Why Have Palestinian Leaders Rejected All Offers of Peace?

In taking his case to the UN, Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to force an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. But what could Abbas possibly expect to achieve that Israel had not already offered him (or Arafat) in 2000, 2001, and 2008? Jeff Robbins suggests an answer:

The answer . . . and the reasonable inference to be drawn from the history of Palestinian rejectionism is not a particularly happy one. It is that Israel’s proposals for an independent Palestinian state have come with a condition that the Palestinian leadership has regarded as a deal-breaker: a permanent end of the conflict, and a commitment to accept Israel’s existence. By contrast, the Security Council end-game sought by the Palestinians is an end-run around any such condition; it would impose on the Palestinians no obligation to end the dispute.

This is not by chance. As Abbas knows, the Palestinian street opposes any end of conflict with Israel that fails to bring about its disappearance. Even before the summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, a public-opinion poll showed that fewer than 30 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution—a West Bank/Gaza state living in lasting peace with Israel. Almost two-thirds told pollsters that “resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.” And this past September, 80 percent of Palestinians polled said that Hamas should continue to fire rockets at Israel, with Hamas, recognized by the United States as a terrorist enterprise, receiving an 88-percent approval rating, compared with only 36 percent approving the considerably more moderate Palestinian Authority government led by Abbas.

Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Bill Clinton, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian statehood, Peace Process, United Nations, Yasir Arafat

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy