Why Kerry’s peace negotiations were always doomed to fail.
The disheartening, though not entirely surprising, breakdown of talks between Israel and the Palestinians marked yet another failure by the two sides to come closer to an agreement that would usher the way for a Palestinian state. Yet, no sooner had the talks collapsed than blame was being assigned by both Secretary of State John Kerry and chief U.S. negotiator Martin Indyk—and naturally it was Israel that bore the brunt of their criticism. Echoing the sentiments of Palestinian leadership itself, Kerry and Indyk pointed to the dreaded settlements as the principal sticking point of the talks, with Indyk suggesting that Israel’s approval of new housing units in the Gilo neighborhood Jerusalem would, as he put it, “drive Israel into an irreversible binational reality.”
Secretary Kerry had the same complaint, insisting that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to release the final third of Palestinian prisoners, coupled with the provocative new building plans, were the Israeli actions that blew up the nine months of negotiations.
On one development even the State Department was less than enthusiastic: the reconciliation agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, announced at the end of April, which State’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, deemed “disappointing” and the timing “troubling.” Even diplomats have to face certain truths, and Ms. Psaki had to begrudgingly admit that, in her words uttered with breathtaking understatement, “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”
Diplomacy involving Israel and the Palestinians invariably reaches this point—the thorny and slippery intersection of the politically possible and the diplomatically desired, with the inevitable result being that it is Israel made to be seen as the guilty party in having talks collapse, regardless of the actual events leading up to such a failure. Without even the barest amount of self awareness of how the inability to hold the Palestinians responsible for any major acts of concessions for strategic negotiation, U.S. diplomacy is continually based on the assumption that it is Israel—and only Israel—that is going to make negotiation move forward, and that it is Israel, and only Israel, that has the will and ability to make changes in policy and any concessions necessary to satisfy the Palestinian’s maximalist demands.
As a result, and as the Palestinians have cleverly figured out, Israel is made to release terrorist prisoners, agreed to land swaps, or to deliver any number of other painful concessions, just to further engage the Palestinians and keep them at the bargaining table.
While it may be comforting and diplomatically expedient for Secretary Kerry to insist that it is Israel’s fault when things go awry, or that Israel alone has the ability to do things and make concessions for peace, the idea that it is the settlements, or the number of murderers released to the Palestinians, or any other of the various issues of which Israel is always accused that is actually causing the logjam in the peace talks is simply naive and overlooks some far more lethal, pernicious, and ideologically-driven, far more intractable issues underlying negotiations between the Jewish state and its Palestinian foes.
What any honest observer of the history of conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors knows well, the Palestinians have been strident and inflexible in their maximalist demands, not to mention their intractability on such non-starters as the so-called “right of return,” the division of Jerusalem, and the proclaimed requirement that the Palestinian state will be judenrein, that, as Mahmoud Abbas himself has repeated, not one Jew will be allowed to live in the new Palestinian state.
But the unity pact between Fatah and Hamas brings to the surface a far more pernicious aspect, something that neither Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary Kerry, nor any other diplomat is likely to finesse in negotiations in Jerusalem, Ramallah, or Washington. While the State Department is quick to condemn the building of new apartments in Gilo, or hector the Israelis for not releasing Arab murderers in exchange for the possibility of continued talks, its seems to have been wilfully blind in not recognizing that the foundational document by which Hamas was established—the 1988 Hamas Charter—is animated with genocidal Jew-hatred, replete with a global strategy to extirpate Israel and murderous tactics based on millennial dreams of apocalyptic jihad.
There is, tellingly, no discussion in the Hamas Charter about the location of future borders or peaceful co-existence between a Jewish state and a new Palestinian one. There is certainly no recognition by Hamas of Israel being a legitimate state, or one that will prevail, let alone one that is a sovereign power on what is thought to be now and forever holy Muslim land. In the first place, according to Hamas, the circumstances through which the “Zionist regime” was hoisted on the world through the perfidy of the treacherous Jews is, in the honor/shame culture of the Middle East, an open wound on the Islamic world, a situation which demands jihad to restore the sanctity of Islamic land and rid the world of the festering sore that is Israel. “[T]he land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Islamic religious endowment] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day,” the Charter proclaims. “The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem,” stipulating that jihad is not only a tactical choice for ridding Palestine of the Zionist interloper, it is seen as a religious duty; in fact, it is demanded of true believers. Article 8 of the Charter contains the virulent, but clear, language of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which has become the Hamas slogan: “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its Constitution; Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”
What should be more troubling to diplomats embroiled in this particular debate is the Charter’s Article 13, which is extremely clear—in a way that the more disingenuous Mr. Abbas is not when speaking to Western audiences—in stating its objection to any solution other than jihad. The division of what is perceived to be Muslim land is totally unacceptable; in fact, it is a violation of Allah’s will. Thus, for Hamas, peace talks and negotiating for borders or land swaps are completely inconceivable concessions. Jihad to eliminate the Zionist presence is the only acceptable tactic. “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” the Article states. “Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion . . . There is no solution to the Palestinian question except by Jihad. All initiatives, proposals, and International Conferences are a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Mr. Netanyahu has been goading the Palestinian leadership for some time to state that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a recognition that has heretofore not been forthcoming. But both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have obviously already recognized that Israel is Jewish state—and therein lies the very reason for the annihilationist hatred they have for it. What they have not, and will not, acknowledge is the legitimacy of a Jewish state, even if they are aware of its actual existence—something they have had to confront for over 60 years. In fact, the existence of a sovereign Jewish entity in the beating heart of the Islamic ummah is doubly intolerable: first, for being a non-Muslim, dhimmi state with political autonomy and military strength, and second, more significantly, for being what is perceived to be a murderous, immoral, illegitimate regime existing for the benefit of and providing temporary nationhood to the most hated of beings—the Jews.
