In his address over a month ago to the UN General Assembly, President Barack
Obama said that “Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon
the realization of a Palestinian state.” He even inferred it had equivalent
priority, while saying that “the United States will never compromise our
commitment to Israel’s security.”
Yet, only some weeks earlier, the
administration, contrary to public assurances that it supported
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without preconditions, pressured Israel to free
jailed Palestinian terrorists to bring the Palestinian Authority to the
negotiating table. This pressure is symptomatic of a larger, fundamentally
flawed approach that has failed the cause of peace.
rightly expressed concern that among the terrorists released by Israel was Al
Haj Othman Amar Mustafa, who in 1989 murdered an American and former marine,
Steven Frederick Rosenfeld. However, this begs the question why the
administration has pressured Israel to free any terrorists at all.
is unwise and unjust to free someone who murdered an American citizen, it is
equally unwise and unjust to free someone who murdered non-American
Indeed, why do we accept PA demands to free people who have
committed the war crime of targeting civilians? And why are we pressuring Israel
at all? We have frequently pressured Israel to concede, including things it
never agreed to in signed agreements, while ignoring the Palestinians’ refusal
to fulfill the vital concessions and reforms – arresting terrorists, outlawing
terrorist groups, confiscating illegal weaponry, ending incitement to hatred and
violence against Jews and Israel – they solemnly undertook in the 1993 Oslo and
other signed agreements.
It is not Israel that has declared war on its
Arab neighbors since its inception in 1948. It it is the neighboring Arab states
which invaded Israel the day it declared independence.
It is not Israel
that refused peace talks following the first Arab-Israeli war, it was its Arab
It is not Israel that refuses concessions. Under the 1979
Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty, it uprooted 4,000 Israelis and returned all of
Sinai to Egypt, including the airfields it had built and the oil fields it had
We can’t recall any other country that ever gave back
territory won in self-defense, especially containing a reliable source of
Indeed, since the commencement of the Oslo peace process in 1993,
Israel has made far-reaching, sometimes irreversible, concessions. In contrast,
the Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the PA, has never even
rescinded the 10 articles of its Constitution which call for Israel’s
destruction and terrorism against Israel.
This has been the pattern since
Oslo: Israel undertakes to withdraw from territory or hand over assets and
authority – and does so; the PA undertakes to accept Israel, dismantle terrorist
groups and prepare its public for peace – and does not do so.
successive agreements – the May 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement; the September 1995
Oslo II agreement; the January 1997 Hebron agreement; the October 1998 Wye River
Memorandum and the September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh agreement – Israel withdraw
from over 40 percent of the West Bank and nearly 90% of Gaza.
negotiations of 2000-2001, Israel agreed to the Clinton peace plan for
Palestinian statehood in Gaza and over 90% of the West Bank, something not
promised or undertaken in any previous agreement.
It agreed to uprooting
many Jewish communities in the West Bank and the division of its holiest city
and capital, Jerusalem.
And it agreed to cede the Jordan Valley, a
strategically vital buffer zone protecting Israel’s narrow waist to the east – a
massive security risk and unprecedented concession which Yitzhak Rabin himself
had explicitly ruled out just before his death.
Yet, the PA did not
accept the plan and instead launched a terror wave which claimed the lives of
over 1,500 Israelis during the succeeding five years.
Israel still didn’t
stop trying. In 2005, it unilaterally withdrew from the remainder of Gaza and
four communities in the West Bank, uprooting over 10,000 Jews from their homes
and thriving communities. In return, it received exponentially increased rocket
attacks from Gaza – over 8,000 since the withdrawal – the results of which
President Obama personally saw when he visited Sderot near the Gaza border in
In 2008, Israel made a further peace offer to Abbas: a Palestinian
state in Gaza and on 94% of the West Bank, land swaps of adjacent Israeli
territory to offset what Israel retained, and a capital in eastern
Again, the PA neither agreed to this plan, nor made a
counter-proposal of its own.
Palestinian refusal to accept statehood in
1937, 1947, 2000 and again in 2008 suggests that destroying Israel, not building
a Palestine, is the Palestinian goal. After all, the terrorist groups’ hate
education, glorification of suicide bombers and obscenely anti-Semitic mosque
speeches by PA-salaried preachers continue to find a home in the PA.
Obama administration has not called out this long, uninterrupted record of PA
intransigence and extremism. It has, however, leaned heavily on Israel to make
This is wrong. This is counter-productive. This harms peace
prospects. This does not serve American interests.
