January 30, 2018
In order to bring the Palestinians to peace, we need to insist on a hard dose of truth and reason
Dear Friend of FLAME:
If you heard about Mahmoud Abbas's recent confabulation of historical lies
and his desperate condemnations of President Trump, other Arab nations and
even centuries-dead Oliver Cromwell—which FLAME covered
here—you may almost have been tempted to derisive laughter.
Yet I was struck by the advice of Israeli podcaster, Yishai Fleisher,
who remarked last week that we must never underestimate our enemies . . .
and we should never risk being less determined than they are.
These, indeed, are the greatest dangers we pro-Israel advocates face as the
situation looks ever grimmer for the Palestinians and as Muslim
culture continues to deteriorate.
While Mr. Trump's presidency has been refreshing for Israel—from Nikki
Haley's condemnation of the U.N. to the White House's decision to cut
Palestinian funding and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital—we must
recognize that President Trump alone cannot resolve Israel's conflict with the
Arabs and Persians.
We Zionists have to do it for ourselves. We can't indulge in Schadenfreude because of 82-year-old Abbas's declining political
prowess or the Palestinians' shrinking stature on the world stage, nor can we gloat that Mr. Trump is finally cutting their allowance
and speaking truth to them.
The Palestinian Arabs specifically—and our age-old nemesis, the Muslims in
general—can still do Israel irreparable, even deadly existential harm.
We have to take these enemies seriously, and we have to be more determined
than they are to win the struggle they have been waging with us for
hundreds of years.
Part of taking our enemies seriously, I'm convinced, is holding them to
truth and reason—insisting on treating them as adults whom we expect
to behave in a civilized and rational fashion, even as we remember that
they usually do not.
Which brings us to this week's FLAME Hotline featured article—on what the
Palestinians should do if they want break out of their worsening slump.
This dose of sincere reason and truth is by Ambassador Gary Grappo, a career diplomat who served as envoy and head
of mission of Tony Blair's Office of the Quartet Representative in
Jerusalem and as U.S. ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman.
Grappo lays out a rational—at the same time radical—game plan for the
Palestinians. His plan would be their smartest, best chance for gaining the independent state they
claim they want and for improving the pathetic political and economic
malaise under which they suffer.
While it's useful to entertain this kind of thoughtful realism, it's at
the same time, frankly, almost impossible to imagine the Palestinians evolving so far quickly enough to solve their mounting problem.
Because ultimately, the Palestinians' problem is not that they don't
know what to do to make peace or get a state—methodology is not their
sticking point. It's simply that they don't accept the right of Jews to have a homeland in Palestine.
Resolving this cognitive dissonance will take many years in a
psychiatrist's chair—or the
hard slap of realization that they've definitively lost the battle against Israel, and it's time to give up and get what they can. Then
Mr. Grappo's recommendation will come in handy.
I hope you'll forward this concise, provocative email to friends, family
and fellow congregants to help them understand why the Palestinians need to get real about their prospects—and why the President and Congress
should continue to tell the Palestinians the truth of this reality.
hope you'll also quickly review the P.S. immediately below, which
describes FLAME's latest hasbarah campaign to urge the President and U.S. Congress to back up their rhetoric
on Iran with definitive action. I hope you agree with and will support
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Palestinians Must Ditch Old Leaders, Chart New Course
By Ambassador Gary Grappo, The Cipher Brief, January 18, 2018
Two recent events illustrate the futility of the Palestinian
leadership's current course
in its decades-long quest for a genuinely independent Palestinian state,
and highlight the urgent need for dramatic action if they are ever to
The first is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's current six-day
visit to India with a 130-member delegation. The Prime Minister was greeted
on his arrival by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, despite the Modi
government's recent support for the United Nations General Assembly
calling for the U.S. to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel. The visit is expected to go a long way toward expanding
trade and diplomatic ties between the two countries, including in the
This growing relationship is symbolic of the Jewish state's growing ties
across the board with more countries, further integration into the global
political and economic communities and emergent economic clout and
prosperity. The message could not be more clear: Despite the political
storms and security threats of the Middle East, Israel is confidently
zeroed-in on its future.
Meanwhile, back in the West Bank capital of Ramallah,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas almost simultaneously
delivered a two-hour denunciation of the reported Trump proposal for
settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Addressing members of the
Central Council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, he condemned
the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rejected the
reported proposal for the Jerusalem Arab suburb of Abu Dis as the capital
of a Palestinian state, threatened to withdraw Palestinian recognition of
Israel and to charge Israel for war crimes at the International Criminal
Court, and revived efforts to push for international recognition of a
The remarks seemed more reminiscent of the stem-winders of the Yasser
Arafat era. They sounded like a desperate and pathetic attempt to breathe
new life into tired, shopworn words of a bygone period when the world
actually listened. It's questionable whether even Palestinians bothered to
listen. Tragically, neither the tone nor the substance of Mr. Abbas'
remarks is relevant or useful. His cause and that of the Palestinian people
is slowly slipping away.
