It’s hardly a scoop to point out that the end of the settlement construction is a red herring when it comes to explaining the failure of the “peace process” to proceed. After all, the specific freeze-related demands the Obama administration has insisted upon were never previously advanced as preconditions for talks. Moreover, Israel agreed to an unprecedented 10 month freeze, during which the PA failed to negotiate.
But the Jerusalem Post has presented a worthwhile and elegant demonstration of the irrelevance of the freeze issue. Pointing to the bargaining history between the Olmert government and the PA’s Abbas, it notes:
On the major strategic disputes – on the demarcation of a border (that would overtake all the vexed debate on settlement building) and most notably on the issues of refugees and the future of Jerusalem – Abbas chose not to respond to terms from Olmert that were far more generous than those Netanyahu will ever offer.
Moreover, Abbas made it clear (during a Washington Post interview, for example) that the gaps between his positions and Olmert’s were too wide to bridge. The gaps between his positions and Netanyahu’s are even wider. This, rather than settlement construction, is why the “peace process” is destined not to proceed at this time.
It is in Abbas’ interest to present any breakdown in talks as the result of Israeli intransigence on the freeze. And, as usual, the Obama administration is playing along with him. But this minor PR victory for Abbas will be a small price to pay if Israel can free itself from this sham “process,” and from the immediate attention of President Obama, and get on with its real business, including the Iranian threat.