Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the Fatah-led Palestinian
Authority’s peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren’t tragic.
Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, “The PA must
choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for
peace with both.”
Netanyahu’s statement is funny because it is completely
absurd. The PA has chosen.
The PA made the choice in 2000 when it
rejected Israel’s offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces
with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel.
The PA made the choice in
2005 again when it responded to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a
tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli
civilian targets in the Negev.
The Palestinians made the choice in 2006,
when they elected Hamas to rule over them.
They made the choice in March
2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal.
The PA made the
choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of
statehood and peace.
The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to
reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with
Hamas; and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace
Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest
peace deal with Hamas.
IN A real sense, Netanyahu’s call for the PA to
choose is the political equivalent of a man telling his wife she must choose
between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had five
children with her new man.
It is a pathetic joke.
But worse than a
pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a
decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel’s leaders
are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that
Israel’s leaders cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is
really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel’s destruction, and that
Israel is done with playing along.
There are many reasons that Netanyahu
is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18- year policy nightmare in
which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is
that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel’s
international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to
make peace with the Palestinians.
According to this myth – which has been
the central pillar of Israel’s foreign policy and domestic politics since
Yitzhak Rabin first accepted the PLO as a legitimate actor in 1993 – it doesn’t
matter how obvious it is that the Palestinians are uninterested in peaceful
coexistence with Israel.
It doesn’t matter how openly they wage their war
to destroy Israel. Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven
successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands
between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders’ ability to
persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about
appeasing the Palestinians.
For the past several months, this profoundly
neurotic perception of Israel’s options has fed our leaders’ hysterical response
to the Palestinians’ plan to unilaterally declare independence.
Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything
other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a
Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of
a peace treaty with Israel. The PA will first attempt to get the Security
Council to endorse an independent “Palestine.” If the Obama administration
vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given
the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians
will get their resolution.
THE QUESTION is, does this matter? Everyone
from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like
Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes,
Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel
so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian
These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for
saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and
pledge to give Israel’s heartland and capital to the Palestinians.
according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around
Netanyahu’s ability to convince the EU-3 – British Prime Minister David Cameron,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – that he
is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn’t offer up Israel’s
crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration
officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians.
they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for
Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General
Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member
except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing “Palestine,” all the
Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force
of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already
assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza
are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to
ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its
The threat of international isolation is also wildly
exaggerated. Today, Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at
any time in its 63-year history. With the Obama administration treating the
construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of
world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian
protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international
climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to
Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.
According to the latest
data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8
percent in the last quarter of 2010.
International trade is rising
steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in
the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March,
and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010.
The Israel-bashing EU remains
Israel’s largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as
allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year.
trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice:
For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is
The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the
firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott,
divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy.
But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of
Marrickville’s BDS-inspired boycott.
Last December, the anti-Israel
coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and
academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel
its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it.
Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more
expensive non-Israeli ones.
Both Israel’s booming foreign trade and the
swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter
of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the
Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that
Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war
against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.
SO WHAT is
preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging
this happy truth? Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to
understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy,
Cameron and Merkel are serious when they tell us that Israel needs to prove it
is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian
statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel
does will have any impact on their votes.
When the Europeans forge their
policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.
1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US.
Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards
Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel’s side.
So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are
serious about peace, they aren’t being serious. They are looking for an excuse
to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of
Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize “Palestine” at the UN,
(because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the
Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas. Because
that’s the next step.
It would seem that Israel’s leaders should have
gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven’t can be blamed
on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only
group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its
members – from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians,
artists, actors and hack writers – are the only members of Israeli society who
have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or
Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott
And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it
upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade
seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed-up radicals gathered in
Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israeli
independence, and declared the independence of “Palestine.” They knew their
followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as
another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but
embrace our enemies’ cause against our country.
The time has come for the
vast majority of Israelis who aren’t interested in the Nobel Prize for
Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or the University of Trondheim to call a
spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar-Ilan is more
valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate
Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers,
because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of
scholarship as the Technion.
And it is well past time for our leaders to
stop playing this fool’s game. We don’t need anyone’s favors. Abbas has made his
Now it is time for Netanyahu to
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