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January 2, 2017 1:27 pm

A New Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking

avatar by Arik Elman

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Twitter.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Twitter.

Some of my friends — even intelligent friends — say that, however unpleasant, a Borat-esque “running of the Jew” must now be enacted, because we need a reminder that the two-state solution is the only way to be rid of the Palestinian problem, as we can’t absorb Palestinians into our state, can’t rule them and can’t deport them.

Here’s the problem, folks: You might want two states, but the Palestinians want one state and us gone. This is their ethos; this is why they were invented; this is why the PLO was created. Their goal is not to have a statelet and half-a-Jerusalem, but to have it all, to reverse the Nakba, to free the believers from the rule of the Jews. Nothing — I repeat, nothing — in the Palestinian mental and cultural makeup has prepared them for peaceful coexistence with the Jews.

Yet, embracing your two-state paradigm for a moment (I’m hedging my bets), how would we progress toward that solution?

There was the Rabin-Peres-Barak-Livni way, which meant we negotiate and we negotiate and we negotiate, then blam! — we have peace and things work out. That didn’t work. The Palestinians, instead, took all that was offered to them as the necessary starting point for any future negotiations, then walked away. To bring them back to the table, Americans forced Israel to concede more upfront, so that, with each round, we lost more chips before the wheel even started spinning. Also, they killed us during the intermissions.

There was the Sharon-Olmert method of unilateral separation, which meant, in its ideal form, that we rid ourselves of failed projects like Gaza, keep what we really want, give the Palestinians the finger and America supports us. That didn’t work, because each Israeli withdrawal was taken by the Palestinians as a victory for the “resistance,” a sign that their way is winning, so they should do more resisting. It also turned out that solemn American promises are written on water.

The Obama-Kerry way, it appears, was not to actually advance the two-state solution, but to “preserve” it, by forcing Israel to stop or slow down Jewish immigration into the territories the Americans see as exclusively Palestinian. Along the way, Obama tried to move the Israeli public close to Palestinian demands by influencing our political choices. We all know how that turned out.

Remember Sherlock Holmes? “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” All of these bright ideas turned out to be impossible, and the costs have been appalling. Only one way, considered until now to be improbable, remains: putting the squeeze not on Israel, but on the Palestinians.

Consider this. Never since the Oslo process started in 1993 have Palestinians had to pay any real price for their rejectionism, obstruction, failure to negotiate in a good faith, incitement, murder, corruption and general “F*** you” attitude. On the contrary, each time the Palestinians behaved abominably, they got new concessions just so they’d stop. We can’t even apply financial sanctions against them, because it would hurt us more. The Palestinian Authority has become the perfect racket. And the Americans went along with this, moving the goal-posts of a future settlement closer and closer to Palestinian demands, deeper and deeper into Israel’s red lines.

On the other hand, having been on the receiving end of Palestinian “non-violence” on and off for more than 20 years now, in addition to certain demographic changes, the Israeli public is less ready today to accept the parameters of a “solution” which so manifestly favors the other side. For Heaven’s sake, when did the 1949 armistice lines become the Holy Grail of Palestinian statehood? Does anyone really think that a majority of Israelis will be ready to give up chunks of their land from within the “Green line” for the privilege of keeping Gilo, Pisgat Zeev and Gush Etzion, which they consider rightfully theirs? Who decided that the capital of a Palestinian state must be in Jerusalem?

One of the tastier morsels in the steaming pile of crap that was John Kerry’s speech was his insistence on the negligible  differences between the Israeli and Palestinian positions. Nothing could be further from the truth, unless the Israeli position is measured in Haaretz editorials (which is probably where Kerry gets his intel). Of all Kerry’s “6 principles” (heavily skewed against Israel), not one is in any way accepted by either Israelis or Palestinians, much less both.

The time has come to try a revolutionary new strategy. Instead of pushing, haranguing and blackmailing the party that actually wants peace, try to force the hand of those who have proven time and again that what they really want is a total, final victory. The Palestinians must be pushed and punished, the Palestinians should have their demands cut down to suit the Israeli ones.

Drop your illusions. Peace will never come out of a mutual, equitable compromise between us and them, because their culture does not accept a mutual, equitable compromise with us, who they call sons of pigs and monkeys. Peace will only come as a result of them being forced to accept terms, with no other alternative.

If America truly wishes to advance peace, as Donald Trump says it does, then it must begin by smashing the Palestinian belief in their invulnerability. The price for Palestinian non-compliance must be exacted in the only currency available — gradual American recognition of Israel’s territorial gains in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Transfer of the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem would be a good first step.

Faced with the perspective of losing bits and pieces of their future state forever, the Palestinians’ first recourse will, of course, be violence, then turning to the international community — but, after that, they just might reconsider coming to the negotiating table. If the cost of each push by the Palestinians at the International Criminal Court or UNESCO or wherever would be American recognition of another few square kilometers east of the “Green line” as Israel’s, then maybe, just maybe, Palestinian leadership would crawl back to negotiations. Faced with an America that has stopped being an “honest broker” (translation, “Palestinian stooge”) and has come down on the side of the Jews, the Palestinians  just might agree to something that the Israeli public would be able to swallow. They still wouldn’t really commit to a word of the deal. They would still wait for the opportune moment to destroy us. But they would sign it.

Peace, and a happy New Year.

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