Israel’s Futile ‘Goodwill Gestures’

Charles Bybelezer is a correspondent for i24News, a recently-launched international television network that broadcasts out of Tel Aviv.


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Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to extend well-wishes on the occasion of Id al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

He did so despite the fact that Abbas continues to shun negotiations with the Jewish state and again has threatened to pursue a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly in September.

Netanyahu’s “goodwill gesture” reportedly was followed by similar phone calls to Abbas by Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Molcho also called PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad.

The calls came on the heels of other goodwill gestures made by Israel over the last few months aimed at coaxing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table; including, but not limited to:

1. The issuance of thousands of additional Israeli work permits to Palestinian laborers;

2. The advance to the PA on the eve of Ramadan of approximately NIS 200 million in levies collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians so that government salaries could be paid;

3. The signing of an economic accord with the PA in order to enhance trade;

4. The signing of a deal to end a hunger strike by Palestinians jailed in Israel, in which Israel even agreed to allow convicted terrorists to pursue academic studies;

5. The tabling of an offer, confirmed by PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe, to release in four stages 125 Palestinian security prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israelis (the proposal was summarily rejected by Abbas, who demanded the prisoners be released simultaneously);

6. The transfer to the PA of the bodies of approximately 90 deceased terrorists, whose remains subsequently were glorified en masse in official ceremonies.

So the question begs: What exactly have these goodwill gestures achieved?

Answer: Last Tuesday, Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement denying the Jewish People’s historical connection to Jerusalem.

On the 43rd anniversary of an attempt by a non-Jewish Australian—Denis Michael Rohan—to set fire to the al-Aksa mosque, Abbas wrote:  “The fire, set by a criminal under the eyes of the Israeli occupation authorities, was the first [attack] in a series aiming to demolish al-Aksa mosque and build thealleged Temple, in order to uproot [Palestinian] citizens, Judaize [the city] and eternalize its occupation.”

He concluded by assuring his target audience that Israel’s actions “will not undermine the fact that [Jerusalem] will forever be Arabic, Islamic and Christian.”

In response, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev condemned Abbas’ call for Jerusalem to be “liberated.” He also reaffirmed the 3000-year-old Jewish connection to the city, and stressed that by ignoring Jerusalem’s Jewish heritage the Palestinian president was “ignoring reality.”

Regev then conveyed the Israeli government’s “disappointment.”

In retrospect, however, Regev’s characterization of Abbas’ denial of Jewish history is woefully inaccurate; for Abbas’ revisionism is, in fact, concerted and purposeful, and therefore constitutes an attempt to alter reality.

To this end, Abbas gave two other major international addresses over the past year in which he explicitly denied the Jewish connection to Israel, including Jerusalem.

In February, at the “International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem” in Doha, Qatar, Abbas accused Israel of “using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab, Islamic and Christian character” of Jerusalem. He also called on non-Jews to visit the “occupied” city in order to show that “Jerusalem is the cause of every Arab, Muslim and Christian.”

The Doha speech was preceded by Abbas’ now-infamous tirade at the UN General Assembly last September, in which he declared: “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad…and the birthplace of Jesus Christ.”

Abbas omitted any mention of Jewish patriarch Abraham, whose presence in Israel superseded both Jesus’ and that of Muhammad’s descendants, and whose divine connection, indeed claim to the Holy Land is indisputable.

Considering the forgoing, how can we explain the Israeli government’s “disappointment” over an entirely predictable and consistent pattern of behavior? To expect anything different of Abbas suggests that it is in fact Israeli officialdom which is “ignoring reality.”

However, given that Netanyahu has had a front-row seat from which to witness Abbas’ slights of speech, a more logical conclusion is that his administration is deliberately ignoring reality. More specifically, Netanyahu must believe that it serves Israel’s interests to downplay Abbas’ overt hostility towards the Jewish state in order to portray him as a “moderate.” This notion is reinforced by Regev’s description of Abbas’ most recent inversion of history as “the usual domain of extremist elements,” a category of Middle Eastern players from which Regev implies the Palestinian leader is excluded. And if Abbas is not an extremist, then by extension he must be a moderate.

