The problem with the Palestinian bid at the UN, former Kadima lawmaker Tzahi
Hanegbi said Friday in a Channel 2 discussion, is that instead of trying to
persuade the Israeli public that the Palestinians are ready for statehood,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to convince Gabon,
Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
RELATED:Abbas: The time has come for Palestinian independence
Those three countries are among the 15
current members of the UN Security Council, nine of whom must vote “yes” to a
resolution calling for Palestine to be admitted as a full member of the UN,
before the matter can be kicked over to the General Assembly for its certain
But even if Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina vote with the
Palestinians, along with six other states, the move won’t fly, since the US has
pledged to veto it. But, never mind, the Palestinians are going full speed
ahead, ignoring the pleas of the most sympathetic US administration in recent
memory to their cause, thereby alienating that administration. Abbas’s tactics
baffle, as did his speech to the UN on Friday.
Israelis yearn to be
understood, and accepted. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, an implacable foe who launched a surprise attack on the country on
its holiest day in 1973, turned the tables completely with the simple gesture of
flying to Jerusalem in 1977.
Soon thereafter he received back from Israel
the entire Sinai Peninsula.
Had Syria’s Bashar Assad, before his current
troubles, invited Ehud Olmert or even Binyamin Netanyahu to Damascus to eat
humous and talk peace, he would have won Israelis’ hearts and paved the way for
Part of peace is breaking down psychological
barriers. Simple human gestures go a long way toward breaking those
Israelis, traumatized by Jewish history – both ancient and
modern – need their confidence built, their fears allayed, their concerns
appreciated and understood. We need gestures. Abbas’s words to the UN
While Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu during his
speech at the UN, consistently articulate an understanding of Palestinian
yearnings, the Palestinians rarely voice any understanding of Israel’s – not its
yearning, nor its fears, nor its connection to the land.
ladies and gentlemen, I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of
Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace
be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on
behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the diaspora, to say,
after 63 years of suffering of an ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the
Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence,” Abbas said toward
the end of his address Friday.
With that seemingly innocuous paragraph,
Abbas revealed the glaring gaps between the sides.
If Abbas cannot even
acknowledge that the Holy Land is not only the birthplace of Jesus and the
location of the ascension of Muhammad, but also holds a certain allure for
various reasons to the Jewish people, then peace is farther off than the 12
newly allotted months spelled out in the Quartet’s recent formula for restarting
It has been said that for the Jewish people today, “Temple
denial” – or the denial of a Jewish connection to Israel – is more pernicious
even than “Holocaust denial.”
In the end, it is the Jews who will carry
the memory of the Holocaust through the centuries, even with the deniers, while
the rest of the world will forget, just as the Jews – rather than the rest of
the world – has carried other tragic episodes of our history through the ages.
That is our responsibility.
But denying the existence of the Temple, or
the Jewish connection to the land, is to deny the basis of Jewish identity,
because connection to the land is such a fundamental part of that
Genuine peace will only be reached when both sides recognize
that the other side is there to stay, and has a historical right to be there. If
one side believes the other is an interloper, with no rights to the land – then
there can never really be peace, just an agreement until the interloper either
fades, or is pushed, away.
While the Palestinians are busy trying to
convince Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, they have failed to convince
Israel that they respect any Jewish historical claim to the land. And without
that, the Palestinians will have a hard time convincing the Israeli public that
an affirmation of their rights does not mean a denial of our own.
whether they like it or not, ultimately what the Israelis think about their
statehood bid is more important than what Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia- Herzegovina
think, because in the end the Israelis are the ones who are going to have to
agree to it.