Sunday, April 19, 2009


i'm glad that the u.s. state department is rejecting israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu's insistence that the palestinians recognize israel as a jewish state as a precondition of negotiations. and i'm glad that bibi seems to have caved on the issue ("Contrary to reports, I don't condition dialogue with the Palestinians on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Nevertheless, progress in the peace process does depend on the willingness to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.") if nothing else, this shows the enormous potential influence the u.s. has over the israeli leadership--assuming that the u.s. government is just willing to use it.

the reason why i think bibi's original pre-condition was a bad idea, and why it's a good thing that the u.s. got him to drop it, is because recognition of israel (including how israel will be recognized) is one of the few bargaining chips the palestinians have. also, recognizing israel as a "jewish state" essentially cancels out one of the palestinians' key demands, the palestinian right of return. demanding that palestinians give up its recognition chip and its right of return even before the horse trading can begin, all you're doing is requiring one side make concessions in exchange for nothing.

that's why any offer to negotiate with preconditions is essentially a fraudulent offer to negotiate. negotiations means give-and-take. preconditions means just take. when you impose preconditions it shows that you're not willing to negotiate. but because it is dressed up in the language of an offer to negotiate, it creates the false impression that you are.