David M. Weinberg
The letter that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is expected to hand Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today is a prime example of everything wrong with the current Palestinian leadership. The letter (according to the drafts leaked to Haaretz and Times of Israel) mixes fact with fiction, is maximalist and threatening, and indicates no real desire to negotiate, only to place Israel in the international dock of criminality.
The little bit of truth in the letter occurs when Fayyad reiterates Palestinian commitment to "a policy of zero tolerance against violence." That's nice and indeed important, and Israel acknowledges that for the most part Palestinian Authority forces in the West Bank have refrained from terror and quietly helped in ferreting out Hamas cells. But Fayyad says nothing about Hamas rocket fire on Israel or kidnapping attempts and the like.
What the letter has in spades is a lot of bogus diplomatic history. Fayyad lists every Israeli-Palestinian agreement since 1993 (Oslo I and II, Wye, Hebron, Taba, Camp David, Annapolis, etc.) as if these were Palestinian concessions to Israel, but fails to mention that the Palestinians turned down offers from Israel in 2000, 2001, and 2008 that would have given them a state in virtually all of the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.
As has been their wont for the past three years (ever since Obama took office), the Palestinians in this letter yet again set impossible and outrageous preconditions for entering real peace talks with Israel. Basically, they want Israel to concede every point of contention such as borders and settlements in advance of the talks. Otherwise, no talks.
Furthermore, the letter expresses Palestinian maximalism. This includes a state on all of the pre-1967 territories, with only "possible minor and mutually agreed upon land swaps of equal size and value." Note the new phraseology "possible" and "minor." And of course, the "right" of return to Israel for refugees "as specified in the Arab Peace Initiative," and so forth and so on. There is no preparation of the Palestinian people for "painful compromises," as every Israeli leader is expected to repeatedly warn the Israeli public.
The letter falsely claims that the Palestinians have honored all their obligations, including the "reactivation of the trilateral anti-incitement committee." This, from an "authority" that names streets after arch-terrorists and broadcasts anti-Semitic and virulently anti-Israel sermons on its official television station. (It is also an "authority" which imprisons journalists and Facebook bloggers who write favorably of Israel and unfavorably about Palestinian leaders).
Fayyad's propaganda missive claims Palestinian ownership and responsibility over the West Bank and Gaza "as a single territorial unit," but amazingly fails to mention a slight problem named Hamas. As if Hamas didn't exist; as if Hamas control of Gaza wasn't a problem; as if Fayyad and Abbas had control over Hamas. What a joke!
The bottom line is that the current Palestinian leadership (never mind the Hamas leadership) has no intention of truly entering realistic peace talks that involve compromise with Israel, or ever signing a piece of paper that recognizes the legitimacy of a Jewish state and therefore end the conflict for all time.
Instead, Abbas and Fayyad know how to threaten: That unless Israel bows to their demands, the Palesitnian Authroity "will seek the full and complete implementation of international law" to criminalize and penalize Israel's presence "as an occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory." To seek to further isolate Israel internationally.
In truth, this is what the Palestinian national movement has always been about: the delegitimization of the Jewish state. I would say that the Fayyad letter constitutes another missed Palestinian opportunity to gain their own state, but clearly and unfortunately, that is not what today's Palestinian leaders are after.