Let's Admit It: The Israel-Palestinian Peace Process Is Dead
Dear Friend of FLAME:
Despite the concerted, determined efforts of the last four U.S. presidents and the last six Israeli Prime Ministers, to say nothing of the so-called Quartet on the Middle East (a consortium of the U.N., the U.S., the European Union, and Russia), no peace has emerged between Israel and the Palestinians.
Despite the Madrid Conference (1991), the Oslo Accords (1993), the Hebron and Wye River agreements (1996-1999), the Camp David Summit (2000), the Taba Summit (2001), the Road Map for Peace (2002), and the Obama-led negotiations of 2010, still no peace could be found.
Why, you might ask, with so much time, talent and resources dedicated to a solution, has none been achieved?
Here's another question for you: Has the dispute between the victor of a war and a defeated people ever taken so long to resolve? Aside from some minor international border disputes, whose resulting hostility is no greater than cool relations between the disputing parties, no peace treaty has ever been so long in coming.
Again we ask, why?
Readers of the FLAME Hotline will no doubt know the answer: Call it courage or determination . . . call it obstinacy or utter stupidity, the Palestinians simply don't want a peace. They want Israel.
As far as Israel is concerned, the U.N. granted it statehood in 1948, and despite attacks by its Arab neighbors, it definitively won its fiercely fought war of independence. The game should have been over. However, in 1967, after another attack by those same Arab nations, Israel pushed back Jordan, Syria and Egypt from traditional Jewish homelands---the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula respectively.
While the 1967 victory allowed Israel to take back Jerusalem and other strategically important land, it was also saddled with governance over more than a million Arabs, who at that point began calling themselves Palestinians. Those Palestinians wanted freedom, and Israel was eager to give it to them. Israel said, fine, let's negotiate borders based on where we stand right now---we control all of the land, and we're willing to give back most of it to you. Let's be friends.
But wait. The Palestinians didn't want to negotiate from the standpoint of having just lost a war. They wanted to fight the war again---not starting from 1967, but way back from 1948. Palestinians term the formation of Israel "The Naqba"---the Catstrophe---and their mission is to reverse it. Today every Palestinian schoolchild is taught that the whole of "Palestine"---from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea---belongs to the Palestinians and that they will someday recover it.
This week's FLAME Hotline article is a brilliant update on why there can be no Israeli-Palestinian peace in the foreseeable future, written by Professor Barry Rubin of GLORIA---the Global Research in International Affairs Center. It gives you powerful facts and arguments you can use to explain why Palestinian recalcitrance is the primary reason we have no peace. You'll find it useful explaining this to colleagues, fellow congregants and friends.
I hope you agree that this article helps clarify why the accusation that Israel is blocking a Middle East peace is an absurd falsehood. I also hope you'll take two minutes to help Israel's cause by passing this week's issue along to your email list. Just use the "send to a friend" button at the bottom of this email, or use the buttons above to share it via social media.
Thanks for your continued support of FLAME, and thank you for your support of Israel.
Why the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Is Doomed
(Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from a longer piece, "Is the Peace Process Dead?" which is worth reading in its entirety: Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 2.)
THE REALITY OF PALESTINIAN POLITICS
The claim that a "peace process" exists and might actually result in a diplomatic solution assumes that the Palestinian leadership desires a negotiated two-state agreement that would permanently end the conflict. This assumption actually has no real basis in fact, demonstrated precisely by the events since the 1993 Oslo agreement and the 2000 breakdown in that process due to Yasir Arafat's rejection of any frame for negotiation except a total capitulation to all Palestinian demands.
If one examines every article in the Palestinian media over that 20-year period, every textbook, every radio and television program, every mosque sermon, and every speech of leaders in Arabic directed at their own people, it is virtually impossible to find a single one that calls for conciliation, compromise, or even a long-term acceptance of Israel's existence.
There is virtually not a single example of a statement accepting the idea of negotiating a permanent end of the conflict, granting Israel's existence any legitimacy and indeed viewing it as anything other than temporary, or accepting–what one would expect from a nationalist movement–the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the state of Palestine.
In all analyses of the "peace process," there is hardly ever any examination of Palestinian politics: the nature of the leadership and the state of the debate. For example, if one looks at the Fatah Central Committee, there are virtually no moderates. Once one gets beyond Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and, albeit using that term very loosely, "President" Mahmoud Abbas, it is almost impossible to discover someone who could be called "moderate" at all.
Palestinians, thus, have no "peace party" but merely a choice between two problematic leaderships: one that refuses in practice to make peace; the other that outspokenly declares its rejection of peace. While the former is nationalist (Fatah) and the latter is (Islamist), the basic arguments they use are quite similar.
Here are the basic themes of current Palestinian thinking, none of which is even under significant attack in the internal debate:
These are overwhelmingly dominant concepts in Palestinian politics, and virtually not a single person will speak against them. The public will not accept compromise or concessions, because it has been conditioned by years of political and religious indoctrination. Contrary to Western expectations, a politician cannot launch a "pragmatic" policy, as would happen in other polities, saying: "Let's end the suffering, make peace, get a state, and raise living standards."
Consequently, to advocate speedy negotiations, a flexible bargaining position, compromises, and a true two-state solution along with conciliation between the two nation-states is political suicide due to the beliefs of Palestinian leaders, public opinion, the willingness of rivals to outbid moderates, and the threat of destruction to one's political career or even death.
The above points discourage any Palestinian leader from wanting to make peace with Israel or feeling that any conceivable compromise peace is possible to implement. Indeed, it makes more logical a PA/Fatah preference for such things as refusing to negotiate, slowing negotiations, raising more preconditions, and seeking unilateral independence through the UN and other international agencies.
One can add to all that the extremely high likelihood that any negotiated solution, even if it were to be implemented against all of these odds, would quickly break down in the face of interference by Islamist forces; other regional countries; public opinion; political rivalry; a revolution or coup sooner or later; and the inevitability of cross-border terrorism against Israel, which a Palestinian government would be unable and/or unwilling to curb.
THE AGE OF ISLAMISM
In addition to all of these factors, is the reality that one has now entered an era in which hardline revolutionary Islamism has become the hegemonic ideology in the region. As a result, any peace process faces three other obstacles:
The Islamist factor places more nails in an already hyper-sealed peace-process coffin.