Why did Israel choose to announce that it was planning to build new houses in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim? Israel knew perfectly well that the world would jump with glee at this new evidence of Israel’s unwillingness ever to accept the idea of compromise or the existence of a Palestinian state. Israel, to be sure, is already the most hated nation on earth, but it doesn’t need a new burst of hostility coming from every direction. Even friendly nations like Canada have jumped on the bandwagon. Israel almost certainly knew this would happen.
If Israel wanted never to give up another inch of territory under any circumstances, which is what the world is saying, then it didn’t need to start construction in E-1. It already controls the area. Israel is in fact doing the opposite of what it is accused of. It is preparing for the day, perhaps in the near future, when it will cede land to the Arabs in order to gamble for recognition and peace. Israel has always made such gambles. However, Israel wants to hold on to most of the West Bank territory where Jewish Israelis live. One of the major communities Israel wants to keep is Ma’ale Adumim, a de facto suburb of Jerusalem with a population of 40,000. Filling in the space between this suburb and the city of Jerusalem is a statement that Israel is ready to give up lots of territory but doesn’t want Ma’ale Adumim to be included in this deal.
The resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly on November 29 giving “Palestine” the status of a “non-member observer state” was the world’s way of saying to Israel that Israel would have to give up the West Bank without negotiations and without compromise. Israel responded by showing its flexibility and preparing for a compromise on withdrawal and maybe even an agreement.
Hamas has never for one moment considered compromise. Hamas is following the tradition of the Three No’s of Khartoum, adopted by the Arab world in 1967: No peace with Israel. No recognition of Israel. No negotiations with Israel. Had the Three No’s not been adopted, the West Bank would have been peacefully divided by now. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said in 1967 that he was “waiting for a telephone call” from Arab leaders. Had the call come, there would be no talk of the “occupation of the West Bank” today. Hamas has repeated and expanded the Three No’s in its Charter, which excludes the possibility of recognizing Israel’s existence. And on December 8th, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said, “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it may take.” He also said, “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession of any inch of the land.” In response to the speech, world leaders yawned.
It is unfortunate that the world does not appreciate Israel’s compromises and is indifferent to the call by Meshal to destroy Israel, and, presumably, its people.