The Charter’s Article 7, specifically, contains the oft-cited hadith which exhorts Muslims to seek out and murder Jews specifically as a sacred obligation. Islamic teaching depicts Jews as the descendants of “monkeys and pigs,” treacherous deceivers, manipulative barbarians and thieves who attempted to murder the prophets, and who are satanic, murderous, unlawful occupiers of holy Muslim land whose elimination is sacralized in Koranic and hadithic precepts. “. . . The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes,” Article 7 reads. “The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: ‘The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,” except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.’”
The same genocidal Jew-hatred embedded in the Hamas Charter lives on and animates the public broadcasts and speeches of Hamas leadership. In 2010, for example, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas Foreign Minister, informed the Jews of Israel that “[they] have no future among the nations of the world. [They] are headed for annihilation.” Appearing on Hamas-sponsored TV, Yunis al-Astal, a Hamas member of the Palestinian legislature, informed his rapt viewers that “all the dangerous predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews. In just a few years, all the Zionists . . . will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.”
In a February 2010 statement, Abdallah Jarbu, a member of the Hamas government, suggested that “the Jews are thieves and aggressors. They are a foreign bacteria—a microbe unparalleled in the world. May He [Allah] annihilate this filthy people. I condemn whoever believes that they are human beings. They are not human beings. They are not people.”
It is no surprise that in a culture marinated in Jew-hatred, where Jews are debased, portrayed as a subhuman species, bacteria, a disease, fomenters of wars and strife—in fact, the enemies of God and mankind—the annihilation of Jews would therefore become not only a reasonable goal but a desired outcome. Who would not exterminate Jews if they pose such threats to mankind and Islam specifically? Who would ever make peace with the eternal enemies of Allah, let alone negotiate a peace and borders for a new Arab state with them? And would not those jihadis who immolate themselves to murder Jews in the name of Allah be celebrated as shahids, martyrs, and have town squares and summer camps named for them and their bravery, exactly as they are in the West Bank by Palestinian leadership now?
Honoring those who murder Jews continues unabated, even within the newly-formed unity government formed by Palestinian Authority and Hamas “technocrats.” In May, the PA and Hamas jointly lauded Izz Al-Din Al-Masri, the homicidal maniac who, in 2001, immolated himself in a Jerusalem Sbarro pizza shop, murdering 15 Jews (seven of them children) and wounding many others. When Al-Masri’s body was recently returned by Israel to the PA, Hamas and the PA used the occasion to shower honor and praise on someone who was successful in deliberately exterminating Jews. In fact, the event symbolized the new relationship between the two Palestinian factions, united in genocidal hatred of Jews. “The popular gathering around the blood of Izz Al-Din Al-Masri is an honest and true expression of our people’s yearning for national unity [between Fatah and Hamas],” the groups proclaimed, seemingly without embarrassment for their mental disorder, “and unity of action.”
Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV broadcast the symbolic meaning of the martyrdom of this murderer of Jews, reporting that, “Izz Al-Din Al-Masri ascended to Paradise in a Martyrdom-seeking operation he carried out in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, where he gave the Zionists a taste of humiliation after killing 19 [sic] Zionists and wounding dozens . . . The citizens expressed their pride in Izz Al-Din’s heroism, along with the thousands who gathered to accompany him on his final journey, and they did not forget all those who played a role in this operation.”
If Jews are the most wretched of humans, and the “liberation” of all of Palestine—including present-day Israel—is considered a sacred duty and religious obligation, then the murder of Jews must, and will continue in this millennial apocalyptic struggle in which Hamas sees itself playing a central role. At a ceremony marking the twenty-fourth anniversary of the founding of Hamasthe head of the organization, Ismail Haniyeh,for example,asserted“that the armed resistance and the armed struggle are the path and the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and for the expulsion of the invaders and usurpers [Israel] from the blessed land of Palestine. The Hamas movement will lead Intifada after Intifada until we liberate Palestine—all of Palestine, Allah willing.”The creation of a Palestinian state is not even of central importance in this holy war against the enemies of Islam—primary among the kafirs, unbelievers, the Jews. A Palestinian unity government that is comprised of a faction with a foundational, sacralized hatred for and impulse to annihilate Jews can never, obviously, sit at a negotiating table with Israel to outline the borders of a new Palestinian state.
In 2006, weeks after Hamas was overwhelmingly voted into office and became influential in Palestinian politics, a grisly video was posted on its web site by a soon-to-be homicide bomber, revealing the morally-depraved ideology that jihad has wrought and suggesting that a peaceful settlement is not even a likely prospect. “My message to the loathed Jews is that there is no god but Allah, we will chase you everywhere! We are a nation that drinks blood, and we know that there is no blood better than the blood of Jews. We will not leave you alone until we have quenched our thirst with your blood, and our children’s thirst with your blood.”
If Secretary Kerry wonders why the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis suddenly went “poof,” as he put it, it might be useful for him to consider whether the problem lies with the building of some apartments for Jews in the capital of the Jewish state or with a genocidal ideology which is already intent on inculcating a new generation of shahids dedicated to slaughtering the residents of those new apartments simply because they are, in fact, Jews.
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