Friday, September 30, 2011

The Palestinians want land without peace; why won't the world recognize the obvious?

With all the talk about a Palestinian state and the demands that Mahmoud Abbas is making to have a Palestinian state recognized without their having to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, it seems as if people at the UN are using mental blinders to ignore all the recent history of how Palestinians have reacted when they had the opportunity to gain land while recognizing Israel's right to exist. Charles Krauthammer reviews the recent history to remind everyone of what is really going on. They have consistently refused to give up the "right of return" in order to get land. They insist on that right for all Palestinians to return to Israel where they could demographically overrun the country and turn it into an Arab state. They were offered land for peace by Clinton before he left office. In 2008 Prime Minister Olmert offered the West Bank with land swaps, Palestinian statehood and the division of Israel including turning over Judaisim's most sacred site, the Western Wall to international supervision. But the Palestinians turned all this down. Shouldn't their rejection and the reasons for it be part of the discussion today?
Did Abbas accept? Of course not. If he had, the conflict would be over and Palestine would already be a member of the United Nations.

This is not ancient history. All three peace talks occurred over the past decade. And every one completely contradicts the current mindless narrative of Israeli “intransigence” as the obstacle to peace.

Settlements? Every settlement remaining within the new Palestine would be destroyed and emptied, precisely as happened in Gaza.

So why did the Palestinians say no? Because saying yes would have required them to sign a final peace agreement that accepted a Jewish state on what they consider the Muslim patrimony.

The key word here is “final.” The Palestinians are quite prepared to sign interim agreements, like Oslo. Framework agreements, like Annapolis. Cease-fires, like the 1949 armistice. Anything but a final deal. Anything but a final peace. Anything but a treaty that ends the conflict once and for all — while leaving a Jewish state still standing.

After all, why did Abbas go to the United Nations last week? For nearly half a century, the United States has pursued a Middle East settlement on the basis of the formula of land for peace. Land for peace produced the Israel-Egypt peace of 1979 and the Israel-Jordan peace of 1994. Israel has offered the Palestinians land for peace three times since. And been refused every time.

Why? For exactly the same reason Abbas went to the United Nations last week: to get land without peace. Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. Statehood without negotiations. An independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel.

Israel gave up land without peace in south Lebanon in 2000 and, in return, received war (the Lebanon war of 2006) and 50,000 Hezbollah missiles now targeted on the Israeli homeland. In 2005, Israel gave up land without peace in Gaza, and again was rewarded with war — and constant rocket attack from an openly genocidal Palestinian mini-state.

Israel is prepared to give up land, but never again without peace. A final peace. Which is exactly what every Palestinian leader from Haj Amin al-Husseini to Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept. Which is why, regardless of who is governing Israel, there has never been peace. Territorial disputes are solvable; existential conflicts are not.

Land for peace, yes. Land without peace is nothing but an invitation to national suicide.