How serious Benjamin Netanyahu really is about resuming talks with the Palestinians will be reflected in the extent of his effort to reshape Israeli public opinion, where the concept “there is no partner” has been thoroughly assimilated, partly because of the prime minister’s own utterances.
Netanyahu will have to cope with the Israeli presumption that the status of the territories is, at best, “disputed,” though they are usually perceived as “liberated” or “promised,” either by the Balfour Declaration or God himself. United Nations resolutions stating that they are “occupied territories” where a Palestinian state is destined to rise have been disregarded. Accordingly, every inch of the West Bank from which Israel withdraws is perceived as a concession, of both historical rights and real estate. A second problem is that Israelis perceive their country’s control of the West Bank as the starting point for “mutual concessions.” The Palestinian concession in 1988 of 78 percent of “historical Palestine” is considered irrelevant.
the Palestinians proposed a territorial exchange that allows 75 percent of the settlements to remain under our sovereignty. Although the international community has determined that East Jerusalem’s status is the same as the West Bank’s, the Palestinians agreed to leave the neighborhoods Israel established after 1967 in Israel’s hands. Despite the centrality of the refugee issue, the Palestinians agreed that the practical solution would be financial compensation and to settle the refugees in Palestine. And although every country has a natural right to things like air space, coastal waters and an army, the Palestinians agreed to Israeli demands that take bites out of their sovereignty.
not one prime minister has mustered the courage to reach the point where an agreement actually has a chance to be conceived. Until we get to that point of our own free will, the Palestinians will prefer to remain in the cozy embrace of the international resolutions, in the hope that they will be implemented, against Israeli interests.