Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Appeasement: 11 Reasons Why Israeli Concessions Will Not Bring Peace

Eldad Tzioni
Eldad Tzioni has blogged as The Elder of Ziyon since 2004
The peace process.

For years, we’ve been hearing how important the peace process is. We are constantly being told that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is the root of all the problems in the Middle East (and, sometimes, the world). Even if a solution were to be found, we are constantly led to believe, the entire Arab world will become friendly and cooperative with the West. The Europeans are frustrated, because they think they know what the major obstacle to peace is. Of course, it is Israeli intransigence. It is the existence of Jews wanting to live in the so-called West Bank, it is the hardheadedness of the Israeli government (especially the Likud,) it is “occupation,” it is Israeli refusal to negotiate on water, and Jerusalem, and descendants of refugees. it is a whole host of seeming issues. Once Israel sees the light and gives a few more concessions, the thinking goes, then the Arab world will welcome Israel with open arms as a full member of the Middle East. Terrorism will stop, Westerners will no longer need to go through security checks on airplanes, birds will sing Bach concertos in harmony and the lion will lie down with the lamb.

There is only one problem: peace is impossible.

Not “difficult.” Not “unlikely.” But literally impossible, at least for the foreseeable future.

Israeli concessions will not bring peace. They can bring temporary lulls, they can bring short-term goodwill from Western nations, but they cannot and will not bring peace.

Here are the top eleven reasons why this is so.

And we’re starting with: The Islamo-fascists from Gaza…

11. Hamas and the other terror groups

All of the negotiations that Israel has done has been with Fatah and associated groups. People are ignoring the small fact that Hamas controls Gaza, and it is not going to give that up any time soon. Hamas is implacably opposed to Israel’s existence and it explicitly plans to destroy Israel – not to mention all Jews, as its charter says.

Peace is not possible while Hamas is in power, by the group’s own definition. Israel cannot have a peace agreement with only half of the Palestinian Arabs. Judging from how Hamas killed hundreds of Fatah members back in 2006, without Fatah putting up a credible fight, there is no way to expect that the latter will defeat Hamas militarily.

So as long as Hamas is a major player in Palestinian politics, peace is simply impossible. No amount of wishful thinking can alter that inconvenient fact.

And even if Hamas would extend a temporary truce, all that means is that the other major terror groups – the Islamic Jihad, the DFLP, the PFLP, the various Salafist groups – would redouble their attempts to attack Israel and consider Hamas a traitor to the cause.

This is not hyperbole. Already today, Hamas is being bitterly criticized by the other terror groups for not being terrorist enough. Not only by the groups mentioned above, but by Fatah as well!

10. Palestinian Arabs freely elected a terror government

The one time that ordinary Palestinian Arabs had a chance to vote freely for any party, they chose the terrorists.

One could argue that this is an unfair characterization of the 2006 elections, because the Palestinian Arabs really voted against the corruption of Fatah more than the terrorism of Hamas. Yet even so…they knew what Hamas represented. Rather than choose, say, Salam Fayyad’s party, they still went for Hamas.

More importantly, in every poll where the so-called Palestinians are asked how they feel about specific terror attacks against civilians in Israel, they overwhelmingly support those attacks. They name schools, streets, parks and public squares after people whose only notable accomplishment is that they’re internationally known terrorists.

Even so-called “moderate” president Abbas has praised the architect of the Munich Olympic massacre. He has even gone out of his way to pay homage to Samir Kuntar, a man who murdered a little girl by bashing her skull.

How can anyone imagine that there could be peace between Israelis and those who openly support and celebrate those who murder Israelis?

Next: And the official leadership of the Palestinians has no legitimacy…

9. The current Palestinian government was not democratically elected

Even if you believe that the Palestinian Authority is flexible and wants a peace agreement with Israel, they have no mandate from their people.

Firstly, Fatah was not elected. As we just noted, Hamas won the last elections.

Secondly, Mahmoud Abbas is breaking Palestinian law every day because his official term in office expired in January of 2009. He is not the legitimate president, even though everyone ignores this.

