Israel and the Palestinians: Ending the Stalemate
sraeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s July 30, 2008, announcement of his intention to resign from office and the recent upsurge in internecine violence between Hamas and Fatah operatives in Gaza has thrown a monkey wrench in the Bush administration’s goal of seeing Israel and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority sign a peace treaty laying out the borders and powers of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. But even in the unlikely event that such an agreement is reached, far from stabilizing Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, it will likely have either no impact on the Palestinian conflict with Israel, or a profoundly negative one.
Indeed, even if the outgoing Bush administration and the lame duck Olmert government manage to sign a peace treaty with the increasingly powerless remnants of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, that achievement is liable to be quickly eclipsed by violence that will follow the signing ceremony. The likely upsurge in Palestinian violence against Israel, in turn, will demonstrate that the Administration’s stated aim of establishing a Palestinian state—an aim which is supported by the Israeli government—has little relevance to the nature of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Moreover, seeking such a state today will likely exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the conflict. Indeed, the aftershocks of such an agreement will make clear that both Israel and the United States are basing their policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on false assumptions about the nature of that conflict.
In 1993, when Israel first recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli and American perception of the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation underwent a profound change—as did both countries’ chosen paradigm for resolving the conflict.
Prior to 1993, both Israeli and U.S. policies were based on the view that the root of the conflict was the Arab world’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist. That view was codified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which asserted that two principles were to form the basis of any “just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” The first was an Israeli withdrawal from some of the territory taken over by the Israel Defense Forces during the June 1967 Six-Day War. The second was that the Arab states must accept Israel’s right to exist. While Resolution 242 was purposely vague about the extent of future Israeli territorial withdrawals, its language on the second component of a future Middle Eastern peace was explicit.
It asserted that a future Middle Eastern peace would be based on the “termination of all claims of states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders free from threats or acts of force.”
Since Israel has consistently demonstrated its readiness to make territorial compromises for a lasting peace with its neighbors, it was this second condition that formed the foundation of both U.S. and Israeli policies towards the Palestinians specifically, and the Arab world generally, from the end of the Six-Day War until the onset of Israel’s peace process with the PLO in 1993.
In basing their policies on the need for the Arab world to accept Israel’s right to exist, successive American administrations and Israeli governments found themselves out of step with Western Europe, the Arab League, the United Nations and the Soviet Union. For these powers, the root of the conflict was not a refusal of the Arab world generally or the Palestinians specifically to accept Israel’s right to exist, but Palestinian statelessness itself.1
The difference could not have been more profound. The Israeli-American view placed the burden of change on the Arabs. The European-Soviet-UN view placed the burden for change on Israel. In the former case, the underlying assumption was that the principal obstacle to peace was not Israeli claims to lands it took control of during the Six-Day War but the Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s existence. Until the Arabs changed their view, peace would be impossible.
To that the Soviets, Western Europe and the UN countered that Arab rejection of Israel was a consequence of Israel’s assertion of control over the disputed territories, ignoring the historical contradiction in this claim (given that Israel only secured those territories in response to the 1967 Arab war of aggression whose stated aim was the destruction of the Jewish state).2 Consequently, they argued that the Arab world generally, and the Palestinian Arabs specifically, could not be expected to accept Israel’s right to exist until the military outcome of the Six-Day War was entirely reversed. In this latter view, it was Israel, not the Arabs, which bore responsibility for the intractable nature of the conflict. And it was Israel, not the Arabs, which would have to amend its policies if peace were to be achieved.
By accepting the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs in 1993, both Israel and the U.S. essentially adopted this latter view of the nature of the conflict. A terrorist organization founded in 1964 with the goal of eliminating Israel altogether, the PLO represented the most extreme assertion of Israeli responsibility for the Arab world’s refusal to accept its existence. Indeed, eternalizing that refusal was its raison d’être.
Although the agreements that Israel and the PLO signed in 1993 and throughout the latter half of the 1990s stipulated the Palestinian requirement to accept Israel’s right to exist by, among other things, abrogating the articles in the PLO’s charter calling for the annihilation of the State of Israel,3 no Israeli government was able to force compliance with that key commitment.4 And despite the fact that the PLO never officially accepted Israel’s right to exist by carrying out the required changes to its charter, neither Israel nor the U.S. argued that the Palestinians’ failure to do so cancelled Israel’s responsibility to work to establish a PLO-led Palestinian state. Moreover, while the peace process was predicated on the PLO’s commitment to combat terrorism, neither Israel nor the U.S. argued that the Palestinian Authority’s consistent refusal to take action against terror groups in Palestinian society cancelled Israel’s responsibility to work to establish a PLO-led Palestinian state.
