PA President Abbas in Ramallah.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
On July 31, when members of Labor MK Hilik Bar’s Knesset Caucus to Resolve the
Arab-Israeli Conflict hosted Palestinian Authority politicians in the Israeli
parliament, a Palestinian flag was displayed alongside
Thirty-three lawmakers from several parties representing the
majority of the Knesset’s 120 MKs were present for this precedent-setting
There were MKs from Labor, Meretz, Hadash and Balad. But there
were also MKs and ministers from coalition party Yesh Atid and from the haredi
Shas and United Torah Judaism parties.
At the time, Muhammad Madani, a
Fatah Central Committee member and head of the Palestinian delegation, invited
the MKs to Ramallah and promised to fly both the Israeli and Palestinian flags
during the visit.
This week, Madani made good on his invitation – at
least partially. On Monday, nine Labor MKs and Hatnua’s David Tsur traveled to
Ramallah to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the Mukata presidential
compound. Several Palestinian officials, including Madani and PLO executive
committee secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo, attended the event. Shas MKs had planned
to come as well, but Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s death kept them away.
other thing was conspicuously missing – the Israeli flag. There were two
Palestinian flags in the room, a large portrait of Yasser Arafat and a mural of
the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock mosque prominently featured. But
despite Madani’s promise, there was no Israeli flag. Apparently Abbas did not
want pictures taken of him with an Israel flag in the background to be plastered
all over Palestinian newspapers.
Perhaps there should not be too much
emphasis placed on the flag’s absence. The Jewish standard is probably not easy
to come by in Ramallah or other Palestinian cities, though Bar would have been
more than happy to bring one along with him.
Still, Abbas’s refusal to
reciprocate Israel’s magnanimous gesture touches on a much more serious issue,
which was at the heart of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech
this week – namely that the Palestinian refusal to recognize the “nation-state
of the Jewish people” is the principal obstacle to peace.
not referring to a solely pro forma declaration on the part of the Palestinians.
Rather, the prime minister was addressing ongoing incitement against Israel in
official PA media, including the glorification of terrorists who have killed
Israeli civilians; the fact that locations inside the Green Line such as Acre,
Jaffa and Haifa are still mentioned as belonging to “Palestine”; the official
Palestinian line that rejects the Jewish people’s historical, religious and
cultural ties to the Land of Israel, especially on the Temple Mount; and the
nurturing of hopes that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian “refugees” will be
permitted to return to their homes inside the Green Line.
THE idea that the Jewish people are “colonialists” who have no justification for
creating a uniquely Jewish state in the Land of Israel is widespread. Ian
Lustick, a political scientist from the University of Pennsylvania, who had been
a longtime proponent of a two-state solution, recently wrote that such a
resolution to the conflict “would have made Israel the only European fragment
society to have successfully institutionalized its presence in a non-European
region without effectively eliminating the aboriginal
Lustick and other experts on the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict see Israelis, even those who immigrated to Israel from Muslim countries
in the region, as a “European fragment society” no different from the British in
India or Kenya, the Belgians in the Congo, the Afrikaners in South
As long as the Palestinians view Zionists as just another
colonialist white settler movement, there is little chance of reaching a
two-state solution in which both sides recognize the legitimacy of the other to
live here in peace and security.
The omission of the Israeli flag this
week in the Mukata is just a symptom of a much deeper problem.