In his op-ed, Larry Lerner opined that it is the prime minister of Israel who is preventing progress toward peace with the Palestinians (“Mr. Prime Minister, why are you waiting?” May 10). His essential premise was that peace can easily be achieved if Benjamin Netanyahu would be flexible.
Mr. Netanyahu has never refused a meaningful dialogue with the Palestinian Authority. Actually, he has repeatedly offered negotiations without preconditions while accepting a two-state solution. Meanwhile, PA president Mahmoud Abbas has stubbornly refused to negotiate, unless Israel freezes housing construction even within established settlements that are likely to become part of Israel, and within Jerusalem. In fact, Israel has not been building in any new areas within Yehuda and Shomron since Netanyahu has been in office. Even after Netanyahu temporarily froze all construction within established settlements, Abbas refused even indirect negotiations with Israel.
Abbas had an unprecedented opportunity to get virtually all he claims to want when Ehud Olmert, the previous prime minister, offered withdrawal from about 97 percent of Yehuda and Shomron, to exchange land in pre-1967 Israel for land retained across the Green Line, to cede parts of Jerusalem and to establish international rule over “the holy basin.” .
Does Abbas honestly think that a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state without negotiations with Israel will promote peace? Is a coalition with Hamas, a terrorist organization that arms suicide murderers, fires rockets at civilian populations, and vows never to negotiate with Israel, indicative of a trustworthy peace partner?
Abbas has refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and requires Israel to accept the return of Palestinian refugees. It seems that he wants one Judenfrei Palestinian state and one binational state to swallow up Israel. He has done nothing to stop incitement against Israel despite the Oslo agreement. The Palestinians still honor suicide murderers, and historical lies are still widely taught in Palestinian schools. Abbas denies a Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and the existence of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Arab-Israeli agreements, including those guaranteed by the United Nations, have consistently been broken by the Arabs.
The Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Any agreement must fully ensure Israel’s security and not be dependent on foreign troops. Any Palestinian state must be demilitarized. Israel must retain a presence along the Jordan River to prevent infiltration by enemy armies or the importation of weapons to threaten Israeli cities. Arab children must not be taught to emulate terrorists or murderers. Jews must have access to all holy sites in Yehuda and Shomron.
During the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem prior to 1967, Jews and anyone with an Israeli entry visa were prevented from visiting holy sites in the Old City or praying at the Kotel. Israel has earned the right to keep Jerusalem unified by assuring access to the holy sites for all religions.
If progress toward peace is to be made, Abbas must negotiate in good faith without preconditions. Any agreements must be followed by actions showing that the leadership in Ramallah can be trusted.