Over the years, both the Israeli and the American commitment to the Palestinians have become increasingly explicit and increasingly urgent. Whereas until his last month in office—two months after the Palestinians began their terror war against Israel—President Bill Clinton never explicitly advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state as the aim of the peace process between Israel and the PLO,5 President George W. Bush first stated his support for its creation (via then-Secretary of State Colin Powell) during his first year in office.6
In Israel, the commitment to Palestinian statehood was only made explicit in 2000, when at the Camp David peace summit that July, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered PLO leader Yasser Arafat a sovereign Palestinian state in the entire Gaza Strip, in ninety percent of Judea and Samaria and in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as well as in the Old City of Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount but excluding the Jewish and Armenian Quarters of the Old City), in exchange for a Palestinian declaration that the Palestinian conflict with Israel was over.7
Subsequently, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon argued that due to Palestinian population growth, Israel’s ability to sustain itself over time as a Jewish-majority, democratically governed state will be destroyed unless the Palestinians establish a state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Sharon’s assertion continues to be maintained by Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni today.8 The demographic data on which they base this view was exposed as fraudulent in 2005.9 Yet Israel’s elected leaders continue to insist that unless Israel facilitates the swift establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and sections of Jerusalem, the Palestinian Arab and Israeli Arab population will outstrip Israel’s Jewish population in a matter of years.
As for Washington, until November 2007, the Bush administration argued that a Palestinian state could not be formed and its borders and powers could not be determined until after the Palestinian Authority purged terror elements from its own militias and defeated terror forces operating within its territory. President Bush’s landmark speech of June 24, 2002, in which he called for the Palestinians to choose new leaders who were not involved with terrorism, stated clearly that U.S. support for Palestinian statehood was conditional. The U.S. would not back a Palestinian state that was in any way supportive of terror or involved in terrorism.10
The road map peace plan, adopted by the Bush administration together with the other members of the Middle East Quartet (the EU, Russia and the UN) in 2003, is similarly explicit. The plan asserts that peace can be achieved between the Palestinians and Israel only with the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem. But it also asserts that this state can only be founded after the Palestinians defeat the terror forces operating within their society, end their incitement towards Israel’s destruction, and build the institutions of a working democracy. The Palestinian Authority is required by the road map to fight terror forces with the aim of defeating them in the first phase of the road map’s implementation on the ground. The road map foresees the establishment of the sought-after Palestinian state only in its third and final phase.11
In November 2007, however, the Bush administration broke with that view. Its new policy is founded on the belief that Israel and the Palestinian Authority must sign an agreement spelling out the borders and sovereign rights of the sought-for State of Palestine even before the Palestinian Authority fights—let alone defeats—the terror forces operating within its territory in Judea, Samaria and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made this point clearly in a press briefing on November 4, 2007. In her words: “The real breakthrough, it was actually a few months ago now, is that for a long time, if you remember, the argument was you couldn’t talk about the Palestinian state or core issues, which was in phase three [of the road map], until you had completed phase one [requiring the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism], which got us into an extended kind of circular problem for a long time about phase one. Well… now we’ve broken through and they are, indeed, talking about… what’s in phase three, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state.”12
So over time, both the U.S. and Israel have come to view the prompt establishment of the Palestinian state regardless of the Palestinians’ willingness to accept Israel’s right to exist as the primary aim of their Palestinian policies. Revealingly, the urgency of the U.S. and Israeli calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state have increased in direct proportion to the radicalization of Palestinian society. The more radical Palestinian society becomes, the more intense the U.S. and Israeli desire to grant it sovereign statehood.
