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We have a partner for peace, his name is Mahmoud Abbas

Following a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Orly Noy is left with just one question: who is the real partner for peace here? 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) arrives for a welcoming ceremony for Polish President Andrzej Duda in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 18, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) arrives for a welcoming ceremony for Polish President Andrzej Duda in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 18, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

I was invited to join a delegation of Palestinian citizens of Israel, most of them residents of Jaffa, to Ramallah on Sunday, in order to meet with the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, headed by Muhammad al-Madani.

I had met al-Madani over year ago, just before Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman prevented him from entering Israeli territory, claiming that he was working to “influence Israeli politics.” Yes, he is certainly trying to influence Israeli politics. He still believes, with all his naiveté, that Palestinians can circumvent Israeli politicians and speak directly to the Israeli public in order to try and convince them that they have a partner for peace.

Let’s take a moment to think about this: the Palestinian Authority includes a special committee whose entire job is to make connections and dialogue with the Israeli public. It has met with the Mizrahi public, with Israelis from the former Soviet Union, religious Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and of course Palestinian citizens of Israel. While Israel does everything it can to prevent meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians are doing all they can to actually meet us.

As we arrived in Ramallah, we quickly discovered that our meeting with al-Madani and the members of his office was only the beginning. We later found out that we would be touring the new Palestinian city Rawabi, 12 miles from Ramallah, followed by a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas.

A new city on a hill

The tour to Rawabi was surreal. Our guide was the project’s head of marketing, a young, well-spoken and excitable man whose pride in this ambitious project was hard to miss. There is no doubt that he can envision how the city — which now seems like a ghost town — will look like in just a few years: bustling, prestigious, environmentally friendly, and planned down to the last meter. Every stone that was used to build Rawabi, he told us, was quarried from the mountain on which the city is being built — including all the water infrastructure, the electricity (and like all electricity in the West Bank, it comes from East Jerusalem; according to the Oslo Accords, Palestinians are not allowed to create electricity in the West Bank), gas, and telephone lines will be built under the ground. Buses will not be allowed into the city — the municipality will provide a free shuttle service that will bring residents directly to their home from the bus station at the entrance to the city.

A view of Rawabi. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A view of Rawabi. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Today over 2,000 people live in Rawabi, which is being built for a population of 40,000. Every corner is being built up, and not only with apartment buildings: there are plans for a water park, an ice skating rink, an area for horseback riding, a large commercial center, a glitzy open-air mall with international brands, a cinema, and there is already an amphitheater that has welcomed some of the biggest names in the Arab world. And no, Jews cannot purchase homes there. One of the participants asks whether one must pass through a checkpoint on the way. “Currently no,” answered our guide, “but after all, we are in the West Bank. They can decide at any point to put up a checkpoint.”

The view of Rawabi might be breathtaking, yet it also has a disturbingly synthetic feel to it, especially when compared to Ramallah, to which we returned at the end of the tour. We headed to the Muqata’a, Mahmoud Abbas’ compound, to meet with the president. The lack of security checks at the entrance was touching: a single, beeping metal detector bothered no one — and we were in. After passing by Yasser Arafat’s tomb, we headed into another room where we waited for Abbas.

Yasser Arafat Mausoleam, Ramallah (HansKindanani/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Yasser Arafat Mausoleam, Ramallah. (HansKindanani/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

A photo with the president

I know that Abbas is not well liked, to say the least, among many people I know. They like to call him a “collaborator with the occupation.” As Israelis who are responsible for the impossible conditions under which he operates, I suggest we act with a little bit more humility, especially when it comes to deciding which Palestinians are “good” and which ones are “bad.” But one cannot help but feel a fondness for this cordial, patient, and funny man who sat with us for nearly an hour and spoke honestly and touchingly about the frustration of trying to undo the “no partner” label that Israel forced on him.

+972 Magazine blogger Orly Noy meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

+972 Magazine blogger Orly Noy meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Only much later did Abbas realize that there was an Israeli Jew among the group. The conversation was entirely meant for Palestinians. And beyond the longing that he expressed for Jaffa, he mostly spoke about the acute need and strong desire to reach an agreement. “They said accept UN Security Council Resolution 242 and we’ll talk. We accepted. They put that in their pocket and said, ‘condemn terror and we’ll talk,’ we condemned and they put it in their pocket. And nothing. There is no way to express to them that we do not want to sabotage their prosperity — we just want our legal right to prosperity and independence.

Among other things, Abbas said that he insists on meeting with the Jewish community of every city he visits around the world. Think about the meaning behind this. When was the last time an Israeli prime minister ever called for a meeting with the Muslim community or Palestinian representatives in the diaspora?

