Who knew? It’s all Israel’s fault there isn’t peace. Why? Because it hasn’t
forgotten its history and doesn’t want to be a “willing martyr.”
US president Bill Clinton said it was all Arafat’s fault when he left office,
but has now discovered that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blocked peace. The
Palestinians are the new Jews – no doubt Passover seders are being prepared for
next year that read, “Let my (Palestinian) people go.”
extremist Likudnik reactionaries dare to question this. All political scientists
agree: case closed. Israeli-made global non-warming of the peace process is the
But wait a moment. Leaving aside the past history of Palestinian
intransigence, terrorism, refusal to compromise, etc., there remains a
fascinating central question: What else could Israel have done? What else should
it be doing now?
Herein lies the problem. Israel has been “set up” so that its
only “acceptable” alternative is to make unilateral concessions which, as we’ve
seen before, result only in more denunciations of Israel, followed by more
Palestinian demands for unilateral concessions.
For example, Israel’s
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and dismantling of all settlements there not only
led to a Hamas regime attacking Israel, it didn’t even gain Israel any
international credit or additional support. Its “reward” has been pressure to
reduce sanctions, rockets and mortars attacks against Israeli cities, claims
that Israel committed war crimes in defending itself and ongoing complaints that
Gaza is still “occupied.”
THEN THERE are the three preconditions for an
“ideal” Israeli peace initiative: Israel cannot ask for anything at all. If it
does, the Palestinians will reject it, and that will be “Israel’s
For example: Suppose we withdraw to the 1967 lines and you drop
your demand for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to
How about we support you becoming a sovereign state
immediately and you recognize Israel as a Jewish state? Never!
OK, how about
Mommy! He’s hitting me again!
Mommy here means the UN, Arab
League, Muslim umma
, the United States, the EU, Russia and the international
This is literally true: Israel can give, but not ask
for anything in return.
2. Israel must ignore past
Withdrawals lead to the land turned over being a base for new
attacks? Forget it. More withdrawals! Verbal promises in exchange for material
concessions aren’t kept? The world promises to back you up and acknowledge after
the concession that you really want peace and then forgets that pledge? Pretend
it didn’t happen. When Palestinians get one gain they just demand something
else? Don’t worry about it.
Sinai and cold peace with Egypt leads to
breakdown of treaty after new revolution? South Lebanon becomes Hizbullahland,
Gaza becomes Hamasland? West Bank is a zone of cross-border attacks and
incitement? Drop it.
3. Israel must forgo any analysis of future problems
that could arise from these concessions.
For example, an independent
Palestinian state established with no Palestinian concessions could take the
position that any land it wasn’t given is occupied by a foreign
aggressor. It could import weapons, sign military cooperation treaties
with any other party it wanted, invite in foreign advisors or troops, incite its
population against Israel and glorify terrorism. It could be taken over by
Hamas, refuse to stop cross-border attacks or to arrest those responsible, go
after Israel in the international courts, seek UN condemnation of Israel as an
aggressor, and much more.
Oh, and since it already recieved international
recognition it need never negotiate with Israel again or make any compromise
with it. And nobody in the international community would really do anything at
all to punish, prevent, or pressure it to behave differently.
situation is comparable to the classic question that parents have long asked
their children: If everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you do it, too?
Israel’s situation is slightly different: If everyone else told you to jump off
a cliff but no one else was willing to take the plunge, would you do it?
ANSWER, of course, is “no” - even if those urging you to jump promised to be
your friend between the time you jump and the minute you hit the
Just because “everyone” says Israel is at fault, that the status
quo is untenable, that something must be done right now, or that the
Palestinians cannot wait to make peace based on two states doesn’t mean that any
of these things are true.
If the Jewish people simply went along with
majority opinion it would have gone out of existence a long time ago. And if
Israel simply went along with foreign majority opinion it would have been wiped
off the map a long time ago.
So I pondered, weak and weary, trying to
think of some new initiative. Israel unilaterally pulls out of the West Bank?
Recognizes a Palestinian state as independent? Dismantles all the settlements as
a sign of good will? What would work? Think, man, think!
And then it came to me:
the ideal solution. See what you think of it:
Israel is ready to accept
an independent Palestinian state if the following principles are met:
Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the national state of the
• The demilitarization of a Palestinian state in such a
manner that all of Israel’s security needs will be met.
backing of these security arrangements in the form of explicit international
• The problem of refugees must be resolved outside the
borders of Israel.
• An agreement must end the conflict. This is to say
that the Palestinians will not be able to raise additional claims following the
signing of a peace agreement.
Oh, wait. That’s not something I made
up. It’s the Israeli peace plan of June 2009!
The Palestinian Authority
wants a state without agreeing – before or after getting it – to accept a Jewish
state, provide serious security guarantees, resettle refugees in Palestine, or
end the conflict. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, for example, stated recently that
even if the UN recognized an independent state he would then take up the demand
to return all refugees and their descendants to live in Israel
Why is this not a
pessimistic assessment? Because the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership
and popular opinion throws away these opportunities and gets far less than it
could otherwise. Despite much talk, there is no material pressure on Israel.
After each diplomatic failure due to unmentioned Palestinian rejectionism the
world goes away for a while and finds something else to do.
stated flexibility and ideas have had some effect in defusing demands. After
removing all the hoopla, Israel-Palestinian diplomacy of the last three decades
is largely sound and fury and signifies nothing.
So if the world won’t
listen to Israel’s proposals, won’t credit its eagerness to negotiate and won’t
accept plans that also include Israel getting something for its troubles there
is no way Israel is ever going to satisfy it. In this context, desperately
trying to come up with new ideas (concessions) in order to gain international
praise (not going to happen) is a waste of time. Don’t panic. See through the
The writer is the director of Global Research in International
Affairs (GLORIA) Center and the author of The Rubin Report blog.