The actions and inaction of the Palestinian Authority are the biggest threats to peace in the Middle East, not the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu
Many in the media and policy circles are fretting about the effect Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection will have on the peace process. But few are examining the true impediment to peace: the Palestine Authority.
A recent Washington Post article took the approach that a Netanyahu victory “clouds prospects” for the success of the Trump administration’s yet-to-revealed peace plan. Though the article refers to the Palestinians, it doesn’t mention the Palestinian Authority, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, or Hamas.
One thing that many commentators haven’t noticed is that the positions of Netanyahu and his closest rival, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, are probably not that far apart on issues of peace with the Palestinians. Gantz, in an interview with columnist Bret Stephens of The New York Times, did not speak of a two-state solution, but rather said that “eventually, Palestinians should have some kind of independency.”
After the Israeli experiences of the past 25 years, such caution is prudent.
For example, Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000. In subsequent years, Hezbollah built an extensive terror infrastructure there and amassed a huge rocket arsenal. Hezbollah then triggered a war with Israel in 2006.
In 2005, Israel disengaged from Gaza, removing all civilians and military personnel. In 2007, Hamas launched a coup against the PA and took effective control of Gaza. They used it to build a terror infrastructure and arsenal to threaten southern Israel.
Anyone running to lead Israel has to ask themselves if the country could afford a repeat of what happened in Lebanon and Gaza happening in the West Bank. Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, surely knows the risks involved to Israel in Palestinian statehood. Peace should not be a suicide pact.
Of course, aside from the issues of the dangers of Palestinian statehood to Israel, there’s also the question as to whether the Palestinian Authority is interested in peace. There is no evidence that they are.
When President Donald Trump announced that he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, Abbas said that he would boycott all contacts with the Trump administration, including regarding the peace plan.
Trump has been consistent in demanding that Abbas stop inciting against Israel. In 2017, during a visit to Abbas in Ramallah, Trump told the PA leader, that “no lasting peace” with Israel would be possible “unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence.” But Abbas has continuously engaged in incitement and defended paying salaries to convicted terrorists — known as the pay to slay program.
But Abbas’s refusal to make peace with Israel is not a function of the Trump administration. Even when President Barack Obama was in office, Abbas did nothing to advance the peace process. In fact, he torpedoed the two major peace efforts made by the previous administration.
In May 2009, Abbas told Washington Post editor Jackson Diehl that he would make no compromises and have the Obama administration pressure Israel into concessions. “The Americans are the leaders of the world,” Abbas told Diehl. “They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions.’ ”
In 2009, the Obama administration prevailed on Netanyahu to stop building in the West Bank for nine months in the hope that it would provide an impetus for Israel and the PA to get back to negotiations. Instead, Abbas refused to negotiate until just a few weeks were left during the building moratorium and then demanded that Israel extend the moratorium to continued the talks. Israel refused.
The Secretary of State Hillary later noted, “I stood on a stage with [Netanyahu] … and I said it was unprecedented for any Israeli prime minister to have done that. I got so criticized. I got criticized from the right, the left, the center, Israeli, Jewish, Arab, Christian, you name it. Everybody criticized me. But the fact was it was a 10-month settlement freeze. And he was good to his word. And we couldn’t get the Palestinians into the conversation until the tenth month. … In the last 20 years, I’ve seen Israeli leaders make an honest, good-faith effort and not be reciprocated in the way that was needed.”
A peace effort launched by her successor, John Kerry, during 2013 and the beginning of 2014, ended when Abbas refused to accept a framework set out by the Obama administration (Netanyahu accepted it with reservations).
In fact, Tzipi Livni, who was involved in those negotiations, later told Roger Cohen of The New York Times that Abbas was to blame for the failure of Kerry’s efforts.
Finally, the fact that there is no unified Palestinian leadership — the Fatah-led PA rules the West Bank and the terrorist group, Hamas, rules Gaza — means that there is no Palestinian government that Israel can possibly make peace with.
The reason there is no final Israel-Palestinian peace is not because of whom Israel elects. Rather it is due to a corrupt Palestinian leadership that has failed to unite its people, continues to encourage terror, and refuses to negotiate in good faith.
[Photo: euronews (in English) / YouTube ]DONATE
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