When Abbas was told that there was a Jewish journalist in the room, I was asked to say a few words. I spoke and then took a photo with the president. I won’t deny it, the visit was touching. Abbas may be a collaborator, a tycoon, weak, and disconnected, but this impressive man gives the feeling that his life goal is to see an independent Palestine. And for that he has built the the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, for that he is willing to sit with Israelis in his office.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      Gets my vote for subversive +972 article of the month. Ten tons of Israeli right wing propaganda going up in smoke. They’ll come out now and naysay furiously but it will be more smoke.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Baladi Akka 1948

      Great article from my favorite Israeli journalist here. And I share Noy’s feelings and description of Abu Mazen.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      The article is partly about the efforts of Palestinians to have contact with Israelis and Israel’s attempts to prevent this – “While Israel does everything it can to prevent meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians are doing all they can to actually meet us.” – so it is surely relevant to point out that the Israeli general Yair Golan has said:

      “And, in fact, the wall, even though Israel calls it the security barrier officially, in a meeting in which I was present, the brigadier general Yair Golan, the former commander of the Israeli forces in the West Bank, told the people present that in fact the wall [was] not built in order to provide security. It was–his orders that he received from the Israeli government were that the wall’s first purpose is to separate between people, meaning that the wall’s true intention is to prevent Israelis and Palestinians from meeting each other, becoming friends, getting married, and its secondary purpose is to provide security.”

      http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10964

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        More ‘in your face’ lies.

        The fence was constructed:

        1. To make it more difficult for crazed suicide bombers to blow up Israelis which is what happened, on average twice a week, between 2000 and 2005 during the second Intifada, before the fence was built.

        2. And for those who would try to scale the fence, it also serves as a deterrent. A message that tells them that if they persist with their bombing campaign, even worse things than the fence may befall them.

        And what a surprise (NOT), the fence worked. It did it’s job. No more suicide bombings. So the spen meisters like Bruce and Ben are now working overtime to twist this whole sorry saga inside out and make it appear that Israel is the villain and the Palestinian Arabs are just a friendly bunch who want to make Israeli friends.

        Hey, this is very recent history. Anyone can easily check out what the Palestinian Arabs did during the second intifada. It is within the living memory of most adults. I for one remember how “friendly” the Arabs were to two unfortunate reservists who lost their way and wandered into Ramallah. They were lynched by a crazed Arab mob under the “benign” noses of the PA police who didn’t even lift a finger to try to stop the atrocity. What a friendly act, huh? It was actually filmed by French journalists who unknown to the mob happened to be around. It shocked the world and it reminded us Israelis how Arabs feel about us and what could happen to us too if we would allow ourselves to be fooled by sweet words and polemicists.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Firentis

      The question is raised of what would it take for Israelis to take him and the Palestinians seriously when they say they want peace, because that is the goal, not “an agreement”.

      It is pretty simple. The magic words are: “Two States For Two Peoples”.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bernie X

      If Abbas would actually let West Bank Palestinians vote, they would toss him out, in favor of Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    6. AJew

      Yes he will talk to every Jew he can meet and spin his lies to them in order to sow confusion into “the enemy camp”. Classic psychological warfare. But…

      Abbas refused to talk to Israeli leaders with whom he could potentially make peace. For 8 long years, the entire term of the Obama administration, Abbas/Abu Mazen “the peace maker” refused to negotiate.

      1. Why has that so called peace maker Abbas refuse to sit down and even attempt to negotiate peace terms for 8 long years?

      2. How can there be peace without negotiations?

      3. How can the occupation end without peace?

      One of the regular polemicists of this site, Ben, attempted to claim that the “negotiation terms” were unacceptable. Because that is just using different words to preconditions which Abbas tried to force through as a condition for negotiating. That is exactly the EXCUSE that he used for not negotiating. Netanyahu actually said that he is willing to negotiate without preconditions. In fact, for a brief period (10 months) he even agreed to Abbas’s precondition and he introduced a freeze on settlements. Even that did not bring Abbas/Abu Mazen to the negotiating table.

      But the author of this article blames Israel? What else is new? Do you even have the propensity to admit that you and your side are ever wrong?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Wasn’t Abbas a revisionist? He denied in the past the holocaust.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Mark

      Sounds great. I hope he, or another such Palestinian peace seeker, will be returned at the next general election. Must be due soon!

      Reply to Comment
    9. i_like_ike52

      ow, do you believe everything politicians tell you? Are you that naive? Do you believe everything Netanyahu tells you? Why not? Why do you believe Abbas but not Netanyahu?
      Stalin and Saddam Huseein used to put on shows like this to persuade gullible visitors as well. Stalin even took people to visit model “prison camps” which were made to look like luxury resorts to show them how nice they were. Turns out he was lying the whole time. Saddam assured everyone that he was winning his wars against the US. Seems like he was lying to.
      Abbas is NOT interested in peace. Abbas wants to stay in power and keep up sucking handouts form the US and EU and he does this by babbling in front of people like you about his supposed “desire for peace”. Even when there were Israeli Leaders like Sharon, Barak and Olmert in power, who were dying to give him a state, he refused. He even a Muslim-born President of the US to help him, but he adamantly refused. It must also be pointed out that he has no authorization to speak for the Palestinians because he regime is illegal. he knows this and that is why he refuses to allow elections, knowing that HAMAS would win them, and they don’t even claim to be a ‘peace partner’ for Israel.
      BTW-you too are a Palestinian just as much as the Israeli Arabs who accompanied you…you are a Palestinian Jew.

