Charles Levinson reports in the Wall Street Journal that the West Bank leadership is using Israeli intransigence to its advantage, and the Netanyahu people are crying foul:
Palestinian negotiators have surprised Washington with a bold opening offer to White House peace envoy George Mitchell that includes concessions on territory beyond those offered in past Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, according to officials briefed on the current negotiations.
The Palestinians’ unexpected offer has been greeted warily in Israel and by some members of the Obama administration, according to these officials. Palestinians believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention of reaching a peace deal and thus may have calculated they can make generous offers without having to worry about following through, these officials said.
Land concessions? Those devious bastards! How dare the Palestinians negotiate shrewdly! Don’t they know they’re supposed to say no to everything?
Two things ought to be obvious. First, the Israelis can stop this nefarious gambit immediately by, like, stopping settlement construction and throwing the gauntlet back at Abbas and Fayyad. Second, the Palestinians had better be prepared for the Israelis to call their bluff. Issuing a proposal and then yanking it back when the other side unexpectedly says yes is the way peace processes stop processing. On the other hand, if mutual distrust creates a spiraling series of ambitious peace offers, we will have found a geopolitical use for acrimony. (I don’t believe that will happen, either. Just saying.)