A.B. Yehoshua, Haaretz
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The prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] may have a forked tongue, but when he is publicly calling for negotiations without preconditions, the Palestinians must respond affirmatively.
The moral and political duty of the Israeli peace camp and all its component parts is to demand that the Palestinian Authority and its leader accept the Israeli prime minister’s offer to embark on negotiations without preconditions. Knesset members from the Arab parties’ Joint List also have a moral duty to join in this demand by Israel’s peace camp.
Over the past few months, the Israeli prime minister has said repeatedly and publicly, including in the presence of the British and French prime ministers, that he’s willing to begin direct negotiations with the PA’s leadership without preconditions and to discuss all the issues under dispute, including borders and refugees. At one point, Benjamin Netanyahu said he would even be willing to hold these negotiations in Ramallah.
Like many people, I’m aware of the prime minister’s forked tongue, of his empty pronouncements and his cunning political maneuvers. I’m also aware of all the evidence proving that his heart isn’t where his mouth is. Nevertheless, if an official representative of the State of Israel offers openly and clearly to begin negotiations without preconditions, the Palestinians must respond affirmatively and begin negotiations, regardless of the outcome. ...
The Palestinians can continue appealing to international institutions and seeking their help and support even while these direct negotiations are proceeding. There’s no contradiction between conducting wide-ranging international diplomatic activity and holding negotiations. After all, Israel, too, will continue its public diplomacy and political efforts to bolster its position during the talks.
International institutions and European or American pressure won’t bring about a two-state solution; only direct negotiations will do that. Today, it’s also completely clear that the chaotic, confused Arab world, embroiled in vicious civil wars, won’t solve the Palestinian problem and won’t grant the Palestinians the political freedom they deserve. ...