      Reply to Comment
    10. i_like_ike52

      One has to learn the tricks of how autocratic dictators try to win over gullible visitors. Arafat was a master. I once read accounts of a visits by Israelis Arafat’s headquarters, one of whom was Yossi Sarid. He would offer a meal and then personally put the food on each visitor’s plate (very generous of him). He would then start with his “peace” lecture, but then, according to Sarid, when the visitors started asking about terrorism, he started to babble incoherently, and said things like that the SHABAK carried out the notorious Beit Lidd bombing which killed over 20 Israelis “in order to make him look bad”. Sarid drew the conclusion that Arafat supposedly wasn’t all there upstairs (i.e. he was mentally deteriorating) so we really can’t expect him to do anything about the terrorism. Arafat’s basic line was that only he could make peace, but he was too weak to make peace, thus we have to give him power, but he has to be given endless concessions because otherwise he can’t do anything on his part for peace.
      Another thing he would do is while he was entertaining his guests, an aide would come in an tell him something or hand him a note. After the aide turned to leave, Arafat would turn to his guests and say something like “that fellow is a real idiot, but I keep him around here because I owed his father a favor”. The purpose of this theater is to make the guest feel “gee, Arafat is confiding in me so I can believe whatever it is he is saying”.
      Another master was Nasser in Egypt. In the years before the 1967 War he would tell Western journalists that he really wanted peace with Israel. When asked about his incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric, he would reply that he “really did want peace, but since that was unpopular with his public he was forced to say the belligerent rhetoric for ‘internal reasons’, but his TRUE position was that he supposedly wanted peace”. In other words, he is telling the visitors that he tells the TRUTH to foreign journalists but he LIES to his own people. Sounds nice to Western ears, but does that make sense?
      Abbas is cut from the same cloth.

      Reply to Comment
    11. i_like_ike52

      What is important in not what someone like Abbas tells groups like this, who have absolutely no influence. What is important is what he tells his own people. Does he talk about peace with them? Does he prepare them for the “Painful concessions” they are going to have to make in order to achieve a compromise peace? Does he talk about reconciliation with the Jews of the country?
      Or does he have his controlled media spew out endless whining and genocidal antisemitic propaganda?
      Does he have a constitutional regime or not? Does he have a plan for ending the split with HAMS which removes any legitimacy from his regime and any negotiations they may participate in?
      The bottom line is DOES HE TELL HIS PEOPLE THE SAME THINGS HE TELLS GROUPS LIKE THESE?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        This strenuous effort of yours has such a crafted propaganda feel to it. A “just so” and “look over here!” storytelling designed to divert from the obviously subversive things Orly is revealing. One of your techniques is to read the minds of and psychoanalyze dead people with specious exactitude and historical falsity. Another is to chant Arafat, Arafat, Arafat! Abu Mazen equals Arafat! Rhymes conceptually with Hamas = Isis! But the appeal to more recent and throughly know history is where you really trip up:

        “Even when there were Israeli Leaders like Sharon, Barak and Olmert in power, who were dying to give him a state, he refused. He even a Muslim-born President of the US to help him, but he adamantly refused.”

        A preposterous set of distortions.

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          _Ike raised several pertinent points. Benny refuses to address any of those points. He takes the lazy way out and just dismisses _Ike’s very pertinent points by “royal decree”.

          Hey, Benny, there is only one problem with your approach: you are not royalty!

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh ok, let me address a point. Do you think that if Israel actually worked with Abbas to strengthen him and give him something he could use to build up his stature and have credibility so that he could tell his people about painful concessions–instead of belittling him and weakening him at every turn and making him out to be a quisling–do you then think things would be different? Or do you think only Jews are human beings with basic human dynamics and needs like this? And since when has Netanyahu been preparing his people for “painful concessions” instead of telling them at every turn that Jerusalem is indivisible and “all ours!” and settlements are not an obstacle! and such and since when did Bibi ever dare to tell a settler even how to blow his nose properly without quaking in fear of their anger? Was that ok? I hope I addressed your concerns.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            It is not our job to strengthen or weaken Palestinian Arab leaders. It is the job of Arabs to select their own leaders.

            In fact, it would be counterproductive for us to be involved in influencing who their leaders are. As soon as we favor one leader, that would automatically weaken that leader.

            There is as much point for us to be involved in helping THEIR leader as it is for them to help ours. Going by your logic, Ben, Netanyahu is Israel’s leader because the Palestinian Arabs did not respond with gestures of their own to our more moderate leaders such as Rabin, Ehud Barak and Olmert.

