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The Palestinians have employed two weapons as alternatives to actually sitting down and negotiating a two-state solution. The first was the violence incited by Arafat after he rejected the Barak-Clinton offer of 2000-2001. Instead of continuing to negotiate, Arafat ordered the beginning of a second Infada with its suicide bombings and the deaths of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis. This tactic got the Palestinians nothing but bloodshed, and the continuing support of the hard left. It lost them the support of the Israeli peace movement and drove many Israeli moderates to the right.
Following Arafat’s “untimely” death—untimely in the sense that if he had died a few years earlier would have ended by now—the Palestinian Authority shifted from guerrilla warfare to guerrilla “lawfare.”
Under this tactic, the Palestinian Authority has taken advantage of the United Nations’ biased machinery of international “human right” to push Israel into the “dock” as a “criminal state,” accusing it of war crimes every time it takes any action in defense of its citizens, whether it be building a security barrier against terrorists, treating terrorists as combatants and targeting them for military attack, of defending its civilians against rocket attacks. This “lawfare” tactic is also backfiring. It is making it more difficult for Israel to end the occupation, because many Israelis fear that leaving the West Bank will bring the same violent response that followed the end of the occupation of Gaza: namely rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. And if Israel were to seek to protect its civilians, as it did in Gaza, it would be accused of war crimes and hauled in front of the International Criminal Court.
A related weapon, now being widely used on university campuses around the world, is to challenge Israel’s legitimacy as a state—even within its pre-1967 borders. This tactic too is making it harder for Israel to make peace, because many Israelis fear that any agreement is only a tactic that will lead to further attacks on the legitimacy of the Jewish state and calls for a single bi-national state, which would inevitably become yet another Muslim Arab state.
To hold the Palestinian leadership responsible for the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank is not to blame the victim. The Palestinian people have indeed been victims—of their own leadership and the refusal of so many Palestinians to take “yes” for an answer when they have been offered an end to the occupation, and have instead chosen violence, lawfare and rejection of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
I have long believed and written that when the Palestinian leadership wants their own state more than they want the end of the Jewish state, there will be a two-state solution.
The time has come for those Palestinians who seek peace to take control over their own destiny and demand that their leaders sit down, with no preconditions, and negotiate an end to the occupation and the implementation of a two-state solution. If they do not, they too will share the blame for the continuing occupation and lack of statehood.
Professor Alan Dershowitz’s latest book is a novel, The Trials of Zion.
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