With U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, more countries are
likely to follow suit, though more quietly and diplomatically. Thus, one of
the core demands of the Palestinians since the dawn of the peace process, a
capital in Jerusalem, may be evaporating.
If more proof were needed, one need only look at the apathetic response in
the Arab world to the U.S. action-few demonstrations and only anodyne words
of condemnation from Arab and Muslim governments. All of them are far more
consumed with problems of stability, economics and security at home. Though
rarely expressed publicly, they also are losing interest in the cause and
even more in a Palestinian leadership that seems stuck in a time warp, has
failed to construct sustainable institutions for a state and has been
unable to animate its own public.
The Palestinians need a major overhaul in their leadership, and then a new approach to negotiations. That's all the more the case
because their counterpart, Israel, is not the same as that of Ehud Barak's
rejected 2000 Camp David II peace proposal, nor even the period of Barack
Obama's two stillborn efforts to forge a peace during his presidency.
First, there must be elections for a new PA leadership, including president
and legislative council. The current leadership around the president should
not run, turning over responsibility to a new generation of Palestinian
leaders. Mr. Abbas should invite the U.N. or some other recognized
international body to help administer and supervise the elections, and the
U.S., the European Union and other states and organizations to help fund
For such elections, all candidates should be required to subscribe to the
principles of the Quartet, the grouping of the U.S., Russia, the U.N. and
the EU that is charged with pursuing Middle East peace: recognition of the
state of Israel, acceptance of all previous agreements and renunciation of
violence. Hamas would not be eligible to participate as a political party
unless it formally accepted the same principles. However, Hamas members who
accept them, promise to abide by them and have no record of terrorism
should be considered for candidacy, perhaps under a third-party banner. All
candidates would have unimpeded access to the media.
Second, a new Palestinian leadership should commit itself to building
genuine institutions of democracy and to raising the economic wellbeing of
the Palestinian people, regardless of the progress of negotiations with
Israel. Critical to both of those tasks is stamping out the rampant
corruption that has come to symbolize the current leadership, which has
effectively capitalized on the institutionalization of Israel's occupation.
The new leadership could then seek new aid and support from the U.S., the
EU and its Arab Gulf brethren. Important to this effort is securing the
commitment of Israel to also work for the benefit of the Palestinian
economy. Finally, the new leadership would re-commit to unfettered security
cooperation with Israel.
Lastly, the new leaders must adopt a fresh approach to negotiating with
Israel. It should look at any proposal, e.g., the claimed Abu Dis plan, as
an opening position subject to further negotiation. For example, are there
other Arab suburbs closer to Jerusalem that might also be included in a
Palestinian capital? In today's regional climate, this isn't seen as the
issue it once was as long as Muslims are able to preserve access to the
Haram al-Sharif, aka, the Temple Mount. Even the Barak proposal of 2000 of
"symbolic sovereignty," which Arafat rejected, is a thing of the past that
cannot be revived.
The new Palestinian leadership also should drop the all-but-unworkable
for right of return, which is accepted by few nations around the world and
hardly believed by many Palestinian refugees. It would be replaced with a
proposal for just compensation. As part of its commitment to security
cooperation with Israel, the new Palestinian leadership should be willing
to negotiate a plan to ensure both Israel's security as well its own
Critical to this new and more credible approach is full and unconditional
acceptance of Israel as a "Jewish state" or national homeland for the
Jewish people. Anything less would fail to budge Israelis nor convince the
rest of the world of the new leadership's commitment to finally negotiating
Lest this all sound as capitulation, Palestinians must reflect on where
70-plus years of failure have brought them. Meanwhile, its neighbor has
prospered in spite of it all.
The new approach holds not only the promise of a state but also the
prospect of prosperity living next door to the region's most dynamic
economy. The new state, with security and economic support from nations
around the world and in the region, also could work to isolate and
marginalize Hamas, unless it changes its rejectionism and violence.
There can be a Palestinian state. But the current course has led
Palestinians to a dismal dead-end. New leadership, new institutions and new
approaches to negotiating and cooperating with Israel can put Palestinians
on a far more promising path.
Ambassador Gary Grappo is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the
Center for Middle East Studies at the Korbel School for International
Studies, University of Denver.
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