            Each side has to take responsibility for what they do or don’t do.

            And right now, your “peace maker” Abbas refuses to negotiate.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It’s not a matter of your job it’s a matter of your interests. And I said nothing about you selecting their leader. That would just be more manipulation. Nor is it a matter of you being seen favoring one leader over another but their leader being respected by you and being seen being respected by you and by extension you being seen as respecting that leader’s people. And offering something fair and minimally dignified which you never have.

            Rabin was not a moderate. He was assassinated by the Right as he was on the verge of possibly being moderate. Barak was not moderate, he was a politically inept poser forced to the right and sabotaged by Sharon and Israeli extremism. Olmert was a moderate. Abu Mazen went very far with him but it faltered over things such as Ariel/Ma’aleh Adumim/E1 and swap area percentages and right of return numbers, all inherently negotiable issues that could have been solved had Olmert not been brought down by his corruption issues and the Israeli right wing while things faltered. And Tzipi Livni telling him to hold off. It is a lie to say Abu Mazen rejected Olmert. I have the first hand account of Olmert ally Bernard Avishai to back me up.

            The fallacy here is that these are two equal negotiating partners with equal power. Grossly untrue. The Israelis have all the power including the United States backing them tooth and nail. The Palestinians have only peace (no more resistance) and acceptance to offer. Acceptance of the loss of 78% of their land. In brutally twisting their arm to cough up more Israel is demanding that they give up something else: their dignity, and their viability. This is where the struggle gets vicious and becomes a twilight struggle. You are demanding they do the impossible. Whereas they are not demanding you do the impossible.

            Indeed each side has to take responsibility. As far as who refuses to take responsibility negotiate I’m about to serve you up evidence you won’t like.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            The last person I want to listen to about what our interests are, is you Benny.

            In fact, after you wrote your words about what you think are our interests, I stopped reading the rest of your post.

            Why? Because long ago already, you disqualified yourself as someone who is interested about what our interests are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            How many times have we seen fake questions about negotiations Israel supposedly wants but can’t get Abbas to sit down for? Among these questions is the idea that if only Abbas would agree to “recognize a Jewish State” then Netanyahu would rush to negotiate, that this is truly the key issue. Well the cat’s out of the bag now. The fakeness revealed:

            http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.772582

            ‘During the summit, Kerry presented a plan for a regional peace initiative including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a renewal of talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries. Netanyahu did not accept Kerry’s proposal and said he would have difficulty getting it approved by his governing coalition….

            …Zehava Galon tweeted that in the moment of truth, it again became clear that Netanyahu isn’t interested in the recognition of a Jewish state, putting an end to the conflict or in a regional initiative. “The goal is always the same: to gain time,” she said. “At the time I wrote that there’s no shortage of rare opportunities for peace. They’ve been arriving consistently for quite a few years. The problem has always been Netanyahu, not the lack of opportunities.”

            Reply to Comment
          • i_like_ike52

            The Palestinians weren’t even invited. Why? Because everyone knows they would never accept the terms “everyone knows the parameters” of that Obama, Kerry and the Israeli Left keep pushing. A big stumbling block is the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to the West Bank, as proposed. If that were to happen, there would be a bloody civil war there because the existing West Bank population would view the refugees as alien invaders who would overturn the existing economic and political system there. That is why they don’t give rights to the existing refugee population in the camps there.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            https://en.m.wikinews.org/wiki/Clinton_to_Abbas:_Resume_peace_talks_with_no_preconditions

            “United States Secretary of State Hillary Clintontold Palestinian negotiators yesterday that they should resume talks with Israeli negotiators without the preconditions that Israel stop all settlement building in the occupied territories. Mrs. Clinton’s statements came after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbastold Israeli negotiators that all negotiations would be postponed until Israel stopped building settlement houses in Palestinian territory.”

            This was in 2009.

            And nothing changed since.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Situation normal all F….ed up as far as Benny is concerned. Now he seems to be saying that Netanyahu is the one who has been refusing to negotiate and wait for it…. Abbas has been willing to negotiate. Everythingis always upside down with Benny. But read even this article by Ma’an:

            http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=773029

            “Netanyahu agrees to meet Abbas in Moscow, rejects any ‘preconditions’ set by Palestinians
            SEPT. 6, 2016 10:16 P.M. (UPDATED: SEPT. 12, 2016 11:58 A.M.) Facebook82Twitter
            However, on Tuesday Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Netanyahu rejected any preconditions for talks between the two leaders, saying Palestinian spokespeople had already imposed conditions on the meeting, such as the release of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.”

            “If Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) wants to meet without preconditions for direct talks, I’m ready at all times. I’ve been calling on him to so for seven years already, and if he agrees to do so there’ll be a meeting,” Haaretz reported Netanyahu saying.”

