Palestinian intransigence cannot be laid at the feet of the Israeli Right.
Jerusalem Post contributor Alon Pinkas recently penned an article entitled “September: Palestine, Stalemate or Armageddon?” in which he spews venom on the “policy-devoid [Israeli] government,” and condemns Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for “not com[ing] up with a peace plan” to avert the Palestinians’ September gambit to seek UN statehood recognition. Likewise, self-proclaimed far-leftist-cum-centrist Benny Morris last week wrote a National Interest article, “How Netanyahu Could Have Stopped Palestinian Statehood Bid,” denouncing Netanyahu’s failure to “publicly, clearly chart out the main lines of a territorial compromise,” which, Morris presumes, would have induced the Palestinians to abide by the Oslo Accords and forego the UN option.
The great paradox is that according to the Professional Peace-Processor Association (PPPA), which counts as members both Pinkas and Morris, a comprehensive peace plan is intended to be devised through bilateral negotiations, which Netanyahu is unequivocally calling for. In Netanyahu’s own words, “I am prepared to immediately start direct negotiations with [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas. I am willing to invite [Abbas] to my house in Jerusalem and I am willing to go to Ramallah.”
Yet Netanyahu’s willingness to resume negotiations with an obstinate PA is irrelevant to both Pinkas and Morris, since the prime minister, according to Pinkas, is presently “enhance[ing] the [international community’s] impatience with the perpetual 'Israeli-Palestinian' conflict/peace process/crisis/stalemate.” By refusing to do what, one might ask? Who knows: neither author informs the reader as to the steps they believe Netanyahu should be taking (although Pinkas does implore Netanyahu to “entertain” the Saudi Peace Plan, conveniently omitting the fact that the “peace” plan was devised by a country that bars entry to Israelis). Instead, they simply criticize the prime minister for “blatantly and foolishly, almost frivolously, fail[ing] to play the game,” in Morris’ words. The irony is that if Netanyahu had in fact forwarded a peace plan, chances are Pinkas and Morris would have devoted their columns to condemning the prime minister’s “offensive” unilateralism, while explaining away the Palestinians’ UN bid as a fair, in kind reaction.
Furthermore, like all leftists, both Pinkas and Morris view the current impasse in a contextual vacuum, ignoring that Netanyahu has already taken considerable steps to propel the peace process forward. They neglect that Netanyahu already broke with his own ideological lines by formally endorsing in 2009 the creation of a Palestinian state. They also ignore the fact that Netanyahu implemented a 10-month construction moratorium last year in Israeli “settlements,” which the Palestinians spurned (Morris nonetheless goes so far as to overtly blame the prime minister for not curbing settlement expansion, despite the fact that the construction moratorium for the most part remains de facto in place). Most importantly, both authors overlook that Netanyahu recently succumbed to the Palestinian—and White House—demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders as a basis for jump-starting negotiations with the Palestinians, specifically in order to ward off the Palestinian Authority’s UN ambitions.
To recap: Netanyahu is to be condemned for not playing a “game” (although he has clearly done so via ongoing concessions to the Palestinians for more than two years), which, incredibly, both Pinkas and Morris then concede is merely a charade that has no chance of success given the Palestinian unwillingness to engage. In Morris’ words, “Abbas would still have refused to negotiate…[as] he has no interest in a two-state solution and is unwilling to recognize Israel as a Jewish or legitimate entity.” According to Pinkas, the “Palestinians seem to have concluded that a meaningful peace process is not tenable.”
Despite their blatant hypocrisy, the authors proceed to validate the Palestinians’ UN drive, with Pinkas borderline commending the Palestinians for “chang[ing] their strategy” in light of Netanyahu’s “[sitting] back, in love with the status quo.” Morris validates the PA’s UN move by invoking Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni’s most recent tirade, in which she “squarely laid the blame for the corner into which Israel has painted itself at Netanyahu's feet,” and by suggesting that the recent approval by Israel to build an additional 277 homes in Ariel “[gave] the Palestinians their excuse for avoiding negotiations.”
The problem with both authors’ analyses—that “September is a cruel reminder that if you don’t come up with a policy, others will,” in Pinkas’ opinion—is that it resides upon two self-indulgent, leftist fallacies: the patently false assertion that anything other than their policy is equivalent to no policy, and the subsequent gross misattribution of Palestinian belligerence to the failure to implement said policy.
The result is that the Palestinians can do no wrong, their ongoing antagonism invariably ascribed to the Israeli Right (due to its not pursuing ‘their" policy, of course). For Pinkas, when Netanyahu was bowing to world pressure and conceding to Palestinian whims, the prime minister’s policy was “lean, mean…flexible and creative.” However, now that Netanyahu has run out of plausible ways to prevent Palestinian intransigence, the author denigrates the Israeli government as “paralyzed,” “cumbersome” and “devoid of ideas.” For Morris, Netanyahu “still has a very good hand,” implying that he was wisely conducting affairs when he was kowtowing to Palestinian demands, however, presently he is “fail[ing] to play it.”
All the while, no mention is made of the fact that the Israeli Left has been unable to usher in a modicum of enduring peace, despite 20 years of implementing its Oslo-ian policies. This rejection of reality also precludes the authors from conceptualizing a crucial point: that maintaining “the status quo” is in itself a policy, and one that Netanyahu is likely pursuing at all costs. For if Netanyahu shifts any closer to the likes of Pinkas and Morris, he will have effectively negated his own self.
Tragically for Pinkas and Morris, this occurrence would require them to revert back to their default-position: blaming Palestinian rejectionism on the so-called “occupation.” And they would once again find themselves in the familiar position of promoting a falsity that has been disproved time and again.