for the independence of Palestine in the crowded hall in September 2011 will also be a test of the independence of Germany and France, Britain and Spain, and Italy and Greece.

And perhaps, in between meetings with his political advisors and those taking place in synagogues, Obama will study the report of his National Security Council and State Department on meetings with representatives of the Israeli Council on Peace and Security. Maj. Gen. (ret. ) Natan Sharoni and Shlomo Gazit, Brig. Gen. (ret. ) Nehemiah Dagan, Col. (ret. ) Shaul Arieli and Gilad Sher, who was chief of staff for Ehud Barak when he was prime minister, as well as former senior diplomats Ilan Baruch and Alon Pinchas, are visiting the U.S. at the invitation of Jewish peace movement, J Street. During their educational tour from coast to coast, which began yesterday in Washington, they are trying to convince government officials and members of Congress that as opposed to what they hear from Netanyahu, the 1967 borders are defensible in the framework of a peace agreement and agreed upon security arrangements.

The members of the delegation, including some founders of the Israeli Peace Initiative who have adopted the Arab peace initiative as a basis for negotiations are going to say that there is a Palestinian partner (and an Israeli one? ) and that there is even a plan for a general agreement that includes the Arab world. During the rest of the week members of the group will bring this different Israeli voice to large Jewish communities in the U.S.


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