It's true that you can't rely on the Arabs. It was so much fun toying with the idea of Moshe Kahlon, who opposed the Gaza disengagement and supports annexing the settlements. We really enjoyed touring with Yair Lapid in Ariel, which is stuck like a bone in the throat of the occupied territories. We had started to convince Shimon Peres that at the age of 89 it might be worth dropping the prefix, "honorable president," for the old suffix "will divide Jerusalem."
And suddenly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pops up on Channel 2 and totally confuses us with his version of peace.
Only a couple of months ago we learned from historian Benny Morris (Haaretz Magazine, September 21) that Abbas is stuck on liberating the homeland through a "policy of stages," and insists on demanding the right of return. And from nowhere, in the midst of an election campaign seemingly focused on the price of cottage cheese and cellphone discounts, Abbas decides to publicly renounce his right to return to his childhood home in Safed.
Just last month, the right found support for its claim of "no partner" in remarks by Meron Benvenisti, who said, "You cannot tell the Arabs to forget about Jaffa and Acre. They will not forget," (Haaretz Magazine, October 12 ) and that we should just forget about dividing the land (after which he tries to calm us by saying the opposite - that "most of the refugees don't even want to return" ).
But just as the public was beginning to absorb this reinforcement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that "the conflict is about '48, not about '67," the Palestinian president decides to declare that whatever is not part of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is the State of Israel.
The biggest surprise is the surprise with which Abbas' remarks were received. In January of last year, protocols published by the Al Jazeera network were already providing evidence of his pragmatic approach to the refugee issue. It was reported there that during one of the conversations he had with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Abbas said, "It would be illogical to ask Israel to absorb five million refugees, or even a million refugees ... the result would be the end of the State of Israel."
Moreover, during an internal debate on March 24, 2009 (an event that cannot be suspected of trying to deceive the Israeli Jewish public ), Abbas answered in the negative when asked by a Palestinian visitor from Nazareth whether he would be able to eventually get Palestinian citizenship.
"You don't need a passport to prove you're a Palestinian," declared Abbas, adding, "You need to raise two banners: the banner of equality and the banner of an independent state for your brethren in the occupied territories."
Last April, former Shin Bet Security Service head Yuval Diskin backed Abbas when the latter said Netanyahu had refused to launch real negotiations and never bothered to respond to the Palestinian positions on borders and security, nor even glanced at the documents the Palestinians had submitted in response to the Mideast Quartet's demands last year.
"Don't listen to those stories they're trying to sell you about how Abu Mazen [Abbas] doesn't want to talk," said Diskin during a filmed encounter in Kfar Sava. "I was there until a year ago and I know what's happening from up close. This government has no interest in resolving anything with the Palestinians, and this I can say with certainty."
Although Hamas officials and no few senior members of his own Fatah faction have in the past condemned Abbas in the most hateful terms for daring to renounce the right of every refugee to return to his ancestral home, the PA leader remains defiant. The Channel 2 interview is part of a comprehensive diplomatic and media offensive whose purpose is to pave the way for upgrading the Palestinians' representation in the United Nations.
It would also be worth noting his statement that as long as he is Palestinian president, there will be no new intifada. That was a warning to the right-wing government which has threatened to respond to any "unilateral" moves at the United Nations by annexing territory: When you get a third intifada, which is likely to set the whole region on fire, don't blame me.
Yes, Abbas' intent was to interfere in the Israeli election campaign, and that's a good thing. (Is only Netanyahu allowed to trespass on another nation's political playing field? ) Abbas was doing the work of those Zionist parties who have joined the foolish march of the right toward the abyss of a binational reality and apartheid.
Truly, you can't rely on the Arabs. Their "no" might actually turn into a "yes." By us, no is no.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now