The European Union’s foreign policy chief will begin a visit to the Middle East shortly. Catherine Ashton will try to get stalled peace talks started and encourage Israel to ease it’s blockade of Gaza. She is going to meet with Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian President and Premier respectively, and would be wise to emphasize some home truths when she does so.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, is more than willing to begin direct peace talks at any time and has left no doubt about this in numerous public pronouncements. It is the Palestinians who are unwilling to seriously discuss peace…they are the ones who keep throwing up roadblocks and preventing meaningful talks from taking place, not the Israelis. Ashton should make this point very strongly in her discussions with Abbas and Fayyad. Israel doesn’t need to be persuaded to come to the table and talk about peace. They do. The Israelis are already there and have been waiting for the Palestinians to get serious and show up for what seems like eons.
She should also tell the Palestinians that Israelis cannot significantly ease the blockade as long as a state of war exists between them. Easing the blockade to any great degree and other such measures would lead to more and more attacks on Israelis and jeopardize Israel’s national security. She should make it clear that the onus is on them…make peace and Palestinian lives will improve exponentially. Keep on making war and the blockade, the wall, the checkpoints and all the other defenses will remain in place. Of necessity.
Home truths all.