Palestinians Must Say No to Terror, Yes to Peace

What will happen now that Israel has ended its operation in Gaza? If the past is any indication, a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at resuming the peace process will begin. The question is how can the parties move from war to coexistence?

President Obama reportedly wants to send Senator George Mitchell as an envoy to the region, but most of the world will immediately place the onus on Israel. They will say Israel must .... and you can fill in the blank with: stop building or dismantle settlements, withdraw from all disputed territory and/or disappear. This is not the path to peace.

After enduring 6,000 rocket attacks over the last three years, Israelis are in no mood to offer concessions. They will rightly ask what will happen if they withdraw from the West Bank, as they did from Gaza, and Palestinians there decide to shoot rockets at their cities. Hamas launched rockets that reached 25 miles into southern Israel. From the Arab town of Kalkilya in the West Bank, the distance to Tel Aviv, a city of nearly 400,000 is just 7 miles. Israel's capital, Jerusalem, is just a few feet away.

No. Peace can only come, as it did with Egypt and Jordan, when the Palestinian leaders decide it is time to put the interests of their people ahead of their ideology and accept the idea of living in peace beside Israel. They will have to say no to terror and yes to peace.

Perhaps the people of Gaza will push their leaders in that direction. They have seen over the last three years that Hamas brought them nothing but misery. The Palestinian Authority had every opportunity to build the infrastructure of a state but squandered it in favor of "resistance." Instead of housing, jobs, education and improved services, Hamas brought them destruction.

The usual Palestinian response to misfortune is to blame Israel, but that will not improve their lives today any more than playing the victims has for the last 60 years. The people must prevent Hamas or any other group from engaging in terror. Instead of cheering for attacks on Israel, as they have done for years, the Palestinians should surround rocket crews and prevent them from shooting their missiles. They should demand that terrorists leave their neighborhoods and stop digging tunnels beneath their homes.

Palestinian mothers should follow the example of Israelis and others around the world who have marched for change within their societies. They should demand that the men who run their society stop using their children as cannon fodder and reject the ideology of martyrdom.

According to the latest poll, before the Gaza fighting, 67 percent of Palestinians said they supported a two-state solution. If that is true, something on the order of one million Palestinians are interested in peace with Israel. If only 10 percent of those Palestinians were prepared to demonstrate holding signs, "Say no to terror, Yes to peace," 100,000 people could march on the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah and through the streets of Gaza to demand that a united leadership represent them in negotiations aimed at ending the conflict with Israel.

In addition to the pressure such demonstrations would place on Palestinian leaders, they would also send a powerful message to Israelis, who have seen many Palestinian marchers carrying pictures of Osama bin Laden and celebrating the murder of Jews, but never any calling for peace and an end to violence.

This is the type of game changer that diplomats talk about, but it cannot be achieved by an envoy from the Obama administration or State Department diplomacy. The psychological breakthrough needed to bring the parties closer to an agreement has to come from grassroots activism.

The Palestinians may say that it is up to Israel to act first, but that attitude has kept them stateless. As the party that holds the territory, Israelis are unwilling to trade land for more terror; they must be convinced that future concessions will result in greater security. The Gaza experience has only reinforced this reality.

The Palestinians must take the first step and convince Israel that by giving up territory in the West Bank it will not face the same situation it does now, with rockets bombarding its cities and its citizens having less than 15 seconds to find shelter from potential death.

It is time for Palestinians to say no to terror, yes to peace.


Mitchell Bard is the author of Will Israel Survive? and 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/ Dawn of the Holocaust (Lyons Press)
What will happen now that Israel has ended its operation in Gaza? If the past is any indication, a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at resuming the peace process will begin. The question is how can the parties move from war to coexistence?

President Obama reportedly wants to send Senator George Mitchell as an envoy to the region, but most of the world will immediately place the onus on Israel. They will say Israel must .... and you can fill in the blank with: stop building or dismantle settlements, withdraw from all disputed territory and/or disappear. This is not the path to peace.

After enduring 6,000 rocket attacks over the last three years, Israelis are in no mood to offer concessions. They will rightly ask what will happen if they withdraw from the West Bank, as they did from Gaza, and Palestinians there decide to shoot rockets at their cities. Hamas launched rockets that reached 25 miles into southern Israel. From the Arab town of Kalkilya in the West Bank, the distance to Tel Aviv, a city of nearly 400,000 is just 7 miles. Israel's capital, Jerusalem, is just a few feet away.

No. Peace can only come, as it did with Egypt and Jordan, when the Palestinian leaders decide it is time to put the interests of their people ahead of their ideology and accept the idea of living in peace beside Israel. They will have to say no to terror and yes to peace.

Perhaps the people of Gaza will push their leaders in that direction. They have seen over the last three years that Hamas brought them nothing but misery. The Palestinian Authority had every opportunity to build the infrastructure of a state but squandered it in favor of "resistance." Instead of housing, jobs, education and improved services, Hamas brought them destruction.

The usual Palestinian response to misfortune is to blame Israel, but that will not improve their lives today any more than playing the victims has for the last 60 years. The people must prevent Hamas or any other group from engaging in terror. Instead of cheering for attacks on Israel, as they have done for years, the Palestinians should surround rocket crews and prevent them from shooting their missiles. They should demand that terrorists leave their neighborhoods and stop digging tunnels beneath their homes.

Palestinian mothers should follow the example of Israelis and others around the world who have marched for change within their societies. They should demand that the men who run their society stop using their children as cannon fodder and reject the ideology of martyrdom.

According to the latest poll, before the Gaza fighting, 67 percent of Palestinians said they supported a two-state solution. If that is true, something on the order of one million Palestinians are interested in peace with Israel. If only 10 percent of those Palestinians were prepared to demonstrate holding signs, "Say no to terror, Yes to peace," 100,000 people could march on the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah and through the streets of Gaza to demand that a united leadership represent them in negotiations aimed at ending the conflict with Israel.

In addition to the pressure such demonstrations would place on Palestinian leaders, they would also send a powerful message to Israelis, who have seen many Palestinian marchers carrying pictures of Osama bin Laden and celebrating the murder of Jews, but never any calling for peace and an end to violence.

This is the type of game changer that diplomats talk about, but it cannot be achieved by an envoy from the Obama administration or State Department diplomacy. The psychological breakthrough needed to bring the parties closer to an agreement has to come from grassroots activism.

The Palestinians may say that it is up to Israel to act first, but that attitude has kept them stateless. As the party that holds the territory, Israelis are unwilling to trade land for more terror; they must be convinced that future concessions will result in greater security. The Gaza experience has only reinforced this reality.

The Palestinians must take the first step and convince Israel that by giving up territory in the West Bank it will not face the same situation it does now, with rockets bombarding its cities and its citizens having less than 15 seconds to find shelter from potential death.

It is time for Palestinians to say no to terror, yes to peace.


Mitchell Bard is the author of Will Israel Survive? and 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/ Dawn of the Holocaust (Lyons Press)