For more than 50 years, Israel’s critics have claimed that if Israelis would just agree to create a Palestinian state, the Palestinians would live in peace with them. Well, last month, Israel’s prime minister offered to create a Palestinian state. How did the Palestinians respond? Is the long-promised peace at last dawning upon the Middle East?
At the United Nations on Sept. 22, Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced his willingness to create a non-terrorist Palestinian state. Did the Palestinian Arab leadership respond by announcing an immediate return to the negotiating table to work out the details of the new state?
Hardly. The Palestinians responded with murderous violence. Within 24 hours of Lapid’s declaration, there was a car-ramming attack against Israelis near Havat Gilad that was publicly cheered by the Fatah movement, which is headed by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. Another terrorist was caught trying to smuggle several dozen handguns into Israel via the Jordan Valley. Handguns for peace?
The next day, Sept. 25, a Palestinian Arab mob assaulted Israelis on the Temple Mount. On Sept. 27, Palestinian Arabs threw rocks and bombs at Israeli soldiers north of Shechem and carried out a drive-by shooting as well. On Sept. 28, they fired shots at an Israeli motorist south of Hebron and carried out multiple shooting and bombing attacks on Israeli soldiers in Jenin.
In the days to follow, the Palestinian Arabs continued to respond to Lapid’s statehood offer with bombs, bullets and bloodshed. On Sept. 29, they fired shots at an Israeli tour group near Kiryat Arba, stoned Israeli soldiers in Jilazoun and tried to run them over and tried to stone Israeli motorists to death near Bethlehem. When an Arab child died in unrelated circumstances nearby, the peace-loving P.A. Foreign Ministry immediately blamed Israel for his death.
On Oct. 1, Palestinian Arabs threw rocks, firebombs and explosive devices at Israelis in al-Azariya. On Oct. 2, they fired shots at Israelis near Itamar (one was wounded), shot at an Israeli bus and Israeli taxis on the road to Alon Shvut (one driver was wounded), stabbed and wounded an Israeli guard outside the Rimon prison and tried to ram an Israeli with a car in Jilazoun.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I note that on Oct. 6, Palestinian Arabs near Qalqilya threw firebombs at Israelis, and dozens of others near Ramallah threw rocks, hitting one Israeli in the head. On Oct. 8, Palestinian Arabs shot and killed an 18-year-old female Israeli soldier near Shuafat. Dozens of Palestinian Arabs threw firebombs and explosive devices at Israelis in Jenin and fired shots at them.
As I write this, there has been no let-up. On Oct. 11, Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered an Israeli near Shavei Shomron. On Oct. 14, they opened fire on Israelis in Jenin. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
All of this leads to two obvious questions: Why have the Arabs responded to Lapid’s statehood offer in this way? And why is it that advocates of Palestinian statehood are always mistaken in their predictions about peace?
As to the first question, one need only look at the historical record. The U.N. offered the Palestinian Arabs a state in 1947. They responded with violence. Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered them a state. They responded with violence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered them something resembling a state—again, bombs and bullets.
Clearly, the consensus among the Palestinian Arabs is that a state composed of most of Judea, Samaria and Gaza is insufficient. They consider all of Israel to be “Palestine.” They want it all. Anything less is unacceptable. And the way they show that they dislike something is to murder Jews.
The answer to the second question is that most advocates of Palestinian statehood—the Jewish left, the State Department, much of the news media—simply find it too painful to admit that their cherished belief is mistaken. It is frustrating and disorienting to acknowledge that creating a Palestinian Arab state will not bring peace.
To do so would mean admitting that there is no “solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict in the conventional sense. Westerners are accustomed to resolving international and regional conflicts through compromise and reason. It’s too hard to accept that, in some parts of the world, compromise and reason simply don’t work.
Thus, supporters of the Palestinian Arab cause can operate only according to theories, never according to actual experience or facts. They have to pretend that their proposal has never been tried before, in order to create the false hope that it can work. But it has been tried before. Over and over. It never works, as Lapid has belatedly discovered.
Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror. The opinions herein are his own.