Thirdly, the Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad was not elected either – he was appointed. Practically no one voted for him when he did run for office. He has practically no followers. While he is the only Palestinian Arab leader in history who is not tainted with terrorism, he is only in his position in order to make Western powers happy – which is easier for him to accomplish because he has a U.S. education and a background in economics.

Fourthly, the entire idea that the Palestinian Authority has any power is a carefully nurtured lie. Officially, the PA reports to the PLO, which still defines itself as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. The PLO is the organization that does all of the diplomacy and all of the negotiations. And the PLO is not even almost democratic.

What all of this means is that if world pressure succeeds somehow in forcing the Palestinian leadership to make real concessions and sign an agreement, the people will not support it, simply because the government has no mandate to make any concessions (and no Israeli government will give in to all the demands being made.)

Any peace plan signed by the PLO, that involves the concessions that are necessary for Israel to survive, would be worthless in the eyes of the Palestinian people.

8. The PLO itself remains a terrorist organization

Don’t be fooled by the smooth-talking Saeb Erekat, former chief negotiator for the Palestinians. Even though the PA has been working to arrest members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, there are some terrorists who they mostly stay away from: their own Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Back in 2007, the PLO announced that the Al Aqsa Brigades had been dismantled. Yet that group still makes statements, still takes credit for terror attacks and still issues threats – and the so-called “moderate” PLO doesn’t do anything.

This is because Al Aqsa is a part of Fatah and gets its funding from Fatah. Fatah is the major party that dominates the PLO. So while terror has definitely decreased, the terrorist arm of Fatah is still alive and kicking – and almost certainly funded with money that comes, in one way or another, from the PLO.

Peace is not possible with those who actively support terror. How else can you characterize the PLO?

Next: Guess what happens when Israel decides to compromise?

7. Israeli concessions have been answered with terror

It is an axiom in diplomacy that when one party makes concessions or goodwill gestures, they will be reciprocated by the other party. The thinking goes that this turns into a cycle of goodwill that would lead to real peace.

In August 2005, Israel forced thousands of its citizens to move out of their homes along the Mediterranean Sea. Every single Jew left Gaza. By diplomatic logic, this move – decided unilaterally, but implemented with the full cooperation of the Palestinian Authority – should have been followed by major concessions from the PA and from the Arab leaders in Gaza.

Instead, the Jewish residents of communities in the Negev were rewarded with thousands of rockets. The Palestinian residents of Gaza chose Hamas to lead them in their local elections. Greenhouses left behind to help Gaza build a peaceful economy were smashed and looted.

The Gush Katif communities were turned into terrorist training camps. Gaza has turned into a giant arms cache run by a terror government that is dedicated to destroying Israel. Ultimately, Israel was forced to invade its former territory to give the Israeli residents of the Negev a chance to live normal lives.

And this is not the only time that Israeli concessions led to more war. In 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon, using the UN to demarcate the border between the two states. The thinking was that there is no way any Lebanese group could possibly make a plausible claim that Israel is still holding onto any Arab land, and use that as a pretext for attacks.

Yet that is exactly what Hezbollah does, insisting that Israel is still occupying parts of Lebanon. The bogus claim is one reason why Hezbollah maintains its army and provokes Israel with border incidents, such as the kidnapping of soldiers that lead to the Second Lebanon War. Only last August, the Lebanese army ambushed the IDF and killed one officer in an unprovoked attack.

Even though these prove that Israeli concessions do not lead to peace, diplomats and wishful thinkers in the West still stubbornly hold on to their fantasies that if only Israel would give up a little more, then peace will come naturally. For Arabs, unfortunately, there is nothing natural about peace.

Next: The Holy City…

6. Jerusalem

It is no coincidence that the 1929 Arab riots were concentrated in the ancient holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed, and not in the newer towns like Tel Aviv. If the early goal of Palestinian Arab nationalism was to fight against the Zionists and not Jews, then why were these old Jewish communities attacked and not the newer Zionist ones?

The fact is that ever since Haj Amin al Husseini was appointed to be the Mufti of Jerusalem, the overarching goal of the Palestinian leadership was to evict Jews from their holy places. And nowhere is this more apparent than in Jerusalem.