            See Benny? Even a Palestinian news outlet admits that Netanyahu is willing to negotiate as long as no preconditions are imposed on him as a price for negotiations.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Kerry presented a plan for a regional peace initiative including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a renewal of talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries.

            Why did not Netanyahu’s heart leap with joy? Why did he start shuffling and refusing? His oft-stated, your constantly-stated, insistence is that “it’s all about their refusal to recognize a Jewish state.” Instead he starts mumbling that his coalition won’t accept this great breakthrough. Oh my. Ten tons of BS, about his patented “Jewish state recognition ‘security’ device, with hidden internal illusion of haggling mechanism” (TM), up in smoke. Up. In. Smoke. Galon knows a thing or two, more than you and I, about what goes on.

            ‘Ksenia Svetlova noted that Netanyahu insisted on regional peace in his meeting last week with U.S. President Donald Trump. “Now the truth is revealed again,” she said. “The prime minister rejected a regional initiative headed by former Secretary of State John Kerry. As Netanyahu has said on a number of occasions – there will be nothing because there is nothing…. Netanyahu is leading us to a binational-state disaster.”
            …Tamar Zandberg…”a serial refusenik, captivated by the right wing with no ability to get out of the disaster he is leading Israel to.”‘

            (The only thing to add is that these posturing MKs let themselves off far too easily by blaming it all on Netanyahu and not themselves and the people they represent.)

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Kerry presented a plan for a regional peace initiative including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a renewal of talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries.

            Why did not Netanyahu’s heart leap with joy? Why did he start shuffling and refusing? His oft-stated, your constantly-stated, insistence is that it is all about the refusal to “recognize a Jewish state.” This is the key, we were told, over and over and over. Instead he starts mumbling that his coalition won’t accept this great breakthrough. Oh my. Years of BS just went up in smoke. Poof! Let us hear no more nonsense about this trademark ‘illusion of haggling’ type device. Gustav whatever will you post about now? Your raison d’être cruelly exposed as a fraud. Wow.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            AGAIN!

            But Abbas refused to negotiate without setting preconditions!

            Reply to Comment
    12. i_like_ike52

      An important point was raised. Since it is the Israelis who are expected to give up tangential assets in return for intangible things like ‘peace’, it is logical to expect that the Palestinian leadership would reach out to the Israeli public in order to build the political will to make these concessions. Has Abbas done that? NO! This is because he has no interest in reaching a peace agreement with Israel. His goal is to stay in power and get money from the EU and US. You don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.
      Olmert made an offer to Abbas which included virtually all the territorial concessions that the agreement “everyone knows the terms of” included…more or less return to the pre-67 lines, division of Jerusalem and Israeli giving up its holy places to the Palestinians in the guise of “international control” which would have various Arab parties making up the majority of the international control body. Olmert was also prepared, in principle, to accept the “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees, while not committing himself to a specific number. Abbas refused to respond to the offer with a counter offer. Olmert soon fell from power, to be replaced by Tzippi Livni as head of the Kadima party, who is no less committed to the creation of a Palestinian state than Olmert was. She failed to form a government, so new elections were called. At this point, Abbas could have come forward, said he and Livni were committed to reaching an agreement and the Israeli voters should vote for Kadima or the other parties of the so-called “peace camp”. He did not do so. Why?
      BECAUSE ABBAS MUCH PREFERS HAVING THE LIKUD AND THE “RIGHT” IN POWER. This is the best situation for him because it removes the pressure from him to make concessions he can not and will not make. The world will blame Netanyahu for the “lack of progress” as indeed Obama and Kerry did in their parting shots against Israel.
      Sadat made a grand gesture to Israel and got what he wanted. Abbas will never reach out tot he Israeli public in the way Sadat did because he knows what happened to Sadat. The Palestinian public rejects “normalization” (meaning making peace gestures by way of dialogue, meetings, etc). Abbas does have to occasionally have to pacify the EU and US donors by having meaningless meetings with small, unimportant groups who have no influence like the one we read about here in this piece. This is the reality.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Lewis from Afula

      Yes, our peace is a chap who masterminded the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and also authored a PhD thesis about how there was no holocaust.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Ben

