BY ARNOLD AHLERT, CANADA FREE PRESS—
Shortly before taking the podium to address the United Nations’ General Assembly last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said everything the world needs to know about where the so-called peace process is headed. Speaking to an assembly of 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the United States, Abbas laid his cards on the table. “They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state,” he proclaimed.
It is worth remembering that Abbas doesn’t represent all of the Palestinian people. He represents Fatah, which in this case might be euphemistically referred to as the “moderate” half of the Palestinian equation. The not-so-moderate other half? That would be Hamas, a terrorist organization masquerading as a government in the Gaza Strip. That would be the same Gaza Strip Ariel Sharon gave to the Palestinians in 2006 in return for peace. The same Gaza strip where Israeli soldiers removed thousands of Israeli settlers, using force where necessary.
What did Israel get for its efforts? First, they got a civil war between Fatah and Hamas, leading to Hamas taking over the territory. Then in 2008, after Hamas refused to stop shooting thousands of rockets over the border, Israel was forced to mount a military offensive for which it received international condemnation for having the temerity to defend itself. Did that stop the rockets from flying? Of course not. Hamas still has its charter of existence which calls for the extermination of the Jewish State.
Where does Hamas stand on the current push by Fatah for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state? “Our Palestinian people do not beg for a state. …States are not built upon UN resolutions. States liberate their land and establish their entities,” said senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Thus we have the current “nuances” of diplomacy under which Israel — and only Israel apparently — must find compromises which will move the “process” forward in order to find common ground with one or both factions of people whose own attempt to find common ground with one another, aka the much-trumpeted reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah that occurred in April, remains in limbo; all of whom deny the existence of Israel; and at least one faction of whom remains dedicated to Israel’s annihilation.
Where does the United States fit into the equation? One supposes the answer to that question depends on one’s interpretation of Mr. Obama’s speech last week at the U.N. “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring,” said the president to the U.N.’s General Assembly last Wednesday. In fairness, the rest of the speech hit all of the right notes that any American president is supposed to hit when speaking about an ally.
But it is hard to forget that this president also made it clear that he was more than willing to treat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with contempt a year ago last May, when he refused to pose for photographs with Netanyahu, and then left the Prime Minister hanging in embarrassment when the president left to have dinner in private. It is also worth remembering that it was Barack Obama, not the Palestinians, who made the peace process contingent on Israel discontinuing the building of settlements in Jerusalem, an idea Fatah quickly adopted as its own. It was also Barack Obama who attempted to link the peace process to Israel returning to its “pre-1967” borders in a speech in May.
Perhaps Mr. Obama has seen the light, so to speak. But for those of us who know better, that light is nothing more than a return to the White House after the 2012 election. A return for which he needs substantial support from the Jewish American voter. A small faction of Jewish American voters in New York City’s 9th Congressional District had already delivered its verdict on Mr. Obama’s sincerity towards Israel prior to the president’s U.N. speech. They helped elect Republican for the first time since 1923 in a district where Democrats hold a 3-1 edge in registered voters.
For years, the peace process has been based on a simple, but fundamentally erroneous idea. It is the idea that Israel must make concessions, after which the Palestinians must decide if they are acceptable. Here’s a thought: until the Palestinians make the only concession without which the entire process becomes a mockery — until they acknowledge Israel’s right to exist — they don’t get a dime from the United States. That would be the same United States that ought to make it crystal clear nothing less will be acceptable, not because it sees no legitimacy in a two-state solution, but because the current starting point makes no sense whatsoever. The idea that there is any common ground between Israelis, who seek that two-state solution, and Palestinians, who deny the existence of, or wish to utterly annihilate, one of those states, must been seen for what is truly is: one of the most profound disconnections from logic the world has ever witnessed.
Or, to use a phrase familiar to New Englanders, it’s long past time to tell the Palestinians that as far as America is concerned, “you can’t get there from here.” No acknowledgment of Israel, no more money — period.