This Peace is Killing Us
The peace process and funeral processions always went hand in hand around here. A day before the signing of the Oslo Accords, while then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was already on his way to the ceremony in Washington, three I.D.F. soldiers were murdered in a Gaza attack. Yet that was merely the prelude for the huge wave of terror attacks we experienced later on, leaving thousands killed and injured. Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the terrible terror attack in the Mount Hebron area, which left four Israelis dead, by declaring, “the murder proves that we must be more insistent on our security demands.”
After all, the Oslo Accords were a masterpiece of Israeli security demands presented to the Arabs and to the Americans. On paper, everything was perfect: Strict security arrangements at border crossings, a thorough procedure outlining pursuit tactics following terror attacks, a complete ban on the importation of heavy weapons, meticulous registration of handguns at every Palestinian police station, and so on and so forth.
Yet at the end of the day, what did we end up getting? Blood and tears; only blood and tears. Hundreds of Orphans and families that have joined the ranks of terror victims.
Those who think that this time around the well being of Jews living in Israel will be better or different after the next agreement is signed are either unable to differentiate between wishful thinking and reality or are simply tired of the struggle that we the Jewish nation are challenged with. All the security geniuses here in Israel and abroad will not be able to produce a formula that would guarantee tranquility in the event of handing over land to the control of the Palestinian Arabs, those very same Arabs that have been at war with the Jewish Nation for the past 120 years.
The Blame Game on the Horizon
Abbas is no Arafat; once this becomes apparent to all, the finger pointing fest will begin.
This time it is not going to be deja vu. The negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, promoted and orchestrated by the soon to be outgoing President Barack Obama, will not be anything like the negotiations that took place during sixteen years, successively, between Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, on the Israeli side, and Yasser Arafat. Arafat had the support of almost all Palestinians Arabs, and had every right to represent them. Arafat had the power to reach a peace agreement with Israel, but that was not his goal.
No less important, Arafat had the power to enforce any agreements that he made. There was only the question of whether he truly was seeking to arrive at a peace agreement with Israel. By now, thanks to the concessions egregiously offered by Barak at Camp David 10 years ago, concessions that were rejected by Arafat, we know that although he had the power to reach a peace agreement with Israel, that was not his goal.
With Mahmoud Abbas, it is an entirely different story. He does not have the backing of all Palestinian Arabs, not even of most of them. As far as Hamas is concerned, he has no right to represent the Palestinian Arabs in the upcoming negotiations. Even in Judea and Samaria, the extent of the support he enjoys among Palestinian Arabs is questionable. But most important, he does not have the authority to carry out any agreement he might arrive at with Netanyahu. He is fully aware of this, and that is probably the explanation for his reluctance to enter the negotiations.
The Palestinians know this. The Israelis, who know the Palestinian scene well, understand this. It is hard to believe that the Americans do not know this. Maybe Obama thinks that money will be the answer - that enough financial support for Abbas will eventually provide him with both the legitimacy and authority he lacks.
Money already fills the pockets of the Palestinian Arabs in Abbas' court, but it is no substitute for the support that he does not have among his people. Arafat could have made peace with Israel, but he did not want to. Abbas may or might not want to conclude a peace with Israel, but he cannot.
Each party is making sure they don't get stuck with the blame for the failure and coming out ahead in the "blame game" may be the primary goal of the participants in the negotiations. It looks like, in addition to the preparations for the negotiations that are presently under way in Jerusalem, serious thought must be given to the tactics to be employed in the "blame game" that, no doubt, will accompany every step of the negotiations. As Netanyahu assembles his team for the follow up talks, he might want to ask Prof. Robert Aumann, a Noble laureate, Israel's world renowned expert in game theory, to join the team.
Obama, We’re Not Suckers
President Obama may mortgage America’s future, but we will not let him do the same to Israel. This past week, the cat was out of the bag and the American president’s infinite arrogance came bursting forth. Unlike his European colleagues, whose statements made sure to minimize their involvement to “ending the occupation of 1967,” President Obama (via a State Department spokesperson) revealed his intention to bring an “end to the conflict.” Does Obama really know how to “end the conflict?” We got the answer two days later, when a document published in the media revealed the US Administration’s intention to secure a final-status agreement within a year, while implementing it within 10 years. In other words, Obama wishes to win all the glory while mortgaging the future (our future, not his.)
After all, this is Obama’s specialty. The president “saved” the US economy by printing more than $3 trillion, most of which were poured into the American economy via the acquisition of inflated mortgage-backed securities. He is leaving the bill for his soon to be elected successors.
Americans may be willing to clean after Obama and believe that he saved them from collapse (they will find the fractures and skeletons in a few years,) but the State of Israel cannot take such chances. We live in the present and not in promises for a rosy future; hence, the US president would do well to show a little modesty: Learn about the roots of the conflict, understand why there is no solution for it at this time, and most importantly, premise any proposal for an interim agreement on realities on the ground.
If President Obama wishes to use the “implementation in 10 years” card to shove a “deal” premised on the types of dreams he’s selling to his own people down our throats, we have news for him: We’re not your highness’ suckers. If you wish to propose something that would be implemented in 10 years, you’re invited to come back for a visit nine years from now. Any attempt to look even just one year into the future is dangerous and has been proven in the past to be a recipe for disaster. Just look at the changes in Turkey and Iran to grasp how it is impossible to plan too far down the line in the Middle East.
The real core issue
The talks Obama organized for us are seemingly supposed to focus on what he (mistakenly) refers to as the core issues – including refugees, borders, and Jerusalem. Yet his preoccupation with all these issues shows that President Obama has no understanding whatsoever of the real core issue.
The only genuine core issue is the ideology that refuses to accept the existence of a national home for the Jewish people in the Middle East (within any borders.) Islamic imperialism seeks to spread in all directions, while the tiny Israel is like a thorn in its side at the heart of its home base, the Middle East. Israel and the Jewish sovereignty over its territory is the only core issue. All the rest are excuses.
Accepting Jewish sovereignty
Mahmoud Abbas is right to say that he should not be asked to characterize the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s state; however, he is wrong when he tells us to “define yourselves any way you want.” We already did it, in line with a UN resolution dating back to 1947 and a League of Nations resolution dating back to 1922. We established the Jewish national home at the heart of the Islamic Middle East. And this leads us to the real question: Is Abbas, as well as all the leaders and leading clerics in Islamic states, willing to absolutely recognize the Jewish people’s right for sovereignty in its land? Much before we try to draw the borders, we need to ask whether the Muslims are willing to accept our sovereignty here on any plot of land.
This is the first core issue, to be followed by the second core issue: Are all Islamic states willing to accept that any violation of the final-status agreement planned for us by Obama will receive an immediate response on the ground? That is, would the State of Israel have the right to remove any hostile element from any territory used to attack us?
If the answer to those two questions is affirmative, we have something to talk about. However, if the answer is negative, then even presidential pledges to protect Israel under an American nuclear umbrella would not guarantee our existence here. The State of Israel, whose breadth ranges from 12 to 50 kilometers, cannot afford to sustain even one Iranian nuclear bomb. President Obama might want to premise his goal of a “bring the end of the conflict”, he would be wise to define Israel as the Home of the Jewish Nation, this would be a helpful beginning during the negotiations.