This is not America at
its best. Above all, it is not the America that has declared under successive
presidents, including President Obama, that it will stand by Israel when faced
with threats, violence, extremism and non-acceptance. Israel faces all these
The time has come for the United States to cease pressuring
Israel into unmerited, dangerous, one-sided concessions. The Obama
administration must demand Palestinian compliance with all obligations committed
to under the signed Oslo agreements, and make future diplomatic and financial
support for the PA conditional on their verifiable fulfillment.
We need –
right now – a historic change in what has been a fundamentally flawed peace
process. A change that would send a crystal clear message to the international
community that no longer will the United States serve as a cudgel to beat and
Timeline of Jewish & Israeli Concessions & Foreign Demands Since the 1917 Balfour Declaration
Arab attacks on peaceful Jewish settlements in northern part of British-controlled Palestine kill seven Jews. The British military administration urges the disbanding of the Zionist commission, created to assist the British authorities in giving effect to the Balfour Declaration promising the upbuilding of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The British military administration is replaced by a League of Nations Mandate.
Anti-Jewish riots in Jaffa, orchestrated by the British-installed Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini, claims the lives of 43 Jews. The British temporarily suspend Jewish immigration.
Britain removes all of Palestine east of the Jordan (78% of Palestine) from the territory of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and transfers power to Emir Abdullah, who establish the Emirate (later kingdom) of Transjordan.
A campaign of false rumor and propaganda, orchestrated by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, alleges that Jews have demonstrated at the Western Wall to curse Mohammed, that mosques have been attacked by Jews and that others will soon be attacked. A massive anti-Jewish pogrom convulses Palestine in which 133 Jews are murdered by Arab mobs. The British suppress the assaults, killing 110 Palestinian Arabs. The British Shaw Commission ignores evidence of the Mufti’s orchestration of the violence and recommends reducing Jewish immigration, thus blaming Jews for the murderous violence against them.
The Peel Royal Commission, investigating the Arab Revolt (1936-9) recommends the creation of a Jewish state in 20% of the British Mandate, with 80% of the Mandate to be placed under Arab control by incorporation into Transjordan. The Arab world rejects this and the Arab Revolt continues.
The British Chamberlain government calls the St. James Conference to be attended by the Zionist and Palestinian Arab leadership and that of neighboring Arab states. The Arab parties refuse to sit in the some room with the Zionist representatives and no solution is reached. The British impose a White Paper, restricting Jewish immigration to 15,000 per year for the period 1939-1944, with further Jewish immigration beyond that date conditional on Arab approval, which constitutes a breach of the League of Nations Mandate.
The United Nations proposes partitioning the British Mandate (the remaining 22% of Palestine) into Arab and Jewish states (78% having already been given to Transjordan). The plan is accepted by the Zionist movement but rejected by all Arab parties. Jewish communities in many Arab countries across the Middle East are attacked, hundreds being murdered. Arab militias and terrorist groups infiltrate Palestine and attack Jews. In May 1948, following the departure of the British administration, five Arab armies invade Palestine to destroy the fledgling of Israel. Six thousand Jews – one percent of the Israeli population – are killed in the ensuing war.
The Arab belligerents (other than Iraq) sign armistice agreements with Israel. All refuse to recognize Israel or negotiate a solution to the Palestinian Arab refugee problem created by the first Arab/Israeli war launched by the Arab states. The Arab war on Israel creates 700,000 Palestinian Arab refugees, most of whom are confined to Palestinian refugee camps in neighboring Arab states, only 50,000 of whom remain alive today, rather than resettled, as has been the solution to all other refugee problems. (The oft-heard figure of 4 or 5 million Palestinian refugees today includes, contrary to to all other refugee cases, not only the actual refugees themselves, but generations of their off-spring). The United Nations General Assembly passes Resolution 194, calling for the return of Palestinian Arab refugees within the context of an Arab/Israeli peace. All Arab states oppose the resolution and oppose peace with Israel.
The majority of the 800,000 Jews in Arab lands are expelled or flee violence and persecution, most finding refuge in Israel.
Israel captures Sinai after a lightning campaign, following hundreds of assaults by Arab terrorists on Israeli towns and farms in southern Israel over seven years that claim the lives of 465 Israelis (28 in 1956 alone). The U.S. threatens to impose sanctions on Israeli if it fails to withdraw from Sinai.
Israel withdraws from all of Sinai, the Sinai is demilitarized and a the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) is stationed there it supervise the peace. The US guarantees Israel’s freedom of passage in the Straits of Tiran, thus guaranteeing Israel’s southern port, Eilat, against future Egypt blockade.
