JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite all the rhetoric, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues appear unwilling to sit down with Israelis to talk about viable solutions for the future of both peoples.
That's the bottom line.
Following a closed meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah on Wednesday, Abbas told reporters that U.S. President Barack Obama is being "unclear and ambiguous" while simultaneously pressuring him to enter direct negotiations with Israel.
"With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear," Abbas said.
"We want clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders, and the status of Jerusalem," he said.
"We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state. Before we get to the negotiations, we want clear answers on the borders and settlements," he said.
In other words, these are the PA's preconditions - and none of them are realistic from Israel's perspective - so it's reasonable to question what's really behind all the rhetoric.
First, the pre-1967 "borders" that Abbas and others continually refer to were armistice lines established after the War of Independence, which began on May 15, 1948, the day after the State of Israel was re-established.
Seven Arab armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen attacked the fledgling state. When the fighting ended 19 months later, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip.
Trans-Jordan, which was formed when the British lobbed off 75 percent of the original Jewish Palestinian homeland for an Arab Palestinian nation, annexed the area west of the Jordan River, renaming it the West Bank and shortening its own name to Jordan.
From 1948 to 1967, Egypt ruled the Gaza Strip, Syria ruled the Golan Heights, and Jordan rule the "West Bank" and eastern Jerusalem.
It was from these areas in June 1967 that the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies mobilized their forces to attack the truncated Jewish state with its seemingly indefensible borders.
In six days, instead of "pushing the Jews into the sea," Israel defeated all three armies, capturing the Sinai Desert from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan.
In this historical context, fast forward to 2010 to consider the Palestinian Authority's "pre-conditions" for talking to Israel:
- re-divide the capital of the Jewish state (which by the way is a physical impossibility, not to mention other ramifications for the Jewish people)
- uproot hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem,
- turn it all over to the Palestinian Authority.
For these reasons and a few more, the reality appears to be that Abbas doesn't want to restart talks with Israel - direct or indirect.
By presenting what seem like legitimate pre-conditions and dismissing any goodwill gestures made on Israel's behalf by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas achieves the indefinite postponement of peace negotiations between the two entities.
Not a few analysts have come to the conclusion that the Palestinian Authority isn't interested in peace with Israel, but rather, like their Hamas counterparts, is calling for Israel piece by piece. An enormous amount of evidence documented over the years supports this conclusion.
A return to the pre-1967 armistice lines would make Israel vulnerable to the less-than-friendly nations that surround it to fulfill their oft-repeated threat to wipe the Jewish state off the map.