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Alexander Rotman

Negotiations without preconditions is the only road to peace

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered by many countries, and the Palestinian Authority (PA), to be a major obstacle to peace. As such, the PA has traditionally put forth two demands; either Israel immediately freezes settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or Israel recognizes pre-1967 borders as a basis for a future Palestinian state. These demands are the preconditions that the PA requires of Israel before they will commit to any negotiations, under the justification that they are needed to prevent Israel from changing facts on the ground while both parties are negotiating final status arrangements.Israel has historically refused to acknowledge these preconditions, and instead believes that both parties should negotiate without setting conditions. Yet, if the demands of the PA are logical and reasonable, why refuse them? Let us look back to 2009, when, in an effort to restart peace talks, Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of instituting a freeze on settlement construction; an act that had never before been performed by an Israeli prime minister. Ignoring members of his own party, and his coalition government of right-leaning parties as a whole, Netanyahu took an enormous gamble in an attempt to restart stalled negotiations. The result, unfortunately, was that very little was accomplished since the settlement freeze did not include construction underway in East Jerusalem, an area which Israel maintains is comprised of suburbs, not settlements.If history and Netanyahu’s actions in 2009 are any indication, a future settlement freeze would not result in peace talks. By agreeing to a freeze Netanyahu would only alienate elements of his party and parliamentary coalition, potentially causing the government to collapse. Moreover, there is the issue of increasing incidents of violence being perpetrated by radical settlers under the name of “price-tag,” a term which encompasses… Read More