There is Nothing to Negotiate

Some hard realities need to be faced about the Middle East “peace process.” The US, EU, UN and others have said the “settlements” are an obstacle to peace. The Arabs point to the “occupation.”

However, neither of these are the core issue…. and frankly, they never have been. Why? Keep in mind there was no “occupation” or “settlements” in 1948 when the surrounding Arab nations attacked the fledgling Jewish nation one day after declaring independence.

Moreover, where were settlements or occupation in 1967?

So if it isn’t the “occupation,” or “settlements,” what is the real issue? While many consider these to be legitimate issues, the Arabs are using them as a deliberate smokescreen.

The core issue is the Muslim’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist. It’s as simple as that. This is the main reason why the first attempt at a two-state solution (the 1947 UN partition plan) was not successful. The Muslims would not allow a Jewish state on land which they consider theirs. Its size or borders didn’t matter. It was, and remains, its mere existence.

Case in point: in 2000 when Yasser Arafat met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak under the auspicious of President Bill Clinton at Camp David ll, the real Muslim goal became evident.

During those discussions Barak made an unprecedented offer to Arafat. He was willing to turn over 95% of Judea/Samaria, commonly called the “West Bank.” He okayed the return of many of the so-called “refugees” and offered compensation for others. He was willing to split Israel in two by virtue of a contiguous road between Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Plus, he offered to divide Jerusalem, which included handing most of the Old City over to the Muslims.

President Clinton felt Barak went above and beyond his expectations in an effort to achieve a breakthrough in the decades old conflict. Yet in the end, Arafat rejected it, without even making a counter offer. Why? An agreement would require compromise, which Muslims viewed as giving in to American demands. From their point of view this was (and remains) unacceptable, thus his rejection of the offer.

President Clinton was furious with Arafat, telling him “I am a failure and you have made me one.”

These days, with Arafat long gone, Mahmoud Abbas is in charge of the PA and considered by the U.S., EU, and others to be “sincere” and a “moderate.” However, very little has changed since the days of Arafat.

In some respect things have worsened. For example Abbas has repeatedly said he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This in spite of Israel’s repeated willingness to recognize ‘Palestine’ as a state, side by side with Israel.

Abbas’s refusal to accept the Jewish state of Israel is reflective of some longstanding Muslim views.

For example-

  • Muslim thinking has always been once they have controlled someplace, it’s considered theirs forever. It doesn’t matter if they get defeated in war. They view anyone in control of “their” land as “occupiers,” who need to be driven out or destroyed. To back away from this position is seen as compromise, which is unacceptable in Muslim thinking for at least two reasons.
  • Compromise is seen as weakness. Weakness is intolerable in their culture. Keep in mind the Saudi flag contains the official credo of Islam (“there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger”) which includes the image of a sword. The clear inference being they prefer to die upholding their beliefs than live by compromise.
  • Plus, compromise, from a fundamentalist perspective is also viewed as breaking a foundational tenet of the faith. Breaking a tenet of the faith is considered blasphemy, which is punishable by death in Islam.

Mahmoud Abbas has acted in accordance with these views. When one understands how Muslim’s view anyone in control of land they consider theirs, you understand his actions. It also becomes clear the conflict is not about borders. The Jews are seen as “occupiers” of Muslim land. A Jewish state has no right to exist on “Muslim” land.

If there is any doubt of this take a look at the charters of the PLO, Hamas, or Fatah, which is the party Mahmoud Abbas is president of. Moreover, all three, the PLO, Hamas, and Fatah by virtue of their emblems leave no doubt their goal is not a two-state solution. Each emblem shows only one state -- Palestine, covering all of Israel. The goal of each group is the complete elimination of Israel. Every inch of land which makes up Israel today is considered “occupied Palestine.”  

Why aren’t the voices criticizing Israel for “settlement” activity also demanding the charter of Abbas’s party reflect peaceful co-existence with Israel, instead of its destruction?

In order for a two-state solution to be achieved negotiations are required. Negotiations by their very nature require compromise. How is Israel supposed to negotiate when its very existence is considered unacceptable?

There is nothing to negotiate.

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