Ah! But There Are Preconditions, Mr. Netanyahu

07/12/2010 04:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One can only admire the performance of Benyamin Netanyahu at the
Council on Foreign Relations in New York last Thursday. Sure-footed and
flexible, he avoided traps and fielded questions with aplomb and seeming
reasonableness.

Mr. Netanyahu wants to get started immediately with direct negotiations with
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. But the Palestinians keep throwing up
preconditions, Mr. Netanyahu said, as he reaffirmed his willingness to enter talks
without any preconditions.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? But there are preconditions. How was the
1967 war ended? With UN Security Council Resolution 242, calling on the Israelis
to withdraw from territories occupied during the conflict. This Resolution was
reaffirmed in Resolution 338 following the 1973 war.

So, in building settlements in Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank,
occupied during the 1967 war, Israel is flying in the face of UN Resolutions calling
for withdrawal from occupied territories. How can building Israeli settlements in
occupied territories be compatible with withdrawal? Ending this contradiction
should be the precondition for starting direct negotiations. On verra.

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Mahmud Abbas