By Nate Odenkirk | Staff Writer
Leaders of Israel and Palestine took a major step towards peace today with the signing of a new handshaking agreement.
The terms of the treaty are strict: representatives from both nations will gather in a hotel conference room, sign some fancy slips of paper, and shake hands with each other. “This photo-op agreement represents a concrete step towards building the appearance of trust,” said a lead negotiator. “After decades of conflict, we can finally put our differences behind us and shake hands in a room… this is the power of diplomacy.”
Talks began back in 2018, and nearly broke down multiple times over seemingly irreconcilable differences. Israel’s top diplomats demanded that five Israeli flags be in the background of any photo-op, and that the handshake be firm but friendly. Palestinian diplomats had a wish list of their own, namely that Israel cease its illegal occupation of the West Bank territory and recognize the independence of the Palestinian state. Instead, they compromised with four Israeli flags and one Palestinian flag in the background—contingent upon the Palestinian flag being slightly smaller and out of frame. “It’s a very generous offer, and there’s something in it for everyone,” said the Israeli delegation. “We’ll take what we can get,” echoed the Palestinian representatives. As a party to the talks, the United States praised Israel’s willingness to compromise, and chastised the Palestinian Authority for their unreasonable demands. Literally no other nation agreed with that, however.
This bare-minimum diplomatic effort fulfills the mandate Israel has to appear like they’re trying to fix the crisis once every few years or so. “Well, that’s that!” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a sing-songy tone. “Back to doing what we’re doing! And not a moment to waste!” To commemorate the treaty, Prime Minister Netanyahu has pledged to dedicate a new settlement in the West Bank. The Palestinians noted dryly that they would have returned the gesture, but anything they built would just be bulldozed anyway.
It is not the first time Palestine and Israel have shaken hands. But this accord is notable in its ambitious scope; it stipulates that three more “historic” treaties will be signed throughout the year, giving the global community ample opportunities to feel good about itself. After the documents are signed, they will be placed in the UN’s paper shredder for safekeeping. Though there is no enforcement mechanism, Israel has totally promised to follow through this time.
“After decades of conflict, we can finally put our differences behind us and shake hands in a room… this is the power of diplomacy.”
A palpable sense of optimism was in the air at the signing. After the ceremonial passport check and a brief interrogation by Israeli authorities about why they were here, Palestinian representatives put pen to paper and inked the deal. Tight smiles from all involved were captured by the fluttering of press cameras, right in front of five Israeli flags (Palestine did not receive its flag in time). Future agreements may include a fist bump, or even a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors (winner gets Gaza). But for now, the central attraction was a handshake; so crisp and professional, you would be excused for thinking progress was being made. But then again, why would it be anything but a perfect handshake? They have been here before. ♦