Like a mantra, the current Arab leadership says they require a Palestinian Arab state with Jerusalem as its capital. But when Arabs controlled the city, it was in ruins. Even Jordan didn’t do anything to beautify it (although they spent quite a bit of effort to destroy every synagogue and much of the historic Mount of Olives cemetery.) The Arab interest in Jerusalem begins and ends with getting rid of the Jews.

If there is any consensus in Israel today, it is that the Western Wall, much of the Old City and the Jewish neighborhoods that surround Jerusalem remain a part of Israel. But that is not what the Palestinians want. Even in the Palestine Papers, after years of arm twisting by the US, the Palestinian position remained that completely Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem like Maaleh Adumim should go to the Arabs.

Also, as has been documented by Yaacov Lozowick, it is literally impossible to divide Jerusalem even if the parties could somehow agree.

Since 1967, Jerusalem has turned from an ugly slum into a beautiful city that keeps in touch with its rich historic past and the modern day. Under Israeli rule, the number of Arabs living in Jerusalem more than tripled since 1967, proving that allegations of ethnic cleansing are baseless.

One thing is certain: Jerusalem would simply wither and die if it became divided again.

Next: Without unity among Palestinians there can’t be peace. But with it not either.

5. Palestinian unity

Everyone agrees that Israel cannot make peace with Fatah alone, and that eventually somehow the Palestinian Arabs must be united again before any peace agreement can go into effect.

What would this mean? Hamas simply cannot accept Israel’s existence, which means that Fatah would be forced to become even more intransigent than they have been to accommodate Hamas in any unity government. Yet the current Fatah leadership has been unable to make peace with Israel despite nearly two decades of negotiations; if Hamas is part of the government they would be even more extreme.

Beyond that, there is no way that the two groups will unify. Hamas refuses to allow any elections that might prove that they have lost popularity and it similarly refuses to give up the stranglehold it has on Gaza. Years of unification talks have yielded nothing. And you can be certain that Hamas would not actively arrest members of Islamic Jihad and other terror groups, as would be required in any agreement.

There have been recent rumblings of a new initiative to unify the two parties, but it is as useless as the previous attempts. Hamas is addicted to power and the only way they can join Fatah is if the PA and PLO renounce some of their promises under Oslo and subsequent agreements – which Israel would never agree to.

Next: Arabs don’t really want a ‘Right of Return’, but they won’t give it up either…

4. The “right of return”

One of the many fictions that Palestinian leaders tell their people, and the world, is that they have a “right of return” to Israel. There is no such human right for descendants of refugees to go back to their grandparents’ lands, but this lie has taken on a life of its own by sheer repetition.

Depending on how you want to count them, there are between 7 and 10 million Palestinians who are considered “refugees” by the UN. The vast majority remain stateless, forced by their Arab hosts to live in misery, in anticipation of their “returning” to Israel.

Israel will never accept more than a tiny token amount in the context of a peace agreement.

The Palestine Papers showed that – surprise! – the Palestinian Authority doesn’t want these “refugees” either.

But the propaganda of “return” has become an integral part of Palestinian Arab identity, and any agreement that does not allow them to go back to Israel will be rejected by the so-called “Palestinian diaspora.” This means that they have no incentive to stop terrorism until they get their impossible demands met. Peace with the leaders of the PA will only radicalize the people who have been lied to for decades.

The result will not be peaceful.

This means that a peace agreement, meant to end all claims that Palestinian Arabs have against Israel, is literally impossible.

The assumption – again mentioned in the Palestine Papers – is that Arab governments will naturalize most of their Palestinian population in the context of any peace agreement. Yet have never been part of the negotiations, and they will never allow such a condition to be imposed on them.

Lebanon is rightly worried that another 250,000 Sunnis will upset its demographic balance. Syria will not agree to anything as long as the so-called “refugees” can still be used as pawns against Israel. Even the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Gulf states will not be welcomed by their hosts. Six decades of keeping them stateless has worked well for the Arab world, and their leaders have no incentive to take in millions of new citizens.

