It’s become conventional wisdom that the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a new partition agreement. Israel will leave some or all of the territory conquered in 1967, with or without land swaps; Jerusalem will in some way be divided so that part of it can be the capital of Israel and part of Palestine; the refugees will go somewhere; and a peaceful state of Palestine will be created with or without territorial contiguity. It’s just a matter of working out the details and preventing the ‘extremists’ from wrecking it.
Virtually every ‘moderate’ voice in the world, starting with the Bush Administration — even some Arab states — officially supports some kind of Oslo-like solution along these lines. Only outlaws like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and Hezbollah oppose it. Public opinion in the West is massively in favor.
Yet it can’t possibly be implemented, at least not for a generation, and anybody who has paid attention to the actions and words of the Palestinian leadership, particularly since the signing of the Oslo accord and its failure, should be able to see this.
Former Israeli Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya’alon spoke this week at the Herzliya Conference in Israel, and his words should be required reading for everyone concerned, particularly the diplomats in the US State Department and Foreign Offices around the world.
Some of Ya’alon’s points:
In the [Oslo] accord Israel recognized the right of the Palestinian people to have self determination and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians, on the other side, did not recognize Zionism as a national Jewish movement and did not recognize the rights of the Jews to a national Jewish country, an independent Jewish state. The Palestinians delayed Israel’s efforts to insist on the Palestinian recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Indeed, in spite of massive pressure from President Clinton, the PLO covenant which defined Israel as illegitimate and called for its ‘liberation by armed struggle’ was never changed. And today’s ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayed refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
This lack of recognition shows that the Palestinians are striving for the disappearance of Israel as an independent Jewish state, or in other words: the Palestinians’ goal is not an Israeli state within the 1967 borders (Gaza, Judea and Samaria) but a Palestinian state on Israel’s ruins. It is important to remember that the Palestinian unification did not come after the six day war, but with the foundation of Zionism. In my opinion, Arafat started a war in September 2000 to escape from the “two state solution” and the de-facto recognition of Israel as an independent Jewish state.
In addition we can see a pattern in Arafat’s war of terror that is very similar to the reaction of Palestinians in previous attempts to divide the land: in 1937 the [Peel] Committee and the “Arab Rebellion”; in 1947 the UN partition plan and the War of Independence afterwards…
…since the beginning of Zionism there was no Palestinian leadership that was willing to acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to an independent Jewish state. In addition, since the beginning of Zionism there was no Palestinian leadership that was willing to accept a Jewish state within the 1967 borders as a final agreement. Under these circumstances there is no way to establish a secure situation with a “two state solution”.
But is it possible that Abbas and Fayed are different? In a word, no. Barry Rubin discusses this in detail in the previous post, “The shadow falling on Israel-Palestinian peace“, but some of the symptoms are 1) their inability to compromise on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or on a right of return, 2) their inability to confront Hamas or even the terrorists in their own Fatah organization, and 3) their continued tolerance of the campaign of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement coming from every media and educational outlet in the Palestinian Authority.
If Fatah is bad, Hamas and the other jihadist elements in the Palestinian movement are far worse.. Ya’alon writes,
The disengagement from the Gaza strip in 2005 was an opportunity for the Palestinians to show themselves and the world that the end of Israeli occupation in Gaza will bring change in every aspect: in the field of security the cessation of terrorism, internal law and order, economic growth and political stability. Hamas taking control of Gaza by force, the internal conduct and the ongoing rocket fire on Israeli settlements show that the Israeli “occupation” (the territories that were conquered in the 1967 war), as the west calls it, is not the same definition that the Palestinians use, referring to all of Israel; from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea.
The Islamic jihad’s seizure of control in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes the discussion over the territorial commitment irrelevant because:
- According to the Islamists the have no authority to discuss the land of Israel (because it is sacred – Waqf).
- Israel’s attempts to comply with their demands to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005 only strengthened the Islamic jihad.
If a Palestinian state were to be created despite this — that is, if Israel and the West delude themselves into thinking that the Palestinians intend the state as something other than a stepping-stone to their ultimate goal — Ya’alon thinks a positive outcome highly unlikely:
Considering Palestinian leaderships throughout time, the question “is it possible to trust any Palestinian leadership in existence of responsible national entity?” comes to mind.
- Palestinian leaderships brought destruction to every country they were able to settle down in (Jordan Lebanon, Israel)
- Palestinian leaderships did not keep their commitments and agreements.
- Palestinian leaderships have not shown any interest in economic growth (the financial aid was not used to build an economic foundation, they have disabled their own industrial zones and corruption scared off investors)
Therefore I do not see the possibility of an economically independent Palestinian entity. The economic gap between Palestine and Israel is the recipe for instability. In addition, I do not see the possibility of the existence of a Palestinian entity that will bring stability and security. Nevertheless the possibility of a hostile entity is huge.
So if an Oslo-type solution is impossible, what is?
In order to enable a new way of thinking we have to eliminate the failing one. One of the most important failed ways of thinking is the “need to find a solution now”. In my opinion we need to look at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in terms of conflict management not conflict resolution.
The movement toward a Palestinian state needs to be put on hold until the Palestinians make some real reforms:
- Educational reform; there is no way of getting a stable agreement as long as the Palestinian educational system keeps educating the children not to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish independent state and treats Zionism as colonialist organization… an end to incitement in the public political discourse, in the media and in the mosques.
- A reform in law and order… A strong system of law enforcement that will not allow the creation of armed gangs and organizations.
- Security reform; it is PA’s responsibility to implement what they have previously committed to; a unification of all the security elements and extensive counter-terrorism measures…
- Economic reform…The transfer of millions of dollars to the Palestinians failed because of corruption… a leadership that prefers terrorism over economic growth and terror organizations which prefer poverty and distress over economic gains in order to recruit the masses in the war against Israel…
- Political reform …a change from dictatorship to democracy…
Is this even possible? Certainly not today. But it will certainly not come about while all the ‘moderate’ forces in the world are bent on pushing Israel into accepting the establishment of a state when the Palestinians are neither desirous of a peaceful one or capable of a viable one. The pressure, rather, should be on the Palestinians to take real steps toward reform.