by Jan Willem van der Hoven, ICZC
When I read, in the November 12, 2010 edition of The Jerusalem Post, what Abu Mazen (aka Mahmoud Abbas) sees as the bottom-line for ending the conflict with Israel, I wonder why in the world Western leaders and propagators of the decennia-long “peace process” are consistently criticizing Israel’s “obstructions to peace.” They should be telling the Arabs that, if this really is their “bottom-line” then they, and they alone, are obstructing the realization of peace. For no reasonable person can support Israel committing political suicide in its efforts to reach such a peace with its neighbors.
Why, then, do Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton not call a spade a spade, telling the Palestinian and Arab leadership that if Abu Mazen’s reported remarks are really indicative of where the Palestinian Arabs are today, peace will never come to the Middle East.
Statements Abu Mazen is quoted as having said at a rally in Ramallah on November 11, as reported by the Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh, include:
“The Palestinian position remains unchanged – a Palestinian state free of settlements with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of refugees to return to their homeland.”
Abbas added that he wouldn’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, for fear that such a move would harm the status of Israel’s Arab minority and deprive Palestinian refugees of the right to return to their former homes. He said that since 1988 the Palestinians haven’t relinquished any of their main demands.
After all the years of negotiating with Israel this, then, remains their final goal: a Palestinian state and the return of all refugees to “Israel proper. No one – unless they support the eradication of the Jewish state – can expect Israel to so dismantle itself and commit national suicide.
The peace proces is dead, therefore, because of Arab, not Israeli, intransigence. How many times has Israel demonstrated – often painfully – a willingness to compromise – to no avail. The Arab side has not budged. As it was in with the founding of the PLO and before, the bottom line for most Muslim Arabs is that the Jewish state will be dismantled piece by piece. This is the “piece process” they believe in in their hearts.
Where is the outcry from this hypocritical world? Where is recognition of the demonstrated historical reality of Israel’s readiness to constantly make concessions versus the intransigent unwillingness of the Palestinians to respond in kind?
Israel withdrew first from big parts of it own biblical homeland – Gaza and Jericho in 1993/94; then 99 percent of the Palestinian-occupied parts of Judea and Samaria. Israel withdrew, unilaterally, without any Arab quid pro quo from South Lebanon. Then Israel uprooted 10,000 of its own people and pulled out of the Gaza Strip. Again no quid pro quo. Instead, thousands of rockets were rained down on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza – both of which have become bastions of terror in the hands of a modern-day Hitler called Ahmadinejad.
And now? Now Israel again has to do this – under the direction of self-deluded and blind-to-the-facts politicians, both inside and outside Israel – by giving these fanatic Islamic forces the opportunity to set up a third terrorist-directed Arab entity (a Palestinian state) 20 kilometers away from Ben Gurion airport and Tel Aviv; from there able to use Iran-supplied shoulder-launched rockets to bring down every incoming plane to Israel?
Even Israeli Arabs, with all the rights afforded to them by the Israeli government and Knesset – of which they themselves are a part – slam Abu Mazen as a stooge of the Americans and Israelis because of any hinted willingness on his part to make even the slightest concession. If this is in the hearts of these Arab citizens – who are often inclined to support the more extreme views and goals of Hamas, Hizbollah and Syria despite all the rights they enjoy in this democracy – then there is no chance at this moment for peace with the Palestinians.