Despite the announcement of the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, making worldwide headlines that have dominated the news cycle for the past 48 hours, both sides face formidable internal obstacles before either ends up sitting across the other at the negotiations table in Washington next week.
On the Palestinian side, in a statement contradicting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement of breakthrough, a PA official said that the path to negotiations is still very much obstructed due to a large number of Palestinian leaders strongly voicing their opposition to any talks with the Zionists. Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh claimed that the only reason PA President Abba agreed to send a delegation to Washington was to continue lower-level preliminary talks with Israel about the terms for negotiations. Similar sentiments were expressed by a second PA official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, another of Abba’s spokesman.
Rudeineh claims that despite what the US has reported, the PA will refuse to return to any talks unless there is an pre-acceptance that Israel first accept the pre-1967 lines as a baseline for negotiations, an insistence Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vehemently rejected. Abu Rudeineh said the Washington talks are meant to “overcome the obstacles that still stand in the way of launching negotiations.”
Earlier on Sunday PLO officials told Palestinian radio that the US may have been premature in announcing the resumption of talks.
According to Fatah Central Command member Abbas Zaki, speaking to Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood newspaper As-Sabeel, “The visit is nothing more than consultations; it has nothing to do with launching negotiations.”
On the Israeli side, PM Netanyahu is facing tough opposition from his right-wing coalition partners; namely Naftali Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home). Bennett announced on Monday that his party would not support any proposed budget in the Knesset unless a referendum on any peace agreement that includes Israel giving up land is instituted.
Bennett told a senior party source earlier Monday that “this is a moral, principled demand. Our first goal is to prevent a rupture in the nation.” The Bayit Yehudi source pointed out that the Referendum Bill, which would turn the existing referendum law into a Basic Law, is part of the party’s coalition agreement.
However, this all may cause more complications due to the fact that Justice Minster Tzipi Livni strongly opposes the Referendum Bill.
If Netanyahu can’t pass a budget, his government falls and new elections are called. Netanyahu’s 68-member coalition won’t have enough votes to pass the budget without Bayit Yehudi’s 12 mandates.