Poof, the Magic Settlements!
When Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, a recognized terrorist group that calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, the State Department’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, observed, “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”
Despite the obvious truth of this statement, Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel. As he told the Congress, “700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem. And poof! That was sort of the moment.”
Again the claim is that “magical” settlements can “magically” destroy a major peace negotiation. Somehow, the PA promoting hatred and violence, not arresting terrorists, allying itself with Hamas, refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state are not the destroyers of peace – it is the announcement of the construction of Jewish homes within the boundaries of settlements that existed when Oslo began. Specifically, in Gilo, a southern Jerusalem neighborhood of 40,000, which would remain part of Israel under any conceivable peace agreement.
Apparently, an alleged Palestinian desire for peace and statehood alongside Israel magically evaporated – poof! – at that moment.
Yet, if Palestinians’ urgent objective was to end settlements, they could do no better than rapidly negotiating with Israel the establishment of a Palestinian state from which they could exclude Jews. But this is precisely what they won’t do, because the price is acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel and an end of claims and conflict with it.
Thus, for virtually all of the past five and a half years, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) has refused to even participate in negotiations with Israel. When, in 2009, Israel froze Jewish construction in the West Bank for 10 months -something never agreed to by Israel in the Oslo agreements – the PA refused talks until almost the end of the 10-month period. It now demands that Israel free convicted, blood-soaked terrorists – again, something not required of Israel in any past agreement and an anti-peace demand in itself – before agreeing merely to talk to the Israelis.
The PA has neither moderated one iota its refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state (Mahmoud Abbas: “I do not accept a Jewish state, call it what you will”) nor its demand for a Jew-free Palestinian state (Abbas: “when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence in it”) nor even its partiality for violence (Abbas: “I turned to the Arab States and I said: ‘If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor'”). Only last week, the PA intervened to have six Israelis removed who were participating in a “peace run” to promote Israeli/Palestinian coexistence organized by Australian athlete Pat Farmer.
Abbas’ PA has not fulfilled its commitments under the Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools, and youth camps that helps fuel the conflict. Thus, the naming of streets and schools in honor of Jew-killing terrorists, publicizing false claims that Israel intends to destroy Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, PA clerics reviling Jews as AIDS and destroyers of humanity, teaching Palestinian children that Israel has no right to exist and to aspire to becoming terrorists – continues unabated.
Unsurprisingly, this is reflected in Palestinian society. A September 2013 Pew survey found that 62% of Palestinians justify the use of suicide terrorism. According to a July 2011 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCP) poll, an astonishing 73% of Palestinians agree with the Islamic teaching about the need to murder the Jews cited in Article 7 of the Hamas Charter. The same poll showed that 61% of Palestinians reject the idea of a peaceful Palestinian state living alongside Israel as the solution to the Arab/Israeli war, as against only a third (34%) who accept it. It also showed that a mere 1% of Palestinians accept the idea of Jerusalem continuing to be the capital of Israel. Hardly a Palestinian record of peace-making, moderation, or flexibility.
Against all this, the Israeli Government acceded in principle to Palestinian statehood and, as mentioned, even unilaterally froze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months in an effort to have the Palestinians merely resume negotiations. In 2000 and again in 2008, the PA refused without counter-offer Israeli proposals of Palestinian statehood on virtually all of the territory it is officially demanding.
Last year, Israel freed scores of convicted Palestinian murderers, demanded by Abbas as a precondition of the PA merely turning up to negotiations – and yet the PA continues to refuse talks, their alibi being “settlements,” even though they comprise only 3% of all of Judea and Samaria.
That reason is totally false and irrational – yet people believe it. It must be magic.
Morton A. Klein is the National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).