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OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Peace-processing like its 1993

Note to Dennis Ross: The world has changed since the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO head Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo I Accord, Sept. 13, 1993. Photo by Vince Musi/The White House.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO head Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo I Accord, Sept. 13, 1993. Photo by Vince Musi/The White House.
Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.

In a meeting in May with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the Biden administration priority “to continue to rebuild our relationship with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.” Now, after announcing it wanted to open a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem comes reports that the administration is working on a plan for a Palestinian “unity government” of Hamas and Fatah to negotiate the “two-state solution” with Israel.

Veteran “peace processor” Dennis Ross wrote the long rationale, including his belief that Israel has to bow in the direction of the anti-Israel progressive “Squad” and “woke” on Capitol Hill:

“Israel cannot ignore the Palestinian issue for its own reasons—the Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. But with an evolving political landscape in the U.S., Israel needs to show it is not deepening occupation and is not acting in a way that makes a two-state outcome impossible, even as an option. Drifting toward a one-state outcome in which Palestinians will demand one person, one vote is certain to extend the influence of progressives far beyond where it stands today … . Israel must also deal with the reality that how it approaches the Palestinians will affect how it is seen in the U.S.”

Ross also notes that the Palestinians are “divided and show neither the inclination nor capability to adjust any of their positions.” He doesn’t elaborate, and that is his mistake. Hamas and Fatah have been fighting a bloody civil war since 2007—Hamas’s rocket war in May was aimed as much as establishing itself as the more powerful Palestinian faction as it was at Israel. Constructive engagement between Hamas and Fatah is a fantasy. There are, however, a few points of agreement:

  • Rejection of the legitimacy and permanence of Israel. But the “two-state solution” postulates that the Palestinians accept a split, rump state squeezed in between a hostile Israel and a more hostile Jordan. And that they agree that Akko, Jaffa and the Galilee Triangle will be sovereign territory in the Jewish homeland. Jerusalem, too. In fact, neither would accept no more than a temporary agreement with Israel on the way to the fulfillment of the PLO Charter to which they both are committed. (Reading the charter will tell you what else they are committed to, and it isn’t a “two-state solution.”)
  • Sovereign control of eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. The Biden-administration promise of an American consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem reinforces this fantasy.
  • The right of entry for all remaining 1948-1950 Arab refugees from Britain’s Mandatory Palestine, as well as their descendants, to any place within pre-1967 Israel in which they or their antecedents claim to have lived.

The Palestinian Authority incites against Jews and Israelis, pays “salaries” to terrorists in violation of U.S. law, and in an ultimatum in September, P.A. strongman Mahmoud Abbas told Israel: “Our patience and the patience of our people have limits. This is our land, our Jerusalem, our Palestinian identity, and we shall defend it until the occupier leaves.” Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli towns and villages.

And yet, according to Ross, the onus is on Israel. It is incumbent on the government in Jerusalem to “show it is doing its part to reduce friction, make life better, enhance movement, and preserve an outcome other than a single, binational state.”

And Israel had better get on with it—for its own sake, of course, lest it face the rise of left-wing anti-Israelism in Congress and pressure from the administration.

A more worthwhile approach would recognize that the world has changed since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. Since then, the Palestinians have proven themselves corrupt, incompetent and dictatorial in the governance of their own people in the Gaza Strip, and in Judea and Samaria. They have taught their children that Israel will disappear and that the land will be liberated by brave Palestinian children, many of whom will die in the effort—but that’s OK with their parents. Hamas fires its weapons into civilian centers in Israel (a war crime) and places its weapons amid its own civilian population to maximize Palestinian casualties that can be blamed on Israel (another war crime). They have maintained a state of war against Israel, even as Israel permits 130,000 Palestinians to work in Israel every day.

But still, Israel has to do something, says Ross.

But it did. The actual genius of the Abraham Accords is that Israel allows countries with a progressive attitude towards their own people’s health and well-being to operate freely and remove the artificial barrier to Arab-Israeli cooperation in fields from tourism to defense to scientific endeavor. All the Palestinians have to do is be as forward-thinking as the United Arab Emirates, as open-minded as Morocco, as welcoming as Bahrain and as realistic as Sudan.

Then we can peace process like its 2021.

Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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