Israel: Frozen in a Moment

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“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice-President, members of Congress.… Perhaps our most demanding joint effort has been the endless quest to achieve peace and stability for Israel and its Arab neighbors… We care about peace, and our hand is stretched out to peace.… To this end, we are ready to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority[.]” This long-standing Israeli stance was affirmed again by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress in Washington, reiterating Israel’s yearning for peace and steadfast commitment to renewing negotiations with the Palestinians.

What may come as a surprise, however, is the date on which Mr. Netanyahu conveyed these words; not May 24, 2011 during the prime minister’s most recent trip to the U.S., as one might suspect, but rather July 10, 1996, during Mr. Netanyahu’s first premiership.

Shocking? Indeed: the Jewish state of Israel has been frozen in moment—a veritable “peace process” time warp—for the past 15 years. And not one iota of progress has been made.

The parallels between Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in 1996 and his address of last month perfectly encapsulate the utter failure of the Oslo Accords, and the ensuing diplomatic fiasco colorfully referred to as the “peace process.” By comparing Netanyahu’s statements in 1996 with those of 2011, it becomes crystal clear that Israel does not have a “partner for peace.” Doing so also exposes the Palestinians’ duplicity and ongoing belligerence, and irrefutably proves that not only have the Palestinians not fulfilled one commitment made to Israel since Oslo, but also that their primary ambition has little to do with the creation of “Palestine,” and much to do with the obliteration of Israel.

In 1996, Mr. Netanyahu affirmed that peace with the Palestinians “must be based on three pillars”:

Security is the first pillar.… Peace means the absence of violence. Peace means not fearing for your children every time they board a bus. Peace means walking the streets of your town without the fearful shriek of Katyusha rockets overhead.… This means that our negotiating partners, and indeed all the regimes of the region, must make a strategic choice—either follow the option of terror as an instrument of policy, of diplomacy, or follow the option of peace.…

Since the beginning of 2011, there has been a dramatic increase in the frequency of violence carried out by the Palestinians against Israel. There has been a bus bombing, members of the Fogel family were brutally murdered, and dozens of Katyusha rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli population centers. Moreover, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas recently acceded to Mr. Netanyahu’s demand by conspicuously making his “strategic choice”: the PA president has forged a unity deal with Hamas, proving once and for all that Abbas identifies more closely with destroying, rather than making peace with Israel.

The second pillar of peace is reciprocity.… The signing of a peace treaty should be the beginning of a relationship of reciprocal respect, recognition and the fulfillment of mutual obligations.… A peace without pacification, a peace without normalization, a peace in which Israel is repeatedly brought under attack, is not a true peace.…

To say that the Palestinians have spurned this “pillar” constitutes a gross understatement.

As proof, fifteen years later, in his 2011 speech to Congress, Mr. Netanyahu was obliged to revisit the issue of reciprocity: “It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’ Those six words will change history. They’ll make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end, that they’re not building a Palestinian state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it.”

Six words that the even the so-called “moderate” Palestinian leadership still refuses to affirm. Six words that should constitute a prerequisite to peace negotiations in the first place (peaceful reconciliation is not a reasonable outcome of any process when one party rejects the other’s basic right to exist.)

The third pillar of lasting peace is democracy and human rights.… States that respect the human rights of their citizens are not likely to provoke hostile action against their neighbors.… The best guarantor against military adventurism is accountable, democratic government.…

The Palestinian notion of democracy comprises electing Hamas at the first possible opportunity. In other words, the majority of Palestinians view democracy simply as a medium through which to “politicize” Israel’s destruction. This is reinforced by the fact that Hamas’ understanding of human rights is to brutalize its citizens into submission, using them as cannon fodder in their endless war against Israel. This dual (mis)conception of “freedom” manifests itself in internal violence and repression (circumstances which are not particularly conducive to peaceful cohabitation with the Jewish state).

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