Earlier this week, I made the mistake of reading the communiqué published at the end of the March 19 Sharm el-Sheikh multilateral conference.
I say “mistake” because the document, which sums up various points agreed upon by Israeli, Palestinian, American, Egyptian and Jordanian political and security leaders, is so one-sided and infuriating that it is difficult to comprehend how the government could have agreed to such shameful terms.
Thankfully, the decisions published in such communiqués are usually worth little more than the cost of the ink used to print them. But that does not take away from just how deplorable the summit’s statement is.
Israel gives concessions, the Palestinians give nothing
Over the course of two pages, one will not find a single Palestinian concession – not one! – while in exchange, Israel offered up several overly generous gestures regarding important issues.
After an initial standard boilerplate text invoking the usual vacuous diplomatic phrases such as “enhancing mutual trust,” the second paragraph states that both Israel and the Palestinians “reaffirmed their joint readiness and commitment to immediately work to end unilateral measures for a period of three to six months.”
This is followed immediately by the declaration that Israel has made a “commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for four months and to stop authorization of any outposts for six months.” In other words, the Jewish state has agreed to a wholesale freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria through at least the summer.
By contrast, the document fails to list any concrete steps to be taken by the Palestinians, such as halting their massive land grab and spate of illegal building throughout Judea and Samaria.
So even as the Palestinians continue apace with their plans to seize huge chunks of our ancestral homeland, Israel is tying its own hands in this regard.
In another remarkable bit of obfuscation, the sides included a paragraph about incitement to violence that implies a moral equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian conduct on this issue. Using drab and vague language, it states that “the two sides agreed to establish a mechanism to curb and counter violence, incitement and inflammatory statements and actions,” as though both are equal opportunity offenders.
For anyone who has been following the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for the past 30 years since the Oslo Accords, this is nothing short of high comedy. The Palestinians have repeatedly vowed, promised, pledged, undertaken and all sorts of other verbs to cease with their systematic peddling of hate against Israel. Nevertheless, as we all know, they continue to do so with boundless passion and energy.
A quick glance at some of the Palestinian Authority’s own official rhetoric makes this abundantly clear.
For example, on the home page of the website of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one can find press releases and statements denouncing Israel as an “apartheid regime of Jewish supremacy” which engages in “hate-mongering” and threatens “the very existence of the Palestinian people.”
Another gem on the website full of love and reconciliation is the text of a speech delivered by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki on March 16, in which he refers to Israel as “this illegal regime” which engages in “a relentless campaign of viciousness, criminality and brutality” as part of “the Israeli system of colonial apartheid.”
Needless to say, the Sharm el-Sheikh communiqué could have included an explicit commitment by the Palestinians to stop making payments to the families of murderers and terrorists, or to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or to stop denying the Jewish connection to the Land.
But there is none of this. Just the establishment of another nameless and faceless committee to explore the obvious, study the apparent, and ultimately do nothing about it.
Yet another troubling statement included in the communiqué is the seemingly innocuous commitment to “the legal right of the Palestinian National Authority to carry out the security responsibilities in Area A of the West Bank.”
Various Palestinian cities in Area A, such as Nablus and Jenin, have for some time been home to active terrorist cells which parade openly in the streets, attack Israeli soldiers and plot atrocities against Israeli civilians.
Consequently, Israel has had to enter these cities on numerous occasions of late to shut down the terrorist networks that the PA tolerates.
Hence, it is hard to understand why Israel would feel the need to reaffirm the Palestinians’ right to act in these areas, when they have clearly and unequivocally failed to do so.
THERE IS plenty more to be said about the contents of the communiqué, but I think the point is clear.
The Sharm el-Sheikh conference was a failure
The conference at Sharm el-Sheikh was an opportunity to highlight the failure of the Palestinians to take steps toward peace, alongside their embrace of violence and vitriol. It could have been utilized to try to squeeze something – or anything – out of the Palestinians.
Instead, what we saw was a sham and a shame at Sharm el-Sheikh, a senseless and surprising exercise in weakness by the Jewish state.
Rather than easing up the pressure on the Palestinians, Israel should be doing precisely the opposite.
By making gestures to the Palestinians despite their bad behavior and hateful rhetoric, Israel is sending a message that they can act with impunity.
Indeed, if this communiqué is any indication, the rascals in Ramallah will simply continue to be a painful thorn in Israel’s side.
The writer served as deputy communications director under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term of office.