Speaking to the media in Jerusalem, where he hosted the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (EU) Frederica Mogherini, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revived his pledge for the two-state formula for peace in the Middle-East. When addressing the press, Netanyahu said: “We want a peace that would end the conflict once and for all. I don’t support a one-state solution, I don’t believe that’s a solution at all, I support the vision of two states for two peoples.”
The turnaround from his late-March campaign remark, uttered in the midst of a furious re-election bid and which appeared to rupture future negotiations, was followed by a repeat of Israel’s stipulation any Palestinian state created in territory taken in the 1967 war must be free of military character.
Despite the abrupt adjournment of talks in 2014, ostensibly over Jewish settlements in occupied territory, Mohgerini addressed Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders individually during her visit and said her purpose was to “discuss opportunities to re-launch the peace process.”
Upon first inspection, Netanyahu’s election remarks could be interpreted as an unapologetic stance, but his words were a safeguard for his re-election endeavor despite the vortex of criticism from Washington.
Just recently, Netanyahu completed the assembly of the Israeli government and named Interior Minister, Sylvan Shalom, the top negotiator on Israel’s behalf in future talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Despite Shalom being saddled with a reputation as an irretrievable belligerent peddling obstructionism at a negotiating table, Palestinian representatives have rejected Israeli offers for Palestinian statehood and Israeli acquiescence to Palestinian territorial demands three times between 2000-08.
It certainly did not help the peace talks when Fatah aligned itself with Hamas and continued to circumvent the direct talks with consistent appeals for recognition from the United Nations (UN). Netanyahu’s election-season comment stirred white-hot anger in Washington, but the Obama Administration appeared comatose over the Fatah-Hamas alliance, which revealed Fatah’s overt ties to a group committed to terror.
While EU intercession can be useful in the absence of a nudge from Washington, what is most hostile to any peace agreement is Fatah’s declining to grant legitimacy to the State of Israel and its mooring with Hamas.[reuters] [washingtonpost.com] [nytimes.com]