Israeli-Palestinian Stalemate – Straight from Obama’s Playbook (Part I)

Israeli settlements in the West Bank started taking place immediately after Isarel’s victory in the Six-Day War of June 1967.  Such settlement activity has been since spearheaded by both left-wing / ‘dovish’ administrations (Rabin, Peres, Barak, Ulmert) and right-wing ‘hawkish’ administrations (Shamir, Sharon, Netanyahu).

Said Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank spans over a period of time in which the White House has been occupied by Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, HW Bush, Clinton, W Bush, Obama.

Oslo
1) The 1st significant negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians resulting in the Oslo Accords were conducted secretly in Oslo, Norway, and completed in August 1993. The Accords were subsequently officially signed at a public ceremony in Washington, DC on 13 September 1993, in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and US President Bill Clinton.

During the negotiations, signing and implementation of the Oslo Accords there was:
No precondition what so ever set for conducting the negotiations (a demand that Israel halt settlement activity in the West Bank was not introduced as a precondition to the talks)
No Palestinian demand/threat to walk away from negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activity in the West bank.
No American call for Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.

2) In October 1998, the Wye River Memorandum of implementing the Oslo Accords was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House with President Bill Clinton as the official witness.

During the negotiations, signing and implementation of the Wye River Memorandum there was:
No precondition what so ever set for conducting the negotiations (a demand that Israel halt settlement activity in the West Bank was not introduced as a precondition to the talks)
No Palestinian demand/threat to walk away from negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activity in the West bank.
No American call for Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.

3) In 2000, President Bill Clinton convened in Camp David a peace summit between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

During the summit there was:
No precondition what so ever set for conducting the negotiations (a demand that Israel halt settlement activity in the West Bank was not introduced as a precondition to the talks)
No Palestinian demand/threat to walk away from negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activity in the West bank.
No American call for Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.

4) At the Taba summit (at Taba, Egypt) in January 2001 talks between Israelis and Palestinians continued based on Parameters set by President Clinton.

During the talks there was:
No precondition what so ever set for conducting the negotiations (a demand that Israel halt settlement activity in the West Bank was not introduced as a precondition to the talks)
No Palestinian demand/threat to walk away from negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activity in the West bank.
No American call for Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.

Aqaba

5) In April 2003, the “quartet” of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia outlined the principles of a “road map” for peace, including an independent Palestinian state. In Aqaba, Jordan, in June 2003, President George W. Bush discusses the “road map” with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the talks there was:
No precondition what so ever set for conducting the negotiations (a demand that Israel halt settlement activity in the West Bank was not introduced as a precondition to the talks)
No Palestinian demand/threat to walk away from negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activity in the West bank.
No American call for Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.

During over 18 years of direct negotiations, agreements and implementation of such agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, there was:
No precondition what so ever set for conducting the negotiations (a demand that Israel halt settlement activity in the West Bank was not introduced as a precondition to the talks)
No Palestinian demand/threat to walk away from negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activity in the West bank.
No American call for Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.

Then Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and, suddenly, settlement-freeze became a precondition to negotiations.

In May 2009, after the first meeting in the White House between Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Obama has declared: “Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward“.

Palestinians, who until that point had never made a total settlement freeze – including in areas beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem – a condition for negotiations, heard Obama and pounced. If this was what the American president was saying, how could they ask for anything less?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said himself in a Newsweek interview in April 2010, “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze. I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump.

Palestinians had then – for the 1st time ever – set an Israeli settlement freeze as a precondition to even come to the table and talk.

The Obama Administration heavily pressured Israel to halt settlement activity in the West Bank.  Finally Israel caved and in December 2009 has unilaterally declared a 10-month freeze in settlement activity in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority rejected the freeze as being insignificant due to the limited construction on some pre-approved housing units, failure to extend the freeze to East Jerusalem, and failure to dismantle already-built settlement outposts illegal under Israeli law. The Palestinians refused to enter negotiations.

A de facto partial freeze on construction in East Jerusalem was imposed under the observation of U.S. consular officials, though not acknowledged by the Israeli government. On July 19, 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu froze a major construction project in the East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev as a “diplomatic gesture” to the United States.

The Palestinians still refused to enter negotiations.

9 months after the start of the 10-month Israeli settlement freeze, Palestinian leadership has decided to accept Israel’s settlement freeze and enter direct talks.

As the Israeli 10-month freeze on settlement construction was nearing its expiration date on September 26, 2010, Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas stated that he would abandon the negotiations if settlement construction was renewed.

On October 2, 2010 the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that peace negotiations will not continue until Israel imposes a new freeze for the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, thus putting a de facto halt to the current Israel-Palestine peace negotiations.

 

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