Two decades ago they told us that only if Israel agrees to talk directly to the
PLO could peace become a possibility, despite that organization’s monstrous
terrorist record. Then we were informed that only if we allow the creation of
the first self-governing authority in Palestinian history, in Gaza and Jericho,
could peace ensue.
And we said fine – we’ve had enough of the conflict;
we will live with this, for the sake of peace.
But the Palestinian
Authority could sustain itself, we were then told, only if Yasser Arafat got
himself a police force with tens of thousands of rifles and other military
equipment. Even when this “police” force and other PA security forces mushroomed
far beyond the numbers permitted by accords with Israel, and even when these
“police” fired on IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians, we said fine – somehow we
will live with this. Peace requires us to look the other way.
further explained to us that only if we turn a blind eye to PA human rights
abuses and virulent anti-Semitic propaganda could the peace process continue.
And we reluctantly swallowed our bile and said fine – we will live with
Next, it was imperative to give Arafat more land in Judea and
Samaria. Only if Israel gives him more territory could he “solidify his regime,”
we were told. So Israel signed the Oslo II accord, handing over more than 30
percent of the West Bank, despite the fact that the PA had failed to live up to
its original Oslo treaty obligations.
And again we sighed and said fine –
we will live with this.
Unfortunately, the PA’s commitment to fighting
terror proved spotty and sporadic.
Pot-shot shootings at Israeli
passenger cars and roadside bombing attempts became so routine that these ceased
to make headlines.
Nevertheless, the “only ifs” continued to pile up.
Only if Israel continued the process of handing over land to the PA could things
improve, we were told.
So the Wye River accord was signed, committing
Israel to three more staged withdrawals: first an additional 13% of territory,
then another 9%. This put 98% of the Palestinian population of the territories
under Arafat’s control, along with about 45% of the land and some important
mountain aquifer resources. Some Jewish towns became isolated pockets within
Palestinian-controlled territory. The city of our Patriarchs was handed over to
the PA, too, with minimalist security arrangements in place for the protection
of Hebron Jewish residents. Arafat again promised to live up to his original
And sheepishly we said fine – we will live with this,
in the hope that peace will yet come.
That wasn’t enough. Only if
Palestinian prisoners were released could the peace process prevail, we were
told. So as a gesture of our goodwill, we began freeing from jail Palestinian
security offenders “without blood on their hands.” Then we released Palestinian
murderers who had Palestinian blood on their hands. Then we freed terrorists
whose hands had “indirectly” spilled Jewish blood. Then we freed a few
terrorists whose hands were indeed smeared with Jewish blood. We gritted our
teeth and muttered under our breath that we have no choice but to live with
Keeping the so-called peace process alive also meant turning a
blind eye to the creeping but clear PA takeover of Jerusalem, Israel’s “united
capital.” Only if we did so, could the process continue. So we stood by
haplessly as the PA built a “parliament” building on the borders of Jerusalem;
as PA security men became the real enforcers in the Old City; and as the Wakf
undertook massive illegal construction on the Temple Mount, along with
purposeful destruction of Jewish relics and layers of archaeological history
going back to Temple times.
It was hard, but we stomached the insult
because peace requires compromise.
In the summer of 2000, Arafat started
to huff and puff and threaten Israel, talking about renewed armed conflict and a
unilateral declaration of statehood. Again, we were supposed to stifle our
indignation for the sake of peace. But our forbearance began to wear
We suffered more than two years of terrorist violence and suicide
bombings before launching Operation Defensive Shield and then beginning to build
the security fence.
Israel had been pushed too far, and people began to
question and protest the peace process.
But the “only if” syndrome still
held sway. Only if Israel conceded more to the Palestinians was there a chance
of salvaging the peace process.
So at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001,
and 2008 in Jerusalem, Israeli leaders presented offers of statehood that would
have given the Palestinians a state in virtually all of the West Bank, Gaza and
eastern Jerusalem. But PA rejected these offers, arguing that only if we gave
them 100% of everything they were demanding might they be willing to continue
talking to us.
In 2009, the Palestinians set impossible and outrageous
preconditions for entering any peace talks with Israel. Only if Israel conceded
every point of contention such as borders and settlements in advance of the
talks: a state on all of the pre-1967 territories with only “possible minor and
mutually agreed upon land swaps of equal size and value”: the “right of return
to Israel for refugees as specified in the Arab Peace Initiative,”; and so forth
and so on – could talks resume.
In 2012, Mahmoud Abbas sought to turn the
established framework for peace upsidedown; to get his statehood “declared” by
the international community without having to compromise with Israel; to claim
the end result of the “peace process” without having to engage in any
Abbas went before the UN General Assembly and called upon the
international community to “compel the government of Israel to respect the
Geneva Conventions” and “impose a solution” (a Palestinian state) on Israel. He
accused Israel of numerous crimes, including ethnic cleansing, terrorism,
racism, inciting religious conflict, apartheid, house demolitions,
dispossession, imprisoning “soldiers of freedom,” and settlement
He threatened to “criminalize and penalize Israel’s
presence as an occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory”
through the International Criminal Court.
The UN then “recognized” some
sort of virtual PA state, against Israel’s objections.
Abbas, of course,
stuck by his refusal to enter direct and unconditional peace talks with
Yet the international community insisted that it was incumbent on
Israel to keep the hopes of peace alive. Only if Israel transferred hundreds of
millions of shekels to prop up the Palestinian economy, initiated and encouraged
international development projects in the PA, backed PA requests for mega-loans
and grants from the IMF and other donor countries, and more, would peace be
possible. So Israel did all these things. And the world? It continued to demand
additional Israeli gestures and concessions and withdrawals to prop up the PA
and the “process.”
This year, US President Obama arrived to lecture
Israel on “justice” for the Palestinians and the need for Israelis to “demand”
that their leaders push harder for peace.
Only if Israel “ends the
occupation,” Obama said, would our future be secure.
And what about
renewed peace talks? Well, only if Israel implements a de facto (although
undeclared) freeze on settlement expansion, agrees to discuss borders that
essentially begin from the Green Line (while weakly denying this to be the
case), and authorizes in advance a massive release of hardcore Palestinian
terrorists from Israeli jail – only then could talks commence. So Prime Minister
Netanyahu agreed to these Palestinian preconditions and American dictates, for
the sake of peace.
What happened then? Well, last night I had a dream.
And in this dream, this is what happened. An Israeli backlash
The People of Israel awoke from its slumber and said: Enough!
One million Israelis turned out for a mass rally in Tel Aviv to declare that no
amount of Palestinian threats or violence, nor any degree of international
pressure, would succeed in pushing us beyond our security red lines or strip us
of our national and religious treasures.
We’ll settle with the
Palestinians, Israelis overwhelmingly declared, only if there will be no return
to the 1967 borders or anything resembling them; only if an accord protects most
Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria; only if the PA renounces its demand to
flood Israel with refugees; only if Israel maintains sovereignty in Jerusalem;
only if Hamas is neutered, and both Gaza and the West Bank are demilitarized;
and only if peace education replaces anti-Semitic incitement in the PA. Only if
the Palestinians truly show they want to live in peace with Israel.
faced with a determined Israeli consensus, the PA sued for peace on reasonable
terms, and quiet reigned in the Land of Israel.
If only this were