Is the peace process a diplomatic black hole?
“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).
The most recent example occurred this past “Naksa Day,” the annual Palestinian commemoration of the “Setback,” or, as it is known to Israelis, the day the Jewish state declared victory in the miraculous Six-Day War. This year, the Palestinian leadership encouraged its citizens to storm Israel’s border, resulting in fatalities. Following the self-inflicted tragedy, thousands of angry Palestinians attacked the headquarters of the Palestinian terrorist group PFLP-GC, accusing its leaders of imperiling their lives by sending them into the line of fire (granted it did not take much convincing given the opportunity to perpetrate an assault on Israel’s territorial sovereignty). The outcome: PFLP-GC terrorists opened fire on their own people, killing 14.
Then there is the Palestinian Authority. The PA’s “freedom” record is abominable. In fact, last week, the PA officially banned Palestinian journalists from reporting about the findings of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), an organization that monitors rights abuses by the PA (and Hamas). In its annual report, the ICHR confirmed that Palestinians in the West Bank are subjected to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuses. According to the ICHR, security forces belonging to the PA are responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions. Palestinian journalist Mustafa Ibrahim, responding to the report, affirmed that “assaults on journalists and censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression are still a dreadful nightmare [in the West Bank]. Journalists avoid covering events out of fear of being targeted or arrested by [PA] security forces.”
Accordingly, no measure of progress has been made by the Palestinian leadership to foster the normalizing pre-conditions to permit for the actualization of any of the three “pillars” of peace outlined by Mr. Netanyahu in 1996. Yet despite this overt reality, the lone Jewish state in the world is incessantly coerced by Western powers to slit its own throat by engaging in a “process” that can only be characterized as a diplomatic black hole.
The peace process is a sham, a hoax (and the joke is on Israel), a political weapon concocted by the Arab nations, and used to demonize and isolate the Jewish state. This is not conjecture, it is fact. Every moment this charade proceeds is another day that Israel’s sovereignty is jeopardized, another day that Israel loses standing in the world, another day that the Jewish people waver between what is right and wrong. Most importantly, it is another day where lives are put at risk.
Acknowledging this and changing course does not a warmonger make—it merely reflects the acceptance of reality: we tried, we got duped, time to move on.
Mr. Netanyahu himself best conveyed this point last month when he remarked to Congress: “So now here’s the question.… If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us?” Mr. Netanyahu proceeded to answer his own question: “[Because] the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.… Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of the Jewish state.… They [are] simply unwilling to end the conflict.”
One can only wonder why Mr. Netanyahu, the Jewish people, and the world at large, having acquired this insight, would continue along with this deadly farce, venturing further and further down into the abyss.
Take your pick. Every one of them is ridiculous.