In a recent opinion piece in which he offered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backhanded praise for the UAE-Israel deal, former four-time Israeli minister Yossi Beilin made reference to the “insane idea of annexation.” The potential advantages and disadvantages of extending sovereignty to 30 percent of Judea and Samaria have already been exhaustively debated in the media, including by Beilin himself. But his use of the word “insane” brings to mind the fact that he has been instrumental in leading Israel—and many worldwide—down the path of insanity over the past three decades.
Because of its support for Iraq in the first Gulf War, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was diplomatically isolated and financially bankrupt in 1992. Yasser Arafat and his fellow terrorists were politically marginalized in Tunis. At that point, Beilin and Norwegian sociologist Terje Rød-Larsen came up with the absurd notion that Arafat’s PLO could be trusted to radically reform itself; fulfill the terms of a signed agreement, despite having failed to do so countless times since its establishment; foreswear terrorism; disarm and dismantle the violent Islamist Palestinian organizations; and, once and for all, abandon its proudly proclaimed “Plan of Phases,” according to which the PLO would acquire territory by negotiation and then use it as a base for pursuing the destruction of Israel.
The then Labor Party-led Israeli government bought into this delusion and convinced the people, if not itself, that “if they’re bad boys, we’ll just go and take it back.” Tragically, Beilin’s “insane” idea of resuscitating, empowering, funding and arming Arafat resulted in the death and mutilation of thousands of Israelis. And, of course, when the time came, nothing was taken back.
Beilin went on to successfully sell the proposition that the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—as the indispensable first step in order to bring peace and stability to the entire Middle East—was for Israel to withdraw to the 1949 Armistice lines (with minor swaps of “equivalent land”) and agree to both the establishment of a “non-militarized” Palestinian state and the division of Jerusalem. He termed these “the recognized principles of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (the parameters of both the plan proposed by President [Bill] Clinton in 2000 and [his own] Geneva Initiative of 2003).”
Dr. Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, refers to them as the EKP: the “Everybody Knows Paradigm.”
In accordance with this paradigm, Beilin’s dangerous and painful proposed concessions, with minor incremental variations, have been put on the table again and again by different Israeli governments without ever eliciting a positive response or any reciprocal concession from the Palestinians. To this day, Beilin urges Israel and the international community to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results—as if this were not Einstein’s very definition of insanity.
President Donald Trump and the leaders of several so-called “moderate Sunni countries” have finally understood three crucial points that Netanyahu had been emphasizing for a long time. The first is that the only way the Palestinians might ever agree to an end of the conflict is if they internalize that time will bring them progressively diminishing concessions. The second is that since the United States is now energy-independent and Americans will not support new wars in the Middle East, Arab countries threatened by Iran and Muslim extremists will benefit from strengthening security cooperation with Israel. And the third is that for Israel to take unnecessary risks by returning to less defensible borders will only further the interests of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamists.
That realization explains the Arab world’s reaction (or lack thereof) to Trump’s initiatives pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including his “Peace to Prosperity” plan, the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the declaration that Israeli settlements are not illegal. It also explains the UAE-Israel agreement and the Arab world’s reaction to it, including the failure of the Arab League to condemn the UAE, and Saudi Arabia’s and Bahrain’s permission of Israeli overflights. Sanity is beginning to prevail in the Middle East.
Julio Messer is a former president of American Friends of Likud.