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Confrontation or negotiation; intransigence or compromise?

By David Singer - posted Friday, 6 August 2010

America’s President Obama, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah could well become leading candidates for the joint award of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to resist calls by President Obama to enter into direct negotiations with Israel.

Associated Press claims it has sighted a Palestinian internal document stating that America may not help set up a Palestinian state if President Abbas does not enter direct negotiations with Israel soon.

Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiatior Saeb Erekat has confirmed that US officials told Abbas that: "… if he wants Obama to help, then he needs to go to direct talks."


President Abbas has disingenuously attempted to quash such reports, telling reporters after meeting King Abdullah in Amman: "We are ready to hold direct peace negotiations with Israel. We have negotiated with Israeli governments before, more than once. Why would we avoid such talks? We are not."

Any such meeting or subsequent meetings would in any event be a complete waste of time and not have the slightest chance of progressing the earlier failed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Continuing to hold out for 100 per cent of your territorial demands is an Arab negotiating position that has remained unchanged for the last 43 years. It has proved a guaranteed recipe for failure - especially in the last seven years since the Roadmap was first proposed by President Bush.

Such an intransigent negotiating stance indicates that there has been no sincere effort by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs by dividing sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza and creating a new Arab state between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

The territorial division is the easiest part of the equation - yet it has proved to be and continues to be an insurmountable barrier for the Palestinian Authority to negotiate.

Dividing sovereignty of the West Bank was acknowledged by President Bush as being the only realistic option when he wrote to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004:


“As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

The Palestinian Authority, however, is simply not prepared to accept these realities.

Perhaps President Abbas should heed the words spoken by Gunnar Berge of the Norwegian Nobel Committee on the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Jimmy Carter on December 10, 2002:

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at

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All articles by David Singer

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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