Four Powers Call for Talk Resumption
Abbas: Not While More Israel
West Bank Homes are Being Built

by Dan Ehrlich

West Bank Palestinian leader Mahmood Abbas has hinted he will not re start peace talks with Israel as long as settlement building continues. And it’s easy to see his point given the rather small area of his proposed state...Or, in fact, half a state.

Yet, listening to his speech and you can see why this conflict just goes on and on…From start to now, the Palestinians’ problem is the fault of Israel…Abbas made no mention of terrorism and rocket attacks or the fact that his own Arab brothers have from 1948 onwards designated Palestinian refugees as official pawns, hanging them out to dry on an Israeli clothesline.

But more than this, just prior to his speech he told a group of Arab Americans he had no intention on recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. So, in fact, he's taken the conflict back to 1948 and once again shown the true feelings of the  PLO.

The West Bank has been in contention since after the 1948 war, when it formed a ceasefire line between Jordan and Israel. There never have been internationally recognized borders for Israel and the West Bank. This is why Abbas has asked the UN to declare his state there

But, since there never have been internationally recognized borders and Israel controls that area, it feels it has the right to settle on its historic homeland. Why haven’t there been recognized borders? Because most Arab states don’t accept Israel exists and refuse to show it on their maps.

However, settlement building on occupied territory is also a political ploy aimed at forcing the Palestinians back to the conference table. And it might work if much of the world wasn’t involved in this conflict. But, since it is, Abbas can dig his heals in and refuse to negotiate.

In the end the zealous settlers become the losers. When Israel vacated the Sinai and Gaza Strip it evacuated settlers and demolished the settlements.

Abbas’ trip to the UN may also signal that he realizes he’s not going to get anymore out of the Israelis and wants to have his state proclaimed without his recognizing Israel. This is where the UN could show some initiative by linking Palestinian statehood with mutual peace and recognition.

Yet, how can the UN declare a state when that state is geographically and ideologically divided with Abbas speaking for only half of it? The other half is in Gaza run by Hamas, which wants an endless war against Israel and would also love to get rid of Abbas, as well.

This brings up the two totally different aspects to this conflict: the humanitarian in providing a home for a dispossessed people and the political in that any such state will be used as a tool weaken and nibble away at Israel. The latter will depend much on how Israel deals with any new state and its people.

Right now Israel's economy is booming. It has a higher credit rating than America even though there is a great gap between rich and poor Israelis. Yet, any Palestinian state will depend on the kindness of strangers. It will have to deal with Israel and Israelis and hopefully some of the wealth and know-how will rub off on the Arabs.

Perhaps then peace will finally come to that area. Remember, affluent democracies seldom war with each other. On the other hand, Palestine may become Israel’s Mexico...something that could be a deadly blow to a Jewish state.

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