Israeli and Arab audiences alike were recently shocked to see footage of Palestinian teenagers in Jerusalem’s Old City assaulting, cursing, and spitting on Saudi blogger Mohamed Saud as he came to pray at Islam’s third holiest site, the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and as he toured the Arab market in the Old City.
There was no reason for them to be surprised.
As independent Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted in an article for the Gatestone Institute, the assault on Saud was the predictable result of a campaign of incitement spearheaded by the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS). The PJS is affiliated with Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) faction that rules the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Fatah leader and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Saud was the only member of a delegation of six Arab bloggers visiting Israel at the invitation of Israel’s Foreign Ministry who was willing to be identified by name. His willingness to visit the Jewish state openly made Saud a target for personal incitement by the PJS.
But as Abu Toameh noted, the PJS’s incitement, which involved young people calling Saud a “traitor,” a “dirty Zionist,” a “dog,” and a “normalizer” (that is, an Arab would seeks to normalize the Arab world’s relations with Israel), was part of a much larger campaign to block all relations with Israel.
Abu Toameh explained that the PJS calls for a boycott of Israeli journalists. Palestinian journalists who interview Israelis or work with Israeli journalists are similarly targets for boycott.
Arab regimes that permit Israeli journalists to cover events in their countries – as Bahrain permitted Israelis to cover its economic peace conference last month – are condemned.
When word got out that the delegation of Arab bloggers would be visiting Israel, Abu Toameh wrote, the PJS not only called for the delegation members to be attacked on the ground, but it also called for them to be boycotted and blackballed by their audiences in their home countries, and in the Arab world as a whole.
As a Fatah affiliate, the PJS is supported in its boycott and harassment campaigns by Abbas and the PA. The PA’s sometimes enemy, sometimes partner Hamas, the jihadist terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, supports the full boycott of Israelis and of Arabs that recognize Israel or seek to normalize the Arab world’s relations with Israel.
Abu Toameh notes that the Palestinians’ assault and denunciation of Saud did not win them friends in Saudi Arabia, where many Saudi journalists condemned the way he was treated. On Tuesday, Israel’s Hadashot news channel reported that one Saudi journalist responded the Palestinian assault on Saud by calling on “Israel to expel the Palestinians to their real homeland – Jordan.” Several other Saudi bloggers and journalists similarly condemned the Palestinians for their mistreatment of the Saudi visitor.
But while the Saudis and many other Arab societies have soured on the Palestinians and are no longer willing to subordinate their ties with Israel to Israeli appeasement of the Palestinians, the same cannot be said of Westerners.
The so-called “two-state solution” is a policy paradigm that effectively places all of the blame for the absence of peace between the Palestinians and Israel on Israel’s shoulders. The two-state solution is predicated on the assumption that the reason there is no peace is because Israel stubbornly refuses to enable the establishment of a Palestinian state in lands that Israel has controlled since the 1967 Six Day War. Those lands include unified Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank). They also include the Gaza Strip, from which Israel fully withdrew in 2005.
Some supporters of the two-state solution are sometimes willing to acknowledge that Israel has repeatedly offered the Palestinians all or almost all of what the two-state paradigm requires – that is, nearly all of Judea and Samaria; all of Gaza; and large swathes of Jerusalem, including Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount — and that the Palestinians rejected Israel’s offers. But by clinging to the two-state solution format for peacemaking, these two-state solution supporters refuse to recognize the implications of the Palestinians’ hundred-year record of rejecting every offer of peace and statehood they have received.
The implication of the Palestinians’ century of refusal is straightforward. The two-state formula is irrelevant to the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
Israel is not the cause of the conflict, and as a result it cannot offer a solution to the conflict. The cause of the conflict is Palestinian rejection of Israel. Quite simply, there is not now, nor has there ever been, a Palestinian constituency or leader ready to coexist peacefully with Israel. It is not the borders of the Palestinian state to which they object. They object to the existence of the Jewish state – regardless of its borders.
