The Palestinian Authority has confirmed it will abandon its plan to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state at the General Assembly in September if, at an upcoming July 11 summit, Quartet members—the U.S., EU, UN and Russia—recognize the two-state principle as the basis for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement and call on Israel to implement an indefinite moratorium on construction in Jewish “settlements,” as well as withdraw from the territories captured in 1967, including east Jerusalem.
All of this, mind you, before the Quartet “set[s] a clear timetable for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.”
In other words, the Palestinian Authority will forego abrogating the Oslo Accords (again), if Israel concedes its lone bargaining chips, prior to beginning negotiations with the Palestinians.
Moreover, this new “strategy” has been presented not more than one week removed from Palestinian envoy to the United Nations Riyad Mansour’s affirmation that “If we [the Palestinians] succeed in opening the door for negotiations, we’re not going to stop from attaining what belongs to us as Palestinians in this General Assembly starting on September 20.”
So I ask you: What on earth is Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu supposed to make of this? It is so farcical as to not be believable.
To begin with, Mr. Netanyahu already broke with his own and his party’s ideological lines by accepting in his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan university the two state principle as a basis for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement—the Palestinians still have not. Mr. Netanyahu also implemented an unprecedented 10-month construction freeze in Israeli settlements, which the Palestinians spurned. Furthermore, UN resolution 242 clearly states that Israel is not legally obligated, nor should be expected to withdraw from all of the territories captured in its 1967 defensive war.
As such, Mr. Netanyahu has been given one option: submit to delegitimizing Israel by agreeing to negate the Jewish State’s unequivocal right to “secure and defensible borders,” or be blamed for the current impasse.
This is the Palestinian goal, has been for decades, and forever will be: compel Israel to incrementally destroy itself, one precondition at a time; otherwise, face world condemnation. And why not? It is likely that the Quartet will cede to these absurd demands (which, paradoxically, preclude the need for future negotiations, as the Palestinians will have already been handed, on a silver platter, their every desire). The great irony is that the Palestinians are essentially demanding of the Quartet the very thing the Quartet is trying to prevent – that is, a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, in accordance with Palestinian stipulations, by an international body. (Who needs the despot-riddled UN when you have the very “legitimate” Quartet?)
It is simply amazing that this reality is not universally acknowledged and immediately censured.
Nor, as mentioned, is any of this new.
Ahead of the planned April 15 meeting of the Quartet, which was subsequently “mysteriously” cancelled, “Palestinian National and Islamic Forces” issued the following statement: “Any political initiative that is not based on the historical and inalienable rights of the Palestinians; to return, self-determination, release all prisoners and establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, will not succeed[.]”
It is counter-intuitive that such a declaration would have been issued ahead of a meeting which many high-ranking Israeli diplomats believed would lead to the Quartet’s adoption of a markedly pro-Palestinian position, accepting the Palestinian position that Israel withdraw to the “1967 borders.” This would have been an unprecedented affirmation by a powerful body, constituting a monumental advancement in the Palestinians’ political aspirations. (NB: the veracity of these rumors were recently confirmed when U.S. President Barack Obama, in his Middle East policy speech in May, called on Israel to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines.)
So why would the Palestinians have preemptively destroyed such an important prospect by tabling ridiculous pre-conditions, which induced the Quartet to forego the meeting? Because just as rumors were circulating regarding the Quartet’s willingness to accept the “1967 borders” as a starting point for negotiations, so too was it contemplating forcefully coming out against the bogus Palestinian “right of return.” And the Palestinians simply could not stomach the prospect of compromising their politically concocted, ephemeral “right,” even if it meant that Israel would return to what has become an alarming cliché: the “Auschwitz borders.” More pitiful is that the Quartet responded by validating Palestinian belligerence by cancelling the meeting altogether, which otherwise would have served to prove (again) that the true obstacle to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Palestinians’ unwillingness to make “far-reaching” compromises for peace. (NB: the effectiveness of the Palestinians’ obstinacy—that is, “strategy”—is evidenced by the fact that Obama’s recent Middle East policy speech nonetheless called on Israel to withdraw to the “1967 borders,” but failed to denounce the Palestinian “right of return,” as was expected of the Quartet in April. Accordingly, unless the West stops spoon-feeding the Palestinians, within ten years they will be calling for Israel to withdraw from Tel Aviv, “a city captured from them in 1948 by the invading Jewish army.”)
To reiterate: given these circumstances, what, if anything, is there to negotiate? How is there supposed to be a peace process if one side is unwilling to cooperate?
To the Palestinians, the notion of “concession” is as foreign as the term “two nations for two peoples.”
Yet, miraculously, the answer for Israel to this conundrum is simple: let the Palestinians go and seek their declaration of independence at the UN, just as they did in 1988. It makes absolutely no difference in the scheme of things, as the only people that can realistically create “Palestine” are the Palestinians themselves. And this is so far from being attainable, after nearly 50 years of “development,” it is tragic.
First of all, the Palestinians cannot even make peace with themselves, never mind with the Jewish state. Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar confirmed last week that efforts to establish a unity government with Fatah have reached a “standstill,” reportedly over disagreement concerning the nomination of the new government’s prime minister and PA President Abbas’ refusal to submit a list of proposed appointees to the cabinet for the parliament to approve.
Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Risheq went one step further:
The delay in the national reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas stems from our brothers in Fatah. We are waiting for them to come back to the negotiating table to put in place what was planned in this agreement and to make rapid progress on all issues[.]
A Party headed by Mahmoud Abbas that is not willing to negotiate? Shocking! And this is the Hamas terrorist organization talking.
In the words of the great Israeli statesman Moshe Arens: “The Palestinian leadership is a dysfunctional entity.”
Furthermore, the Palestinians are broker than broke. Despite recent glorious affirmations by the International Monetary Fund alleging that “the [PA] was fully capable of running the economy of an independent state,” this week, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced that the PA will pay only half salaries to its civil servants for June, due to financial difficulties. Since the beginning of this year, Fayyad confirmed, the PA’s deficit has reached $30 million each month, as foreign aid has dropped by nearly one-third. According to Fayyad, to date, the PA has received only $330 million out of the approximately one billion it was expecting from the international community this year – adding this does not bode well for the second half of the year for the Palestinians.
In other words, the world is on the verge of endorsing the creation of a deteriorating welfare state that lacks any semblance of a centralized governing authority (not to mention that the two highest ranking members of one Palestinian leadership faction—the Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad—are fully illegitimate, as their terms expired three years ago; and that the other faction happens to be a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction).
Simply put, “Palestine” will be a disaster zone.
Accordingly, Israel should take this opportunity to completely separate itself from this prospective entity. Ironically, it is the Palestinians themselves who are providing Israel with the perfect opening to do so. Once the PA goes to the UN in September, and the world declares a Palestinian state, the “Palestinian question” becomes the world’s problem to solve—and not uniquely Israel’s. Moreover, in response to such unilateralism, Israel should move hastily, and without remorse, to satisfy its lone requirement—that of security—by reinforcing its military presence in those areas, primarily the Jordan Valley, that will be required to ensure Israel’s ability to defend itself against the blossoming failed state.
There can be no “Palestine”—nor can there ever be—without close bilateral coordination with Israel; that is, without Israel’s ongoing, direct help. And to garner such assistance, if the Palestinians are serious about creating a viable state, will eventually require them to accept the Jewish state, on its terms, as a fait accompli.
This is the message Israel must convey: Israel is strong; the Palestinians are weak.
And conceding to a weaker opponent is futile.
Charles Bybelezer is the publications chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He can be reached at [email protected].