(Original post by Suetonius)
A settlement freeze in the West Bank is obligatory
under the Road Map. I didn't say that "stopping building settlements is a concession", so much as totally
conforming to past treaties and, most importantly, international law is the only thing that can amount to full concession. That would necessitate far more than just a settlement freeze. It would require total and utter commitment to ending the conflict, and neither party is fulfilling its requirements. You seemingly can't view this conflict through any prism other than the U.S.-Israeli dogmatism that provably runs counter to international law. A settlement freeze isn't a concession. It's simply an essential
requirement before serious peace talks can resume. You're just spouting rhetoric against Hamas without proposing any serious solution
. You know what? It's easy
to throw all the blame onto the other guy. It's a cop-out and certainly not original. If you really want to defend Israel then you ask of it only that it be responsible and acts according to the standard required of it under international law. Surrendering "direct Israeli military control" (which, remember, came after a mutual agreement between two parties that had previously mistrusted each other), and the other token actions that you allude to, are not concessions in the true sense of the term. A concession would be total and utter commitment to the principles of UNSC Resolution 242, which calls, because of the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security"
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.
In other words, the only full concession would be an end to the occupation. The "withdrawal" from Gaza did not
conform to principle (ii), and scarcely conformed to principle (i), considering that Gaza's air and water routes are still controlled by the Israeli military. And, sure, let's call for the Palestinians to act according to the same principle. But don't use their violation of the resolution as an excuse to permit Israel to do the same.
Israel certainly hasn't "made peace offers", and, you will see, that because the Palestinians (or at least an element or two among the Palestinians) hasn't ceased terrorism it does not
absolve Israel from the requirement of entering into negotiations or pursuing every means to end the conflict. You seem to forget that Israel is the occupying force. It has all the cards in its hands, and all the power needed to either act for better or for worse.
As for preconditions. The PA doesn't refrain from negotiations because the first principle of Resolution 242 hasn't been adhered to by Israel, and neither should Israel refrain from negotiating with Hamas because they haven't adhered to the second principle. After
negotiation, Hamas will be required to terminate "all...states of belligerency...and acknowledg[e]...the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence" of Israel. However, nowhere in international law is that deemed a precondition for negotiations.
On the right of return. (Which is rejected in the Geneva Accords; a proposal Israel have just dismissed, probably because it's not orchestrated by its benefactors in the Quartet). Again, the Palestinians should not be required to renounce this as a precondition for negotiation. Do you think Israel should be required to withdraw all of its settlements from the West Bank as a precondition for negotiation? Obviously not. If the Palestinians believe in a right of return, which is a major issue (and I disagree with your claim that it "applies to only them and no other group in the history of the world"; every displaced group has a right of return, even if that right isn't realized), then you acknowledge the grievance and try to resolve it on a mutual basis. You don't just reject it and say that they have no right. You apologize for the injustice like a grown up, and come to a mutual compromise. It's like when Israel says that it wants it to be a precondition that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state (for which there's far less support in international law than there is for the right of return). The Palestinians shouldn't reject it out of hand, but should acknowledge that Israel can define itself however it wants as long as it doesn't violate basic Palestinian rights. Your position is nothing but a sure recipe for further antagonism, and that's the last thing the region needs. I ask you: do you support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination within a viable and contiguous state?