If Abbas is a Peace Partner I'm Elvis
Reports are emerging regarding the discussions that took place between President Obama and Mahmoud Abbas during their recent meeting at the White House, which if true, suggest the peace process is in serious trouble.
Several core issues were discussed which need to be resolved to avoid an impasse or outright collapse.
According to unnamed US and Israeli sources three specific issues were sticking points:
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has insisted Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state. According to sources Abbas once again rejected this demand. Previously released statements from PA representatives indicated recognizing Israel as a Jewish state might impact the status of the so-called “refugees.” This suggests if Israel is accepted as a “Jewish” state the return of the “refugees” becomes a problem because it would jeopardize its Jewish majority. Moreover, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state would be tantamount to surrendering their cause.
This segues into the second issue, which is the “right of return” itself. The “refugees” are Arabs that were renamed “Palestinians” who were displaced, voluntarily or otherwise, after the 1948 war Israel was forced to fight when it was attacked one day after declaring independence. Today they and their 3 or 4 generations of descendants number roughly 5 million.
Their “return” would mean Israel would disappear as such, and become the 23rd Arab dominated country in a region where over 99% of the population already is Arab. This would, make the Jews a minority in what used to be their own country. For Abbas to promote such a concept makes it clear he has no interest in peaceful coexistence with Israel. His only interest is to see it replaced by a Muslim state of Palestine.
The third issue of contention is Abbas’s refusal to commit to the end of the conflict. If genuine peace is the goal, once an agreement is reached, shouldn’t an integral component include a commitment to end all hostilities, and more importantly renounce all future claims against Israel? However, with Abbas rejecting this, he sends a clear message any agreement would merely be an interim step toward further efforts to realize his goal of no Israel at all. Thus he has maintained the exact modus operandi of his predecessor Yasser Arafat, of saying “no” to compromise on any issue.
Any fair-minded negotiator must be prepared to make compromises for the sake of the larger picture. Someone once said successful negotiations are when neither side gets what they want, but both get what they need. The Palestinians can get their own state, which is what they claim to need. However, just because they may want to eliminate Israel doesn’t mean they get that.
Israel on the other hand understands the need to make compromises for the bigger picture such as accepting a Palestinian state. Yet the Palestinians refuse to accept Israel’s offer. They demand their list of ‘wants,’ which include:
- 100% of its heartland to become a Palestinian state
- The Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site
- all of Jerusalem’s Old City
- all land beyond the ’67 lines
- Israel gives up being recognized as the nation state of the Jewish people
- Israel gives up being a Jewish majority state by virtue of the right of return
- the right to press on with the conflict even after an agreement
That’s not all. Let’s not forget Abbas wants compensation for any refugees who choose not to return. He also wants every single Palestinian prisoner released, including those who murdered Israeli civilians. He’s already said if Israel doesn’t release the remaining prisoners, they are in breach of a previous agreement. The Palestinians appear to be placing so much importance on prisoner releases, one wonders if the main reason for extending negotiations is merely to see them all freed.
The situation has apparently become so desperate for the US that there are rumors they may consider releasing Johnathon Pollard from prison as a bargaining chip with Israel. As nice as it would be to have Pollard finally freed, Israel should not fall for this. Pollard should have been released years ago.
The time has come to realize what’s taking place in not a peace process. What’s taking place is about the very existence of Israel. Moreover, the U.S., while championing an independent Palestinian state, lets Abbas say “no,” with impunity. All the pressure for compromise is placed on Israel. Is that being a fair broker?
The time has come to face the hard truth about the “peace process.” Unless Abbas is willing to make compromises it’s a bust, a failure, a joke. Israel has no partner in the peace process. On the other side of the table sits a man wearing a suit and tie, but underneath he’s wearing a butcher’s apron and is eager to slice Israel up and scrape it off the table of existence.
Obama, Kerry and Peres need to stop whispering sweet nothings about Abbas being a true peace partner. By doing so they are lowering the bar so far that in order to find the bottom of the fairness barrel, they would have to look up.
Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page