The Palestinians note they have had a “peace process” for the best part of 17 years, yet remain under Israeli occupation.
They say they have cooperated with three US presidents with differing levels of commitment to the process, but with the same result. So they are wary of being pushed into a negotiation where they can be made to look like rejectionists.
According to Hamas spokesman, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Obama-Netanyahu meeting proved that there was no chance for a change in the American policy in light of the continued American support for Israel.
“Returning to negotiations with the occupation would be a national crime and provide the enemy with a cover up to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people and its holy places,” Abu Zuhri warned.
A report this week by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says more than 300,000 Israelis now live on 42 percent of the West Bank land where the Palestinians want to establish their future country in a “two-state solution” with Israel.
Obama may have prevailed on Netanyahu last year to publicly commit himself to a two-state future, said Abbas’ aide Nabil Abu Rdainah. But what exactly does Netanyahu mean by that?
“If we enter direct talks without clear principles regarding the nature of the future Palestinian state, the Israelis can turn and say: ‘We offered you a state and you didn’t want it,'” he told Reuters.
“We don’t want to be blamed in the next phase of talks for turning down an offer for a Palestinian state on, say, 60% of the West Bank.”
“We want to enter direct negotiations that have the goal of creating a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with a few land swaps … We want to know what we are negotiating on … Netanyahu doesn’t want to say.”
Besides stating the approximate geographical framework of the state Israel is ready to agree to, said the Palestinian presidential aide, the other main issue is security.
“Once the Palestinian state is established, we are ready to have a third party to oversee security and we do not want to have Israel controlling our borders with Jordan. We would agree to have international forces from NATO or another organization. But Israel doesn’t want any foreign presence there,” he said.