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Bloomberg Column: Progress in Peace Process Depends on Palestinians

The decision by Israeli voters to return Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party to power is because progress in the peace process depends on the Palestinians, and currently “the Palestinian side doesn’t have a credible partner with which Israel could make a lasting peace,” Noah Feldman argued today in a column for Bloomberg View.

The most important is that Israeli-Palestinian relations, the only area in which the Herzog-Livni coalition would’ve differed meaningfully from Netanyahu, don’t depend only on Israel. They depend on the Palestinians, too.

Right now, the Palestinian side doesn’t have a credible partner with which Israel could make a lasting peace. Mahmoud Abbas might conceivably be willing to do a deal, but it appears he can’t deliver a unified Palestinian public behind him. Hamas, which controls Gaza, hasn’t truly reconciled with him. Equally important, Abbas, who turns 80 next week, has limited staying power — and it’s unclear who will follow him.

Historically, Israelis have been prepared to choose center-left governments and negotiate peace when the possibility seemed realistic. Otherwise, they tend to prefer the center-right. More than any other factor, this historical reality explains the defeat of the center-left.

It isn’t even clear that the Zionist Union leadership of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni could have made peace with Abbas. Livni, who served as Netanyahu’s peace negotiator, told columnist Roger Cohen of The New York Times that it was Abbas, not Netanyahu, who sabotaged the American-sponsored peace process last year.

In 2008, Abbas refused to accept a peace deal from then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat, nixed a peace deal offered by Prime Minister Ehud Barak at a summit hosted by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

[Photo: ITN Source / YouTube ]