"I'll take my ball and go home if you don't let me ..."When all else fails, bring out the tried and true strategy that has always worked! Sometimes life here in Israel seems surreal; it is like living through the movie entitled "Ground Hog Day" with Bill Murray who repeats the same day over and over again. Once again the old Palestinian "playbook" has been opened. A so-called "Peace Conference" has been scheduled for next month in Maryland. The participants not only include Israel and the Palestinians, many other countries have been invited; most have agreed to participate. Here is the latest from the newswire, only a couple hours ago:
"The Palestinians are threatening to boycott the conference of Annapolis. The diplomat and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei said that without a joint document of commitment, the Palestinians would plan not to take part in the conference. According to him, the principles of the settlement are clear for both sides and it now remains to put them on paper in a clear, serious document, and to fix a calendar for negotiations."Olmert has been meeting overtly with Abbas and their respective colleagues have been meeting covertly during the past several weeks. One of the meeting purposes was to develop and/or design the agenda for this meeting. Israel has learned, the "hard way" to avoid putting specific "bargaining agreements", an oxymoron in the least and pure ignorance at best, in a written document prior to the official meeting. Why?
We, in Israel, have had much experience with this kind of bargaining or negotiating practice. For example, with the elder Assad of Syria, he would only start talking with Israel if we began where we had left off during previous meetings, and months and years before the current meeting. Arafat was no better. Even though the negotiations would fall apart, the next time we met, the "non-agreed to" document literally served as the starting point for the next round of discussions. Thus, a failed set of discussions transformed themselves into established fact-nothing could be further from the truth. In addition, if we did not agree to the new artificial starting point, the Arab leadership would cry "foul' or I suggest they called "wolf". This strategy has been repeated time after time; dependent upon Israel's leadership we either caved into the request or rejected out it of hand.
Of course, the idea is to extract everything you can from your enemy, with no cost to self, and when you can't achieve what you know you cannot achieve in the first place, open the "Charlie Brown football" playbook. Simply stated this means: as your enemy approaches, pull the idea away, suddenly. If the enemy still does not give into your demands, threaten to take your football (positions) with you and go home. The caveat is that you know the Western world is not united and that sooner, than later, pressure will be brought onto Israel to once again yield to the Palestinian's pre-conditional demands.
Up to now Olmert seemingly has held his ground on key issues as well as with holding any pre-conference demands statement on paper. However, the heat has been turned up, today another Palestinian weighed in with the following statement:
"Mohamed Dahlan has made a call to start peace negotiations at the point where they were left 7 years ago during the Taba discussions. In an interview on Al Arabiya, this Fatah leader said that Israel "was dragging its tail" in the resolution of the Palestinian issue."The follow-up tactic is unwrapped and initiated-blame Israel for the failure to create the proper conditions for success. Use this point to next make Israel out as a country who really does not want peace. Wrap this statement with multiple examples of Israel's belligerent behavior toward the Palestinian people and once again demonstrate how they are the victims of Israeli aggression. So, you see how they "connect the dots"? They link concept A with concept L even though they are not directly related. They rely on the public not understanding this "logic" and focus upon the emotion of the rhetoric. They have used the opportunity to state again how evil Israel really is-this plays well in Gaza and in the other disputed territory of Judea and Sameria.
At some point in time, this reaction, yes it is a reaction rather than a response, must cease. Israel must set aside the degree to which our allies "may be offended" by the following statement and deliver it to the Palestinians.
"We want genuine, authentic peace. We are prepared to negotiate. The operative word is negotiate. We agree to meet prior to a conference to set up procedural guidelines only. We declare that no preconditions exist and we shall present our points of view based upon today's facts, circumstances and situations. We are no longer operating under concessions-based diplomacy; in fact we are only going to discuss using rights-based diplomacy. It takes two motivated sides to negotiate-you are welcome to declare your rights and we shall declare our international legal as well as historical rights to the same disputed land. The land has been under international legal dispute since 1967. We, too, will re-start discussions, utilizing international law as our compass. However, we no longer accept selective use of these laws nor do we rely upon your interpretation of previous resolutions, e.g., UN 194 to dictate the settlement of our disagreements.The challenge is before us. However, let me be perfectly clear. The challenge is to the entire world. I would suggest that there is a payoff for certain countries and groups of people if the current situation continues. These payoffs and the groups and countries should be identified and then held accountable to the emerging new paradigm. Only when outside interests take many steps away will the possibility of peace be possible. Until then, it is wishful thinking and another self-serving mental operation.
Since 1967 we have employed, with the influence of the international community, a "land for peace" strategy. The return on this Israeli investment has been abject failure. After 40 years we declare this a failed social experiment. The outcome of Israel giving land has been 40 years of ongoing terrorism with thousands murdered and killed and tens of thousands permanently injured. Any reasonable, thoughtful, caring person would agree that this has been a failed policy. However, we do believe that two parties can sit down together and create a new possibility. To continue using the same approach over and over again and expect to have different results is the definition of insanity. Our peoples are neither insane nor are they unworthy -it is past time that we, the designated leaders, set aside our history and work to create a long-term solution for peace.
New approaches are called for; mutual agreement is required before moving toward implementation. As history has demonstrated anything less than this fundamental human behavior approach will be doomed. We request that all outside interests on either side of the disagreement stand down during this process. During this interim time frame, we shall concomitantly ease passage in the sections of the disputed Judea-Sameria territory legally under the security domain of Israel as was secured by your previous government. We shall dispatch a water research team to disenfranchised areas under your domain whose infrastructure has suffered for decades in order to create safe drinking water as well as to design and build new sewage systems in order for your citizens' health to improve. In return, you will allow a group of independent educators to review all of your textbooks and remove all anti-Israel lessons. All incitement messages on or in your media shall cease and be replaced with productive co-existence messages.
The preceding are necessary conditions of support for moving toward peace. We welcome you to a new era of negotiations."