[Published 27 July 2010]
America’s President Obama , Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah could well become leading candidates for the joint award of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to resist calls by President Obama to enter into direct negotiations with Israel.
Associated Press claims it has sighted a Palestinian internal document stating that America may not help set up a Palestinian state if President Abbas does not enter direct negotiations with Israel soon.
Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiatior Saeb Erekat has confirmed that U.S. officials told Abbas that:
“if he wants Obama to help, then he needs to go to direct talks.”
President Abbas has disingenuously attempted to quash such reports telling reporters after meeting King Abdullah in Amman:
“We are ready to hold direct peace negotiations with Israel. We have negotiated with Israeli governments before, more than once. Why would we avoid such talks? We are not.”
Any such meeting or subsequent meetings would in any event be a complete waste of time and not have the slightest chance of progressing the earlier failed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Continuing to hold out for 100% of your territorial demands is an Arab negotiating position that has remained unchanged for the last 43 years. It has proved a guaranteed recipe for failure - especially in the last 7 years since the Roadmap was first proposed by President Bush.
Such an intransigent negotiating stance indicates that there has been no sincere effort by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs by dividing sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza and creating a new Arab state between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
The territorial division is the easiest part of the equation - yet it has proved to be and continues to be an insurmountable barrier for the Palestinian Authority to negotiate.
Dividing sovereignty of the West Bank was acknowledged by President Bush as being the only realistic option when he wrote to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004:
“As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
The Palestinian Authority however is simply not prepared to accept these realities.
Perhaps President Abbas should heed the words spoken by Gunnar Berge of the Norwegian Nobel Committee on the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Jimmy Carter on 10 December 2002:
“Not all his [Carter’s] efforts have been equally successful. But, as Carter himself has said, and taken as his motto: “The worst thing that you can do is not to try.” Few people, if any, have tried harder. This year’s Laureate does the opposite of what his countryman Mark Twain once wrote about forgetting where you bury the peace-pipe, but not where the battle-axe is. Carter never mislays the peace-pipe.”
President Abbas has mislaid the peace-pipe choosing confrontation rather than negotiation - intransigence rather than compromise - whilst keeping his hand firmly in readiness on the battle-axe.
In the midst of the continuing turmoil caused by such Palestinian Authority rejectionism - Israel and Jordan long ago buried the battle-axe and chose to smoke the peace pipe.
The Washington Declaration signed by Israel and Jordan on 25 July 1994 stated:
“His Majesty King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin believe that steps must be taken both to overcome psychological barriers and to break with the legacy of war. By working with optimism towards the dividends of peace for all the people in the region, Jordan and Israel are determined to shoulder their responsibilities towards the human dimension of peace making.”
The subsequent signing of a Peace Treaty in October 1994 between Israel and Jordan and the enduring nature of that Treaty in the face of some very difficult political events is testimony to the ability of Jordan to continue the human dimension of peace making with Israel - a quality that the Palestinian Authority has lacked ever since its birth in 1993.
President Obama might well take a leaf from the Washington Declaration and invite Israel and Jordan back to discuss the division of the sovereignty of the West Bank between their respective States and to sign a second Declaration which could closely follow the wording of the first Declaration by stating:
“After generations of hostility, blood and tears and in the wake of years of pain and wars, His Majesty King Abdullah 11 and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are determined to bring an end to bloodshed and sorrow arising from the unresolved allocation of sovereignty of the territories captured by Israel in 1967. It is in this spirit that His Majesty King Abdullah 11 of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, met in Washington today at the invitation of President Barack H. Obama of the United States of America. This initiative of President Barack H Obama constitutes an historic landmark in the United States’ untiring efforts in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. The personal involvement of the President has made it possible to realise agreement on the content of this historic declaration.”
Judging by President Obama’s growing impatience with President Abbas - such an invitation to King Abdullah and Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to Washington might now not seem that impossible to contemplate. They could well find inspiration from Kolbein Falkeid’s poem read out at the presentation of the Nobel peace Prize to President Carter:
Do not hang splendid
moments up on the walls
in your thoughts
and gild them
with your longing.
Drive your crowbar
hard under scarred
and force them up.
One by one.
That is why
life has you
on its muster roll.
President Obama , King Abdullah and Prime Minister Netanyahu could most decidedly be on life’s muster roll for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize if they seize the opportunity that is rapidly emerging as a result of continuing Palestinian Authority recalcitrance.