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MIDDLE EAST/ Palestine and Israel: agreement is possible if they want it

Robi Ronza discusses the Palestinian bid for membership to the UN, put forward by the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu   (photo ANSA) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo ANSA)

The upheaval taking place in North Africa and the Near East, as a result of the now visible decline of the American presence in the Mediterranean, has moved to another stage in recent days when the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, formally requested that Palestine be accepted as a state in the UN General Assembly, and then, later, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the floor to challenge the reasons given in support of that request. Whatever the outcome of the case, the mere fact that the Palestinian Authority has taken this initiative is an important new fact, which previously would have been unimaginable.

There is something typically Arabic in this move, a move which, in a period where negotiations have been blocked, puts a proposal that is already known to be unacceptable by the other party onto the table in order to reshuffle the cards and reopen the negotiations. In this sense, the “Arab” reply of the Israeli Prime Minister is interesting because, on the one hand, he essentially challenged the proposal but, on the other hand, he invited the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. If the negotiations were to resume in a short time, the UN would have good reason to postpone responding to the Palestinian request, while waiting for the outcome. If so, this would take place under the auspice of fact, even if not of the law, of the United Nations, which could satisfy the Palestinians without being unbearable for the Israelis.

If, in this framework, the two sides finally began to speak directly and without patrons or intermediaries, perhaps it will be easier for them to achieve some results. After twenty years of negotiations, every aspect of the matter has been discussed ad nauseam. There is nothing left to be clarified; they must simply decide how to agree. Obviously it is not easy, but if the intention of agreeing is there, the agreement can be reached in a short time. While, at the end of the Second World War, the United States substituted Britain and France, this time there is no one even minimally credible to replace the "big brother" America, which is beginning to leave the scene. That being the case, time is less and less in favor of Israel, which is interested in dealing quickly from a relatively strong position before being forced to do so from a relatively weak position.