PALESTINIANS SAY "NO" AGAIN
Pres. Obama hears three "noes" yet again....
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reportedly told Pres. Obama "no" to "Jewish Israel," abandoning "right of return" and "end of conflict." In doing so, Abbas echoed 1967's infamous, though conveniently ignored by pro-Palestinian elements, "three noes of Khartoum" proclaimed by the Arabs after the Six Day War: "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it...." In the same spirit was a recent anti-Israel hate-fest in Gaza City, with one million Palestinians venting their total rejection of Israel; this is constantly echoed by the Palestinian leadership's repeated rebuffs to Obama-Kerry despite the latter leaning harder on Israel.
The Palestinians claim a "right of return" for refugees of the 1948 War (started by the Arabs with Palestinian leadership support) and their descendants--alone among world refugee populations; of the 5 million claiming refugee status only 30,000 are original 1948 refugees. More context is given by David Goldman's superb PJM review of the historical facts surrounding the Palestinian existential challenge to a Jewish state:
Some 700,000 Jews were expelled from Muslim countries where they had lived in many cases more than a thousand years before the advent of Islam, and most of them were absorbed into the new State of Israel with a territory the size of New Jersey; 700,000 or so Arabs left Israel’s Jewish sector during the 1948 War of Independence, most at the behest of their leaders, but few were absorbed by the vast Muslim lands surrounding Israel.
Instead, the so-called refugees were gathered in camps ... and kept as a human battering ram against Israel....
Some 10 million Germans who had lived for generations in what is now Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic were driven out at the end of World War II (more than half a million died in the great displacement).
Imagine that Germany had kept these 10 million people in camps for 70 years and that their descendants now numbered 40 million — and that Germany demanded on pain of war restitution of everything from the Sudetenland to Kaliningrad (the former Konigsberg). That is a fair analogy to the Palestinian position.
Goldman calls the issue a giant scam.
Israeli PM Netanyahu's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, explains why recognition, not right of return, is the core issue:
The half of the Palestinian polity that is not openly dedicated to Israel’s destruction is unwilling to recognize Israel as the Jewish state … For those of you who think that this has anything to do with the refugee issue — you’re wrong. In 1947, there wasn’t a single refugee, and the Palestinian and the Arab world was not willing to recognize a nation state for the Jewish people. That is a core issue, the core issue …
A Palestinian polling group, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, took a March 20-22 poll that showed a majority of Palestinians supporting a "two-state" solution, but 62 percent of respondents rejecting recognizing Israel as a Jewish state; further, by a 77-21 margin respondents rejected allowing Jewish settlers to live under Palestinian rule on the West Bank--in essence, the Palestinians overwhelmingly support a policy of judenrein ("no Jews"), the very policy pursued by the Nazis.
The Palestinians also aim to launch a "diplomatic intifada" if Israel resists their positions in the talks--a flagrant violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which require that negotiations between the two parties to the conflict resolve all issues, now less likely than ever due to divisions among the Palestinians. And when, predictably, Israel does not cave and the talks fail, President Obama is ready to blame Israel--indeed, yesterday SecState Kerry, in advance, did just that. He remains a besotted believer in talks, talks, talks forever. WaPo blogger Jennifer Rubin notes the dangers:
As a senator, Kerry could talk endlessly without result or adverse consequences. The greatest deliberative body in the world is the perfect setting for nonstop pontificating. But in the real world talks, admittedly unsuccessful talks, can have a serious downside. For one thing, while we talk our adversaries act. And for another, our talking inhibits our own actions that might forestall death, destruction and political upheaval.
She sees this (rightly) as the mentality of the State Department as a whole.
Shoshana Bryen notes that Palestine Authority chief negotiator Saab Erekat insists that no final deal change "my narrative"--which is the historical fiction that the Palestinians are descended from Canaanites & hence were in the Holy Land first.
An article in Mosaic Magazine titled "Israel's Big Mistake" discusses what Israelis no longer call the 'peace process" but instead the "political process": (1) Israelis have given up hope for genuine peace--the Hebrew word for peace, shalom--meant originally not merely the absence of fighting but recognition and consequent peaceful cooperation; (2) Israel today is in essence what former PM Ehud Barak (who made two enormously generous offers during his tenure, both spurned by the Palestinians) called the Jewish state: "a villa in the jungle"; (3) the Egypt (1979) & Jordan (1994) "cold" peace treaties were no more than a reluctant acknowledgement of Israel's existence, never warming into cooperative intercourse between the Arabs & Israel as a Jewish state; (4) embracing Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization (now the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas) proved catastrophic, via serial Israel "land for peace" concessions that shrunk Israel's territory without gaining peace; (5) Arabs--even inside Israel--resolutely oppose compromise, despite its potential for spurring Arab economic development.
The Mosaic article cites the light-rail system in Jerusalem, which opened in 2011 & runs between Jewish & Arab sections of the Old City, as an example of the kind of cooperation that could blossom eventually into real peace, a sentiment similar to that in a Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.) that notes a possible Kosovo/Cyprus future for the parties. But such an example reflects a low-visibility bottom-up bargain between the parties, not the high-visibility top-down diplomatic bargain that has obsessed Western elites since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Bottom Line. What is it about "no" that our president does not--or, perhaps, declines to--understand? Put simply, accepting empirical reality undermines core ideological beliefs & the bedrock foreign policy philosophy of Obama and his advisers, echoed by most Europeans and exploited by anti-Semitic international bodies like the UN.
And moreover, contra Obama-Kerry, there are such things as irreconcilable conflicts. Israel v. Palestinians is one of them--at least, for the foreseeable future. What little glimmer of hope there is lies not in mindlessly repetitive diplomatic talks ISO a grand bargain, but a long series of mini-bargains below the radar screen, that over time lead to de facto acceptance by Arabs of a Jewish state.
Spare us, then, any more Big Push efforts to "comprehensively solve" this problem. Leave the parties to work things out one micro-step at a time. Alas, the temper of Western sentiment and the global largely anti-Israel media echo chamber in which leaders around the globe find themselves operating makes abandonment of high-level bargains politically virtually impossible.
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