Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
The kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers near Hebron should give pause. Israel says it has evidence of involvement by Hamas, which the U.S. and the European Union consider a terrorist group. Hamas, which in its charter calls for the worldwide murder of Jews, was recently incorporated into the Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) regime that receives U.S taxpayer funding.
Given these circumstances, Israel needs to put an end to its concessionary policy of “confidence-building measures”: removing security checkpoints and roadblocks, freeing convicted and jailed Palestinian terrorists as demanded by the PA, etc., especially if it emerges that the absence of checkpoints enabled the terrorists to carry out the kidnapping/murders.
That some terrorist acts have been facilitated in this way is beyond argument. The January 2010 murder of Meir Chai by Fatah’s own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades occurred during a terrorist attack made possible by the removal of a road closure and checkpoint, part of the confidence-building measures previously urged on Israel by the Obama administration.
In April 2010, then-U.S. envoy George Mitchell again urged Israel to “make a number of gestures to Palestinians, including release of prisoners, removal of checkpoints, transfer of authority over West Bank territories.”
Israel acceded to U.S. wishes – and that August, Palestinian terrorists murdered four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, near Hebron. The attackers escaped the scene via a route opened by the removal of a checkpoint, also one of the “number of gestures” Mitchell had urged upon Israel.
Western governments, including the Obama administration, are continually tantalized at the prospect of renewed negotiations, and the PA has adroitly succeeded in recent years in making Israeli concessions a condition of their resumption. International leaders have willingly obliged.
Here, for example, is a news item from February 2012 about UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The UN chief urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make ‘goodwill gestures’ to bring the Palestinians back to direct negotiations, frozen since September 2010.”
Note that in such cases Israelis are not being asked to make these “gestures” in return for anything tangible but only so that the PA will deign to speak to them from across a table. In other words, the intended “gestures” are unilateral Israeli concessions.
Unfortunately, peace has never been facilitated by Israeli unilateral concessions. Quite the contrary.
The 2005 unilateral evacuation of Gaza and eviction of its Jewish residents was received by senior PA official Muhammad Dahlan in this manner: “The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is a victory for the Palestinian people’s will…. The withdrawal should take place without an agreement and with no political gains [for Israel].”
Rocket assaults on Israel from Gaza increased exponentially.
In 2009 came what Hillary Clinton described as “unprecedented” Israeli unilateral concession at the behest of President Obama: a 10-month unilateral freeze on the construction of Jewish homes in the West Bank. The result? The PA declined to resume talks until almost the very end of this period, only to almost immediately break them off and demand a permanent freeze – something that had never been a feature of previous Israeli/Palestinian talks.
In October 2011, Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners – including hundreds of convicted terrorists – in exchange for kidnapped Israeli serviceman Gilad Shalit. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal greeted this not as a step on the road to peace but as a great victory over Israel. Note that this was not even a unilateral concession but rather a negotiated one, and that it was not welcomed as a laudable effort to bring peace closer but an act of weakness heralding eventual Israeli defeat.
About the Author: Dr. Daniel Mandel is director of the Zionist Organization of America's Center for Middle East Policy.
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