Dear Friend of FLAME:
Ten months ago, in an attempt to lure the Palestinians to the negotiating table, President Obama pressured Israeli Prime Minister into a building moratorium in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (often called the West Bank).
One month ago, the Palestinians finally agreed to direct talks with Israel, and now---supported by President Obama's speech before the U.N. a few weeks ago---are demanding that Israel renew the building moratorium. Of course neither the Palestinians, nor any other Arab states or the United States, are offering Israel anything in return.
The lopsidedness of this demand aside, Netanyahu faces bitter opposition within his ruling coalition to extending the moratorium under any circumstances. If he were to acquiesce, it would likely bring him and his government down.
But the question we supporters of Israel have to ask of President Obama is, where's the reciprocity? From the outset of negotiations decades ago, the Palestinians have been reluctant participants in the peace process, they've dragged their feet at making agreements, and have time and again proved Israeli statesman Abba Eban's observation that the Arabs "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
True to form, from the outset of these negotiations, the Palestinians have threatened to walk out of the peace talks if Israel doesn't cave on the building moratorium. However, Mahmoud Abbas is consulting with members of the Arab League before making that decision official. In the meantime, Obama's diplomats are scurrying around the Arab world, trying to persuade the League to support a continuation of the talks without the building moratorium.
Nonetheless, Netanyahu looks bad in the world's eyes---as though he's the one who's spoiling the party. But wait! As this week's FLAME Hotline points out, Israel simply needs to reverse the energy field: Netanyahu needs to level some pointed demands at the Palestinians, demands that Obama seems reluctant to make. Let's start with recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Take a minute to review this article, by Israeli commentator Guy Bechor, which offers a number of demands Israel---and the U.S. administration---ought to be making on the Palestinians as conditions for any further concessions from Israel. After you've reviewed Bechor's incisive article, please pass it along to your friends and correspondents using the "Forward to a Friend" button at the bottom of the article.
Thanks for your continued support of FLAME and Israel!
P.S. Now that President Obama is ratcheting up pressure on Israel to resume the building moratorium, it's important the U.S. Administration understand Americans' passionate support of the Jewish state. We have to remind President Obama that Israel is our strongest, most valuable Middle East ally. Please take a minute to let the President know that the absolute first step to peace is Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. It's again time to stand up . . . and speak up forcefully for Israel. Please use this link to write the President immediately.
How many times have you heard someone complain that "Israel just doesn't have good public relations"? Maybe you've even said the same yourself. But have you seen FLAME's latest hasbarah---our ad on "The Unrelenting and Virulent Hatred of the Arabs: Will peace ever be possible under those conditions?"---which has appeared in publications nationwide, including college newspapers, with circulation in excess of 5 million? Please take a look at it, and if you agree that FLAME's brand of outspoken public relations on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to http://www.factsandlogic.org/make_a_donation.html. Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.
Israel must demand meaningful Arab gestures in exchange for building freeze
by Guy Bechor, September 28, 2010, Ynetnews
Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships don't want an agreement and cannot secure one. The suspicions are too existential, the leaderships are too weak, the hostility is too great, and Obama is too fragile. Everyone understands that the president's power shall be curbed within a month or so, after the US elections.
At the end of the day, it's a blame game: That is, who will be embarrassed and charged with the failure of these odd negotiations, which have no past and no future? Netanyahu was wrong to agree to a temporary construction freeze without getting anything in return. It's odd, as he was the one who coined the famous reciprocity slogan in the 1990s: If they give something, they'll get something in exchange; if they don't give it, they won't get it. Yet this time around he gave something, but got nothing for it.
Global leaders and the international and Israeli media are overjoyed: Netanyahu is in distress now and he will seemingly be blamed for the failure of the talks. However, it is so easy to resolve this temporary distress; after all, Netanyahu himself is the person who presented the formula in his first term in office.
The only thing that Israel needs to say is that it demands a parallel gesture from the Palestinian Authority and all Arab states, which stand behind Mahmoud Abbas and maneuver him.
Should an Arab gesture be granted, Israel would embark on another temporary freeze, yet if such gesture won't be granted, the construction freeze won't be extended. The Arab gesture would have to include a dimension of Arab symbolism, just like the freeze had a dimension of Israeli symbolism, and both these gestures must be temporary.
Summit in Jerusalem
A possible gesture is a festive summit that would see Jordan's King Abdullah, Egypt's President Mubarak, and Saudi King Abdullah arriving in Jerusalem. Why not? After all, this is a peace process, no? The Arab League, and especially Saudi Arabia, plays such dominant role in these talks, so how can they not meet? And what's wrong with Jerusalem? We already saw meetings in Egypt, Jordan, and Washington. Can't Arab leaders set foot in Israel?
An Arab gesture could also include elements of public normalization, or any symbolic recognition of Jewish nationalism. For example, inviting the Israeli prime minister to deliver a speech before the Arab League in Cairo. Why not? After all, we're in the midst of a peace process.
And what about the anti-Semitic TV shows from the recent Ramadan holiday? Are they also part of the "peace process?" And what about anti-Israeli Arab proposals at international bodies; isn't it time to withdraw them? Our Foreign Ministry can provide a long list of Arab proposals, which were prompted by the Palestinian Authority, of course. Another gesture could be to pass a Lebanese law that would grant Palestinians in Lebanon civil rights. I'm not talking about citizenship, heaven forbid, but the basic right to live and work there. Lebanon is the most vicious state towards the Palestinians and does not grant these miserable souls the right to buy an apartment or work, yet the Arab world is silent, of course. The life of Palestinians in Gaza is much better than that of their "transparent" brethren in Lebanon.
There is such wide spectrum of symbolic gestures that Arab states, or even the Arab League, should adopt—yet they won't be doing a thing. After all, they do not seek peace with Israel, but rather, they wish to weaken and embarrass it. Yet if they fail to undertake these gestures, they would take the blame. With their very conduct, the Arab sides would confirm that they do not seek peace.