The following story could provide material for a political comedy: About two weeks ago, a delegation from the One Voice peace organization paid a visit to the offices of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. Among the guests was Jason Alexander, known to "Seinfeld" devotees as the neurotic George Costanza. They told Ayalon about the organization's extensive activity to prepare young Israeli and Palestinian leaderships who will spread the gospel of peace and reconciliation.
Ayalon enthusiastically welcomed One Voice's proposal to renew the activity of the tripartite committee to prevent incitement - even though a day or two earlier, his boss, Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman, lashed out at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).
The tripartite committee is the Israeli-Palestinian-American body that was established 13 years ago in the wake of the Wye agreement - at the initiative of Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.
The deputy minister promised to act personally to advance the matter.
Ayalon was surprised to hear from the visitors that during the past year, Abbas has repeatedly proposed to Netanyahu to renew the committee's activity - regardless of the issue of the renewal of negotiations on a permanent-status agreement.
I asked the Prime Minister's Bureau what Netanyahu's opinion was of the deputy foreign minister's initiative. Here is the response: "Instead of demanding committees, the convening of which in the past led only to increased Palestinian incitement, the Palestinians should immediately start acting to stop the deeds and words of incitement like Abu Mazen's speech at the United Nations General Assembly."
On behalf of Ayalon, Haaretz was informed last week that "there is nothing new yet" and "we will be glad to keep you posted on developments when they occur."
A suggestion: Don't hold your breath. The moment a forum is established for dealing with published incitement, Netanyahu will have to advise it of his own claims against the Palestinians concerning anti-Israeli propaganda (and he will also have to provide explanations for Israeli publications - for example, the official maps that show the West Bank to be an integral part of the State of Israel).
Problematic quotes, like those included in the speech Abbas delivered at the UN, are an essential asset for the campaign to 'Arafatize' a Palestinian leader who is insisting on acting against acts of violence and is interested in reaching an agreement on the basis of the 1967 borders. In fact, in an interview to Enrique Zimmerman broadcast on Channel 2, Abbas even promised that an agreement including a consensual and just solution to the refugee problem would put an end to the conflict and to all the Palestinian demands.
And yet, for so very many years, we have been told there is no chance any Palestinian leader will utter the words "end of the conflict" and remain alive.
During their terms as prime minister, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon used the terror attacks to smear and discredit Yasser Arafat in Israeli public opinion. Netanyahu and Lieberman are using the diplomatic arena in order to do the same thing to Abbas. Abbas has dared to request recognition by the UN and has also been accepted to UNESCO? They will hit him in the most sensitive places in Palestinian public opinion - prisoners and settlements.
First, they give Hamas 450 prisoners; and then, they loudly proclaim the construction of hundreds of housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Netanyahu said that this was merely a matter of the routine advancement of projects that had been waiting for approval. So, at the end of last week, I asked the Housing and Construction Ministry spokesman to bring me up to date on new ministry contracts for construction in East Jerusalem. The reply was: "We have approved urban construction plans for thousands of housing units in Jerusalem. We are currently examining which of these plans are more available and next week we will publish the tenders."
In other words, in the wake of the government decision to build 2,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in retaliation for bringing the PA into UNESCO, we have started to scramble to dig up new building plans. The main thing is that we have come up with a provocation for Abbas and once again we have shown the Palestinians that Abbas is nothing more than an outsourced worker for the Israelis.
A few more provocations and Bibi will be able to keep his promise from before Yitzhak Rabin's assassination - to thwart the idea of two states.
Indeed, in the coming days, Abbas is scheduled to meet with Khaled Meshal in order to complete the reconciliation agreement with Hamas, declare new elections and retire. With a Fatah-Hamas government, of course, we do not speak.
How have we benefited from this?
Here are the thoughts of James Baker, who was the U.S. secretary of state in the first Bush administration. At a conference sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace and Rice University's James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy last week in Washington to mark the 20th anniversary of the Madrid Conference, the initiator of the conference said the Netanyahu government had not passed Rabin's peace test. Baker said that every additional settler distanced the two-state solution and warned that the next uprising in the territories would distract the Arab world's attention from domestic issues to the Palestinian problem and increase Israel's isolation.
The blame for transforming the Arab spring as a result of this into an Arab winter, he said, would also fall on the shoulders of the United States.
It is also possible otherwise
One of the most common slogans in the campaign against the "delegitimization of Israel" is that the Palestinians and their supporters won't really be satisfied with the 1967 borders and that they are undermining Israel's right to exist even within the 1948 borders.
In a unique book, "Two Sides of the Coin: Independence and Nakba," (Republic of Letters Publishing, 2011), two Israeli historians, Prof. Motti Golani, a Jew, and Dr. Adel Manna, a Palestinian, present a dual and non-matching narrative of the 1948 war and its outcomes. The book, which has been published both in a Hebrew-English edition and in an Arabic-English edition, affords recognition, legitimization and also empathy for both sides' collective experiences, which are still reverberating in the discourse of the conflict and its resolution.
At the Jerusalem Van Leer Institute they are promising to save a spot for Netanyahu at a discussion of the book that will be held there tomorrow evening.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: להבאיש את ריחו
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