Do the Palestinians Actually Want Peace?
by Dan Calic
Time has come to see the Palestinians true colors.
While world leaders attempt to cajole and nudge the two sides into negotiations, only one side consistently says they are ready to sit face to face without preconditions – Israel. The Palestinians on the other hand refuse to meet unless Israel agrees in advance to several demands. This should be a red flag indicator of their disingenuous intentions. In March when President Obama met with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah he publicly criticized him saying “preconditions are pointless.” Ignoring the president, Abbas continues to restate his list of demands.
They include Israel stopping construction on land which he assumes is going to be theirs if they achieve statehood. My question is without a formal agreement on statehood or borders, how can they demand cessation of construction? Where should construction continue? They’re placing the cart before the horse. Another precondition is Israel must agree to end the “occupation” and return to pre ’67 borders. If the so-called “occupation” is preventing peace, why was there a need to fight a war in 1967 when there was no “occupation?”
Defensible Borders ?
For the record, the so-called ’67 borders are in fact the demarcation line when hostilities ended in 1949 after the War of Independence. They have never been formally accepted as “official.” Israel is entitled to “secure and defensible borders,” according to President Obama, especially when you consider virtually the entire Arab world has been hostile toward it since 1948. The ’67 lines if they became official borders, would leave Israel a mere 9 miles wide north of Tel Aviv where 70% of its population and 80% of its industry is. Having a hostile enemy literally within a few hundred meters is not a “secure and defensible border” when your country is so small.
Another in the list of demands is forfeiting eastern Jerusalem which contains the Western Wall and Temple Mount. This is the holiest place on earth for the Jews. Giving this up would be tantamount to a body without its heart. Mahmoud Abbas has just restated his accusation that Israel is attempting to destroy Al Aqsa Mosque, and previously said taking Jerusalem away from Israel is a “fard ayn” or Islamic obligation.
Keep in mind after the Six Day War of 1967 when Jerusalem became unified under Jewish control for the first time in almost 2,000 years, Moshe Dayan made a huge gesture of goodwill by relinquishing control over Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf. To reinforce this commitment Jews are barred from praying on Temple Mount, and are routinely arrested by Israeli police if they do. In contrast Muslims enjoy complete freedom of worship throughout all of Israel.
What Are the Palestinians Offering in Return?
For all their precondition demands what have the Palestinians offered in return?
Have they offered to recognize Israel’s right to exist?
Have they offered to drop their demand for the so-called “right of return,” which would eliminate the Jewish majority in Israel?
Have any of them [Fatah, PLO, Hamas, etc.] offered to alter their charters which call for Israel’s destruction?
Have they said they will renounce any future land claims once an agreement has been reached?
The answer to each question is “no.”
So what is the actual aim of the Palestinians? Is it peace and coexistence with the Jewish state of Israel? The demand for preconditions exposes their Achilles heal. Moreover, if Israel agreed to all the preconditions would there be anything left to negotiate?
The Palestinians do not wish to see a Jewish state of Israel as their neighbor. In fact if they had their way Israel would cease to exist altogether in favor of one Arab state of Palestine covering all the land Israel sits upon. This is confirmed on the web sites of Fatah, PLO and Hamas, all of which show a single state of Palestine in green, covering the entire State of Israel. Yet we hear no calls by world leaders to alter these images.
Recent press reports indicated Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to re-engage with Netanyahu without preconditions. However, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat quashed that saying- “Total nonsense. How could anyone on the Israeli side actually believe the PA would ever agree to negotiate before Israel meets the minimum required precondition of acknowledging a PA state on the entire pre-1967 West Bank?”
Demands Without Compromise
The reason they are inflexible with precondition demands is because they actually have no desire to “negotiate.” Negotiations require compromise, which means they would have to give up some of what they demand. This is incomprehensible to how they think. Why? Their demands are viewed as ‘holy.’ Anything characterized as ‘holy’ cannot be compromised. This is considered blasphemy, which is punishable by death. No Muslim wants to risk taking such action. Thus, if the Palestinians accept the State of Israel, allow it to maintain its Jewish majority, keep Jerusalem undivided, and have secure and defensible borders, they would be deemed blasphemers. As difficult as it might be to accept this notion, it is in fact the unspoken reality of the situation.
Most of the world has yet to wake up to this. Thus, when faced with preconditions seen as holy, vs committing blasphemy, the choice for Palestinians is an obvious one. It is to this Israel and all those who long for peace are being held hostage. This is why the Palestinians demand preconditions and don’t want a two state solution. If they truly wanted a two state solution it would have happened long ago. Their goal is Israel’s elimination.