      I almost stopped reading at “everyone knows…” but forged on to see called “tangential assets” what the most of the rest of the world calls “stolen.” If I went to my bank with a stolen property as collateral they wouldn’t give me a loan they’d call the police. But let’s set that aside.
      Over the next hill I spied “is logical to expect that the Palestinian leadership would reach out to the Israeli public in order to build the political will to make these concessions. Has Abbas done that? NO!”
      This is not true. He has made any number of statements. The man said he saw it as his right to visit Safed only as a tourist fir crying out loud. In 2014 he called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era.” He has been Israel’s enduring, faithful, effective security contractor, earning the recognition of such by Israel’s security establishment. When he tried to work towards an effective unity government with Hamas (Israel’s fake complaint but secret satisfaction and design is that the Palestinians are divided) Netanyahu quickly slapped that down. Tell me what overtures Netanyahu has made other than telling them “they need to lower their expectations” and “settlements are not an obstacle to peace” and other condescending and contemptuous remarks.
      “I’ll prove it. Olmert made an offer….”
      He made no such offer. “More or less” doesn’t cut it in accounts of real estate in the Holy Land.
      “At this point, Abbas could have come forward…”
      In what kind of fairy tale? Can you just imagine the field day Netanyahu and the Right Wing would have had with that? With “Tzipora and Mahmoud.” “In bed with each other selling us out.” I will remind you that Netanyahu’s Likud ad men crafted this slogan and used it against “Tzipora”: “It’s too big for Livni [to handle].” Miri Regev, female, even got into the game. “Livni isn’t right for the job. It is too big for her to handle.”
      Your account of Abbas, his words, his actions, his motivations, is belied by the authoritative inside account of Bernard Avishai:
      A Plan for Peace That Still Could Be
      By BERNARD AVISHAI
      FEBRUARY 7, 2011
      https://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Israel-t.html?pagewanted=all.&_r=0&referer=

      Reply to Comment
      • i_like_ike52

        After rereading Avishai’s piece, I can only come to the conclusion that either you haven’t read it or you are grossly distorting it. It says exactly what I said Olmert offered.
        First of all, it must be understood that Avishai is a dishonest person. I have monitored his blog for years and he lives, like so many “progressives” in a fantasy land of fantasy facts. He states at the end the “HAMAS has committed to accept a deal if it is submitted to a referendum which Abbas accepts”. Nonsense. No such referendum would ever be held, because Abbas knows he would lose, just like he refuses to hold general elections for the Palestinian Authority, which he knows he would lose. HAMAS is not committed to anything and Avishai knows that.
        As I indicated, Olmert did make a formal offer which Abbas refused to respond to. Avishai claims the differences between the stated positions of the two sides are very small and that Abbas was waiting for Obama to step in and force the Palestinian positions on Israel. Well, tell me, if they were so close, WHY DIDN’T OBAMA IMPOSE THE DEAL? Why not?
        Because Abbas could not accept ANY deal on any terms. Even if we assume that Avishai is telling the truth, and the Olmert and Abbas were telling the truth, there was no basis for an agreement, as Obama indeed ultimately must of have found out. The supposed agreements on Jerusalem and the refugees were full of holes , e.g. “international control of the Holy Basin was a certain recipe for violence and would inevitably collapse. Same with NATO observers on the border with Jordan who would be forced out either by the inevitable HAMAS regime that would come to power on the West Bank, or be driven out by terrorist attacks.
        On the big one, the “right of return of the Palestinian refugees” Abbas could not demand anything less than full, unrestricted right of return of ALL refugees, and even Olmert could not accept that. Avishai falsely presents this as them being “close” to an agreement with a minor disagreement over whether to all 15,000 refugees to return, or several million.
        Your claim that had Livni and Abbas made a joint presentation to the Israeli public claiming that they were close to an agreement would be shot down by the public proves that it is NOT Netanyahu’s fault that there is no agreement. Netanyahu was not elected in order to carry out the policies the “progressives” want and this is what the Israeli voter expects from its leaders.

        Reply to Comment
      • i_like_ike52

        I recall his statement about the refugees supposedly not returning to Tsfat. After that came out, there was the predictable firestorm of opposition from the Palestinians, and he backtracked it. A typical example of saying one thing to a Western/Israeli audience, and the opposite to his own people. I already told you how Nasser would do the same years before. Arafat also did this. He even said openly to his people right after Oslo that he would be forced to say things he didn’t mean, but they shouldn’t worry about it, he was loyal to the ultimate goals. Abbas can not afford to burn all his bridges with Israel, the US and EU because he needs to keep the money flowing from them, so he feels obligated on occasion to say “he wants peace” but his people know he doesn’t mean it.

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        • carmen

          Isn’t that like a politician to talk out of both sides of their mouths? tRUMP says one thing to his base, something different to Theresa May, and goes wack job on twitter, making his handlers work overtime to walk back the crazy. Netanyahooo told his american audience he favored a 2 state solution, and told his homeboys and girls there would never be a palestinian state on his watch. Is this whataboutery?

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          ​I’m not distorting anything. Your account of of what “more or less” means and of Abbas’ behavior and evident motives is distorted. Far from being dishonest, Avishai is one of the few people who gets beyond the standard propaganda.

          _Ike52: “Your claim that had Livni and Abbas made a joint presentation to the Israeli public claiming that they were close to an agreement would be shot down by the public proves that it is NOT Netanyahu’s fault that there is no agreement.”

          Here you basically admit that, HAD Livni and Abbas made a joint presentation to the Israeli public claiming that they were close to an agreement (supposedly manna from heaven, the very New Day you say you long for) it would be shot down by the public. I never said that Netanyahu does not slavishly ride public opinion, manipulating it like hell when he can but riding it when he can’t or in this case riding it gleefully. This is not ultimately about Netanyahu. You said it yourself: “this is what the Israeli voter expects from its leaders.”

