Shira Herzog: In this Mideast dance, the key steps are 1948 and 1967
Shira Herzog is executive vice-president of the Calgary-based Kahanoff Foundation and a writer on Israeli affairs.
It’s been a packed week with more to come for those who watch the Middle East: U.S. envoy George Mitchell resigned; anti-Israel demonstrations by Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza turned deadly; Jordan’s King Abdullah was at the White House; U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the Middle East on Thursday and meets Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. Next week, both leaders address the public policy conference of AIPAC, the American Jewish lobby for Israel, and Mr. Netanyahu addresses Congress.
But it’s no portent of a major breakthrough in deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian talks. Anything said this week is a rehearsal for the main drama: Palestinian efforts to circumvent negotiations and attain recognition of a state with “1967 borders” at next September’s United Nations General Assembly. So far, U.S. efforts to deter the Palestinians and resume talks have failed. Israel fears the resolution’s political and economic ramifications and is trying to mitigate the impact of 130 promised Yes votes by getting 35 to 40 countries, whom it sees as a “moral majority,” to vote against.
Mr. Netanyahu is resisting growing domestic and international pressure to declare support for what’s become a key element of all discourse related to a “two-state” resolution of the conflict – a Palestinian state in “territories based on 1967 borders” with land swaps to compensate for Israeli settlement blocs along the West Bank frontier. Coming from him, this could derail the UN strategy. In a policy speech this week, the Israeli leader indirectly implied removal of some settlements, but later retreated into obfuscation.
In Washington, Mr. Netanyahu will justify this reluctance on two counts...
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