Though over the last several months Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trumpeting what he claimed to be an offer of unconditional peace talks, his government is now clearly laying out conditions.
Gabriella Shalev, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, is now demanding that the international body abandon all consideration for the Goldstone report on war crimes committed during the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, and says there can be no peace talks until they do so.
“We will not sit at the table and will not talk with bodies and people who accuse us of war crimes,” the ambassador declared, just the latest in a long line of officials expressing faux-outrage at a report which seems to have done little but confirm what several reports from private human rights groups in Israel and abroad have been saying for months.
The United Nations, of course, isn’t an actual party to the hypothetical Israel – Fatah peace talks, but Fatah was finally forced to abandon its call to let the matter drop, under intense pressure from Palestinians still angered by the massive civilian toll in the Gaza Strip and outraged at what was seen as simple blackmail after Israel threatened economic sanctions on the West Bank to punish them if the matter was pursued.
The US has repeatedly condemned the Goldstone report as “biased” though it accuses both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the Israeli incursion, but officials still say that the Israeli government ought to at least probe the charges made in the report. For now that seems unlikely, and the very suggestion appears to have been the excuse the hawkish Netanyahu government has been looking for to abandon the pretense of peace talks outright.