It takes two to tango
For their part, the Palestinians’ interest in statehood has never been clear. Like their regional Arab compatriots,13 the Palestinians consistently maintain that Israel’s so-called “occupation” is what hinders a peaceful resolution to the conflict. While Israel’s leaders, like their American and European counterparts, assume that the Palestinian demand that the so-called “occupation” be ended is synonymous with a demand for statehood, and that the lands the Palestinians claim are limited to Judea, Samaria and the sections of Jerusalem Israel gained control over in the Six-Day War, the Palestinians have never accepted this claim. In fact, both symbolically and politically, the Palestinian Authority asserts that the areas under the so-called “occupation” include the entire State of Israel.14
This view was evident in Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000. While Arafat never made a counteroffer, he gave three justifications for walking away from an offer that would enable the establishment of a Palestinian state. First, Arafat rejected Barak’s argument that the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem would end the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
Second, Arafat rejected the Israeli position that the immigration to Israel of Palestinian Arabs who left Israel during the 1948-49 war and their descendants would be limited to family reunification. In Arafat’s words, “the right of return [of the former Arab residents and their descendants to Israel] is sacred and its sanctity is not less than that [assigned to] the holy places [in Jerusalem].”15
By couching Palestinian rejection of the Israeli offer in such terms, Arafat made clear that the Palestinian demands on Israel are not limited, and so amenable to compromise and conciliation. Rather they are unlimited, and impossible to appease. Here it should be noted that there are no Palestinian leaders who are willing to compromise on the demand that millions of foreign-born Arabs be allowed unfettered immigration to Israel. Moreover, the Palestinians are fully cognizant of the fact that such a move will destroy Israel by overwhelming its Jewish majority.16 Indeed, Fatah is no different from Hamas or Islamic Jihad—or Iran, for that matter—in its refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.17
Finally, Arafat explained that he refused Israel’s offer of statehood because the Palestinian conflict with Israel is not simply a nationalist quest for Palestinian statehood, but an Islamic religious struggle for domination that spans the globe. In a speech to the Arab League in October 2000 just after he had begun his terror war against Israel, Arafat asserted that that conflict was not a nationalist endeavor but a religious struggle: “A new, religious, dimension was added to the Arab-Israeli struggle. Everyone is well aware of the critical nature of this dimension, and knows how difficult it is to contain it and control its repercussions,”18 he said.
Already ahead of the Camp David summit, the Palestinian Authority had begun mobilizing Palestinian society for war.19 Young boys under the age of 16 were called on for firearms training, and incitement for violent attacks rose to new heights as major Palestinian figures began calling for or justifying armed attacks against Israeli civilians. Israel and the U.S. did not confront these calls to arms with forceful responses. Rather, they were met with the first overt U.S. and Israeli calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
President Bush’s June 24, 2002, speech was the strongest U.S. statement of support for Palestinian statehood until that date. Notably, the address came at the height of the Palestinian war against Israel and in the aftermath of Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israel reasserted its military control over Judea and Samaria. That operation produced massive documentary evidence that Arafat and his associates were directly involved in directing the violence against Israel. And yet, the President’s speech ignored the distinct possibility that the Palestinians would not select new leaders and reject the path of terror and jihad. It included no hint of what the U.S. would do should the President’s call for democratization and liberalization of Palestinian society go unheeded.
In Israel, official support for Palestinian statehood rose in the months before Arafat died in November 2004, when Hamas was beginning to eclipse the Fatah movement in popularity among Palestinian society.20 It was at this juncture that the Sharon government announced its decision to unilaterally withdraw all Israeli civilians and military personnel from Gaza.
Both Israeli and U.S. support for Palestinian statehood became effectively unconditional after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006 and then ejected Fatah forces from power in Gaza in June 2007. So counterintuitively, the U.S. and Israel have become most supportive of Palestinian sovereignty as Palestinian society has become more extreme. Viewing this cycle, one might be led to the conclusion that Israeli and American policy is the equivalent of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. But this interpretation assumes a basic Palestinian interest in statehood. And the Palestinian Arab desire for a state is far from clear.
Since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, far clearer than the Palestinian Arab desire for statehood has been the Palestinian Arab rejection of Jewish statehood. Championing Palestinian Arab statehood has never been the explicit policy of either the Palestinians or the rest of the Arab world. Rather, rejecting the right of the Jewish nation to sovereignty in the land of Israel has been the consistent policy of the Palestinian Arab leadership as well as the general Arab leadership since 1917, and most pronouncedly since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Given the Palestinian Arabs’ historic refusal to accept partition and in light of the radicalization of Palestinian society since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the reasonableness of viewing the Palestinian conflict with Israel as separate from the larger Arab world’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist is called into question. And this raises the prospect that Israel’s decision in 1993, supported by the U.S., to recognize the PLO and adopt the European-Russian-UN view that the root of the conflict is the expansion of Israel rather than its very existence, was wrong and should be reversed.