          _Ike52: “I recall his statement about the refugees supposedly not returning to Tsfat. After that came out, there was the predictable firestorm of opposition from the Palestinians, and he backtracked it. A typical example of saying one thing to a Western/Israeli audience, and the opposite to his own people.”

          This is a typical mix of distortion and outright falsehood. The “firestorm” was from Hamas, not “the Palestinians” and Abbas stood his ground. Only a person deliberately looking to begrudge and undercut Abbas at any cost would pick apart his statements and claim he “backtracked.” The Times of Israel, no less, clarifies ==>
          http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-hasnt-given-up-on-right-of-return-for-palestinian-refugees-but-hes-being-realistic-says-aide/

          _Ike52: ” he feels obligated on occasion to say “he wants peace” but his people know he doesn’t mean it.”

          I can’t imagine a better description of Netanyahu. You set grossly false double standards.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            The proof is in the pudding.

            For the last 8 years, Abbas refused to even negotiate without setting preconditions but Netanyahu said that he is willing to negotiate without any preconditions (see references in my previous posts).

            So, how can there be peace without negotiations?

            Without peace, how can the occupation end?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Once again we are back to the ol’ pizza analogy. If we are negotiating the equitable divvying up of a pizza pie, and you–who have all the power to eat the pie while I have none, my hands tied and my mouth taped shut–say to me “let’s negotiate without this silly precondition of yours that I stop gobbling up slices while we negotiate, what should be my response?

            Even “your pinup boy” Trump gets this incredibly subtle, nuanced, sophisticated, hard to grasp concept right! “There is limited remaining territory,” Trump said of the West Bank. “Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains. I’m not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace.” Consider the profundity: “Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains.” Wow. Let us deeply meditate on this:

            “Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains.”

            Wow. Genius! A new paradigm shift. A scientific revolution. Scholars are applying for grants to study the implications. New fields of geography are opened. The amazing Chance Gardener Trump states the incredibly obvious and the world reels, stands agape. A US President stating the bloody obvious in regards to the I-P conflict? Why, it’s simply not done! The nerve of him!

            We are not done yet. More to follow on this truly odd business of “Netanyahu said.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Pizza Smizza. Pizza has nothing to do with this discussion. Here is why:

            Currently, without negotiations, new houses are being built in “settlements”.

            With negotiations (and no preconditions) new houses would be built in “settlements”.

            Both ways the outcome is the same because rightly or wrongly Israel feels entitled to build new houses in settlements (you like it? I am being very pragmatic. I said “rightly or wrongly”).

            If Abbas would have negotiated and signed a peace deal 8 years ago (or more), no more new houses would have been built in “settlements” which would have been outside Israel’s agreed borders.

            This way, since no peace deal has been signed and since there are no agreed borders, Israel is building new houses in all the “settlements”.

            So excuse me, Benny, for pointing out the obvious. Wouldn’t it make more sense to negotiate a peace deal sooner rather than later? To use your Pizza analogy after all:

            With a signed peace deal, Israel could not any more of the Arabs’s Pizza. Without a peace deal, Israel is eating more Pizza.

            Excuse me Benny, why would Abbas favor such a dumb outcome? Unless of course Abbas thinks of this differently? Unless he considers a peace deal a bigger loss to his side than additional houses in “settlements”? Unless he feels that by signing a peace deal with Israel he makes it more difficult for his side to eliminate the Jewish state? Unless Abbas feels that while there is war there is hope? Hope to destroy the Jewish state entirely, which was always the aim of the Palestinian Arabs!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ​Two comments:

            (1) Your portrayal of Abbas as someone who feels that while there is war there is hope…to destroy the Jewish state entirely” is utterly belied by this, in your very own Times of Israel:
            http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-hasnt-given-up-on-right-of-return-for-palestinian-refugees-but-hes-being-realistic-says-aide/
            And by Bernard Avishai’s account of the Olmert-Abbas negotiations.
            And by Orly Noy’s recent article upon this page.
            You slander. And as Natasha Roth wrote about Umm al-Hiran a few days ago, slander is a big thing with you guys: “What happened in Umm al-Hiran — shoot first, don’t ask questions later, and slander to cover your back — is a default, recurring sequence of events on both sides of the Green Line which has claimed the lives of countless Palestinians over the years, while denying justice to their grieving families. ..The loss of life in Umm al-Hiran and the slander and lies that followed were not an aberration, but evidence of the system running like clockwork. “

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Facts are facts, Benny. Even you can’t change facts.

            FACT 1: Abbas ignored Olmert’s offer. He sat on it for months and waited for Netanyahu to get elected.

            FACT 2: After Netanyahu got elected, Abbas refused to negotiate with him without setting preconditions.

