No matter what the Palestinian Authority is offered – money, concessions and
even steps toward statehood– the response is always “no.” Media, academic
“experts” and governments seem to find this amazing phenomenon very hard to
understand.The answer is simple, but a lot of the people paid to deal with this
stuff don’t get it. So let me elucidate: The Palestinian Authority (PA) wants
The PA wants an independent state on all the West Bank, Gaza
Strip and east Jerusalem with no restrictions, no recognition of Israel as a
Jewish state, no serious security guarantees, no limits on militarization, no
agreement that this means an end to the conflict, no insistence that Palestinian
refugees be resettled in the state of Palestine, and nothing to prevent them
from pursuing a second stage of wiping Israel off the map entirely.
one could say it’s common for people to want everything and to give nothing in
exchange but that certain factors – missing in this case – push them toward
These factors include:
• Knowing they can’t get a better deal. The
Palestinians know the West will always offer more if they are
• The impasse favors your adversary because your
intransigence will gain it international support. In this case, the more
stubborn the Palestinians are, the more Israel is blamed.
pressure. Since the PA is almost completely supported by foreign aid that is not
threatened by its hard line, this pressure does not exist.
opinion pressure to change the situation. In this case, Palestinian public
opinion is relatively radicalized and ideological and does not demand a
• Concern that your political rivals will
“outmoderate” you and win by offering to make a deal. In this case, the opposite
is true: rivals “out-radicalize” one another and threaten to destroy you
politically (and perhaps even physically) if you make a deal.
that time is not on your side. Due to religious and nationalist ideology, along
with misperception of Israel, the PA (and even more so Hamas) believes that time
is on its side.
That’s not a complete list. But the point is that the
world in general – the United States and Europe, the UN, Arabic-speaking
countries and Muslim-majority states – have created a “perfect”
Here’s a brief description:
• The PA has no incentive to make
compromises for peace, so it won’t.
• The world insists that “peace” is
an urgent top priority.
• The only variable is Israel, which must be made
to give way. But Israel won’t because of past experience and the fact that the
risks are now too high.
So nothing will change. There
will be no peace process, no Palestinian state. No “progress” will be
made. You can read this article in two or three years and it will still
be completely up to date. If you don’t understand the points made above you
simply cannot understand the Middle East. There will be thousands of emails,
hundreds of articles, scores of expensive conferences, dozens of foundation
grants and tens of peace initiatives that are all meaningless, because they are
based on false premises.
This is not left-wing or right-wing but merely
an explanation as to why all the schemes and theories of those who do not see
these facts never actually take wing. It may not be politically correct, but it
is most definitely factually correct.
Now, you might ask, do I just
criticize or do I have constructive policy advice?
I do. Here it is: When the
Palestinian Authority rejects the Quartet proposal for negotiations, the United
States, European Union and anyone else who wants to go along tells them, “We’ve
tried to help you and you don’t want to listen, so since we have lots of other
things to do, we’ll go do them. Good luck, and if you ever change your mind and
get serious about making peace you have our phone number.”
paragraph would send shock waves throughout policy circles, right? But why? If
you can’t solve a problem and – let’s be clear here – the problem doesn’t need
to be solved immediately, then you work on other problems. There are no shortage
of those! I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful. We are left,
however, with the following problem: Those in positions of political, media and
intellectual power don’t get it.
Solution: Please explain it to them,
replace them, or take their place.
The writer is director of the Global
Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center. He is a featured columnist at
Pajamas Media and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs