There is another bad agreement in the making under the patronage of the Obama Hope and Change Campaign in the Middle East. History has shown that failed hopes and high expectations can lead to dire consequences (Angola and Rwanda are each a case in point). The Madrid Conference of 1991 was followed by the 1993 Oslo Accords, which were heralded by the New York Times as “a triumph of hope over history,” but resulted in a lethal Intifada. More people died after the failed Oslo Accords than had done during the conflicts that preceded them.
Furthermore, negotiating a second peace agreement after a failed one is often more difficult and costly. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there have been multiple previous failed agreements. Between 1993 and 2001, Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have signed six different agreements aimed at bringing a lasting peace. The Palestinians failed to respond positively to the window of opportunity presented by the 1979 Camp David Accords which brought peace between Israel and Egypt. After that came the Jordanian-Israeli peace accord, which was followed by the Taba Agreement (known as Oslo II), the 1997 Hebron Agreement, 1998 Wye River Memorandum, 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, August 2000 Camp David “Final Status” Summit, and the 2001 Taba Conference.
Israel and the Palestinians have mutually opposing national goals that cannot be reconciled. On both sides, these national goals enjoy a wide popular consensus. The Palestinian side is centered on an independent state from which it can launch and pursue a strategy aimed at eliminating Israel, the recapture of East Jerusalem and the removal of all the settlements. On the Israeli side, the consensus was always solidly against the return of the refugees and division of Jerusalem. The Palestinians insist on the Right of Return which effectively means the destruction of the Jewish State, and the Israelis, who agree to a two state solution, want to assure maximum security by controlling the land and the destinies of the Palestinians. Despite all good intentions it is almost impossible to overcome those contradictions, especially in an atmosphere of high mutual distrust and distrust of the go-between, the Obama administration.
To make matters even more complex, one must wonder why after 65 years of deplorable living conditions, poverty, and decades of existence under a so called “occupation”, a peace seeking moderate Palestinian leadership that does not deny the Holocaust (Mahmoud Abbas) and that rejects calls by Iran and Hamas to destroy Israel, has failed to emerge. It is clear to all that by now, 20 years since the Oslo agreement, the very last Israeli soldier posted in the Jordan Valley under whatever security arrangement, would have been long withdrawn. After all, Israel has proposed creating an international regime in an area of Jerusalem that included the Old City, and agreed to give the Palestinian Arabs 97 percent of the land area of the West Bank, but both were rejected as insufficient by the Palestinian. The Palestinians continued objection to Israeli security conditions must be reexamined therefore, as they may only be a cover up of a more sinister truth; the Palestinian leadership sees a better future in a continued state of war and continued “occupation.”
One must consider the possibility, as upsetting to some as it may be, that the Palestinian leadership considers a state of perpetual war with Israel a safer bet than a state of peace. Not ever having been a cohesive people, or having had a state, a continued state of war is the glue that holds the Palestinians together and may be considered by them as the safer choice. Paradoxically, a state of war and “occupation” provides the Palestinian leadership with the safety net necessary to hold on to and perpetuate the dictatorship, and the iron fist approach with which they govern their own people. A state of war is, after all, a familiar pattern with set in place mechanisms that impose a military-like rule and order, condone summary executions, and stifle dissent. It also generates profits, provides employment, and generates international support and sympathy. A continuous state of war against the Jews is a religious and moral imperative that is rooted in Islam and provides for a ready made propaganda machine.
While it is true that Israel finds itself in a difficult position resulting from International and American pressure, a delegitimization campaign, a demographic inferiority and a land squeeze, committing national suicide by banking on empty American assurances is not the solution to these problems. Further concessions in response to US pressures will put Israel’s security in jeopardy without advancing the cause of peace.
The main reason that the Palestinian leadership has held on to demands that they know will never be acceptable to Israel, is that they realize that peace with Israel will, paradoxically, bring an end to the Palestinian entity. It will dissolve the adhesive that holds the Palestinians together and it will result in a loss of political control and cohesion. It will add thousands of Jihadist warriors to the ranks of the disgruntled and unemployed, who will flood the streets, and voila another ‘Arab Spring’, a Palestinian one. Peace with Israel for the Palestinians leadership is a dive into a dark and bottomless abyss, and based on their track record they seem to be more at home with a perpetual state of war.Igal Zuravicky MD FACC
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