Gemar Chatima Tova and wishing you well over the Yom Kippur Fast
It is once more déjà vu. Magnificent speeches bubbling with visions of reconciliation and goodwill between Israelis and Palestinians. Global media editorials pontificating and debating whether peace in our time is about to be consummated, accompanied by demands for Israel to be flexible and forthcoming.
Yet despite all the ritualistic pledges endorsing peaceful coexistence, the likelihood of meaningful progress is virtually zero.
Fortunately most Israelis no longer delude themselves. They appreciate that our prime minister is obliged to placate the Obama administration by participating in a theater of the absurd and act as though real negotiations were taking place with a genuine peace partner.
To his credit Binyamin Netanyahu has performed superbly and, to the surprise of many of his detractors, united the country behind him. In the face of the brutal pressures exerted against him, it was no mean feat to retain a relationship with an American president unfavorably disposed toward Israel without capitulating on essentials.
In the course of the opening negotiations, Netanyahu reinforced the message that to achieve a genuine settlement, this country is willing to compromise on all issues other than those affecting security. In his Washington address, he said, “We left Lebanon, and we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror.
We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned into a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel. That is why defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that will surely confront us.”
In contrast Mahmoud Abbas was adamant that the Palestinian Authority would not contemplate any compromises. He told Al Kuds newspaper that “we’re not talking about a Jewish state and we won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state… you can’t expect us to accept this.” Interviewed by Al Ayyam he said, “If they demand concessions on the right of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can’t allow myself to make even one concession.” He also told the Egyptian media that while he would contemplate NATO forces being deployed in a future Palestinian state, he would not tolerate the presence of Jews among NATO forces and “will not allow even one Israeli to live among us on Palestinian soil.”
IT IS surely mind-boggling to suggest that a person holding such views be considered a “moderate” or “genuine peace partner.” Yet the US is funding a major far-left advertising campaign directed toward the Israeli public promoting the falsehood that Abbas is a true peace partner.
There can be no negotiations when one party refuses to contemplate compromising on anything. The talks will thus inevitably break down either because Israel will refuse to extend a total settlement freeze or on some other pretext.
When that happens, US President Barack Obama will avoid repeating his previous blunder when he publicly humiliated Israel, treating it like a rogue state. But we should be under no illusions. Even before the negotiations began, he publicly called on Israel to make a unilateral concession by extending the settlement freeze. But after the November 2 congressional elections, intensified sophisticated US pressure will be directed toward Israel, if not directly via a wink to the Europeans or the UN.
This will be Netanyahu’s greatest challenge. Some critics allege that he is following the path of his predecessors and about to make further concessions without reciprocity. Yet even if that were true, his government will limit the extent to which he can placate the Americans. Netanyahu is also aware that if he became exclusively dependent on Kadima, his survival as prime minister would be limited.
It is also clear that both Fatah and Hamas are likely to intensify terrorist activities. It was disconcerting when the government failed to respond to the recent Hamas murders near Kiryat Arba and made meaningless Oslostyle statements, proclaiming that terror would not be permitted to undo the peace process. We should remind ourselves that previous failures to respond militarily to acts of terror resulted in the erosion of deterrence which emboldened the jihadists.
Israel is undoubtedly the only country in the world which acts with such restraint when its citizens are under murderous attack from its neighbors.
Imagine Mexicans or Canadians cold-bloodedly killing American civilians, holding street parties celebrating the event while their government takes credit for the murders and pledges to kill more American civilians. Under such circumstances any American administration would respond with radical military action. Nor would it be concerned about humanitarian conditions among those seeking to murder its citizens.
NETANYAHU’S OTHER problem is that by continuing to refer to Abbas as “my partner in peace”, he discourages people from appreciating that his stance in these negotiations is no different than that of his duplicitous predecessor, the murderous Yasser Arafat. It should be noted that Abbas failed to explicitly condemn the recent killings by Hamas and merely noted that the timing of the assassinations “contradicts Palestinian interests.”
We are losing the battle of ideas because we are still reinforcing the illusion that this is merely a conflict over land between two peoples, promoting the flawed belief that peace can be achieved with a society whose leaders’ ambitions of achieving statehood are superseded by their primary objective of bringing an end to Jewish sovereignty in the region.
We continue downplaying the criminal nature of Palestinian society such as the sanctification of “martyrs” engaged in appalling crimes against our civilians, as well as incitement against Jews and Israelis in PA mosques, in the media and throughout the educational system. In Ramallah a square was recently named in honor of Dalal Mugrabi who massacred 37 Israelis on a bus.
A few weeks ago Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, participated in a ceremony honoring Amin al-Hindi one of the chief architects of the murder of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
Even in the highly unlikely event that Abbas underwent a dramatic change and sought to reach an accommodation,there is no way that his constituency would permit him to deliver. He is politically impotent and has unconstitutionally postponed elections for more than a year knowing that he would be defeated.
What makes these talks even more surrealistic is that we are only negotiating with half the Palestinians. The absent dominant partner Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and boasts of the fact that it will never come to terms with the Jewish state, would already have displaced the PA in the absence of the IDF.
There are difficult decisions to be made. Should we support the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state with interim borders? On the basis of previous withdrawals without reciprocity, even setting aside the internal domestic upheavals arising from forcible settlement withdrawals, this would only serve to embolden the radicals and create major security problems.
The only course is to create interim accommodation and continue to improve Palestinian living standards until such time as leaders emerge who recognize us as a Jewish state and are willing to coexist with us.
When that happens, Israelis will undoubtedly be prepared to make major sacrifices. But until then we must remain firm as it is simply delusional to make further concessions and comply with the Arab strategy of undermining our existence in stages.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post
Claims Conference – Holocaust Concert or Care for Survivors?