Would a Palestinian state resolve or exacerbate the Israel-Palestinian conflict?
Would a Palestinian state enhance or erode Middle East stability?
Would a focus on the Palestinian issue bolster or cripple the expansion of the Israel-Arab peace process?
Would a Palestinian state advance or undermine U.S. interests?
The “two-state solution” policy is based on the following assumptions:
• The Palestinian issue is crucial to Arab countries and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
• The proposed Palestinian state would peacefully coexist with the Jewish state.
• Land-for-peace is a prerequisite for the resolution of the Palestinian issue, requiring an Israeli retreat from land (the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria) which is the cradle of Jewish history and pivotal to Israel’s national security.
• A dramatic Israeli territorial concession, buttressed by a game-changing international financial package, would entice the Palestinians to abandon the goal to eliminate the Jewish State.
• The Palestinians are amenable to a permanent (not tactical) peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state.
Are these assumptions consistent with the Palestinian track record?
Western red carpet vs. Arab shabby rug
Western governments are preoccupied with contemporary Palestinian diplomacy, according Palestinians red-carpet receptions. They prefer to speculate on future positive Palestinian behavior rather than be preoccupied with the rogue intra-Arab Palestinian track record. They court the Palestinians, while pressuring Israel.
On the other hand, the history-driven Arabs—who neither forget nor forgive—are mindful of the Palestinian track record, and therefore accord Palestinians shabby-rug receptions. The Arabs have concluded that a Palestinian state would add fuel to the Middle East fire, while valuing Israel as a potent force against rogue entities such as Iran’s ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, they have expanded commercial and security cooperation with Israel, and refrain from flexing military or substantial financial muscle on behalf of the Palestinians.
In fact, no Arab-Israeli war erupted due to—or on behalf of—the Palestinians, and no Arab countries intervened militarily in Israel’s wars against Palestinian terrorism in Lebanon, Judea and Samaria and Gaza.
The intra-Arab Palestinian track record is one of subversion, terrorism and ingratitude. In the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, they were involved in terrorism in Egypt and Syria; in 1970, they triggered a civil war in Jordan, attempting to topple the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime; and in the 1970s they were involved in terrorism and a series of civil wars in Lebanon. In 1990 they collaborated with—and publicly praised—Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, which was the most generous Arab host of 400,000 Palestinians, including Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat and their families. Hence the expulsion of most Palestinians from Kuwait in the aftermath of the First Gulf War.
Notwithstanding Jordan’s talk on behalf of Palestinians, the Hashemite kingdom’s military and security forces are aware that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the regime east of the River, triggering ripple effects which could topple all pro-U.S. regimes in the Arabian Peninsula, adversely impacting the global oil market and U.S. national security.
In addition, the Palestinian track record features systematic close ties with enemies and adversaries of the United States, such as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Bloc, international terrorist organizations, Iran’s Ayatollahs, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, China and Russia.
Land for peace or land for terror?
The 1993 Oslo Accord showered the Palestinians with unprecedented authority, which was not accorded to them by Jordan or Egypt when the two countries occupied Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It established a five-year venue to a Palestinian state. However, instead of land for peace, the relocation of the PLO headquarters from Tunisia, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen to Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem introduced the concept of land for terror and land for hate-education.
Moreover, the 2005 Israeli uprooting of its civilian and military presence from Gaza triggered four Hamas wars and a systematic wave of unprecedented Hamas terrorism.
Furthermore, in November 1947, the United Nations recommended the partitioning of the area west of the Jordan River between Jewish and Arab states, in violation of Article 80 of the 1945 U.N. Charter and the September 1922 League of Nations, which were committed to establishing a Jewish National Home in the entire area. The local Arabs and the surrounding Arab states rejected the 1947 Partition Plan and launched a war to annihilate the Jewish state.
In July 1937, the British Peel Commission recommended the establishment of a Jewish state over 18 percent—and an Arab state over 75 percent—of the area west of the Jordan River. The plan was rejected by the Arabs, who escalated terrorism.
Palestinian vision documented by education curriculum
Notwithstanding Palestinian diplomatic and public relations statements, the most authentic reflection of the Palestinian worldview, vision and territorial goal has been Abbas’s K-12 education curriculum, which has become (since 1993) a most effective multiplier of terrorism, suicide bombing and anti-Jewish, anti-Israel and anti-peace fanaticism.
The 2020-2021 school textbooks of the Palestinian Authority highlight anti-Semitism, the repudiation of Jewish history, dehumanization of Jews and the Jewish state and the rejection of peaceful coexistence with Israel. They incite to martyrdom and jihad (“holy war”) “in the service of Allah,” herald suicide bombers and terrorism in general, glorify women terrorists as role models and promote maps with Israel replaced by an Arab Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Peaceful-coexistence with Israel?
On the eve of the Sept. 13, 1993, signing of the Oslo Accord on the White House lawn, Arafat told the Jordanian TV that the accord was an interim agreement, consistent with the PLO’s June 1974 Phased Plan. The latter legitimized the establishment of a Palestinian beachhead on any part of British Mandate Palestine, as a step toward eliminating the Jewish state and taking over the whole of Palestine.
Abbas and Arafat reiterated the Phased Plan on August 14, 2009; November 16, 1998; January 30, 1996 and May 10, 1994, drawing inspiration from Muhammad’s Hudaybiyya Treaty—a major precept of traditional and contemporary Islam and Arab policy-making.
The Hudaybiyya Treaty was concluded between Muhammad and his enemies in Mecca in 628 C.E. While the treaty was perceived by Mecca as a permanent peace, Muhammad considered it to be a temporary truce and a means to achieve the Islamic imperialistic goal. Thus, Muhammad was able to regroup, breach the treaty and overwhelm the misled and tricked enemy. It has become a tactical role model for Muslim leaders, especially when confronting the “infidel.”
Contemporarily, the Palestinian vision was codified by the charters of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and PLO in 1959 and 1964—before Israel regained control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), eastern Jerusalem and Gaza—highlighting the goal “to liberate the whole of Palestine.” In other words, the core issue has always been the existence—not the size—of the Jewish state, which is deemed illegitimate in “the abode of Islam.”
The Palestinian vision is not driven by despair, but by a commitment “to liberate Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
The Palestinian issue and expanding the Israel-Arab peace process
The “Palestine Firsters”—who believe in the centrality of the Palestinian issue in the Middle East—introduced a litany of peace initiatives, which foundered on the rocks of Middle East reality.
At the same time, Israel concluded a series of peace accords with Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan, which bypassed the Palestinian issue, avoided the trap of a Palestinian veto and focused on Arab—not Palestinian—interests.
A wide gap exists between the Palestinian track record, on the one hand, and Washington’s well-intentioned two-state-policy on the other.
Contrary to the expectations of Washington’s policy-makers, Middle East reality documents that a Palestinian state would add another rogue regime to the stormy region, intensify terrorism and war, inflame regional instability, exacerbate the Israel-Palestinian conflict, undermine the expansion of the Israel-Arab peace process, generate a tailwind for rogue entities and cripple U.S. interests.
An Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 8 to 15-mile sliver along the Mediterranean, dominated by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, would obliterate Israel’s posture of deterrence, and would transform Israel from a unique force-multiplier to a strategic liability for the United States, depriving the United States of “the largest U.S. aircraft carrier, which does not require a single American on board.”
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.