For years, Palestinian and Israeli “negotiators” have been sitting down for “peace talks,” always with “impartial mediators” alongside. Then, earlier this year, for whatever reason—the Arab Spring, perhaps—the “Palestinians” (I use quotes appropriately because Fatah, let alone Abbas, do not speak for Palestinians as a whole) went to the UN to request recognition of their statehood based on some bizarre notion of feasibility. I am of the opinion they did so knowing it would fail but as a way to take charge in (or overstep) a diplomatic process that has been ****ing them all along. Whether or not they gained anything like, well, a state, they gained some negotiating power back from Goliath. Then, Hamas brokered a deal to release over a thousand of the thousands more Palestinians held in Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of the one and only Israeli (a soldier) imprisoned by Hamas. That’s Palestinians 2 – 0 Israelis. Or it might be 1-0-1.
Now, Israel has offered a semi-partial-almost settlement freeze (government building only? So is that all, or none?) in return for—you guessed it—talks. Why now?
Because they’ve lost too much diplomatic ground; they just released over a thousand prisoners, which is a small fraction of the total number of Palestinians wrongly imprisoned in Israeli jails (like children), let alone rightly imprisoned. They were the bad guys, along with the US, in a legitimate and long-overdue, if impossible, statehood claim. They’ve been targeted time and time again with inquiries, reports, sanctions and boycotts in response to civil and human rights violations, and despite this constant “delegitimization” manage to always emerge relatively unscathed.
So now, after a couple low blows, they get to look like the good guy: they’ll stop (almost none of their) settlement construction (temporarily) if (no Palestinians except) Fatah resume peace talks, talks which have inarguably never gone anyone else’s way except Israel’s. It’s the only way they know how to get what they want relatively non-violently, and they want it back to save their own ass.
The peace talks have no future, and both sides know it. It’s now a waiting game to see what’s next.