Off Topic: Negotiating against ourselves

Negotiating against ourselves, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, March 21, 2014(If not against herself, against what? The “flexible” Obama Administration? Its flexibility has tended to be against Israel, see Kerry on the Jewish State.– DM)There is nothing “final” about any framework with the Palestinians. They always “pocket” Israel’s concessions, and press for more as the price for “implementation” on their part or as the price of “buying in” other Palestinian factions. This has been the repeated pattern of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, after each of the Oslo-era accords.The “framework” for Israeli-Palestinian peace that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to promulgate sounds an awful lot like the “shelf agreement” concept of 2008. Then, as now, conceptual agreements have proven to be a disincentive, not an incentive, to Palestinian political maturation and moderation. They create a situation where Israel ends up negotiating against itself with a phantom Palestinian partner.Let’s go back into the peace process archives, and remind ourselves: In 2008, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discovered that Palestinian leaders (then, as now, Mahmoud Abbas and coterie) were completely unable to deliver on any of their obligations under the celebrated “Road Map” — which outlined a cautious and logical step-by-step approach to peace.So instead of focusing on the messy here and now, Rice hit on the idea of turning to the future. She sought to advance a “shelf agreement” for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The newfangled “shelf agreement” idea was to give the Palestinians a clear picture of the big prize awaiting them in the future; what Rice called a “political horizon.”Israel was to negotiate an “agreement-in-principle” on an endgame solution with Palestinians, but then place this agreement out of reach — high up on a “shelf” where the Palestinians could see it, but not yet attain it. The concept was that this transcendent trophy — the horizon — would come down off the shelf and be activated only when the Palestinians would mature and fulfill all their “implementation” obligations.Moderate Palestinians, it was said, would be strengthened by the shelf agreement, and then be able to do the difficult things demanded of them in the accord — such as confronting the terrorists in their midst and building reliable institutions of uncorrupt government.This made for nice, but seriously flawed, diplomatic thinking.This plan was based on an assumption — actually, a fantasy — that Palestinians would be encouraged to play according to the rules of the game in order to attain their prize; that the “horizon” fashioned by the agreement would provide an overwhelming incentive for Palestinians to live up to the terms of the agreement.

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