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  • Bartimaeus

    As a Christian I say, the only divine mandate for a land on earth was given to the Jews. The Christian has no mandate for any land whatsoever on earth. I would trust Israel with control over Jerusalem and all the holy sites as they have already proven they are more than fair about access to these sites. Even the so-called Christian holy sites in the end have little to do with the real faith of Christians. They tend toward idolatry. The Jews on the other hand should have the temple mount as there own, free of Islamic or Christian harassment.

  • Stern

    When have the Palestinians EVER responded positively to any Israeli concession or offer of peace? In fact, every since Oslo, the Palestinian position has hardened in direct proportion to any softening of the Israeli position.

    Arafat began denying any connection between Jews and the Temple Mount, something Abbas is simply repeating. This week, Hanan Ashrawi claimed that there were no Jewish refugees from Arab countries because they were "invited" to Israel and made homes there.

    Give them another few months and they will be denying that Judaism exists or that there are any Jews anywhere.

  • Indioviejo

    The question is, who buys into this Arab charade?

  • Bert

    Netanyahu and most of Israel's leaders are secular or even atheists. Their concessions for peace only reinforce their enemies and destroy morale among Israeli Jews. Their actions violate the teachings of the Torah which warns of consequences as in Deuteronomy Chapter 28. Sad to say that the greatest enemy of the Jewish people are our own Jewish leaders who are arrogant, corrupt and ultimately suicidal. If it were not for help from G-d the Jews would have ceased to exist long ago.

  • Rick_in_VA

    Israel should re-establish it's borders to include the area that they won during wartime after being attacked.
    They should establish Jerusalem as their capital for all purposes. If a country wants an embassy, that is where it should be. (including ours)
    If they have to retake their territory by force, so be it. The time for negotiations is long past. They have to do right for themselves and the he!! with the rest of the world.

    This brings up another question: Why do American Jews vote for the one political party who hates Israel almost as much as the Muslims?

  • Marty

    palestinians do not understand or want to embrace the concept of reciprocity. They cannot fathom the art of compromise. No negotiation with this sort of mindset can be productive. Most Israelis have finally broken out of the "Oslo Syndrome" and understand that only their demise will satisfy the palestinian nation and leadership. But national suicide is not on the Israeli political agenda. Israelis love life as much as the palestinians love death and that is the reason they will survive and prosper and why the palestinians will remain impoverished, full of hatred, and stuck in a seventh century primitive and brutal mindset.

  • Drakken

    Enough of this fake peace nonsense Israel, you know the muslims don't want peace and never have unless it is the peace of the grave. So quit this bloody nonsense and throw Gaza into the sea and take the entire west bank and call it a day.

    • PaulRevereNow

      Why Netanyahu continues to make these futile gestures is incomprehensible; except for the fact that there are many Jews who believe in them, and probably always will. On a trip to Israel several years ago, I took a tour of the Northern Negev desert, which included a visit to Sderot. After we saw the Sderot Indoor Rec facility, with its steel rocket-proof roof, and the storage room full of the bottom half of recovered rocket fuselage's(with "Death to the Jews" scrawled on them, in Arabic); I suggested to a twenty-something American Jew(on the bus) that Israel should fire one of their 16-inch coastal defense guns at Gaza, every time the Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket at Israel.(This was before Iron Dome was introduced) In response, he laughed at me for several minutes.
      This is the mentality we get to work with.

  • Ghostwriter

    It's great that those like Schlockmotion aren't here. They'd have a field day with this one.

  • Hank Rearden

    The Palestinians don't want peace; they want victory. How hard is that to understand? Israel insults them when it makes concessions because it implies that they are soft enough to prefer comfort to struggle. Concessions cannot possibly bring peace; they are an incitement to more terrorism because they signal weakness on the part of Israel.

    Israel's strategy, both diplomatic and military should be "we're here; get used to it." The opposition may not get used to it for quite a while, but concessions are not going to hurry that along.

    • Sunbeam

      Israel should be firm with their stand. It should not work in a flip flop way. that others may see it as a form of weaknesses. Making concessions doesn't seemed to be the wise move at all. We hope Jerusalem can be made the capital city of Israel soon as its heritage links back to ancient time of Judaism and the early churches of Christianity. It holds vast meaning to us all..