Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has definitely committed to compromise. In the past week, Abbas has said the Palestinians would agree to 3 years of Israeli security forces present in the West Bank. Now Abbas agrees to 5 years of Israeli security and an American-led NATO force patrolling the area indefinitely.
Violence has seeped out of the West Bank. Abbas understands this. He understands the Israelis need to feel secure in their home. He understands this proposal could be a way forward, aiding further negotiation. The world should see now that the Palestinians are ready for negotiation. Palestine is ready for peace.
In addition to the Israeli and NATO patrols, Abbas has held off joining U. N. agencies and the International Criminal Court, as their participation in these organizations are vehemently opposed by Israel and the U.S. However if Palestine is a country, if the world recognizes it as such, as it does, then Palestine needs to participate in these important international organizations. These organizations exist to promote peace. And Abbas’s patience with Israel and the U.S. will wear thin.
Benyamin Netanyahu has also made some brave statements recently. He recently suggested that some Israeli settlers may remain in a Palestinian state after withdrawal, causing outcries from conservative voices in Israel. Hopefully he is making it clear to Israeli settlers that should they continue with their expansion into disputed territory, they may have to live with the consequences, namely living outside the Jewish state. And the possibility of a future peace plan lays at the heart of this suggestion. It’s something more than nothing.
Abbas’s proposal is only a beginning, a tiny opening, and though his efforts for accommodation should be applauded, he is also not completely open to all idea. As noted in the New York Times article, Abbas says recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is out of the question. He cites historical examples of other countries such as Egypt which were not required to recognize Israel as such. However, if Abbas is truly open to negotiation and truly committed to the foundation of the Palestinian nation, committed to peace, then Abbas should accept that Israel is a Jewish state and concentrate on larger problems, such as Jerusalem and negotiating a return to the ‘67 boundaries.