Analysis: Netanyahu’s call for a revised Saudi initiative may be too little too late

T. Belman. I totally disagree that this olive branch is “too little, too late”. I think that the time is right to conclude a deal now. Both from the Arab point of view and from Israel’s point of view. That is not to say that I want such a deal. I further believe that before the end of this year, a deal will be announced.

What is 14-years between frenemies?

By Tovah Lazaroff, JPOST

Yes, we like Paris, but when it comes to peace, Cairo has become our new Mecca.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night attempted to circumvent a French led internationalized process due to launch Friday by proposing a regional one based on a revised version of a 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

In so doing, he sounded almost as if he is was responding to a 14-year old call by the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and a resolution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Because, hey, what is 14-years between frenemies?

This is not the first time Netanyahu has spoken of the importance of regional players to the peace process, and the Saudi plan in particular as the basis for such talks.

He began to mention it already last year upon his re-election and has returned to it in a more clear way in the last month, as the specter of a French brokered peace process has become an increasing reality, even taking to tweeting about it earlier this month.

But his statement on Monday night, together with his new defense minister Avigdor Liberman, marks his most clear call to date.

“The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” he said.

“To this end, we welcome the recent speech by Egyptian President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi and his offer to help advance peace and security in the region,” Netanyahu said.

The addition of those two words, peace and security are not random. He has opposed the French initiative because he fears it would dictate the end results of any negotiations, before talks even began. It is already clear to him that those final terms would place maximum weight on a Palestinian vision of two-states and give minimal consideration to an Israeli one.

Hence the Palestinians have embraced the initiative singing Viva La France, while Israel has feared, not just because it worries that the results would endanger it besieged state, but because it has very little leverage in a European arena that is such waking up to the dangers of Middle East extremism.

It is hopeful that a Cairo led process with moderate Arab nations would be a more sympathetic staging ground, because the common regional security interests that binds Israel to its moderate neighbors, might also give it more leverage in setting a framework for the renewal of talks with the Palestinian that have been frozen since April 2014.

But after such a long wait for Israel to accept its proposal, the Arab world did not immediately respond Netanyahu’s waving of a new olive branch.

Israel woke up this morning to deafening silence. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not race to Jerusalem to talk with Netanyahu about how to make peace.

Earlier this month Sisi called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take historic steps for peace. But on Tuesday morning, Sisi did not issue invitations for a Cairo summit nor did he appear to tell the French to cancel their June 3 Paris meeting, with representatives for over 20 countries, including from the Arab League and Western nations like the US.

Over the weekend, the Arab League, which has adopted as its own the 2002 plan initially proposed by the Saudis, said that it stood behind the French initiative. It too has been mum on Netanyahu’s statements.

True, Netanyahu just spoke last night, but one would imagine that after 14-years they would want to seize the day. And they might have, had Netanyahu declared his acceptance of the 2002 Arab Plan.

But what the Israeli premier offered was a revised version.

He did so, because he believes that Israel has options when it comes to setting the terms of a two-state solution, particularly with respect to the issue of borders.

Perhaps former prime minister Ariel Sharon could have followed his 2005 Gaza pull out with a call for a revised Arab peace plan and succeeded in holding such talks. Netanyahu could maybe even have don it in 2009. But in 2016, he has very little wiggle room or credit in any arena for a two-state solution not based on the pre-1967 lines.

His Monday night proclamation might sound dramatic to the Israeli ear but for the larger international community and the regional one, it is probably too little to late, to shift the every hardening consensus for a two-state solution at the 67 lines.

May 31, 2016 | 7 Comments »

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  1. Taking defense post, Liberman says Israeli unity trumps holding land

    Now why would he say that??????

    Abbas: I’ll judge Liberman by his ‘stance on peace,’ not his politics
    PA president says he doesn’t reject Israelis based on their ‘national affiliation,’ notes that right-wing leaders have made peace


  2. @ JoeBillScott:
    I didn’t say “we need to conclude a deal.” In fact I just thought that a deal was coming. I did not comment on whether it was a good deal or a bad deal.

    I reject a deal in which they don’t compromise or make “painful concessions”.

  3. @ JoeBillScott:
    No deal is possible that requires consent of the Palestinians.

    They are NOT willing agree to a Jewish State no matter the size of the borders. They are not willing to demilitarize especially Hamas. They are not willing to forgo their hypothetical right of return. They are not will to allows Israel to stay on the high ground in Judah/Samaria and in the Jordan Valley and on the border of Jordan. They are not willing to agree to our demands in Jerusalem.

    Abbas wants a state handed to him without making any concessions. Hamas wants no negotiations.

    So Bibi’s talk about willing to negotiate the Arab Peace Plan is just that talk to stall off the French proposal. We want to talk to the Arab States about normalization while this game of a two states continues. Quietly and very slowly some normalization may occur (some limited stuff has happened). Water and future gas sales. Some Jordanians working in Eilat.

    Israel should apply Israeli Law in the interim to all the blocks and large Jewish Towns in Judah/Samaria. We are currently to extensive digital mapping in Judah/Samaria, this has also sorts of implications but we will have to wait to see what happens with it. We will get verbal and written abuse but so what!

  4. What Israel needs to do is start annexing piece by piece of Jewish Towns and blocks in Area C while saying we are willing to negotiate.

    Is Israel Planning to Annex Maale Adumim?
    A wide majority of Israeli Jews, including those both on the left and right, favor Israeli sovereignty over the city of Maale Adumim, according to a new poll conducted by the Midgam polling firm.

    The Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset, which includes 20 MKs from various right-wing and religious parties, has pledged to draw up a bill for the annexation of Maale Adumim during the upcoming summer session.

    “The consensus view in the public is that Maale Adumim is an inseparable part of Israel,” a statement by the Land of Israel Lobby said, “and it has even become part of the political consensus from right to left, and it is clear that Maale Adumim will remain under Israeli control in any future status arrangement. The Land of Israel Lobby will work within the new coalition framework to advance legislation extending Israeli sovereignty over Maale Adumim.”