Palestinians missing their final opportunity

As the cliché goes, they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

By
July 4, 2019 21:33
A PALESTINIAN PROTESTS the Bahrain summit

A PALESTINIAN PROTESTS the Bahrain summit. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As a first step in the new initiative to facilitate the divorce between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the US administration and Bahrain hosted an economic workshop entitled “Peace to Prosperity” in the Bahraini capital of Manama on June 25 and 26.
The conference brought together governments, global institutions and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanize support for economic investments and initiatives to make a peace agreement possible.
 
“Peace to Prosperity,” more accurately described as prosperity for peace, constructed an ambitious framework for a prosperous future for Palestinians. If implemented, it will have the potential to open up a whole new future to them. 
 
Sadly and expectedly, the PA preempted this initiative by rejecting the notion of any peace with Israel. After decades of complaints, they have yet again showed their unwillingness to compromise on the political and theocratic dogmas that have held back peace and a better future for their people. 
 
As the cliché goes, they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
 
Mismanagement, poverty, waste, rampant corruption and a pursuit of antisemitic violence and terrorism by the dual Palestinian governing kleptocracies have left the Palestinians people destitute.
 
Channeling money into building terrorist infrastructures and rewarding murderers with their “pay-for-slay” policy takes preference over normalization and peace with Israel.
 
This is a serious violation of international law, as well as United Nations declarations calling for states and regimes to refrain from financing terrorist activities. 
 
Given the dire economic situations in areas controlled by the PA and Hamas, one might assume that logic would dictate a more receptive approach to a permanent global solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. But this is not the case, at least not on the Palestinian side. 
 
The Palestinian leadership boycottrf the Bahrain summit. Instead, they lapsed back into their usual rejectionist narrative, hurling insults at those who gathered in an attempt to help them to a brighter future.
 
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “We do not mandate anyone to negotiate on our behalf. Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation.”
 
What did he think this economic conference set out to do? Hand him the whole of Israel on a plate?
 
In another show of utter negativity, Palestinian official Nabil Sha’ath said, “The Manama meeting is one phase in a larger effort to undermine Palestinian rights and normalize Israeli violations, while promoting Israel-Arab normalization.”
 
For a century, normalization with Jews in pre-state Israel and the modern state has always been at the heart of Palestinian rejectionism. See my video “100 Years of Palestinian History” posted online. This is what is keeping the Palestinian issue a thorn in the Middle East that is frustrating not only to Israel but to their once-friendly Arab neighbors.
 
This attitude belatedly raises serious concerns about the capability of the Palestinian leadership to deliver any hope for peace, and to raise the prospects of a better future for their people. 


ALL PAST agreements demand that the Palestinians commit to a peaceful resolution to the conflict, allowing all outstanding issues to be resolved through negotiations. This is something that the Palestinian political divide has stubbornly prevented for decades. The PLO/Fatah-led PA and Hamas-Islamic Jihad are not speaking to each other, and both sides of that divide hate the notion of living in peace alongside the Jewish state.
 
This truth can clearly be seen in the September 1993 letter in which Yasser Arafat agreed, “Upon signing the Declaration of Principles, the PLO encourages and calls upon the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to take part in steps leading to the normalization of life, rejecting violence and terrorism, contributing to peace and stability and participating actively in shaping reconstruction, economic development and cooperation.”
 
Arafat was to call this document the Treaty of Hudaibiya, referring to the truce deceptively signed by Muhammad with the Banu Qurayza  Jewish tribe of Mecca as he prepared to return and exterminate them. 
 
Arafat also signed, agreeing that the Palestinians would recognize Israel’s “legitimate and political rights, and is committed to strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historical reconciliation through the agreed political process.”
 
This has not been done in the 26 years since – not by the PA and certainly not by Hamas. 
 
There has been a clear obligation on the part of the Palestinian leadership, both in Ramallah and in Gaza, to commit to the peace process for the sake of the development and prosperity of their own people, as much as for the security of Israelis. After all, it will be the Palestinian Arabs who would benefit and gain economically – far more than the Israelis who, despite the ongoing conflict, have built a remarkable advanced nation in such a short time and against all odds.
 
By boycotting the Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Conference, the Palestinian leadership once again hit out against Israel, the United States, and insulted their Arab neighbors.
 
Worse of all, they have again badly let down their own people. 
 
As former ambassador Alan Baker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs wrote, “It is a sad reflection on a misguided and irresponsible leadership that prefers conflict, incitement and hostility, rather than the hope for peace and economic improvement for the Palestinian people.”
 
The Palestine major fault line is that they still view themselves as the spearhead of the Arab war against the Jews. You can see this in their founding charters and hear it on a daily basis in their public incitement against “the Jews and their filthy feet,” and the holy imperative not to spare “one drop of blood” in cleansing Palestine of the Jews. This, from the Palestinian Authority, our designated “peace partner,” with its “kill-a-Jew” reward system, and with its mortal enemy, Hamas. 
 
While appreciating the Trump initiative, no peace is remotely possible with such an implacable enemy. 
 
The Palestinians once again, missed this opportunity. It is likely to be the last for the current PA.
 
The author is the international public diplomacy director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, and the author of Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.


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