IDF checkpoint 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It’s almost become normal for Palestinians and Israelis who support peace to
find themselves at the same old roadblock, going nowhere fast. The only things
moving are the extremists who continue to pave the way to the mutual destruction
of both sides.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders refuse to take the steps
necessary to make peace.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has imposed
several pre-conditions for peace talks to resume, including the demand for a
one-sided end to violence. Palestinians must prevent their extremists from
committing acts of violence but Israel can continue to not only attack
Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip with missiles but also to target
Palestinians in the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s preconditions go way beyond
what is acceptable. I call them his “no preconditions” preconditions.
Israelis insist that Palestinian accept Israeli confiscations of West Bank land
around east Jerusalem, and accept the expansion of settlements in the West Bank,
too. Netanyahu has outlined that Jerusalem will remain undivided, merging east
and west Jerusalem without any consideration of Palestinian
Netanyahu has also imposed another
Palestinians have accepted Israel’s right to exist and
recognize Israel as a state. But since the collapse of the peace process more
than a decade ago Israel has demanded that Palestinians not only accept Israel
as a “Jewish” state but also say the words.
Forget about the fact that
when a state distinguishes between its citizens in a racial or religious way,
There are many words for it. Words that are
destruction and words that try to keep the door open for reason and yet
In the face of these preconditions, Israelis continue to declare
publicly and with no shame that they are willing to enter the peace process with
“no pre-conditions” but that the Palestinians refuse to make peace.
bizarre claim of “no pre-conditions” consisting of a lot of pre-conditions was
driven home to French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently during a meeting he had
with the World Jewish Congress last week. Sarkozy was embarrassed when he was
overheard at the G20 Summit in Cannes last Fall telling President Barack Obama
that Netanyahu was “a liar.” Before that he offered strong words in support of
the Palestinians, to encourage them to return to the peace table even without a
It didn’t work and Sarkozy had to offer something to
get the pro-Israel critics off his back. He has since softened criticism of
Israeli settlement building, embracing one of the key points in Netanyahu’s list
of “no pre-condition” preconditions.
And he told Israelis what they
needed to hear, that France would stand with Israel in the face of Iran’s
Maybe we can just accept that Sarkozy was “taken to the
woodshed,” an American expression describing how a child is taken out back by a
parent and spanked for doing something wrong to get them back in line. Sarkozy
is gearing up for re-election and the “let’s make Jewish voters happy” strategy
has overtaken the “let’s bring peace to the Middle East” strategy.
President Obama has dropped his push for Middle East peace based on compromise,
barely addressing it in his recent State of the Nation speech. He’s running for
re-election, too. So are we to be surprised as the moderate wing of the
Palestinian movement continues to erode and the extremists continue to grow?
Elections in the West, it seems, are not conducive to promoting Middle East
In the short run, Israelis will find that the growth in
Palestinian extremism is good for their goal of blocking statehood and
continuing the expansion of Israeli settlements. Maybe all of the Arabs will
just up and leave Israel and the West Bank? It won’t happen.
happen is that the moderates will become so weak that a return to violence and
more conflict will only become an unavoidable reality. So is anyone surprised
when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, finding himself in a corner
in the face of Netanyahu’s “no pre-condition” pre-conditions, makes peace with
Hamas? Israelis argue that as settlements only impact one percent of the West
Bank land, they should not be such a stumbling block to
Palestinians ask the same question. If they are not that
important, why not freeze settlements? Isn’t peace that much more important?
Sadly in Middle East mathematics and reasons are turned on their heads. The 1%
and the extremist minority are far more important than the needs of the
increasingly less active but larger majority of moderates.The writer is
an award winning columnist and radio talk show host. He can be reached at