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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Palestinian Leaders Must Stop Boycotting Negotiations

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 28, 2020, to announce the U.S. administration's peace framework. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On Jan. 28, the Trump administration released its long-anticipated peace proposal, a detailed framework that has been in development since 2017. The 180-page U.S. proposal was composed in consultation with Israeli leaders as well as many other government officials, academics, experts and civil society leaders, including extensive discussions with leaders across the Middle East.

Regrettably, Palestinian leaders have boycotted talks with U.S. and Israeli officials for years. Repeated attempts by U.S. officials to reach out to Palestinian leaders were ignored, including a presidential call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before the framework was rolled out.

AIPAC appreciates the efforts of President Trump and his administration to work in consultation with the leaders of the two major Israeli political parties to set forth ideas to resolve the conflict in a way that recognizes our ally’s critical security needs. Indeed, both Israeli political leaders—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party Leader Benny Gantz, representing the broad consensus of Israeli politics—view this framework as a basis to restart negotiations with the Palestinians.

We have long believed that direct Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy is essential to achieve a durable peace and lasting two-state agreement that effectively addresses the concerns of both sides.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has continually refused direct talks with Israel for the last several years. It is now essential that Palestinians both forego the path of violence, boycotts, and the criminalization of differences at international forums and return to peace talks with Israel.

Countries from around the world have welcomed the proposal and urged direct talks, including Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the United Kingdom and others. We were also encouraged to see that Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent their ambassadors to attend the announcement in Washington, D.C.

As just a few examples:

  • The Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “The Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] appreciates the efforts of President Trump's Administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, and encourages the start of direct peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States, and to resolve any disagreements with aspects of the plan through negotiations.”

  • UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said, “The United Arab Emirates appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement. This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years… The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”

  • Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter, “I welcome the release of the #US plan which hopefully brings new momentum to the #MEPP [Middle East peace process] having been in a deadlock for far too long. We call on the parties to start negotiations on the basis of this plan under #US leadership with a view to achieving a two-state-solution.”

  • The Colombian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “Colombia receives with optimism the efforts that the United States government has put forward...We see that the new plan and its discussion can open a path to achieve permanent stability and progress in Israel and Palestine.”

We call on all countries committed to peace to play a constructive role and urge the Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israelis.

While the parties will have their differences with this framework, it is time for Palestinians to rejoin Israelis at the negotiating table. A lasting, genuine peace will inevitably require agreement between the parties themselves and tough compromises from both sides.

Type: Near-East-Report Near East Report NERWinter2019-2020