War in the Middle East May Be Inevitable

Moshe Arens is one of the most knowledgeable people in Israel today.  He understands Israel's predicament as well as anyone, and that includes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  Arens has served as Israel's minister of defense and minister of foreign affairs, so when he speaks, we should pay careful attention.  On Tuesday, Arens explained the true meaning of Shaul Mofaz's March 27 victory over Tzipi Livni for leadership of the Kadima Party:

Of course Shaul Mofaz won, and Tzipi Livni lost. But there was much more to the Kadima primary race than that. It was the "two-state solution," at the forefront of Israeli political discourse for a number of years, that lost. It was the offer of more concessions to the Palestinians, whose most prominent advocate was former Kadima chairwoman, MK Tzipi Livni, that went down in defeat. The concession offers made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and by then-Foreign Minister Livni to then-senior Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia were left in the dust in last week's Kadima primary. That was the verdict implicitly delivered by Kadima party members, a verdict that echoed the feelings of many Israelis.

According to Arens, the Israeli public's mood has changed dramatically as a result of the failure to achieve anything that even resembles peace despite repeated unilateral efforts by the Israeli government to win the cooperation of Palestinian leaders.  To buttress his point, Arens discussed these failed attempts to move the peace process forward:

1. The Oslo Peace Accords: Arens calls them "an abject failure."

2. Ehud Barak's unilateral withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000: it led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

3. Barak's attempt to buy off Yasser Arafat by offering him the Temple Mount and much more in Jerusalem: Arafat flatly rejected the offer and launched "an unprecedented wave of terror against Israeli civilians."

4. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip: it was a "grave mistake" because it led to "Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip and the subsequent rain of rockets on southern Israel."

5. The Arab Spring: it brought "Islamic fundamentalist rule to the Arab world" and "strengthened the skepticism of many Israelis regarding the presumed advantages of offering territorial concessions to our Arab neighbors."

Those are good reasons for the Israeli public's mood change.  Since the Oslo Peace Process began in 1993 and movement toward a "two-state solution" got underway in earnest, Israel has made concession after concession, and in return they have received nothing but rejection and more terrorist activity.  According to Arens:

The election that returned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power three years ago was a clear indication of a growing disenchantment with the much-vaunted "peace process" among many Israelis. Livni's defeat in the Kadima primary gave a stamp of approval to this trend, which has contributed to the surprising stability of the Netanyahu government. The current Knesset may yet set an Israeli longevity record. The strength of the political parties claiming that concessions will pave the path to peace is steadily dwindling.

The Israeli public is finally waking up to reality.  They desire peace because they have been at war, either declared or undeclared, since Israel was reborn as a state in 1948, and they are growing weary, but their Arab Muslim neighbors are committed to the eventual overthrow of the tiny Jewish state.  More than three decades ago, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat explained what is taking place as clearly as anyone could have:

Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we do this in stages.  We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more.  When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.  (Yasser Arafat speaking on Jordanian television, September 13, 1993 -- the same day the Oslo Peace Accord ceremony was held in Washington, D.C.) 

Peace for us means the destruction of Israel.  We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.  Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has[.] ... We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.  (El Mundo, Caracas, Venezuela, February 11, 1980)

Even though Arafat died in 2004, the Palestinians are following his playbook to the letter.  They are simply biding their time, taking what Israel gives them, offering nothing in return, and waiting for the day when "the Arab nations ... join us for the final blow against Israel[,]" just as Arafat said.  But the Middle East situation is more complicated than that:

These facts help to explain why there is growing skepticism among Israeli citizens about the prospects for peace in the Middle East, and they cause bleak reality to come into crystal-clear focus.  That's why Israelis are turning away from Tzipi Livni and politicians in Israel like her who preach peace despite the mounting evidence.  As unpleasant and undesirable as this may seem, the Israeli people are realizing that now is the time to plan for war, because it may be inevitable.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.

Moshe Arens is one of the most knowledgeable people in Israel today.  He understands Israel's predicament as well as anyone, and that includes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  Arens has served as Israel's minister of defense and minister of foreign affairs, so when he speaks, we should pay careful attention.  On Tuesday, Arens explained the true meaning of Shaul Mofaz's March 27 victory over Tzipi Livni for leadership of the Kadima Party:

Of course Shaul Mofaz won, and Tzipi Livni lost. But there was much more to the Kadima primary race than that. It was the "two-state solution," at the forefront of Israeli political discourse for a number of years, that lost. It was the offer of more concessions to the Palestinians, whose most prominent advocate was former Kadima chairwoman, MK Tzipi Livni, that went down in defeat. The concession offers made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and by then-Foreign Minister Livni to then-senior Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia were left in the dust in last week's Kadima primary. That was the verdict implicitly delivered by Kadima party members, a verdict that echoed the feelings of many Israelis.

According to Arens, the Israeli public's mood has changed dramatically as a result of the failure to achieve anything that even resembles peace despite repeated unilateral efforts by the Israeli government to win the cooperation of Palestinian leaders.  To buttress his point, Arens discussed these failed attempts to move the peace process forward:

1. The Oslo Peace Accords: Arens calls them "an abject failure."

2. Ehud Barak's unilateral withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000: it led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

3. Barak's attempt to buy off Yasser Arafat by offering him the Temple Mount and much more in Jerusalem: Arafat flatly rejected the offer and launched "an unprecedented wave of terror against Israeli civilians."

4. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip: it was a "grave mistake" because it led to "Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip and the subsequent rain of rockets on southern Israel."

5. The Arab Spring: it brought "Islamic fundamentalist rule to the Arab world" and "strengthened the skepticism of many Israelis regarding the presumed advantages of offering territorial concessions to our Arab neighbors."

Those are good reasons for the Israeli public's mood change.  Since the Oslo Peace Process began in 1993 and movement toward a "two-state solution" got underway in earnest, Israel has made concession after concession, and in return they have received nothing but rejection and more terrorist activity.  According to Arens:

The election that returned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power three years ago was a clear indication of a growing disenchantment with the much-vaunted "peace process" among many Israelis. Livni's defeat in the Kadima primary gave a stamp of approval to this trend, which has contributed to the surprising stability of the Netanyahu government. The current Knesset may yet set an Israeli longevity record. The strength of the political parties claiming that concessions will pave the path to peace is steadily dwindling.

The Israeli public is finally waking up to reality.  They desire peace because they have been at war, either declared or undeclared, since Israel was reborn as a state in 1948, and they are growing weary, but their Arab Muslim neighbors are committed to the eventual overthrow of the tiny Jewish state.  More than three decades ago, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat explained what is taking place as clearly as anyone could have:

Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we do this in stages.  We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more.  When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.  (Yasser Arafat speaking on Jordanian television, September 13, 1993 -- the same day the Oslo Peace Accord ceremony was held in Washington, D.C.) 

Peace for us means the destruction of Israel.  We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.  Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has[.] ... We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.  (El Mundo, Caracas, Venezuela, February 11, 1980)

Even though Arafat died in 2004, the Palestinians are following his playbook to the letter.  They are simply biding their time, taking what Israel gives them, offering nothing in return, and waiting for the day when "the Arab nations ... join us for the final blow against Israel[,]" just as Arafat said.  But the Middle East situation is more complicated than that:

These facts help to explain why there is growing skepticism among Israeli citizens about the prospects for peace in the Middle East, and they cause bleak reality to come into crystal-clear focus.  That's why Israelis are turning away from Tzipi Livni and politicians in Israel like her who preach peace despite the mounting evidence.  As unpleasant and undesirable as this may seem, the Israeli people are realizing that now is the time to plan for war, because it may be inevitable.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.