Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently tweeted (I know, it sounds so ridiculous) this:
הסכסוך אינו סכסוך טריטוריאלי ועל כן המו”מ לא יכול להתבסס על סוגיית שטח
The conflict is not a territorial conflict, so negotiations cannot be based on the issue of territory.
This is the whole story in one line.
Today I attended a talk by Yaakov Kirschen, the Dry Bones cartoonist. He said the same thing in slightly different words:
Everyone is upset about Obama’s mention of 1967 lines. This is irrelevant. The only issue, and one that he did not mention, is that the Arab world does not recognize the Jewish state of Israel as a native part of the Middle East.
This is what ‘recognition’ means.
It is what Arafat never changed the PLO charter to include, despite the fact that he agreed to do so in the Oslo agreements and despite pleas from President Clinton that he do it.
It is what the Arab Initiative does not offer — it refers only to “normal relations” even after Israel has withdrawn to aforesaid insecure borders.
It is what Mahmoud Abbas meant when he refused to say that Israel was the state of the Jewish people.
And despite the fact that President Obama claims to accept this principle himself, he proposes that the Palestinian Arabs be granted sovereignty without agreeing to accept the idea — in particular without saying that millions of descendants of 1948 refugees do not have a ‘right’ to the place now called ‘Israel’.
I think most people in the US and Israel understood this from 1948 to 1993. It was clear to everyone that the Arabs wanted Israel replaced by an Arab state, and they were ready to fight to make this happen. But when Arafat lied about his aims, Israelis sick of war and wanting to finally be ‘normal’, jumped at the chance to believe him.
Now, after Arab terrorism has claimed more than a thousand Israeli victims, most realize that it was all a trick. Unfortunately, in America and Europe and among Israel’s extreme Left, it’s easy for those who (for various reasons) want to see Israel out of the territories to insist that the principle is fine, it’s just that Israel hasn’t made enough concessions. They will continue to say this until there isn’t anything left to concede.
Recognition is everything. But if we are realistic we know that neither Hamas, Fatah nor any other Arab nation is prepared to grant it today — even the ones that are allegedly at ‘peace’ with Israel. The Arab world hasn’t changed its position since 1948.
As Danny Danon argues, the Arabs will abrogate the Oslo agreements by unilaterally seeking recognition of statehood at the UN. It can also be argued that the countenancing of terrorism by the PA, the Hamas-Fatah agreement and the refusal to provide recognition of Israel also constitute a rejection of Oslo.
It’s not possible to continue pretending that there is a path to peace through negotiation with the Fatah-Hamas Palestinian Authority. Obama’s plan only makes things worse by moving the US closer to the Arab position. Time for Plan B:
Let’s accept that the root of the problem (Kirschen said this, too) is the Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state in the Mideast and work on that.