Biding time in Israel…
The policy ramifications of this conclusion are clear. Until the Palestinians and the larger Arab world accept Israel’s right to exist, there is no way to resolve either the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or the Arab-Israeli conflict of which it is a component part. It can only be stabilized and then managed until such a time as the Palestinians, with the support of the wider Arab world, accept Israel’s right to exist and abandon their efforts and designs to see the Jewish state eradicated. In this state of affairs, it is clear that policies aimed at immediately resolving the conflict must be discarded in favor of more modest efforts that seek to end Palestinian terrorism and the links between Palestinian terror groups and outside state sponsors of terror. Similarly, these policies must be aimed at encouraging Palestinian society to accept Israel’s right to exist and coexist peacefully with the Jewish state.
An Israeli policy that accepts this state of affairs would involve:
Eradicating Hamas rule in Gaza. The existence of the Hamas regime in Gaza serves both to endanger Israel’s national security and to radicalize Palestinian society still further. Hamas’s rule enables Iranian security personnel and Iran’s Hezbollah proxy—as well as elements of al-Qaeda—to build a presence on Israel’s doorstep. Hamas itself serves as an engine of radicalization for Palestinian society as a whole, and as a force that compels the Fatah movement to openly embrace jihad as its strategic path. Israel’s refusal to date to take action to destroy this threat has only served to strengthen the movement and its associate Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt. Moreover, it has brought Gaza deeper into Iran’s sphere of influence. By waging a military campaign to overthrow Hamas’s regime, Israel would be making clear that this state of affairs will no longer be tolerated.
Making clear that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO have refused to abide by any of their commitments to Israel and the international community to fight terrorism, and demonstrating that the Palestinian Authority since its establishment in 1994 has been actively involved in enabling and carrying out terrorism. These commitments have included arresting and punishing terrorists; permanently cutting all ties with terror groups; ending all direct and indirect financial, political, cultural and media support for terror; ending amnesties for terrorists; extraditing terrorists for trial in Israel and the U.S.; cooperating with international (including Israeli) anti-terror campaigns; outlawing terror groups; and providing information regarding them to law enforcement authorities throughout the world. To date, in the interest of maintaining the peace process with the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, the Israeli government has refused to explicitly acknowledge the basic fact that the Palestinian Authority has systematically facilitated and directed terror and has refused to combat it. This policy should be reversed.
Ending Israel’s recognition of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. In light of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s refusal to end its involvement in and support for terrorism against Israel, Israel should reclassify Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO as terrorist organizations and make it illegal to collaborate with them in any way. So too, Israel should end its financial and diplomatic support for the Palestinian Authority.
Stopping Palestinian delegitimation of Israel and Jews. To end its designation as a terrorist organization, the Palestinian Authority should be required to end Palestinian incitement to murder Israelis and destroy Israel in the Palestinian media, school and university system, and mosques. The Palestinian Authority should likewise be required to cease actions aimed at delegitimizing Israel in international forums. It should abrogate its anti-Semitic laws, such as the law requiring capital punishment for Arabs who sell land to Jews.
For its part, and given the inherent hostility of the Palestinian Authority to the Jewish state, Israel should take active steps to end official Palestinian incitement against Israel in Palestinian society and use its voice in international forums to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority so long as it refuses to take such actions on its own. Israel should also use international podiums to explain the basis for the actions that its authorities take to end such malicious incitement encouraging Israel’s destruction and the murder of its citizens.
Ending the construction freeze in Israeli “settler” communities. By enabling construction in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, Israel will signal three things. First, that the Palestinians will pay a price for their terrorism. Second, the Jews also have legitimate claims to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. And third, in the event that a democratic, peaceful Palestinian state which accepts Israel’s right to exist does eventually form in those areas, it will be required to accept Jewish citizens as equal members of society, just as Israel accepts Arab citizens.
