Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are heading to Washington for talks on the future of the peace process.
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Washington on May 17, and Abbas is heading to the US on May 28 for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, whom many Arabs are pinning hopes on for forcing Israel to implement previous peace agreements.
For the past 10 years, the "two-state solution" has been the mantra of the United States, and of most countries involved in bringing a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But now, Netanyahu is calling for what he says is a fresh approach to peace with the Palestinians.
"The fresh approach that I suggest is pursuing a triple track toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians: a political track, a security track and an economic track," said the prime minister via satellite to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference in Washington.
Mr. Netanyahu made no mention of a two-state solution.
In reality, the two-state option has been dead for a long time, and with all fairness it was not killed by Mr. Netanyahu. Several Israeli governments have contributed to its demise, including those who pretended to seek it the most, such as the last government of Ehud Olmert and the Kadima party. Israel has succeeded in creating "facts on the ground" with about 290,000 settlers living in the West Bank and another 185,000 settlers in East Jerusalem. It is increasingly hard to imagine Israel evicting nearly half a million people (about 7 percent of its population) from their homes. So, what will Prime Minister Netanyahu offer in terms of peace?
Mr. Netanyahu is coming to Washington to yell, "Iran...Iran, and not Palestine."
"Something significant is happening today in the Middle East," Netanyahu continued to tell the adoring crowd at the AIPAC conference by video-link. "For the first time in my lifetime, I believe for the first time in a century, Arabs and Jews see a common danger."
Translation: Forget about Palestine.
Earlier, Mr. Netanyahu had thrown the recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state" as a precondition to the resumption of peace negotiations, but now it seems that he has changed his tone.
"We are prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay, without any preconditions. The sooner, the better," Netanyahu said ahead of his trip to Washington.
Translation: Netanyahu was advised by President Shimon Peres, who has recently been in the U.S. on a "hasbara" tour, to soften his hawkish tone before meeting with Obama.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas still dreams of a two-state solution.
"We will go to Washington on May 28 to talk with the US administration about our conditions to resume peace negotiations with Israel in the future. Our conditions and demands are based on the two-state solution and Israel's halt of settlement building as well as house demolitions," Abbas said after a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
Translation: We will go to Washington to beg Obama for a solution.
Mahmoud Abbas' term as president expired in January. Negotiations with Hamas have stalled. His sons have been recently exposed in Arab media as making millions out of USAID contracts. His popularity in the Palestinian territories is at an all- time low.
Meanwhile, there is realization amongst Palestinians residing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that their dream of a state of their own has all but disappeared. More Palestinians have been vocal about a binational state that provides full democratic rights for citizens of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. A movement that began amongst Palestinians with Israeli citizenship is now making its way to East Jerusalem and to the West Bank. It is called "Mousawa" which means equality...perhaps this is what Abbas should be talking about with Obama.
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV.
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