Even with Biden, talks with Palestinians not on Israel’s agenda


Nov 19, 2020

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi’s name Nov. 18 urging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating desk with out preconditions is extremely unlikely to end in a renewed peace course of with Israel. Ashkenazi took benefit of the media protection of his assembly in Jerusalem with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, who was on a historic go to to Israel, to convey a conciliatory message to the Palestinians a day after they introduced the resumption of safety coordination with Israel that they suspended almost a yr in the past.

However, Ashkenazi’s was almost a lone voice within the authorities, missing any operational significance so long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains to be engaged with President Donald Trump.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas severed safety coordination in anger after Trump’s “deal of the century” for Israeli-Palestinian peace was unveiled in January and Netanyahu introduced his intention to annex elements of the West Bank with Washington’s approval.

The coronavirus epidemic broke out in Israel in February, and Israel held  its third election in lower than a yr March 2, which like the 2 earlier rounds did not yield decisive outcomes. Netanyahu’s Likud shaped a unity authorities with the rival Blue and White social gathering in May, adopted just a few months later by the signing of peace and normalization agreements with Gulf States, relegating the Palestinians to the nether margins of the Israeli-American agenda.

Joe Biden’s election as US president seems to offer Abbas with a lifeline after the acrimonious ties with Trump. However, nobody in Israel is eager to hurry again to the negotiating desk, deserted within the spring of 2014 when talks with the Palestinians, sponsored by US Secretary of State John Kerry throughout President Barack Obama’s second time period, broke down.

The solely different senior Israeli politician to seek advice from the encouraging message from Ramallah on renewed coordination was Defense Minister Benny Gantz, chair of the Blue and White social gathering, who tweeted, “Coordination is a shared interest, beneficial to the security of Israel’s citizens, and critical to the welfare and economic well-being of the Palestinians.” Gantz then urged the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel, which he described as “the most promising route to a more stable and prosperous future for our region.”

Gantz’s assertion is hardly a festive declaration, and it clearly doesn’t convey sensible and private intentions for reviving negotiations with the Palestinians. He might have, for instance, conveyed a direct message to Abbas and proposed a gathering, however he prevented doing so, for good motive.

Israel has as soon as once more launched into the path to elections, which numerous assessments anticipate in March 2021 as soon as a brand new president is put in within the White House. For now, Gantz, like Netanyahu, doesn’t wish to do something that would damage Trump so long as the present administrations in Washington and Jerusalem are concerned in additional burning points, together with shared protection and diplomatic ones. That is why his message was measured and basic, focusing largely on the safety implications of the Palestinians’ announcement and ignoring their underlying political and diplomatic message.

Gantz, the truth is, has by no means set out a coherent peace plan or resolution to the battle with the Palestinians in his three election challenges to Netanyahu. The former military chief is aligned with the political center-left and is thought to favor a two-state resolution, however the difficulty is just not on his rapid to-do record. That is why, at this stage, the one related plan is the Trump blueprint. Gantz has by no means led a diplomatic agenda or any initiative for renewed negotiations with the Palestinians. Even when he joined the Netanyahu authorities in May, he didn’t demand the resumption of negotiations, as an alternative focusing on the struggle in opposition to COVID-19 and beefing up Israel’s embattled authorized and legislation enforcement establishments.

Netanyahu, as anticipated, selected to disregard the conciliatory alerts despatched up by the Palestinian management, which views Trump as its archenemy. If he can, Netanyahu will look ahead to Biden’s entry into the White House earlier than coping with the Palestinian difficulty. In the remaining weeks till then, Netanyahu will deal with maximizing the advantages of normalization with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, achievements that may function prominently in his subsequent election marketing campaign, together with extremely publicized visits of senior Emirati officers to Israel and a future historic go to of his personal to the Emirates. To guarantee they don’t steal his limelight, he has instructed all authorities ministers to keep away from travel to Israel’s new companions in peace with out his permission and previous to his personal go to.

Netanyahu is clearly led by political issues as he as soon as once more contemplates a posh election marketing campaign within the coming months. He will want all of the help he can muster from his political base to outlive and due to this fact has no incentive to launch negotiations with the Palestinians which might be sure to contain talks of a two-state resolution. A senior diplomatic supply who has been at Netanyahu’s facet in previous negotiations informed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “Netanyahu will wait for the changing of the guard in Washington and Biden’s inauguration. He knows the Palestinian issue will resurface and be restored to the agenda but he will manage. If need be, he will even renew talks with the Palestinians as he has in the past. What came out of these talks? Not much.”

The agendas of Israeli politicians, particularly within the shadow of the coronavirus, replicate public sentiment. In latest years, Israelis have grown detached to prospects of negotiations with the Palestinians, a difficulty that when topped election campaigns and generated stormy arguments between the political left and proper. The extended freeze in negotiations, mixed with comparatively few safety threats, have made it doable for many Israelis to put aside the battle with the Palestinians, actually in opposition to the backdrop of the normalization with Arab states.

The probabilities of main Israeli political candidates putting talks with the Palestinians, or annexation for that matter, on the prime of their agenda seem slim. Even chair of the pro-settler Yamina social gathering Naftali Bennett, who represents the ideological proper and the settlers and at present appears to pose the primary menace to Netanyahu’s reelection, has prevented dealing with this controversial, sizzling potato difficulty. Although a fervent advocate of annexation, Bennett has declared in a number of latest interviews that as prime minister he would focus within the coming years solely on suppressing the coronavirus, financial restoration and bridging the divide in Israeli society. Bennett is doing so as a result of he realizes that his meteoric rise within the polls in latest months stems from his focus on individuals’s day by day considerations as they cope with a well being and financial disaster, and that the minute he begins speaking about annexation of territories, many potential voters will flip their backs.


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