The Real Obstacles to Peace

Once again, the US, the UN and the EU have criticized Israel for announcing new settlement construction in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) calling such construction "obstacles to peace".  At the same time they ignore the real obstacles to peace.

The primary obstacle to peace is and always has been Arab rejection of the Jewish state of Israel or Jews both before and after the state was declared

After the Declaration of Independence by Israel in May 1948, the surrounding Arab countries attacked Israel with the intent of destroying it. This invasion ended with the Armistice Agreement of 1949 but not before the Jordanians destroyed Jewish Jerusalem.

Colonel Abdullah el Tell, local commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion, described the destruction of the Jewish Quarter, in his Memoirs:

"The operations of calculated destruction were set in motion. . . . I knew that the Jewish Quarter was densely populated with Jews. . . . I embarked, therefore, on the shelling of the Quarter with mortars, creating harassment and destruction. . . . Only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become their graveyard. Death and destruction reigned over it. . . . As the dawn of Friday, May 28, 1948, was about to break, the Jewish Quarter emerged convulsed in a black cloud-a cloud of death and agony. . . ." The Jordanian commander who led the operation is reported to have told his superiors: "For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews' return here impossible."

In 1967, the Arabs once again attacked Israel with the intention of throwing the Jews into the sea only to be rebuffed and totally defeated in a matter of 6 days. Thus Israel ended the 19 year Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. The lands liberated by Israel were originally promised to the Jews in the Palestine Mandate and affirmed by the United Nations and by the US. It is these lands that Obama demands that Israel give to the Arabs.

A few months after this war ended, the UNSC passed Resolution 242 which legitimated Israel's occupation until such time as she had "secure and recognized borders". This resolution did not require Israel to cede all the land and recognized that the final settlement would be obtained through negotiations. Israel accepted this resolution and the Arabs rejected it. In the Khartoum Conference  in 1968 they set a policy of "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country".  This policy remains in place today without amendment.

President Johnson accepted the meaning of this resolution set out above. President Nixon rejected the true intent of this resolution and backed the Rogers Plan which required full withdrawal in accordance with Arab demands and despite Israel's objections.

During the seventies, Israel began building some settlements for defensive purposes and President Carter called them "illegal". Candidate Reagan said they were legal but were an "obstacle to peace". He repeated this claim as president when he ran for reelection. And so this phrase was born.

President G W Bush in his letter of '04 to PM Sharon accepted that the settlement blocs would remain in Israel and also accepted settlement construction that went up but not out thus permitted infilling:

"As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities."

President Obama claims that his policies are not a departure from American policy over the years.  In truth, he has totally changed the policy. While it is true that he continues to insist on a negotiated settlement he has greatly limited the scope of such negotiations by demanding that negotiations take place based on the '67 lines.  The fact that he has said that there should be mutually agreed swaps is a con because the PA will simple not agree to swaps and Israel will be left with the '67 lines as borders. Such borders would leave most of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Western Wall (Kotel), in the new Palestine. By doing so he is also rejecting the legal meaning of Res 242.

While Obama did not call the settlements "illegal", he called them "illegitimate".  Is a there a difference? Hardly. The Thesaurus considers them synonyms. Thus, Obama is returning to President Carter's position which was rejected by President Reagan.

He has rejected the Bush letter as not binding on him and has rejected the understanding between all previous administrations and Israel that would allow infilling. He demanded a full construction freeze and now insists that any construction is an obstacle to peace. Elliot Abrams, in a recent CFR article, argues otherwise, namely, that the settlements are not obstacles to peace..

So what are the real obstacles to peace?

In general, they include the longstanding Arab policy of no peace, no recognition and no negotiations. The Arabs have reiterated this policy with words and deeds. The PA has rejected the two-state solution time and again and for the last three years has refused to negotiate. They refuse to accept Resolution 242 which entitles Israel to defensible borders and to retain some land. This resolution is the foundation of the Oslo Accords.

Notwithstanding that the Oslo Accords required the PA to cease incitement and violence,  they continue to incite in their mosques, schools and media. Rather than rejecting terrorism they praise it. Rather than educating for peace, they educate for "resistance". Rather than to envisage a two-state solution they remove Israel from their maps.

And nobody calls them on it. Failure to do so is also an obstacle to peace.

Another obstacle to peace is the mainstream media including the NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, Guardian and the BBC among others, all of whom supress facts not complimentary to the PA and publish uncorroborated facts detrimental to Israel.

Yoram Ettinger  recently noted:

"a current study of Abu Mazen's and Salam Fayyad's school text books - conducted by veterans of Israel's Intelligence community - reaffirms that the $4 billion US foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority has been counter-productive. It has not inclined Palestinians towards peaceful coexistence, and it has not moderated Palestinian terrorism. In fact, since the 1994 inception of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terrorism has escalated, Palestinian non-compliance has become pervasive and support of peace among Palestinians has ebbed."

Thus financially supporting the PA is a huge obstacle to peace. This support makes it possible for the PA to be intransigent and to avoid compromises.

But the biggest obstacle to peace is the United Nations which singles out Israel for condemnation and never criticizes the PA. It is aided and abetted by the EU and the Obama administration.

The PA has no incentive to make peace because it is never criticized, it is never penalized, it has no economic necessity and it is wined and dined in the capitals of the world.

Those are the real obstacles to peace.

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