Gradually ending military rule. To enable the democratic development of Palestinian society in Judea and Samaria, Israel should gradually replace the military government now in force in those areas with the more progressive Israeli law as security is established and terror groups are disarmed. Palestinians not tainted with terrorism should be granted access to the Israeli economy and labor market. Since Israeli law allows non-citizen residents to participate in local elections, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria should be allowed to hold local elections to select leaders who can eventually act as credible interlocutors with Israel in future negotiations.
…and reorienting policy in Washington
In an effort to stabilize the situation in Palestinian society, and to set the conditions for an eventual peace between the Palestinians and Israel, the U.S. should adopt the following policies:
Reattaching U.S. Palestinian policy to its wider foreign policy goals. U.S. support for Palestinian statehood despite the Palestinians’ obvious and overwhelming support for terrorism has placed U.S. policy towards the Palestinians at variance with its fundamental policy towards terror regimes and organizations. Consequently, the most fundamental contribution the U.S. can make to stabilizing the situation in the Palestinian Authority is to align its Palestinian policy and its policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict with wider U.S. policy goals. To do so, it must end its current insistence on viewing Palestinian terrorist groups as legitimately motivated organizations to be bargained with and supported, while confronting other terrorist groups around the world.
Washington should inform the Palestinian Authority that it cannot expect to receive aid or maintain diplomatic contacts with the U.S. so long as it keeps terrorists associated with any of the recognized terror groups, including those affiliated with Fatah, on its payroll. The U.S. should begin to fully implement anti-terror legislation against Palestinian terror groups, and the President should cease the practice of automatically granting the PLO and the Palestinian Authority waivers from compliance with section 1003 of the Anti-Terror Act of 1987 which allows them to maintain diplomatic missions in the U.S. The U.S. should end all provision of military assistance and equipment to the Palestinian Authority, and it should list Fatah as a terrorist organization for so long as it continues to have active terrorist wings, such as the already-listed al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. By the same token, it should list the PLO and its component Palestinian Authority as terrorist organizations for so long as they carry under their wings active terrorist groups.
The U.S. likewise must stop falsely proclaiming the moderation and anti-terror credentials of senior Fatah officials. Such statements, which are contradicted in both the statements and actions of men like Palestinian President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister and former Hamas finance minister Salaam Fayyad, undermine U.S. efforts to wage a credible public diplomacy campaign against terrorism. They send a counterproductive message that there is such a thing as “good terrorism” which contrasts with “bad terrorism.” Moreover, such American support of terror-supporting leaders actually destabilizes the region, enabling terror groups to arm, recruit members, carry out attacks against Israel, and terrorize Palestinian civilians under the protective embrace of the U.S. government.
Finally, the U.S. must begin to press its allies to act towards all Palestinian terrorist groups the way the U.S. expects them to act towards non-Palestinian terrorist groups. Rather than promote financial assistance to Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (and other Palestinian terrorist groups), the U.S. should tell its allies that it opposes such assistance. Obviously, the U.S. should also cut off its direct support for Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.
Combating Arab irredentism. While the U.S. should not presume it has the ability to force massive social change in the Arab world, it can and should take steps to break down the overwhelming Arab antipathy towards Israel and through it towards the U.S. itself. It must begin by reasserting the basic conditions of the pre-peace process years: that it cannot accept as a genuine negotiator for peace any party that does not explicitly accept the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel, and the necessity for all states to accept Israel’s legitimacy and oppose any belligerence (including diplomatic and economic warfare) against Israel.
By the same token, the U.S. will need to make clear that it will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state predicated on the current demand that no Jewish people may be granted citizenship in that state or that the State of Palestine can only be established after all Jews are expelled from their homes in Judea and Samaria and their communities destroyed. The establishment of such a racist state, predicated on anti-Semitism and racial exclusivity, is antithetical to American values and to the U.S.’s basic interest in a stable, multi-confessional and free Middle East.
Furthermore, the U.S. should make explicit its rejection of the Palestinian demand for the so-called “right of return” of foreign-born descendants of Arabs who left Israel in 1948-49. The U.S. should state explicitly that such a demand is irreconcilable with the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East and with the U.S. commitment to Israel’s existence.
