Jun. 12, 2015
The Palestinians’ Refusal Strategy – Yoni Ben-Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
The most talked-about issue in the territories last week was the Palestinian poll that found that half of Gaza residents want to emigrate. Palestinian experts explain the reason as the difficulties for the younger generation, for economic reasons, to marry, find a job and a place to live.
The fact that the younger generation in the territories has begun to lose hope is due to the Palestinian refusal strategy which Mahmoud Abbas leads, and Hamas’ plan to establish an Islamic state.
Abbas has made a strategic decision not to return to negotiations with Israel without receiving international guarantees for an Israeli withdrawal to the ’67 lines, a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem, and a solution to the refugee problem. Abbas has been encouraging boycott moves against Israel in recent days, to force Israel to accept Palestinian demands.
Therefore, it is crucial for Israel to wage an intensive response to the international boycott campaign in order to show the world that this is damaging the chances for a political solution and strengthening the Palestinians’ stance of refusal. The Palestinians are not interested in real negotiations but rather in an international decision that comes at the expense of Israel’s security interests.
But the Minister of History has other plans. The two major threats to the Middle East today are the spread of Iran and Islamic State, knocking aside the Palestinian problem. Within the Palestinian leadership are those who understand that Abbas’ refusal strategy is mistaken and will only increase local distress because Israel is a strong state and in the end Abbas will not be able to force his will on Israel in the international political arena.
These Palestinian officials believe that the major changes in the Middle East create new opportunities to restart negotiations with Israel. They say the Arab states today are more prepared than ever before to accept an agreement between Israel and the PA. These states, particularly the Gulf States, see Israel as an ally in the war against the spread of Iran and IS.
The writer is former Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.