Patience appears to be running out in Europe for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israel will be the one burned if it does.
Earlier this week, the United Nations observed its annual “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The very nature of the day implies wrongdoing by Israel, as evidenced by the plethora of anti-Israel speeches. We are hardly surprised. What did surprise us, however, was the announcement by Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, that it is considering calling for the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a Palestinian state. (See page 20.)
This would deal a blow to negotiations more serious than any settlement bloc, for what is the point of negotiations if the outcome has already been decided?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction in the west bank, the most far-reaching move to halt settlement activity yet by an Israeli leader. The answer from the Palestinians has been a refusal to return to the negotiating table because the settlement freeze does not include east Jerusalem and to cast blame on Israel for the deadlock, despite Netanyahu’s pleas to restart negotiations without preconditions.
The Palestinians have somehow managed to simultaneously halt peace negotiations and shift the blame for the halt to Israel.
The basis for any negotiation is the concept of give and take. Israel has given in the name of restarting negotiations and the Palestinian Authority has taken without offering anything in return.
Throughout the decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Arab leaders have boasted of their patience. If it takes 1,000 years, they have said, they will reclaim Palestine.
Sweden’s move, however, demonstrates a lack of patience to see negotiations through to the end.
We certainly hope that this conflict will not drag on for 1,000 years, nor do we advocate endless negotiations. A solution, however, cannot be imposed on the parties. Israel acted unilaterally in leaving Gaza and the result was the launching of thousands of rockets at its civilians.
Serious negotiations require patience and openness. Israel has shown its openness, while the Palestinians have shown their patience. Now if only we could learn from each other.