The need to confront obstacles to peace in the Middle East

It is clear that both terror and incitement against Jews and Jewish-self-determination as well as rejectionism of Israel’s very existence remain the major stumbling blocks to peace.

July 7, 2018 22:11
4 minute read.
The Dome of the Rock is seen in the background as a man waves a Palestinian flag upon entering the T

The Dome of the Rock is seen in the background as a man waves a Palestinian flag upon entering the Temple Mount, after Israel removed all security measures it had installed at the compound, in Jerusalem's Old City July 27, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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With talk of new Middle East peace plans being readied for release, it is important to understand and confront some of the obstacles that have caused past plans to falter and fail.

While many in the international community like to claim that the existence of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria presents the major obstacle to peace, history, precedent and logic demonstrate the difficulties inherent in that position.

The current conflict began in the early part of the twentieth century, before there was a State of Israel, even before the modern political implementation of Zionism was crystalized, and long before Israel recaptured Judea/Samaria during another war of self-defense in 1967.

Moreover, the Palestinian-Arabs’ rejection of Israel’s comprehensive peace offers, including offers to proceed with the creation of a Palestinian state, were in reality not because of land or border issues.

The common denominator throughout the generations of rejected proposals is the Palestinian leadership’s absolute rejection of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and sovereignty. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stated that he will “never recognize” Israel as a Jewish State, seemingly even if it means rejecting independence and sovereignty for his own people.

Peace offers of various Israeli prime ministers, reportedly offering nearly 100% of Judea and Samaria, with agreed land swaps involving existing Israeli population centers, a shared Jerusalem, and even certain control over holy sites broke down not over the terms of a negotiated settlement between the parties, but because of Abbas’s abject refusal to countenance “end of claims” and “end of conflict” clauses in an agreement.

The fact that a Palestinian leader won’t sign a peace agreement which entails agreeing to an end of claims and end of conflict clause unfortunately is indicative of the challenges currently being faced in the efforts at peacemaking in the Middle East.

The international community has focused far too much and for far too long on simply signing a treaty, getting the deal done and off the global agenda.

Israelis rightly focus on issues such as security, stopping terror the teaching of hate in Palestinian-Arab schools, incitement and rejectionism. The failure to resolve these issues preclude the likelihood of a sustainable long-term peace, security, prosperity and acceptance.

Moreover, there is the refugee issue of the almost one million Jews from the Middle East and North Africa who were ethnically cleansed and forcibly evicted from the region, which deserves to be fully and equally addressed. It is an issue that has far too often been sidelined. The Jews thrown out of their millennia-old homes and communities in the region were the first victims of the conflict and have yet to find any measure of redress, while the Palestinian-Arab refugees have been the best funded in the world.

There appears to be a positive climate for negotiations developing both in the region and with the major powers. US negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have been warmly received in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel and by other US allies.

Direct negotiations without preconditions have long been the mantra of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas continues to refuse to meet or talk, preferring to accuse, malign and seek a Palestinian state through efforts at the UN. Although individual countries can recognize the Palestinians, only the UN Security Council can approve member-state status.

In the greater analysis, it is clear that both terror and incitement against Jews and Jewish-self-determination as well as rejectionism of Israel’s very existence remain the major stumbling blocks to peace. While Palestinian leaders can be pressured by the wider Arab world, which supplies them with funding, and provides political and diplomatic support, either Abbas or his successor must be willing to come to the negotiating table rather than simply declaring the US peace proposal plan “dead on arrival.” The leaders of the Arab world need to say to the Palestinian-Arabs openly what they say now only behind closed doors.

The Arab leaders are reportedly fed up with Palestinian obstinance and their refusal to agree to peace, all of which takes a lot of energy, resources and political currency away from Arab nations’ own priorities in the region – such as fighting back against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its terror proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, and the continued threat posed by ISIS.

The foundations for peace, and the understanding of what obstructs its realization, must be carefully taken into account in order for any well-intentioned and carefully-constructed peace efforts to achieve the intended goals: a fair, workable deal that will be acceptable to the leaders and the people of both Israel and the Palestinian-Arabs, as well as the regional and world powers who seek, deserve and await a lasting and secure peace.

The author is president of the American Zionist Movement and senior counsel of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, P.C., which represents American victims of terror. The opinions expressed in this article are his own and not attributable to any organization.

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