Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is assimilating too slowly the possibility - he calls it a danger - that come September, the world will recognize an independent Palestinian state.
One may dispute the idea that such international recognition and the establishment of such a state are a threat to Israel, especially considering the immediate danger from Gaza or from Lebanon, and that a nuclear Iran has been defined as an existential threat. But there is no disputing that the steps Netanyahu proposes to "thwart" the internationalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - unilateral withdrawal or an international peace conference to renew negotiations - are at best insufficient and at worst another public relations show. Ostensibly, the very willingness to withdraw from territories where there are no settlements is a step in the right direction, and any reduction in the Israeli occupation, no matter how small, should be welcomed. However, without a comprehensive plan that would outline a final agreement, the borders of the State of Israel and of Palestine, the future of the settlers and the settlements and especially security arrangements, that step will become meaningless public relations.
Hiding behind it is the intention to present Israel as ready for concessions that are insignificant and an attempt to blame the Palestinians for the failure of the process.
Netanyahu's plan is based on the assumption that there is very little chance of renewing talks with the Palestinians, and so the Israeli front must move to the international arena.
But if the prime minister wants to pose real obstacles to the danger of international recognition of the Palestinians, or make greater efforts to renew the talks, he knows the conditions full well: a freeze on construction in the settlements, suspension of construction plans in the territories and the dismantling of illegal outposts.
Since Netanyahu has rejected these conditions, it is difficult to expect that the declaration of partial withdrawal will be able to block the campaign to recognize Palestine. Such a step cannot replace substantive negotiations, nor will it be accepted by the Palestinians or the world as a breakthrough. Instead, the prime minister should start planning negotiations with the Palestinian state that will be recognized in September.
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