The only solution is to tell the people the truth and force the Arab nations to naturalize their Palestinian population. That will not happen, as evidenced by the firestorm that occurred last year when a UNRWA official mentioned that it will have to happen eventually.

Next: No agreement is permanent…

3. Lessons from Egypt

Ever since the Egyptian revolution began, all the potentially new leaders of this country have been unanimous: The Camp David Accords will need to be reviewed.

Whether the peace agreement with Israel holds up or not, the fact that it is in question points to a very uneasy fact: Any agreement Israel makes with the leader of a country is only a bullet or an uprising away from becoming worthless.

When negotiations were still alive, the Palestinian Authority did not prepare its people for concessions or compromise. Quite the opposite. The public statements of Mahmoud Abbas have been very much at odds with the private negotiations indicated in the Palestine Papers, which means that the people would never have accepted the deal. One only has to look at the uproar that the release of the papers caused – Palestinians were shocked that their leaders were apparently willing to compromise on issues that everyone knows must be dealt with.

The PA leadership has not been preparing its people to live in peace with Israel, and as a result the people would not willingly accept any peace agreement thrust on them. As soon as the leadership would change (Abbas is 75 years old) then all agreements would be endangered again depending on the new leaders. In other words, peace with “Palestine” would not be permanent, just as peace with Egypt only lasted as long as it did because of billions of dollars that the US shoveled into Egypt to keep the peace.

Peace has to ultimately reflect the desire of the people to be lasting. The Arab people will never, ever accept a permanent Jewish state in their midst.

2. Gaza demographics

Gaza has a very high birth rate. It also has nowhere to expand.

So even if there is a peace agreement, there would be a powder keg waiting to explode on Israel’s border. Gazans would generally not want to leave their families and move even to the West Bank, where the culture and even the Arabic accent are different. While smart land and water management might be able to forestall the problem, it won’t take long before Gazans look towards Israel to solve their demographic problem.

This is only one small example of how peace negotiators are fixated on an agreement as if that would be the end of the matter, not realizing that there will be a myriad of Day One problems that are not being considered.

And the number 1 reason that proves why Israeli concessions will never bring real peace…

1. The lessons of the Arab uprisings

At the moment, the world is witnessing unrest in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq , Iran, Oman and Yemen – for starters.

None of these events have the slightest relationship to the Israel/Arab conflict.

The major motif of journalists, politicians and diplomats for the past few years has been that a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians would result in peace throughout the region and the world. Yet the Arab world has had deep-rooted problems for hundreds of years, with war and oppression being the norm.

This has never been more apparent with the current uprisings. In fact, it shows how gullible Western analysts have been to Arab lies, as it was the leaders of these countries who would blame Israel for their problems to avoid dealing with their own domestic issues. Their constant lie that “Palestine” must be solved before they can possibly attack their own problems was eventually believed by otherwise intelligent people, who could not believe that someone would lie to their faces so consistently.

If Israel would be at peace – or if Israel would disappear – the major problems of the Arab world would still be there. Iran and Turkey would still be there, opposing the West. Russia would still be selling missiles to Syria. There would still be problems of poverty, of no freedom of speech, of religious discrimination, of restrictions on freedom of assembly, and above all of discrimination against women in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

This should be obvious, but it doesn’t stop stupid world leaders and pundits from still claiming, even today, that Israel must make more concessions to bring peace to the region.

For these (and other) reasons, there is nothing Israel can do that would bring the peace everyone craves. It is not fun to contemplate that some problems are insoluble, but wishful thinking does not create reality.

The irony is that if you define peace as the absence of war, then Israel has been at peace with Syria for decades, she has been at peace with the PA for four or five years, and even Hamas has not been very aggressive since the Gaza war. Things are not so bad right now for Israelis – or for West Bank Palestinians. And things would improve rapidly for Gazans if they would stop lobbing rockets towards Israel. (Only this week, Israel started allowing Gaza to export cherry tomatoes, on top of the carnation, bell pepper and strawberry crop.)

In other words, managing the conflict can bring real benefits to everybody. But a peace agreement, as it is defined today, cannot.

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