Despite international concern that fragile Palestinian-Israeli peace talks would derail following the expiration of a partial moratorium on West Bank settlement expansion, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas revealed that he would not walk away from the table if the moratorium was not resumed. Indeed, as the expiration time passed at 6pm Sunday evening, both parties remained engaged in peace talks — though for how long appears uncertain.
For weeks, Abbas has threatened to abandon negotiations if the 10-month construction freeze is not extended. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to capitulate to the demand, noting that the moratorium was initially enacted as a concession to Palestinians, who did not even acknowledge the olive branch until almost a year later. The Israeli decision to allow the moratorium to expire is its signal that it does not view the peace talks as a process in which it is expected to meet every Palestinian demand while Palestinians continue to reject Israeli’s right to exist, wage terror against Israelis and preach hatred of Jews in their mosques, schools and media. As is tragically underscored by the Israeli death toll that has been suffered at the hands of Palestinians, Netanyahu is interested in a peace deal only if it means securing an end to the endless Palestinian slaughter of Israelis — and to the Palestinian justifications for such slaughter.
“I say to President Abbas,” Netanyahu entreated after the moratorium ended, “for the sake of our two peoples, let’s focus on what really matters. Let’s continue expedited and serious peace talks to reach a historic framework peace agreement within a year.”
But prospects of this do not seem to be realistic, even if peace talks continue, and even if they achieve noteworthy results. Just hours before the moratorium expired, a radical Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), declared it would suspend membership in the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the umbrella Palestinian coalition which Abbas represents. The group stated publicly that it does not want to participate in peace talks and, furthermore, would not be “a cover for policies that would devastate the national cause.” It is an intriguing and honest declaration to be sure: the pursuit of a Palestinian state, which Israel is trying to usher the way for, would devastate the “national cause.” Once again it is clear that, as history has shown time and again, Palestinians are more interested in destroying the Jewish state than in creating their own.