Latest update: July 1st, 2013
Rudy Giuliani’s article in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs (“Toward a Realistic Peace“) marks an important statement about the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.”
Giuliani wrote that too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians; that the problem is not the absence of Palestinian statehood but corrupt and unaccountable Palestinian governance; and that Palestinian statehood must be earned, not simply given, through “sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel.”
The statement was a reiteration of the fundamental insight that underlay George W. Bush’s landmark June 24, 2002 White House speech: that the principal obstacle to peace has not been the absence of a plan – there have been the Allon Plan, the Rogers Plan, the Clinton Plan, the Tenet Plan, the Zinni Plan (to name just the few that come immediately to mind).
Nor has the obstacle been a Jewish unwillingness to accept a two-state solution or provide a so-called political horizon: the Jews accepted a formal two-state solution every time it was on the table: in the 1937 Peel Commission, in the 1947 U.N. resolution, in the 2000 Camp David offer by Ehud Barak, in the 2000-01 Clinton Parameters, and in the 2003 Road Map.
Moreover, in connection with its 2005 disengagement, Israel even exceeded its Phase I Road Map obligation (which required only that it dismantle illegal settlement “outposts” erected since March 2001) by totally dismantling all 21 long-standing settlements in Gaza and four other settlements in the West Bank, in an attempt to give the Palestinians the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to “live side-by-side, in peace and security.”
On the other hand, the Palestinians – obligated in Phase I to commence sustained, visible and effective efforts to dismantle their terrorist organizations and infrastructure – have yet to dismantle a single terrorist group, or even to curb the rockets into Sderot from Judenrein Gaza, more than four years after they formally accepted the Roadmap.
In light of all this, the Bush administration’s attempt to rush the “peace process” into Phase III negotiations at a November peace conference, with a Palestinian party that was unable even to hold onto its own offices in Gaza and whose control of even the West Bank depends on the IDF, is – not to put too fine a point on it – a bit premature. Giuliani’s important statement restores the balance that has been absent in the Bush administration’s decision to skip over Phase I and Phase II of its own Road Map.
Last week, Giuliani was in Los Angeles, and in the course of a Q&A session with a group of supporters was asked to expand on the points he had made about a Palestinian state in his Foreign Affairs article. Here is an excerpt from his response (the complete answer can be found in a video in the August 27 post at Jewish Current Issues – http://jpundit.typepad.com):
I think there has been a kind of movement within our State Department that was best reflected during the Clinton administration – but you can see a little of this in Bush I, and it is still there in Bush II – and it is to create a Palestinian state for the purpose of creating a Palestinian state, to say that we have achieved peace.
Well, that could be extremely dangerous. We want to create, not necessarily a Palestinian state for the purpose of creating a Palestinian state – we want to create a state that is now particularly going to help us in the Islamic terrorist war against us, not become another breeding ground for terrorism. . . .
So if we are going to create a Palestinian state that assists us, and doesn’t become a terrorist state, here’s what they have to do: they have to first renounce terrorism. . . . Secondly, they have to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. If they do that, we can then begin a process of trying to create a Palestinian state. But we shouldn’t do it until we are sure that those two things are real, and we’re not getting fooled, because we’ve gotten fooled in the past.
. . . And I say a third thing is, they have to show that they can sustain that for at least some safe period of time, that it isn’t just a statement for the purpose of lulling people into a negotiation. Then we won’t give people false expectations of being able to achieve something. We won’t give the Israeli people false expectations; we won’t give the Palestinian people false expectations; we won’t give the rest of the world false expectations, when the United States will get blamed for why it’s not working.
The reason we have not been able to create a Palestinian state to date is not because of lack of trying by the United States or Israel. It is because of the Palestinians. Clinton got Ehud Barak to agree to every single thing – I think unwisely, actually – that Arafat wanted, and Arafat walked away. The major problem of the Palestinian people is a corrupt, dishonest leadership. Arafat was a murderer and a thief . . .
You can’t negotiate with people like that. This isn’t a matter of being stubborn. . . . [T]here are people that are so dishonest, so dishonorable, that it is counter-productive to talk to them; it’s counter-productive to empower them. It just delays the ability to solve a problem.
It’s like trying to buy a house from somebody who doesn’t own the house. What’s the point of doing it? Maybe you kind of satisfy yourself and others that you are talking to somebody, but you’re never going to buy the house, because the person doesn’t own the house. You keep offering him money for the house, and he keeps agreeing, but then you don’t get the house. It’s just stupid.
When he endorsed the Road Map, Ariel Sharon recognized that peace is produced not by peace agreements, but by conditions on the ground that are conducive to peace. Speaking at the 2003 Herzliya Conference, Sharon emphasized that the sequence of the Road Map steps was as important as the expressed destination, because the sequence was the only way to get there:
The concept behind [the Road Map] is that only security will lead to peace. And in that sequence. Without the achievement of full security within the framework of which terror organizations will be dismantled it will not be possible to achieve genuine peace, a peace for generations. This is the essence of the Road Map.
The opposite perception, according to which the very signing of a peace agreement will produce security out of thin air, has already been tried in the past and failed miserably. And such will be the fate of any other plan which promotes this concept. These plans deceive the public and create false hope. There will be no peace before the eradication of terror. [Emphasis added]
Sharon’s observation was supported by the long experience with the plethora of plans and formal two-state opportunities that previously marked the “peace process,” but that never produced peace.
In the Road Map, all of the relevant parties – Israel, the Palestinians, the U.S., the UN, the EU and Russia – formally agreed to a process that reflected the hard-leaned lessons of the past and the principles Bush had announced in his June 24, 2002 address.
Giuliani’s Foreign Affairs article, and his more extended comments last week in Los Angeles, indicate he has not only learned those lessons and adopted those principles (and indeed applied them in his famous eviction of Yasir Arafat from Lincoln Center in 1995), but that he may in fact understand them better than the current administration.
As it heads toward a November peace conference on final status issues without having insisted on prior compliance with Phase I or II of its own Road Map, the Bush administration could use a dose of Giuliani realism.
About the Author: Rick Richman, whose work has appeared in The New York Sun, The Tower Magazine, and The Jewish Press, among other publications, is a prolific writer who appears regularly in Commentary magazine and its group Contentions blog, where this originally appeared. He also maintains the Jewish Current Issues blog (www.jpundit.typepad.com/jci/).
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