The Trump administration is seeking a compromise solution that has so far eluded the two sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately, the gap between the Israeli and Palestinian positions is very wide.
Israel seeks ironclad guarantees that the Palestinian “governments” in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip will publicly declare, and affirm in writing, that they will stop all hostilities against Israel, including paying terrorists and their families, and stop indoctrinating their children to believe their highest religious duty is to kill Jews and steal their land.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly expressed a willingness to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state, but is unwilling to abandon any Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinian Authority, in contrast, has demanded a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria (what they call “the West Bank”), with Jerusalem as its capital. Further, the P.A. has publicly stated that:
• No Jews may live in Judea and Samaria (including Jerusalem), implying the displacement of nearly 500,000 Jewish residents.
• No deal can proceed without the return to Israel of all of the descendants of refugees (Jordanian and Arab Muslims) from 70 years ago, along with all their descendants, estimated at four to five million people (from 700,000 original refugees).
• Jews not only have no connection to the land, the P.A. will not allow their “filth” to despoil Jerusalem or the future Palestinian state.
“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours,” said P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, “and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem. … We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every shahid [martyr] will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”
How can well-intentioned U.S. negotiators bridge this enormous gap? How can the Israeli government make more peace offers, when every previous major concession it has made to the P.A. was rejected? How can the P.A. make concessions when elements of the PLO, as well as P.A. rivals like Hamas and Hezbollah, will use any concessions as an excuse to violently overthrow it?
It’s worth keeping in mind that a senior official of Hamas openly declared recently that Jews should be exterminated—not just in Israel or disputed territories, but all over the world. This did not come out of nowhere—it is in Hamas’s founding document. How is Israel supposed to negotiate “peace” with those openly sworn to Jews’ extermination?
The answer is simple: Israel should decide what is its own self-interest, and “just do it.” It should seek U.S. approval or acquiescence, as Israel and U.S. interests rarely diverge.
Here are several steps that should be taken by Israel, soon:
1) Israel should take total control over the educational system (including UNRWA) in eastern Jerusalem.
2) Israel should extend its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley (20 percent of Judea and Samaria) to protect its eastern border.
(3) Israel should annex Area C of Judea and Samaria (40 percent of the territory), which incorporates most of the Jews’ biblical heritage and is home to more than 200,000 Israeli citizens, and remove illegal Arab settlements in the area.
As professor Jason Hill of DePaul University recently wrote in an article titled, “The Moral Case for Israel Annexing the West Bank—and Beyond”:
“The Palestinian terror war Fatah launched after the 2000 Camp David Peace Summit and [that was] unilaterally accepted by the Palestinian people places them in a precarious position. Whatever actions Israel or any of her allies take against them in a war against terror are their responsibility, and are moral.
“A people that overwhelmingly approves of their terrorist leaders cannot be made to become citizens of any civilized country such as Israel. No moral or political distinctions must be made between Fatah, Hamas, and the people who elect and or support them. No constituted people responsible for the election and appointment of terrorist actors can or should be entrusted with the responsibility of voting.”
The key point is that the United States and other Western nations have no obligation to wait indefinitely for Islamist dictatorships to compromise, which they are institutionally incapable of doing in any case. Furthermore, the P.A. is supported by surrounding Islamist dictatorships that are also incapable of compromising on what they falsely claim to be Muslim lands.
So why wait?
It is finally time for Israel (and the United States) to act in their own self-interest. Concessions to the P.A. are not warranted, and would merely reward the P.A. for its historical intransigence.
Ken Abramowitz is the president and founder of SaveTheWest.