Netanyahu Must Treat Abbas as a Genuine Peace Partner

It might be prudent for our political leaders to be generous to the PA regarding the improvement of the West Bank's social fabric and quality of life.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Haaretz's Barak Ravid reported Monday that the Israel Defense Forces' top officers are crafting a proposal to mitigate the damage to the Palestinian Authority's status caused by Hamas' success in freeing over 1,000 prisoners. In addition to the release of Fatah prisoners in the Shalit deal's second stage, the IDF recommends significant gestures that will allow PA President Mahmoud Abbas to present accomplishments to the Palestinian people. One proposal considers handing over empty lands to the PA (lands that remain under Israel's security authority under the Oslo Accords ). It also calls for the remains of several terrorists to be handed over to the PA.

In view of protracted disputes on settlement construction, and in the absence of diplomatic progress, it might be prudent for our political leaders to be generous to the PA regarding the improvement of the West Bank's social fabric and quality of life. With Quartet officials arriving in Jerusalem and Ramallah tomorrow, it might be logical for our decision makers to listen to the coordinator of activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot. Dangot warns that in view of the diplomatic impasse, Hamas' strengthened position after the Shalit deal and the expected failure in the UN Security Council vote, Abbas' resignation threat ought to be taken seriously.

It's hard to decide what's more worrisome - our leaders' dismissive attitude toward security officials' warnings about the PA's impending collapse and the possibility that radical extremists will grab power in the West Bank, or a deliberate policy to destroy the Palestinian peace camp, perpetuate the Israeli presence in the West Bank and prevent a territorial partition in a peace deal. In any event, the prime minister's lack of diplomatic initiative, our worsening relations with our Palestinian negotiating partners and the strengthening of their extremist adversaries attest to a myopic policy fraught with disaster.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still believes in the two-state solution and remains committed to the security of Israeli citizens, he must treat Abbas as a genuine partner and take immediate steps to strengthen Fatah's position in the eyes of the Palestinian public. In addition, he must present to the Quartet tomorrow realistic proposals on the dispute's core issues.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, September 2, 2010.Credit: AP

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