Utilizing diplomatic sticks as well as carrots. In 2002, President Bush asserted that the U.S. would not support the establishment of a Palestinian state unless that state were peaceful, democratic and engaged in fighting terror. To restore the credibility of its demands, the U.S. should declare explicitly that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority have failed to meet any of the most basic international conditions for support and that it has become apparent that the Palestinian Authority is neither democratic, nor peaceful, nor terror-fighting—and that it is not developing in a way that can lead to confidence about its embracing such moral and political infrastructure in the future. These words must be followed by deeds, including the suspension of American support for Palestinian statehood for an interim period of ten years, in order to provide the Palestinians with sufficient time to reform their society. After that interim period, a subsequent reevaluation of the Palestinian commitment to developing institutions and practices that would enable the creation of a state that meets its international commitments will be undertaken.
In this regard, the U.S. should support Israel’s decision to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria while stipulating that such a step does not mean that Israel or the U.S. are withdrawing their support for a territorial compromise, just as the application of Israeli law to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights has not precluded an Israeli willingness to compromise on their future international status.
Then too, the U.S. should announce that it no longer opposes Israeli building in Judea and Samaria. By doing so, Washington will be taking a highly significant symbolic step towards insisting that a Palestinian state must not be founded on bigotry and hatred but rather must be as hospitable a place for Jewish citizens as Israel is for its Arab citizens.
Finally, the U.S. should implement its law requiring the transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and end its refusal to fully recognize Israel’s capital city. Like the removal of U.S. opposition to Israeli building in Judea and Samaria, the U.S. need not accept Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the entire city by recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the parts of the city that have served as its capital since 1949.
Eliminating the infrastructure of the conflict. One of the reasons that the Palestinians are able to reject Israel’s right to exist is because for 60 years, through the UN, the international community has been perpetuating the statelessness of Palestinian Arabs who fled Israel in 1948-49. The UN Relief Works Agency, UNRWA, was set up in 1949 for the specific purpose of preventing those refugees from being resettled. The U.S. must end its financial support for UNRWA and take steps to close the agency and end the systematic discrimination against the Palestinian Arab refugees by placing them under the authority of the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees together with all other global refugee populations.
Beyond working for UNRWA’s dismantlement, the U.S. should move to close down other UN and international agencies whose sole purpose is to isolate Israel and maintain the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many such bodies were set up in the UN following the approval of the 1975 General Assembly resolution which defined Zionism as a form of racism. These bodies include the UN Division for Palestinian Rights (created in 1977), and the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (established in 1975). The U.S. should boycott these bodies and call for their abolition in the same manner as it campaigned for reform of UN human rights bodies. Moreover, it can advocate the abandonment of the UN regional system of country blocs until Israel is accepted as a full member of the Western European and Others (WEOG) bloc of member-nations.
Outside of the UN, current U.S. moves to abrogate the Arab economic boycott of Israel should be stepped up. Specifically, Washington should enforce its anti-boycott law on commercial relations with states like Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the Iraqi government should be pressured to end its boycott of Israel and officially terminate the formal state of war that has existed between the countries since 1948. Finally, U.S. pressure on Arab states to end support for terror groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah must be expanded to ending support for terror groups like Hamas and Fatah.
Rewriting the script
The main thrust of all these recommended Israeli and U.S. policies is that they are based upon a renewed American-Israeli acknowledgement that Israeli territorial claims to the lands it took control over in 1967 are not the root cause of the conflict with the Palestinians. Rather, Palestinian and wider Arab rejection of Israel’s right to exist is the cause. The reform and stabilization of Palestinian society depends on such a reorientation. Since the Palestinians themselves have never made the attainment of statehood their primary aim, whether a Palestinian state will emerge from such a reoriented Palestinian society cannot be known. But what is absolutely clear is that there is no chance that any Palestinian state that is not a terror state at war with Israel will ever be established unless such a reform and stabilization of Palestinian society takes place first.
For 15 years, Israel and the U.S. have based their policies towards the Palestinians on the false narrative of Israeli culpability for the endurance of the Arab world’s conflict with Israel. Consequently, all of their policies aimed at resolving that conflict have been predicated on false assumptions. Not surprisingly, they have not only failed to resolve the conflict, they have exacerbated it by strengthening terror forces while weakening voices of liberalism. The time has come to reassess this state of affairs, and move toward Israeli and U.S. Palestinian policies based on the true nature of the conflict.
Caroline B. Glick is the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post. She is also the senior fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. Her book, Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad, was released in the spring of 2008. Ms. Glick lives in Jerusalem.
