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December 31, 2018 11:06 am

No Palestinian-Israel Peace in 2019 — but Here Are Some Developments We Can Expect

avatar by Abraham Cooper

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Cars drive on a highway as a train enters a station in Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 25, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Corinna Kern.

For Israel, 2019 will likely bring great achievements but also great disappointments.

The achievements will include: continued growth of Israel’s innovation economy; increased tourism; and development of a broad range of new inventions, along with drugs and devices to help people deal with many severe health issues.

The disappointments will include: continued Iranian-induced terrorist attacks and looming threats of war; endless hostility from the halls of the United Nations and the European Parliament; and the continued Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — waging asymmetrical economic and cultural warfare – seeking to demonize, isolate, and ultimately eliminate the Jewish state.

Despite the best efforts of President Trump, his senior advisers and son-in-law Jared Kushner to come up with a peace plan acceptable to the Palestinians and Israelis, they are taking on an impossible task at a time of new elections and political upheaval in Jerusalem, and an aging, corrupt, and unrepresentative Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

Make no mistake: Israelis yearn for the day when their 18-year-olds no longer have to devote two years of their young lives to put themselves in harm’s way. They want to live in peace with their Arab neighbors.

Israel today provides its Arab citizens, who comprise nearly one-fifth of the population, with more rights and a higher living standard than are enjoyed in Arab nations. But continuing Palestinian terrorism at its southern and northern borders — and in the West Bank — forces Israel to take significant security precautions, as any nation would when faced with similar threats.

Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) is holding out for impossible demands in any peace treaty, including the “right of return” for any Palestinian who left Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948 – plus all their millions of descendants. No Israeli government will ever accept the “right of return” poison pill that would create an Arab majority overnight  and spell the end of the lone, democratic Jewish state.

The PA also demands the return of every square inch of territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, leaving Israel with what Abba Eban, the late Israeli foreign minister, called indefensible “Auschwitz borders” — and without much of its historic capital and its holiest sites in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad Palestinian terrorist groups and their patron state Iran go even further, calling for Israel’s destruction through violence and terrorism.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas both use a school curriculum that denies Israel’s existence, and teaches children to venerate terrorists. As a result, there will be no peace breakthrough with the Palestinians in 2019, no matter how innovative President Trump’s peace plan may be — or how much Israel wants peace. It’s not about money, it’s not even so much about borders. It’s about psychology.

Many Palestinians — even those who claim to want to live in peace side by side with Israel — are opposed to the very concept of a Jewish state. But Jews, inspired by a vision of a return to Zion, founded Israel specifically to be a Jewish state, a refuge for Jews fleeing antisemitism and genocide; Israel was envisioned as a modern democracy — protecting the rights of all — in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

Still, in the year ahead, we can expect continuous Iranian threats to drive greater cooperation between Gulf States and Israel. This could lead that one or more of them finally recognizing Israel 70 years after its creation.

Having personally met Bahrain’s King Hamad and hosted two dozen Bahrain interfaith leaders in Jerusalem, my best hope and prayer is that the king will lead the way in normalizing relations with Israel. Other Arab states will follow and so eventually will a new generation of Palestinian leaders — but don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.

Not only does peace seem to be a distant dream, but Israel’s raucous political battles have yielded a December surprise and not a happy one: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his coalition government was dissolving and that snap elections would be held in April.

So is the Jewish state, a failing state? Quite the contrary. Indeed, there must be other aspects of Israel’s 2018 that help explain why 89 percent of its 8.9 million citizens have reported that they are happy with their lives.

Here’s some good news about Israel you rarely hear in the US and international media:

First, Israel actually experienced a huge increase in global tourism this year, led by Asia. Whatever tourists may have been hearing from biased media, there is nothing like experiencing the only Middle Eastern democracy and its holy sites firsthand to debunk the Big Lie that Israel is an “apartheid state.”

Nowhere was the tourist boom more in evidence than in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. An estimated four million tourists have visited the Holy City this year. This came as President Trump was true to his word and announced that the United States was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The actual move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem took place in business-like (not diplomatic) speed, and I was honored to witness the opening of the embassy on May 14.

Secondly, the “I” in Israel really does stand for innovation. Despite the fact that young Israelis have to serve in the IDF and can be called up to the reserves for decades – and despite the barbs, hatred, and violence flung their way — Israelis are committed to making a difference in ways that are impacting the lives of friends and enemies the world over.

Here’s a tiny sample of the world-changing innovations that emerged from Israel this year:’The world’s first 3D- printed vegan steak — which will help address how the planet can feed its exploding population;

And this spring, Israel is expected to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon in April. Furthermore, we can all expect to see more spectacular innovation from Israel that will improve our economies, our lives, our health, and our iPhones in the near future.

We can only hope and pray that someday a new generation of Palestinian leaders will realize their people are better off cooperating with their neighbors and living in peace than entrusting their children to corrupt leaders who reward young people not for innovation and education, but for murdering Jews — thus ensuring a never-ending conflict.

It’s unfortunate that this will not happen in 2019 — unless the Messiah himself intervenes. To hasten real change on the ground in the New Year, nations like Germany, France, and Japan should follow President Trump’s lead by snapping shut their checkbooks to the Palestinians unless and until they can prove that “humanitarian aid” doesn’t go to build terror tunnels or financially reward families whose sons murder and main Jews.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean and director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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