For the Palestinian Authority: The Answer is Always No
In April, three distinguished Israelis published a proposal in the New York Times for a unilateral move by Israel to open the way to a two-state solution:
Israel doesn’t need to wait for a final-status deal with the Palestinians. What it needs is a radically new unilateral approach: It should set the conditions for a territorial compromise based on the principle of two states for two peoples, which is essential for Israel’s future as both a Jewish and a democratic state.
Israel can and must take constructive steps to advance the reality of two states based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps — regardless of whether Palestinian leaders have agreed to accept it. Through a series of unilateral actions, gradual but tangible changes could begin to transform the situation on the ground.
Israel should first declare that it is willing to return to negotiations anytime and that it has no claims of sovereignty on areas east of the existing security barrier. It should then end all settlement construction east of the security barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. And it should create a plan to help 100,000 settlers who live east of the barrier to relocate within Israel’s recognized borders.
That plan would not take full effect before a peace agreement was in place.
The Ottomans and Zionists blog now reports that the idea has gained support from Israeli foreign minister Ehud Barak:
[A]t the annual Institute for National Security Studies conference, which draws nearly every important Israeli politician and defense heavyweight, Ehud Barak said that a unilateral withdrawal must be considered by the government if negotiations with the Palestinians remain at an impasse.
The Israeli official response to Barak's trial balloon was unenthusiastic. I've been brooding about this concept a lot over recent days, and the core idea—disclaiming any Israeli ambition to retain permanently lands beyond the security fence line—seems to me a good one, for a lot of reasons, diplomatic reasons not least. But note that the Palestinian Authority opposes the idea—and listen to the Ottomans and Zionists blog as he explains how two-faced this PA opposition is:
[T]he party that is currently refusing to return to the negotiating table is not the Israelis but the Palestinians. I have written before about the strategic foolishness of setting negotiating preconditions but the additional problem here is that whatever one may think of Bibi Netanyahu’s policy on settlements or his actual desires regarding an independent Palestinian state, he is not currently the obstacle to restarting negotiations. If the Palestinians were willing to sit down tomorrow, the Israelis would meet with them immediately, so the PA blasting unilateral moves as an unwillingness to negotiate when they themselves are refusing to hold talks smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order. There simply cannot be a negotiation when one side refuses to enter the room.