The European Union, for instance, insists that so long as Israel and the Palestinians have not finalized a peace deal, it will reject all Israeli presence in areas of Jerusalem that Israel liberated from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 Six Day War, and will not recognize that any part of Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
This is why Saudi bloggers who support a two-state solution – that is, who support letting Israel continue to exist – are subjected to humiliation and assault in Jerusalem. This is why the Bahraini regime is subjected to Palestinian condemnation for hosting last month’s conference on building a successful Palestinian economy in the framework of peace between the Palestinians and Israel. This is why Palestinian businessmen who participated in the conference in Bahrain were arrested or threatened with arrest upon returning home.
It is their willingness to coexist with Israel that renders them the sworn enemies of the Palestinians.
This, then, brings us back to the two-state supporters in the West.
The most vociferous supporters of the two-state solution in the world today are the European Union and its member states. The EU insists that so long as Israel and the Palestinians have not finalized a peace deal, the EU will not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem. The EU rejects all Israeli presence in areas of Jerusalem Israel liberated from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 Six Day War and in Judea and Samaria.
To a degree, this means that the EU gives the Palestinians veto power over their policies regarding Israel. So long as the Palestinians don’t recognize Israeli rights to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Europe will not recognize them.
If this were simply an issue of neutrality, then the EU could be expected to also oppose Palestinian control over these areas. But the opposite is the case.
The EU’s support for Palestinian demands against Israel in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria goes beyond simply telling Israel it cannot build a home in Jerusalem for Jews without the PLO’s consent.
The EU funds and provides legal support for illegal Arab building in eastern, southern, and northern Jerusalem. So, too, the EU rejects any presence of Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and has instituted a policy of labelling Jewish goods produced in Judea, Samaria, and unified Jerusalem to facilitate boycotts of these Jewish products in European markets.
In the U.S. while the situation is far less hostile, Democrats in particular refuse to accept the implications of the Palestinians’ total rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Democrats likewise refuse to tailor their foreign policy to align with the reality that the Palestinians have no intention of peacefully coexisting with Israel.
On Tuesday, moderate Democrats in the House won a victory against their radical anti-Israel colleagues. While Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and John Lewis (D-GA) presented a resolution calling for the House to support the antisemitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, 175 Democrats joined with 175 Republicans to sponsor House Resolution 246, which condemns the BDS campaign. The measure passed on Tuesday with 398 lawmakers voting in favor, and 17 (16 Democrats) against.
A notable aspect of Resolution 246, however, is that it includes a full-throated endorsement of the establishment of a Palestinian state. The final clause of the resolution says that Congress “reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states – a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state – living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”
The resolution’s statement of support for Palestinian statehood stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s refusal to insist on the establishment of a Palestinian state in the framework of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. While they voted in favor of the resolution, many Republican lawmakers opposed the Palestinian statehood clause in the House resolution. An earlier version, which included a clause that was much more explicit in its endorsement of Palestinian sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem was removed from the final draft by Republican lawmakers.
As al-Monitor reported, Republicans were induced to vote in favor of the final resolution despite its endorsement of Palestinian statehood because it included opposition to BDS and to Hamas, and because it supported U.S. military assistance to Israel.
The House Democrats’ support for Palestinian statehood also stands in contrast to the position of the Israeli government. Ahead of Israel’s elections in April, and in subsequent statements, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed support for annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria into sovereign Israel. Most Israeli Jews opposePalestinian statehood.
This, then brings us back to the Saudi blogger.
The assault on Mohamed Saud, whose sole “crime” was visiting Israel showed, yet again, the Palestinians mean it when they say they reject Israel’s right to exist.
House Resolution 246 rightly said that the BDS movement “undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.”
But stubborn, reality-defying insistence that peace can be achieved only by giving a state to the Palestinians who seek to destroy Israel actually harms prospects for peace.
By supporting Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria — areas Israel requires to survive — in the face of overwhelming Palestinian rejection of Israel’s very existence, proponents of the so-called “two-state solution” are empowering the Palestinians to maintain their rejectionism and violence.