dennis ross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Gary Cameron / Reuters)
Dennis Ross, a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who
recently stepped down from his position as special assistant to President Barack
Obama, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post last week titled “How to break a
Middle East stalemate.” In it, he outlines how Israel should make
security concessions to the Palestinians but fails to demand anything of
Like many others before him, Ross appears to place the blame for
the stagnant peace process squarely on Israel’s shoulders.
But as events
in the Middle East unfold, it should be apparent to anyone paying close
attention that Hamas and Fatah first need to work out the differences between
With the Muslim Brotherhood in control in Egypt along with
its apparent desire to stir trouble with Israel and both Hamas and the
Brotherhood looking to each other for inspiration, this is no time to attempt a
peace deal with the Palestinians.
And this is where Ross finally gets it
right. He writes, “But there should also be no illusions about the prospects of
a breakthrough any time soon. The psychological gaps between the parties make it
hard to resolve their differences and have bedeviled all the work for peace
talks over the past few years.”
In other words, while Israel and the
Palestinians should certainly keep on talking to maintain some semblance of
ongoing diplomacy, conditions are not ripe for a breakthrough.
would be the point of pressing further? Were a peace deal to appear on the
horizon, Hamas would seek to scuttle it at every opportunity. And it is Israel’s
right to demand security guarantees as part of any peace deal. Only those under
great illusions could make the assumption that Hamas would give up its murderous
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently emphasized that the
Palestinians “are interested in internationalizing the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict... anyone who talks about a political breakthrough with the
Palestinians doesn’t have a clue.”
At this point, it is not in Israel’s
best interest to attempt to make peace with the Palestinians since they
themselves are not yet ready for such an occasion.
The Muslim Brotherhood
has shown interest over the past few months in reviewing the 1979 peace
agreement Israel signed with Egypt. And if it is the case that it wants to
renege on the land-for-peace deal Menachem Begin signed with Anwar Sadat when
Israel transferred the Sinai to Egypt, then the entire concept of land for peace
The land-for-peace formula will no longer be relevant and
all the years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on this very tenet
wasted. Future deals based on this formula would be “land for cold peace now –
It is clear that even people like Ross, who have been
intimately involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, continue to
misunderstand the realities of the conflict and misread the Palestinian
leadership. Ross writes in the same article, “Palestinian leaders need to be
able to show that their approach is producing a process that will, in time, end
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, and that should have
produced results on the Palestinian side. Instead, it produced a torrent of
missile fire on Israel.
What Ross and others fail to understand is that
the Palestinian leadership relies politically on the so-called occupation.
Without it, they have nothing with which to rally their people
With the West pressing for Israeli concessions only, now is not
the time to attempt a breakthrough.
THERE IS so much more to Israel than
conflict. We need not allow a third party – in this case the Palestinians – to
define our place in the world. Israel can continue to save lives, build and
improve infrastructure around the world, introduce knowledge and ideas and teach
and be taught.
Israelis are leaders in business, medicine, charity,
coexistence, sports, science, education, the arts and much more.
has come to manage the dispute Israel has with the Palestinians. The government
must clarify that Israel will continue to discuss – in general – points of
disagreement with the Palestinians but will not be forced into making further
There are larger problems the world should be focusing on
today, such as Iran, Russia, Syria, African nations or domestic
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not lie at the center of
the problems facing the Middle East and the rest of the world.
truly unfortunate that the world views Israel solely through conflict. If it
would just look a bit closer, it would discover a diamond in the rough.