+972, June 28, 2017


One might be tempted to conclude that Israeli support for the status quo translates into opposing the resumption of peace talks. In practice, the opposite is true. The peace process itself helps strengthen the status quo.

As stated earlier, the Palestinians have almost nothing to offer Israel in negotiations. The only card they hold is international legitimacy. They are the ones who can bring about international recognition of Israel’s borders, of its sovereignty in Jerusalem, and actually, in Israel as well. Legitimacy, not security, is what they bring to the table.

Except Israel doesn’t really need a final status agreement to gain more international legitimacy. Just participating in a peace process is enough. The moment the Palestinians and Israelis enter the negotiating room, Israel’s legitimacy — and even that of the occupation — is bolstered. The negotiation process also bears fruit on the ground immediately — for Israel — as pressure mounts on the Palestinian leadership to stamp out any and all resistance to the occupation [....]

Israel’s interest, therefore, is to sit around the negotiating table forever. Doing so helps it gain international legitimacy, and it has to give nothing, or very little, in return. That is why even right-wing politicians like Naftali Bennett, who vehemently oppose the two-state solution and any peace agreement with the Palestinians, have no problem when Israel sits down with Mahmoud Abbas and even discusses dismantling the settlements and the future of Jerusalem.