Egypt demands and UN complies in withdrawing UNEF from the demilitarized Sinai and moves in infantry and armored forces. Arab leaders call publicly for the destruction of Israel. Israel launches a pre-emptive strike when foreign powers fail to compel Sinai’s demilitarization and the rescission of the Egyptian blockade, conquering the West Bank (following Jordanian attack), the Golan Heights, Gaza and Sinai. Israel offers Sinai and most of the territories in peace proposals. The Arab states refuse, deciding at the Khartoum Conference on a policy of no negotiations, no recognition and no peace with Israel.
Egyptian and Syrian forces launch a surprise attack upon Israel on Yom Kippur. Israel turns the tide with a U.S. re-supply of weaponry but agrees to a ceasefire before reaching either Cairo or Damascus.
Egypt and Israel sign a peace treaty under which Israel returns the entire Sinai to Egypt, dismantles its communities and uproots 5,000 Jews, hands over its military airbases and Israeli-developed oil fields in return for Egyptian recognition, diplomatic and trade relations. Egypt maintains the peace but actively discourages Egyptian reconciliation with Israel and Egyptian professional bodies ban and impose penalties for contacts with Israel.
Israel and the PLO sign the Oslo accords and negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian Authority (PA). The Palestinians agree to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, outlaw terrorist groups, confiscate illegal weaponry and end incitement against Israel and Jews.
Israel and the PLO sign the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, under which Israel agrees to withdraw its forces and administration from Jericho and most of Gaza. The Palestinians in turn undertake to recognize Israel and renounce the use of terrorism against it. Israel withdraws from Jericho and parts of Gaza and permits the creation of the PA; the Palestinians do not accept Israel or stop terrorism.
Israel and the PA sign the Oslo II Agreement, under which Israel undertakes to transfer further territories to PA control, including major Palestinian population centers. The PA undertakes, again, to end incitement and hostile propaganda against Israel and to prepare its public for peace, including through its educational system. Israel carries out all its promised withdrawals; the PA continues to connive in terrorism against Israelis and radicalize the Palestinian public.
Israel and the PA sign the Hebron agreement, under which Israel undertakes to relinquish control over most of Hebron and does so. The PA again undertakes to arrest terrorists, fight terrorism and educate the Palestinian public for peace, but does not.
Israel and the PA sign the Wye River Memorandum, under which Israel undertakes to withdraw from further territory in two phases; the PA undertakes, yet again, to take all necessary measures to fight terrorism, to confiscate illegal weaponry and to end incitement to hatred and murder against Israel. Israel fulfills its commitment by withdrawing from 13% of the West Bank in the first phase but refuses to go further when the PA does not carry out its commitments.
Israel and the PA sign the Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement, under which Israel undertakes to make further withdrawals from 11% of the West Bank in fulfillment of its remaining territorial commitment under the Wye River Memorandum, and to free 350 Palestinian prisoners. The PA undertakes again to act swiftly and decisively against terrorists. Israel fulfills its commitments to withdraw and release terrorists; the PA does not fulfill its commitments.
2000 – 2001
In the Camp David negotiations and the the subsequent negotiations leading to the Clinton Parameters, Israel agrees to Palestinian statehood in all of Gaza, over 90% of the West Bank, the uprooting of many Jewish communities in the West Bank, the ceding of the strategically vital Jordan Valley and the division of Jerusalem. The PA does not agree to this plan, makes no counter-proposal and launches a terrorist war against Israel which claims over 1,000 Israeli lives in the succeeding five years.
The Roadmap peace plan does not call for new terrorism-free Palestinian leadership but calls for Israeli withdrawals from the areas it had re-entered since October 2000. It demands this Israeli withdrawal ahead of, not in response to, Palestinian action to end terrorism and acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. It also demands that Israel freeze Jewish construction in the West Bank –– something that had never been a feature of any of the signed Oslo agreements. Israel accepts subject to 14 reservations.
Israeli withdraws unilaterally from northern Samaria and Gaza, from which it is sustains over 8,000 rocket attacks.
Israel makes a further peace offer to to the PA, encompassing a Palestinian state on 94% of the West Bank, with land swaps of adjacent Israeli territory to offset what Israel retains, and all of Gaza with a capital in eastern Jerusalem. The PA does not accept the offer and makes no counter offer.
The writer has served for many years as a Member of the
US House of Representatives, and was a former Republican presidential candidate.