Photo Credit: pixabay
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck-it ain't the 'Dove of Peace'

Rivers of ink and blood have been spilled for “peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. So much has been sacrificed and written though there can be no peace between the two sides as the critical drivers of peace creation are nonexistent on the Palestinian side. Israel can try to make peace with itself but it cannot make peace with the Palestinians. The sooner Israel’s leaders and the international facilitators of peace realize this fact, the more likely a stable arrangement will emerge between the parties.

If one looks at peace agreements and negotiations throughout history, there have generally been two main drivers for former enemies to make peace. Some peace agreements are driven by battlefield outcomes. The Germans and the Japanese did not agree to unconditional surrender out of the goodness of their hearts. The Germans were effectively overrun by the Red Army from the East to Berlin, as well as by the British and Americans from the West. Continuing the war would have led to no improvement in Germany’s condition and would only have brought about more destruction and civilian deprivations. The Japanese surrendered after both the atomic blasts and the active conquest of Japanese territory by the Soviet army. The Soviets continued to take land—as promised by Truman to Stalin—even after the Japanese formally surrendered. Battlefield triumph is often the main driver for peace—the losing side has no viable alternative but to sue for it.


The other driver for peace is the prospects of what comes after the peace agreement is signed. One only has to look at the relatively recent Abraham Accords to see that both Israel and its co-signers both envisioned and realized enormous economic benefits from signing the accords. Air travel, billions in investments, tourism, joint scientific development, military cooperation—all of these features were desired by both sides and were awaiting an agreement that would formalize relations between Israel and its former non-combatant enemies. My company was the first to send a package directly to a client in Dubai shortly after the Abraham Accords were announced. The economic, cultural, political and military benefits for both sides seem endless.

So with the above in mind, let’s take a look at the state of affairs between Israel and the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah. While Israel did win previous wars, it did not push the Palestinians so far in 1967 that they demanded peace in exchange for a cessation of hostilities. Rather, after Israel successfully secured Jordanian and Egyptian withdrawals from the Jordan River to Gaza, the war was effectively over. There was no effort to crush the local Palestinian population into submission. The Palestinians thus never lost a war so badly that they demanded that Israel make peace with them. Even during the intifada, the military action was localized and after specific goals were achieved, Israel pulled out its army from Palestinian population centers.

So what of the second path to peace, the potential fruits that come after the agreement is signed? I previously wrote on why the Palestinians would be in serious trouble if they signed a peace agreement—think of those million “refugees” coming from Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere to overwhelm the government in Ramallah. And what would be the upside of peace for the Palestinians? Whether the government would be in east Jerusalem or Ramallah, what would be different tomorrow as compared to yesterday? Participation in the Olympics (something they already have)? A brand new seat in the UN general assembly (they are already “observers”)? Nothing would be new or significantly better for the Palestinians. There would be no great improvement in their economy or standard of living. Whatever business they have with Israel would be the same. In short, unlike their peers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain, the Palestinians do not see a treasure trove of new opportunities coming after signing a peace treaty with Israel.

The same cannot be said of Israel. A real peace treaty with the Palestinians would radically change the nation’s military requirements. It would also potentially open the door to future peace agreements with countries that have demanded a peace treaty with Palestinians as a prerequisite for peace with them (like the Saudis). Israel could divert monies spent on the army into R&D or reduce taxes to spur economic growth. For Israel, a peace treaty and real peace with the Palestinians would be a boon to economic and regional growth as well as security.

But just as until recently one could not marry himself, Israel’s great desire for peace means nothing as long as the Palestinians see no reason to make peace. It is unlikely that Israel would launch a war to crush the Palestinians so as to cause the latter to beg for peace. It is also equally unlikely that the Palestinians would see anything in a peace agreement that would be so beneficial that it would be worth the risks associated with making peace with the much-hated Israel. So there can be no peace, as there is no driver from the battlefield or from the economic side.

So what should all of our peacemakers in the Quartet do? Absolutely nothing. They should make it clear to the Palestinians that when there is a genuine desire for peace with Israel, they will make every effort to see it realized. Egypt was a sworn enemy of Israel, but when Anwar Sadat kicked out the Soviets and did not see American aid coming in, he went to the extreme of coming to Jerusalem to address the Knesset. The busybody peace makes need to find new hobbies until the Palestinians come to a realization that making a peace agreement with Israel will have more upside economically and politically than the current state of affairs. One has to have a driver for peace and at this time, such a driver is lacking on the Palestinian side, though many politicians like to blame Israel or “both sides” for the lack of progress over 50 years. The good news is just as Sadat went very quickly from war against Israel to Camp David, the Palestinians may come around sooner rather than later. Since the Palestinians believe that all of the land belongs to them, maybe one should not put too much money on them moving very quickly.

Just for reference, the Russians and Japanese are still negotiating a peace treaty from World War 2, as the Russians have no interest in returning the land they captured at the tail end of the war. Those peace negotiations have been going on for over seven decades.


Previous articleNFL’s Howard Katz Rejects Giants’ Plea Not to Play on Rosh HaShanah
Next articleThe Death Of Shireen Abu Akleh And The Imploding Palestinian Cause
Dr. Alan Bauer and his son were wounded in a suicide bombing in central Jerusalem on March 21, 2002. Dr. Bauer lives and works in Jerusalem.