(April 17, 2019 / JNS) The Mideast peace plan soon to be presented by the U.S. administration is likely not going to get very far upon its initial presentation, but it could provide Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump with an opportunity to alter the dynamics of the conflict.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, told JNS in an exclusive interview that the Palestinian Authority “will definitely reject” the upcoming U.S. backed peace plan, and that past Palestinian behavior does not lend support to any chance of compromise. The plan offered by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was, according to PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, extremely generous by offering P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas 100 percent of the land area he demanded, the division of Jerusalem and the acceptance into Israel of 150,000 “refugees,” yet Abbas rejected it.
The Trump plan is bound to offer the Palestinians much less, so rejection is certain.
PMW monitors and reports on the activities and statements of the Palestinian leadership daily. It continues to warn about the P.A.’s ongoing hate and terror incitement, especially in the education of Palestinian youth, and the P.A.’s continued denial of Israel’s right to exist and anticipation of its destruction.
“The root of the conflict is not merely territorial. A poll by ADL in 2014 found that Palestinians ‘showed the highest levels of anti-Semitism in the world,’ and PMW was not at all surprised by this finding. The anti-Semitism taught through official P.A. structures promote the worst hatred imaginable, including the message that the Jews are the fundamental evil force in the world and therefore need to be eliminated for the benefit of all humanity,” said Marcus.
For example, a P.A. preacher on official P.A. TV said in December that Jews pass on evil in their genes: “Humanity will never be able to live with them … count them and kill them one by one.”
Marcus sees the conflict as continuing until the Palestinians change their culture of hate. “Until that happens, talk of land for peace is a recipe for more tragedy. Israel has paid with many deaths every time we followed the ‘land for peace’ formula since the signing of the Oslo Accords.”
P.A. will change only if it’s ‘forced to change’
Marcus spends much of his time traveling and speaking to world parliaments and government officials in order to educate them about what is really going on inside Palestinian society under direction of the its leaders. He recently visited parliaments in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Canada. “They have heard of Palestinian incitement, but until they actually meet with me, they don’t realize the full extent and danger of P.A. indoctrination to hate and terror.”
“I show them that the fundamental P.A. ideology regarding Israel is not that different from Hamas, including denying Israel’s right to exist, rewarding terrorists and naming schools and sporting events after murderers. However, the P.A. leaders’ policy of duplicity has been very successful, and much of the international community thinks they are peace-promoting,” continued Marcus.
His goal is to reach and influence international decision-makers. “The only way the P.A. will ever change is if they lose international support and are forced to change.”
Marcus cites PMW’s main objectives: First, to stop Israel’s isolation around the world and to convince governments to stop pressuring Israel to make concessions, which has proven to be detrimental. And second, which is more long-term, is to have real change in the Palestinian world. The only way this will happen is when the international community starts treating the P.A. like a terror-supporting entity and isolates them politically. Once the P.A. stops being artificially propped up by the international community, the Palestinian people may “eventually rise up against their corrupt leadership and replace them with better leaders.”
Not only the Israeli government, but many governments and legislators around the world, including Trump’s advisers, receive regular updates from PMW, and some of them tweet PMW findings to their followers.
‘Peace will be built through people-to-people contacts’
Asked if Netanyahu and Trump are likely aware of the probable Palestinian rejection of the upcoming proposal and are planning to move forward with Netanyahu’s campaign promise of extending sovereignty to the West Bank, Marcus replied that if this occurred, he predicts that Palestinian opposition would not be that explosive, despite likely attempts to incite violence by Abbas.
Abbas and his official P.A. media tried to incite violence when the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, but it didn’t succeed, said Marcus. The proposal to extend Israeli law to Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria “won’t change daily life on the ground, and for most Palestinians will just be a technical issue that they read about,” he argued.
On the other hand, if such a move could lead to more business cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, it would benefit everyone, he predicted. Such cooperation is already strong and growing, according to Marcus, who notes that these projects don’t get the publicity they deserve.
Marcus has his own formula for peace: “Peace will be built through people-to-people contacts and not by politicians working over texts of peace agreements. In 1996, following 30 years of Israeli administration—and daily contact between Israelis and the Arab population—the most important Palestinian pollster found that Palestinians thought that Israel was the best in the world in democracy and human rights, compared to the U.S., France and the P.A. itself.”
Marcus added “that was because from 1967 to 1994, borders were open, and there was no Palestinian Authority to poison the minds of the population.”
“A peace plan that has a chance to work today must increase cooperation and contact between Palestinians and Israelis of all ages, and change all the fundamentals of P.A. education and public messaging.”
Marcus went on to conclude: “Once the Palestinian population is no longer taught that Jews are ‘monkeys, pigs and the enemies of Allah,’ and this is replaced with belief in the value of peace with Israel and seeks the benefits cooperation with Israel, serious talk about political arrangements can begin. Until this happens, there’s no point to politicians wasting their time drawing new lines on maps and participating in meaningless chatter about a future peace agreement that P.A. leaders have no plans to accept or implement.”