- On Europe see for instance, Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005), 48; On the Soviet Union, see Joel Fishman, “The Big Lie and the Media War against Israel: From Inversion of the Truth to Inversion of Reality,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Spring 2007, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=254&PID=0&IID=1704.
- Mitchell Bard, “The 1967 Six-Day War,” Myths and Facts Online, n.d., http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths/mf6.html#a.
- See, for instance, “Exchange of Letters between PM Rabin and Chairman Arafat,” September 9, 1993, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+ Peace+Process/Israel-PLO+Recognition+-+Exchange+of+Letters+betwe.htm, and “Note for the Record,” January 15, 1997,http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Pro cess/Note+for+the+Record.htm.
- See, for instance, Peace Watch, “PLO Charter Wasn’t Changed,” Legal Opinion, April 25, 1996, http://www.iris.org.il/pncvote.htm, and interview with Fatah leader Farouk Kadumi on ANB television, November 2, 2005, www.memritv.org/clip/en/649.htm.
- “DOCUMENT: Clinton Minutes of Proposal for Agreement Between Israel and Palestinians,” Ha’aretz (Tel Aviv), December 23, 2000, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=778.
- Secretary of State Colin Powell, Remarks at the McConnell Center for Political Leadership. University of Louisville, Kentucky, November 19, 2001, http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2001/6219.htm.
- “A Breakthrough and Not a Breakdown,” Palestinian Authority website, July 30, 2000,http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=4362.
- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Speech to Jewish Agency Assembly, June 28, 2005,http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=25792; Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Address to the Herzliya Conference, January 24, 2006, http://www.herzliyaconference.org/Eng/_Uploads/1401olmert.doc; Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speech at the Herzliya Conference, January 23, 2006, http://www.herzliyaconference.org/Eng/_Articles/Article.asp?ArticleID=1456&Cate-goryID=215.
- Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael L. Wise, “The Million Person Gap: A Critical Look at Palestinian Demography, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Perspectives on Current Affairs, May 7, 2006, http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/perspectives15.html.
- White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership,” June 24, 2002, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020624-3.html.
- U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” April 30, 2003, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/20062.htm.
- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “Roundtable With Traveling Press,” Jerusalem, Israel, November 4, 2007, www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2007/11/94600.htm.
- “Moussa: The Intifada Will Continue as Long as the Israeli Occupation Continues,” WAFA (Ramallah), August 31, 2001, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=7995.
- This symbolic refusal to accept Israel in any size is made clear by the PA’s consistent publication of maps of Palestine that encompass the entire State of Israel. Then, too, Fatah leaders, like Hamas leaders, refer to Arab citizens of Israel as 1948 Palestinians—that is, Arabs who have been living under Israeli occupation since 1948 rather than since 1967 in the case of the Arabs from Gaza, Judea and Samaria and unified Jerusalem. See for instance, Fatah editorial, “The Eyes of the World Turn Towards Jerusalem,” January 11, 2001, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=507. Moreover, the official PLO position on Palestinian statehood is that any Palestinian state must be based upon the partition plan set out in 1947 by UN General Assembly Resolution 181. See, for instance, Fatah editorial, “Actualizing Palestinian Sovereignty,” September 27, 2000, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=4706.
- Yigal Carmon and Aluma Solnick, “Camp David and the Prospects for a Final Settlement, Part I: Israeli, Palestinian and American Positions,” Middle East Media Research Institute Inquiry and Analysis no. 35, August, 4, 2000, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA3500.
- Yotam Feldner and Aluma Solnick, “Palestinian Thoughts on the Right of Return,” Middle East Media Research Institute Special Report no. 5, March 30, 2001, http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=ar chives&Area=sr&ID=SR00501.
- “Abbas Continues Rejecting ‘Jewish State’ Notion,” Jerusalem Post, December 1, 2001, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1195546775369&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull.
- Speech by Yasser Arafat at Arab Summit at Cairo, October 21, 2000, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=4920.
- Itamar Marcus, “This Week in the Palestinian Media,” Palestinian Media Watch, August 3, 2000, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=4384.
- “Hamas Wins Local Gaza elections, U.S. Unimpressed,” Palestine Media Center, January 29, 2005, http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=1&id=783.