            Without negotiations how can there be peace?

            Without peace, how can the occupation end?

            Facts are a pesky thing, aren’t they Benny?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            (2) I don’t know what’s dumber. You’re reasoning about negotiations (the reasoning of a loan shark) or how dumb you infer the other side is. But your mentality is once again that of a mobster. More “forced transactions.” You’re admitting to criminal activity and a criminal mindset. Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Mr. Capone is a *businessman.*

            The cruelty of it is really astounding. One can only conclude that you regard yourselves as Übermenschen and your victims as Untermenschen. And before you haul out the 50 lb. bags of self righteousness and dump them on us just consider that every day here Lewis of Afula and Itshak G. Halevy baldly assert that equation of Jewish Supremacy. They are unabashed about it. It is you who justify the behavior by all sorts of unconvincing subterfuges and distractions. At least they are honest about where they come by their entitlement.

            You resort to this tribal-pseudo-historical reasoning:

            *Human rights don’t really matter, what’s happening in the present doesn’t matter. It’s not about living individual human beings. It is about “us” and “them” and not just now but in my carefully selected past where I have my grievances arranged just so. I have my grievance ducks all in a row. “We” say “they” once tried to destroy us then so “we” get to destroy “them” now.*

            And profess incomprehension when people take issue with that. And it’s never stated forthrightly. It’s always pretending you’re doing something else. It’s always done incrementally and sneaking around in the night. At least Lewis of Afula and Itshak G. Halevy come right out and more or less say, “Jews Rule. Stop sneaking around about it, just get out the tanks and roll over them and be done with it.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “It’s always done incrementally and sneaking around in the night.”

            The only one who is sneaking around clear issues and facts is you Benny.

            And as far as human rights is concerned, you only care about Arab rights. To you, Jews are not even human.

            What we have today is the product of history. 100 years of Arabs trying all means of destroying the Jewish state. Massacres and terrorism of ordinary Jewish people, not just in Israel but even overseas, at every opportunity. Go read up on the Munich Olympic massacre, the murder on board the hijacked Achille Lauro, plane hijackings, all the way to the present.

            According to you, Benny, ordinary Jews have no human rights. Only Arabs have human rights and those rights include murdering Jews because of the “occupation” which came about because of Arab aggression and exists because of Arab intransigence and more aggression.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Fake facts aren’t pesky, they are just fake. No matter how many times they are repeated. We covered this fake question and fake fact issue in the three four sources by Times of Israel, Avishai, Noy and Roth, and in the comments on those pages. And elsewhere.

            “The only one who [fill in the blank] is you Benny” is not an argument.

            “And as far as human rights is concerned, you only care about Arab rights. To you, Jews are not even human.”

            Utterly false and reveals the inveterate slanderer that you are. +972 Magazine has an unstinting record of standing up for human rights for all, Jews and Arabs both. It is +972 Magazine’s most clear and consistent message. And that is what drives you nuts. The truth is that you have inverted the truth: As far as human rights is concerned, you only care about Jewish rights. To you, Arabs are barely even human. Just ask I. G. Halevy and Lewis from Afula. Just ask Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. Just ask Naftali Bennett. They are, after all, much more honest than you are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ​”but Netanyahu said that he is willing to negotiate without any preconditions”

            Let me get this straight. You are actually presenting as “the pudding” something Benjamin Netanyahu *said*? The man no western leader anywhere trusts about anything? Something Bibi *said* is meaningful evidence??

            Revealed:

            http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.772582

            ‘During the summit, Kerry presented a plan for a regional peace initiative including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a renewal of talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries. Netanyahu did not accept Kerry’s proposal and said he would have difficulty getting it approved by his governing coalition….

            …Zehava Galon tweeted that in the moment of truth, it again became clear that Netanyahu isn’t interested in the recognition of a Jewish state, putting an end to the conflict or in a regional initiative. “The goal is always the same: to gain time,” she said. “At the time I wrote that there’s no shortage of rare opportunities for peace. They’ve been arriving consistently for quite a few years. The problem has always been Netanyahu, not the lack of opportunities.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “Let me get this straight”

            You are never straight about anything, Benny. For instance, you completely ignored two of my earlier posts with reference links which clearly show that Abbas refused to negotiate for the last 8 years without setting preconditions. Then you again present, your Kery red herring.

            “recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a renewal of talks”

            Yes, Kery proposed that. But did Abbas propose it? No, he did not. He wasn’t even at the meeting.

            What Kery wanted is for Netanyahu to meet Abbas’s preconditions there and then in exchange for something that Kery offered but Abbas is on the record of rejecting. Or are you saying that Abbas changed his mind and is now willing to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people?

            That would be ground breaking news. As it is, there is nothing new. You are still trying to present an upside down world in which Netanyahu is the one who has refused to negotiate while Abbas has been willing to negotiate. You are still just an ‘in your face’ blatant liar, Benny.

            Reply to Comment
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