Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Stance:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent remarks opposing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state were met with indifference in the Arab world, as his position is well-known.
While the Palestinians reacted strongly, it is clear that Israel does not desire the collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Netanyahu’s Blow to Mahmoud Abbas:
Netanyahu’s statement opposing an independent Palestinian state deals a blow to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has long sought to revive the 2002 Arab peace initiative initially proposed by King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia.
By openly opposing the idea, despite secret negotiations with Saudi Arabia, Netanyahu implies that the initiative lacks relevance from Israel’s perspective.
Israel’s Position on a Palestinian State: It is crucial for Arab leaders to recognize Israel’s clear opposition to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Israel prioritizes its security and will not allow the emergence of another terrorist entity, as seen in the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Therefore, the Palestinian dream of statehood is not considered relevant by the Israeli government in the foreseeable future.
Impasse in Negotiations: The Palestinian insistence on defining negotiation outcomes in advance, particularly with regard to an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, hampers progress in any dialogue with Israel.
The Israeli experience demonstrates that areas from which it withdraws often become bases for terrorism, further complicating negotiations.
Search for Alternative Solutions: Senior Palestinian officials suggest that Netanyahu’s remarks aimed to signal to the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia the need for fresh ideas to overcome the impasse in Israeli-PA negotiations.
One potential solution proposed is granting full autonomy to the Palestinians for a period of ten to twenty years, allowing both sides to rebuild trust before engaging in negotiations for an independent Palestinian state without prior Israeli commitment.
Political Scenario and Palestinian Leadership: The current coalition in Israel lacks the capacity to discuss the Arab peace initiative effectively, a fact acknowledged by the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinian leadership is scheduled to convene after the Feast of the Sacrifice to reassess PLO-Israel relations in light of recent developments and Netanyahu’s statements.
Relevance of the Arab Peace Initiative: It is time for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to recognize that Israel cannot compromise on its red lines. If negotiations reach an impasse, interim solutions should be explored to maintain political momentum.
However, it is important to acknowledge that the Arab peace initiative has lost its relevance from Israel’s perspective, rendering any return to similar ideas futile and a waste of time.
Conclusion: Rather than fixating on an initiative that is unlikely to be implemented, it would be more pragmatic for Saudi Arabia to focus on pursuing interim solutions in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. These approaches have a higher chance of yielding practical results.