Elwood McQuaid 224-88.
(photo credit: )
The success or failure of the current push to settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem hinges on Israel being "serious about peace." That was the
Palestinian and Arab mantra repeatedly cycled during the Annapolis, Maryland, summit.
But if you listened carefully, "serious" meant one thing only: that Israel surrender to Arab demands.
From the beginning Annapolis was a kettle of contradictions. For example, the Saudis and Syrians were referred to as "key players" in the hard work ahead of forging a viable peace. How can anyone call the Saudis serious about an
equitable settlement with Israel?
They announced in advance there would be no
handshaking or Arab contact with Israeli diplomats. The parties would not even enter the conference rooms by the same doors. To Saudis, serious means Israel retreats to the 1949 armistice lines and much more. They spell
For Bashar Assad, Syria's less-than-benevolent dictator, Israeli seriousness involves surrendering the entire Golan Heights. Doing so would put Israelis living near the Sea of Galilee in the untenable position of daily looking into the barrels of Syrian guns, and it would reestablish a launching pad for the final drive to push Israel into the sea. Assad, however, attempted to straddle both sides of the fence. He sucked resources, promises, and credibility from the West while attempting
to mollify his Iranian patrons by sending only a low-level deputy foreign minister to the summit.
For Mahmoud Abbas, serious means multiple choices for Israelis-all deeply problematic. This is the man who, seven years ago, allegedly urged Yasser Arafat to reject an offer, too good to be spurned, from President Clinton and then
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Abbas now wants Israel to (1) give up Judea and Samaria; (2) dismantle communities and security checkpoints currently hindering terrorist infiltration; and (3) effectively sever the Jewish state from north to south by providing a strip of land to join Gaza and the West
Bank, thereby creating a contiguous Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, the Arabs would take the lion's share of Jerusalem by co-opting the Old City, Temple Mount, and the whole of east Jerusalem. They are also demanding that millions of Palestinian "refugees" be "returned" to Israel
proper and, for good measure, that all Palestinian terrorists currently held in Israeli prisons be freed.
The kicker in all of this talk of seriousness is an element that summit sponsors and their diplomatic comrades fail to grasp. The Palestinians and their Arab brothers grasp it well and mention it often when talk of a final peace is in the air.
In fact, it came almost as a slip of the lip from Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, who later attempted to minimize it. Nonetheless, his words contain the underpinnings of what Israel's enemies are hanging their long-term hopes on. As reported by The Jerusalem Post, Mr. Erekat said the Palestinians will reject Israel as a "Jewish state."
Incredibly, Mr. Erekat claimed, "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined." The world's many Islamic republics apparently don't count, as far as he's concerned.
His stand is fundamental to the Palestinian view of a two-state solution. It cobbles together something that has been developing for years. In his meetings with Clinton and Barak, Arafat reportedly raised eyebrows by denying the significant, historic Jewish presence on the Temple Mount and, for that matter, in the whole of Israel in ancient times.
At first glance, his claim seemed preposterous, something akin to the revisionist, no-Holocaust nonsense proffered by Mahmoud Abbas and classic
anti-Semites. But the assertion, now becoming a standard Islamic presumption, masks a deeper theme.
If there were never Jewish Temples nor a demonstrable Jewish presence in the land of Israel, there could be no justification for a Jewish state there.
Thus all of Israel would become "occupied territory" belonging to the Arabs, and any state established on Arab lands could not be recognized as Jewish in character.
In such a context, "returning" Palestinian "refugees" to areas now designated as Eretz Yisrael would make perfect sense. A Jewish state would have no historical or contemporary legitimacy. And the Arabs' continued program of resistance would be deemed a legitimate pursuit.
Unfortunately, it is entirely conceivable that well-intentioned international negotiators will buy into the idea of an Israel that is
a non-Jewish state.
After all, two states side by side in peace is the objective. Thus dropping Jewish may seem a minor concession for the greater good. Actually it is simply one more way to spell surrender.
Elwood McQuaid is Executive Editor for The Friends of Israel. His most recent book, For the Love of Zion, is now available online and in bookstores.
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