Reading the fallout coverage on Abbas’s exciting initiative yesterday, the prospect of Palestine joining 15 more UN organizations, has been revealing. Note the reference to borders by Reuters’ journalist Noah Browning in Middle East peace talks face new challenge after Abbas’s defiant move:
Yasser Abed Rabbo, deputy head of the PLO, cautioned on Wednesday against simply returning to an “empty routine” at the negotiating table. He reaffirmed that Palestinians wanted talks to focus on setting the future borders of their state.
“We can’t return to the empty routine, a search for a framework for talks – this empty routine which is negotiating about negotiating,” he told reporters.
Continuing the talks beyond the end of this month, he said, “must proceed from and depend on one main point, and this is looking into the issue of borders.“
Now that sounds logical doesn’t it? Does anyone recall how the last round of “talks” torpedoed? Israel didn’t want to submit proposals for borders. Back in 2011 when the Quartet, the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia, requested that both parties submit comprehensive proposals on territory and security for two states, Netanyahu balked and stated such proposals should be presented in direct negotiations and not before. And our very own State Department backed up Netanyahu in staving off this demand from the Quartet, echoing in agreement with a mantra we heard repeatedly. Remember Victoria Nuland reiterating that the best way to deal with this issue “is for these parties to talk to each other, come up with borders.”
Which brings us the current New York Times report Abbas Takes Defiant Step, and Mideast Talks Falter. Buried in the article 19 paragraphs down is one reference to borders:
Whether, and how, to use Mr. Pollard has been vigorously debated within the administration. While some officials argue that he should be used only to break the logjam on final-status issues — the borders of a new Palestinian state, for example — Mr. Kerry has argued that these issues will all be decided as a package at the end of the talks. Mr. Kerry has argued that Mr. Pollard could be more useful now in keeping the talks alive, given the possibility of parole, according to officials.
Ah, the logjam. Now it’s a final status issue. Not a mere matter of Israel’s proposal being presented in direct negotiations: “borders of a new Palestinian state” got shoved down the road, of course. As if Israel would be proposing borders at some illusory final stage.
Did we learn anything from the Palestine Papers? We know why these negotiations keep failing. There’s no point in keeping talks alive once we realize Israel has no intention of ever even presenting a proposal for their own, or Palestinian, borders.
And you wonder why people support one state? Because, thus far, that’s all that’s ever been on the table. Own it, and let the chips fall where they may.