“Peace in Our Time” was proclaimed by Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in defense of his disastrous Munich Agreement with Hitler. History testifies that his policy of appeasement and failure to confront the aggressive Nazi barbarians virtually made World War II inevitable.
It was in August 1993, just 20 years ago, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, strongly pressured by then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, embarked on what he described as a “gamble for peace” and consummated the Oslo Accords with the PLO, an act which bitterly divided the nation.
Passionate debates ensued, but in our desperate yearning for peace, until recently many of us deluded ourselves that we were engaged in an “irreversible” peace process. Some of us even mesmerized ourselves into believing that Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas were genuine peace partners, despite clear evidence from their own statements that in referring to peace, they did so with forked tongues and that their real objective was to end Jewish sovereignty.
In recent years the vast majority of us reluctantly concluded that the “gamble for peace” was a failure and that, in the absence of a Palestinian leadership genuinely committed to coexistence, any prospect for a genuine peace was a mirage. This has become especially obvious as Palestinian leaders even refuse to engage in negotiations without preconditions.
Yet, the vast majority of Israelis would still now endorse major concessions to the Palestinians if they were convinced that this would lead to a genuine peace.
Sadly, many – including some of our friends – fail to appreciate this and continue urging Israel to be more forthcoming about the peace process.
President Obama reversed his former confrontationist stance towards Israel and now even publicly endorses Israel’s right to take preemptive military action to defend itself. Nevertheless, an Alice in Wonderland atmosphere still dominates US Middle East policy.
Thus, Secretary of State John Kerry waxes eloquent over an allegedly revised and improved version of the so-called Arab League Peace Initiative.
The imperative of placating the US obligates our government not to outrightly reject this initiative which “agrees” to accept minor territorial swaps from the 1949 armistice lines yet still incorporates the right of return of Arab refugees which would result in an end to the Jewish state.
Moreover, the genocidal Hamas – with whom the PA seeks to merge – has condemned the scheme and adamantly reiterated that it would never countenance any compromise.
No Israeli government could conceivably contemplate acquiescing to a formula in which the opening benchmark in negotiations required acceptance of the 1949 armistice lines. This would entail East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, as well as the major settlement blocs effectively becoming Palestinian territory until an agreement to engage in swaps is consummated. Precedents indicate that it is highly unlikely that agreement on swaps could be achieved with the current intransigent Palestinian leaders.
In this context, we must not ignore the reality that both Arafat and Abbas refused – and even failed to respond with a counter offer – when Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered them 97% of the territories over the green line.
Nor can we dismiss the criminal character of Palestinian society and the fact that the PA, no less than Hamas, inculcate children from primary school to kill Jews and become “martyrs” and publicly sanctify mass murderers and allocate state pensions to families of suicide bombers and terrorists in Israeli jails.
Indeed, even “respectable” Palestinian websites such as spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi’s Miftach, recently published an article reviving medieval blood libels, explicitly accusing Jews of drinking Gentile blood on Passover.
The Palestinian state-sponsored anti-Semitic brainwashing in the media, mosques and schools is in fact as lethal as the Nazi propaganda which transformed Germans into willing accomplices of mass murder.
It is thus not surprising that recent polls show that Palestinians are globally the most supportive Moslem nation favoring suicide bombings, with over 40% justifying them.
Those promoting Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a “peace partner” or “moderate” would be hard pressed to quote a single positive statement by him about Israel to his own people. He may tactically have reached the conclusion that diplomacy is more effective for promoting Palestinian goals than terror. But while he consistently stresses that this is a pragmatic strategic approach, his Fatah subsidiary continues engaging in acts of terror and the PA continuously threatens to revert to the “armed struggle” if it fails to achieve its objectives by diplomatic means.
According to Palestine Media Watch, only this month Sultan Abu Al-Einem, a senior PLO official, “saluted the heroic fighter” who had stabbed an Israeli civilian to death. At the same time Jibril Rajoub, co-signer to the Oslo Accords and Deputy Secretary to the Fatah Central Committee, stated that “popular resistance – with all it entails – remains on our agenda” and that “if we had a nuke we’d have used it [against Israel] this morning”.
Despite the fact that Abbas has breached the Oslo accords by unilaterally obtaining UN diplomatic recognition and is now constantly threatening to charge Israel with war crimes at the International Court of Justice, the world continues today to pressure us to maintain the manifestly false charade of engaging with a nonexistent peace partner.
Moreover, the “peaceniks” and their Western supporters, including some misguided Jews and Israelis, still demand that the Israeli government be more forthcoming with concessions.
We are called upon to engage in further “confidence building” measures and release terrorists, many of whom are likely to resume their activities; make further territorial concessions despite our disastrous experience after the unilateral withdrawal in Gaza; freeze building of new settlements despite the fact that we did this for 10 months and failed to even get the Palestinians to join us at the negotiating table.
We are urged to specify our desired borders, as if this can be done in isolation from security and other factors. Besides, every time the possibility of another concession is even hinted, the Palestinians insist that it represent a new opening benchmark for future negotiations.
We have made major concessions but there has been no reciprocity because clearly the PA will not and cannot concede anything. We face a calculated strategy to destroy Israel in stages in which our adversaries seek to obtain and absorb concessions without reciprocity and will continue to demand more and more until they exhaust us.
We should firmly restate to our friends our readiness and desire to separate from the Palestinians. But we must not again jeopardize our security and lives by engaging in yet another “gamble for peace” with the odds stacked against us.
Were we to have a genuine peace partner we could achieve a peace treaty and grounds for long-term coexistence in a matter of days. But until then our friends should not seek to impose upon us a Chamberlain style “Peace in our Time” formula.
The writer may be contacted at [email protected]
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom