Friday, April 4, 2014

Winning the war of International Diplomacy

Peace talks after Kerry: Getting Abbas back to the Negotiating Table. What's wrong with this Picture?

                                                       From JerusalemPost Staff. Reuters 4/4/2014
After the negotiations fell apart and the United States threatened to cut off aid to Palestine,, it should have been evident that Abbas would try to get this money by asking to resume negotiations and apologizing [in some form] to the US.  He did. Before leaving, Kerry called Livni and Erakat together. Abbas had published a set of demands that included freeing a group of high profile prisoners, including Marwan  Barghouti, jailed a decade ago over his role in suicide bombings. and  lifting a blockade  on the Gaza Strip. Israel said nothing.

Once again we see Kerry taking complete charge of negotiations, and the negotiator (Indyk) trying to convince the Palestinians to return/ address their demands. Both parties are castigated and held equally responsible for the sorry state of things and chewed out like two kids fighting in a playground, The assumption is that Israel will of course as usual return and pick up things as if nothing had happened.  This would not have occurred if  Israel had taken the initiative after Abbas lied to Kerry and Israel and applied to UN organizations.

We, Israel should have been the country calling a press conference, stating  disappointment, that most unfortunately but realistically Abbas’s credibility as a negotiating partner is questionable and laid out Israel's requirements for continued negotiations that are not a negotiating theater. Continually acting passively in international politics, weakens us, makes it easier for countries to demand too much and easier for them to use us as a punching bag


Were I in charge,  I would have said that should these negotiations resume, the  presence of Hamas at would be  essential Hamas's cooperation or lack of it would determine whether any agreement are reality or worlds on a piece of paper,  and direct negotiations with them are the only way to make progress. Without that there is too high a risk of creating a situation like Gaza in the West Bank. I would have stressed how difficult it was for Israel to accept the necessity of negotiating with terrorists but being serious about peace requires this.

Many Israel’s will read this and believe I have lost my mind. We tend to view negotiation as serious and assume they, require honesty and not game playing,  This could not be further than the truth, International politics is a war no less than one fought in the battlefield; you plays to win and use strategic maneuvers to make your goals reality.  In this case we had nothing to loose, If Hamas refused, we had gone all out, further than the US and declared our willingness to actually speak to terrorists. If Hamas did by some miracle come, the odds of coming to an agreement are infinitesimal. Even if we were pressured to continue negotiations, and gave in this would establish our right to make demands and allow all agreements made be pending Hamas's agreement.

In a case like this, in my opinion,  a broader demand is effective and less likely to generate petty disagreements that escalate and lead nowhere.  Nevertheless, there are other demands that could have been made of Abbas: That he withdraw membership from the UN groups he has joined, , that he negotiate directly without a go-between to demonstrate this is not an effort to gain US aide,  The precise demands are less important than the need for Israel to take the initiative.

Our country has continually put itself in a weak position, given into pressure and and when pushed too far blamed and vented publicly and without strategic considerations. Swinging between weakness, giving in to demands and aggression confuses people. When we do not clearly communicate our case to the world, our enemies gain.It pains me to watch the leaders of my country do this when there is no reason for them to.  A confident assertive take charge attitude that we bring to every other part of life is sorely needed here.

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