On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestine that it would take its own unilateral actions in response to the Palestinians applying to 15 UN conventions last week. Netanyahu stated that the actions taken by Palestine will only put the possibility of peace further out of reach, effectively blaming the Palestinians for the all but full collapse of the negotiations last week.
At a cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stated that the Israelis are still willing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, saying, “We are ready to continue the talks, but not at any price,” He went on to say that the moves made by the Palestinians were in direct violation of the framework that US Secretary of State John Kerry laid out, and that the unilateral moves will not effect Israel, but will have damaging repercussions on Palestine.
While Netanyahu hasn’t defined what he means by “unilateral actions”, but it could consist of shutting down development of the West Bank, withholding taxes that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority, or blocking a 3G wireless provider from offering service in the West Bank.
In July, Israel vowed to release 109 prisoners to the Palestinians in four groups. When the last group of prisoners were set to be released last week, Israel refused to do so, which prompted Palestine to seek recognition from the United Nations and send peace talks into a downward spiral since then.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, who is an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the talks were contingent on Israel releasing the last group of prisoners, and since Israel reneged on that promise, Palestine had no choice other than to apply to the United Nations. He further went on to comment that Israel has been hypocritical in the sense that while they expect Palestine to hold up their part of the deal, they fully expected the Palestinians to hold up theirs.
While the negotiations are on life support, both the Israelis and Palestinians expressed a willingness to continue talking. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to meet with US envoy Martin Indyk to try to salvage talks and stop unilateral actions from both sides.
John Kerry has expressed his disappointment with both sides stating that it’s, “reality check time,” and that the United States can not spend all of their time working with them if neither side is willing to compromise or work together.
Israel’s lead negotiator, Tzipi Livini blamed the Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel for deliberately sabotaging the talks for political gain. She asserted that Ariel’s publishing of tenders to build 700 apartments in East Jerusalem furthered the divide between Israel and Palestine, saying that Ariel’s actions were meant to, “Bring the world down on our heads,” and to prevent Israel and Palestine from reaching an agreement.
Ariel responded to Livini’s claim by calling her “insolent” and that his actions have nothing to do with the negotiations. He went on to say that since Livini failed to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians, that she is looking for a scapegoat to deflect the blame from herself.
With Netanyahu warning of unilateral actions against Palestine and Palestine threatening more of the same, the framework for peace has become increasingly deteriorated, however, both sides seem committed to coming to an agreement, or at the very least, continuing talks until the deadline of April 29th.
By Nathaniel Pownell