Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

The Logic Behind the Palestinian UN Move

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Noted Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has written an article entitled "Palestinians cannot accept less than 100%" (published on the webiste of the Hudson Institue on July 12) which does a good job of explaining why the Palestinian Authority prefers the symbolic gesture of seeking UN recognition to renewing negotiations with Israel.

He argues that both radical Palestinians such as Hamas, and less radical ‘moderate' Palestinians such as the PLO, are unwilling to accept less than 100% of their demands. Most importantly, Toameh argues that even if Israel accepted all of their demands neither camp would commit to ending the conflict.

The radical camp, he says, will not accept less than 100% of everything, meaning: "We want all the land, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. We want to replace Israel with an Islamic state where Jews who wish to could live as a minority." Toameh argues that there is no point negotiating with this camp as they have no interest in any final peace.

The ‘moderate' camp asscoiated with the the Palestinian Authority will also not accept less than 100% of their demands - meaning all of the pre-1967 lines, the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Toameh writes that negotiations with the moderate camp are difficult because they will only agree to return to negotiations with Israel "if Israel agrees in advance to give them 100% of their demands."

Most importantly, Toameh points out that the central problem is that even if the moderate camp received all of its demands it would still be unwilling to end the conflict. He writes:

"even if Israel does accept all their demands, neither camp is willing to commit to ending the conflict. This is basically why the 2000 Camp David summit failed - because Yasser Arafat was not prepared to sign any document that called for end of conflict even after a peace deal were reached between Israel and the Palestinians."

Further, he says, no "moderate" Palestinian leader would dare to sign such a document today out of fear of being denounced by his people - and the rest of the Arab and Islamic countries - for having "sold out" to Israel by giving up the claim to all of the land.

According to Toameh, it is because Palestinian leaders know that Israel cannot and will not meet all of their demands, and even if it would, they will not be willing to offer Israel peace in exchange, that they are therefore now turning to the UN - even though this is likely to provide them nothing substantive, and setback hopes for a genuine two-state resolution.

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