Why it’s time to stop surrendering

Dan Margalit is a well-known Israeli print and TV Journalist who has been around for a long time. He is not a ‘leftist’. In today’s online edition of Israel Hayom, he discusses the possible consequences of the success of a UN General Assembly resolution for Palestinian statehood.

The bid will earn an American veto in the Security Council but will get a majority in the General Assembly…

Will they obtain full membership in dozens of U.N.- affiliated groups, and will they be empowered to take Israel to the International Court in the Hague or harass Israel in the International Telecommunications Union?

Margalit suggests that Israel should agree to Palestinian preconditions to place them in a position where they cannot refuse negotiations. This will expose the PA as being uninterested in a negotiated peace:

Should Israel give up its justified stance that it has the right to be recognized as a Jewish state? This would allow it to tear the mask from Abba’s face and prove that he is not interested in negotiations but only in a unilateral U.N. declaration. It would prove that he is disregarding both Barack Obama and the New York Times which both called on him to refrain from such a move.

In my opinion this is a worthwhile diplomatic gamble. Three years ago Dan Meridor gave Ha’aretz his Camp David journals for publication. They clearly prove that Yasser Arafat torpedoed the Israel-Palestinian agreement and not Ehud Barak. When the protocols of their meetings are made public, it will also emerge that it wasn’t Ehud Olmert who subverted the agreement in 2009 but Abu Mazen. That is what will happen, to my sorrow and to the delight of the extreme right, if Netanyahu gives Abu Mazen a little more rope. The world will then see, for the third time in a dozen years, that the Palestinians’ diplomatic behavior pattern hasn’t changed. [my italics]

Bad idea.

Margalit demolishes his own argument in the last sentence: if the world hasn’t learned the ‘diplomatic behavior pattern’ of the Palestinian Arabs yet, it is not capable of learning.

Why should yet another concession — in this case, giving up the demand to recognize the most essential part of our national identity — be required in order to establish Israel’s bona fides as a peace-loving state?

Didn’t Camp David and the withdrawal from the Sinai — which included the almost-forgotten expulsion of Jews from Yamit — show that Israel was prepared to make sacrifices for peace? Didn’t the withdrawal from southern Lebanon show that Israel was not interested in expanding its territory by military means? Didn’t Oslo show that Israel was prepared to take risks, like bringing Arafat and the PLO terrorists back from exile and turning over much of Judea and Samaria to their rule? Didn’t the withdrawal from Gaza, in which Jews were forcibly removed from their homes, make this clear yet again?

Every one of the Israeli withdrawals or concessions that I mentioned had disastrous consequences, even the Camp David treaty with Egypt — we are just beginning to see the results of that one. Isn’t it time to say “enough already” and expect the Arabs to make some compromises?

The problem is that ‘the world’ — which in this case means the Muslim world plus a Europe dependent on Arab and Iranian oil, plus the ever-present antisemites, plus Barack Obama who wants to realign the US closer to the Muslims, plus the Left which is obsessed with its postcolonialist ideology, plus Russia which wants to reduce US influence in the Middle East, etc. — wants to see Israel out of the territories and a ‘Palestinian’ state established, and has very little (if any) concern for Israel’s security.

So ‘the world’ cannot ‘learn’ about Palestinian duplicity because it simply does not care. The facts about what happened at Camp David in 2000 are there for everyone to see, not only in the words of Dan Meridor but also those of Dennis Ross, the US’s top negotiator. Even Bill Clinton has publicly said that Arafat torpedoed the negotiations. No lessons have been drawn from this — even those who admit it blame Arafat personally, despite the fact that his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, holds exactly the same position.

Unfortunately, Israel is rarely able to take back a concession. We won’t see Yamit or Gush Katif repopulated by Jews, nor is the PLO likely to go back to Tunis. Every concession is ‘pocketed’ and demands are ramped up from there.

Some concessions are physical and some ‘merely’ ideological. For example, Israel chose to not defend the right of Jews to live anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, and today it is a commonplace to hear Judea and Samaria referred to as the ‘Palestinian’ territories. But Jews lived in the Old City of Jerusalem, in Hebron and Gush Etzion, on land they legally purchased before they were expelled by force and in some cases, murdered. What happened to take away their right to live in those places?

The definition of Israel as a Jewish state is of huge significance, and the Arabs are quite aware of it. It must not be given up to satisfy a ‘world’ which will not be fully satisfied by anything short of the end of the Jewish state.

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2 Responses to “Why it’s time to stop surrendering”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I also believe it is a very bad idea. Why make concessions to those who do not even deign to negotiate with us? Why make concessions above all to those who are in a zero sum game with us, at least at this point?

  2. Robman says:

    It is a bad idea not only for the reasons Vic elaborates, but also because it is so patently unnecesary even within the context described by dan Margalit.

    The recognition issue is one that no minimally fair observer can brush aside as an unreasonable precondition to negotiations. It is this issue that has been leveraged by Netanyahu to get half of the EU to back Israel against the PA in recent Quartet meetings. Obama may privately chafe at this as well, but it is also an issue that he cannot publicly quarrel with. On this basis alone, in the eyes of a good part of the relevant “world”, Israel can refuse to sit down with the PA, and it is rightly seen as the PA’s fault.

    So, why concede when you don’t have to? And Israel should never concede on this one no matter what; this is the most fundamental right they must insist on with respect to the PA.