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June 25, 2019 7:02 am

There Won’t Be Peace Until the Palestinians Accept Israel

avatar by Harold Ohayon


Palestinians gather near the Israel-Gaza Strip border fence, east of Gaza City, May 15, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

Amnesia and willful ignorance seem to be running amok in today’s political arena, especially when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians — mostly due to the desperation for a peace agreement. And it is in this environment that we were introduced to President Trump’s plan to alleviate the economic hardships facing the Palestinian people.

But the uncomfortable reality of the situation is that the conflict is not about economics. Nor is it about two states. This festering conflict fails to cease because one side absolutely refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other.

Even before being presented with the US plan, the Palestinians rejected it outright. They did not know any details, nor did they come to the table with any counter-proposals. They simply rejected it, just as they rejected the peace plans presented by former Israeli leaders Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.

And they will continue to reject any proposal that will end the conflict — because right now, they do not want it to end.

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Palestinian politicians are masters of intransigence. The peace proposals of the past would have ensured that they gained statehood on the majority of the land they claim to want as their own.

The Palestinians had an amazing opportunity when Israel withdrew from Gaza. They could have put aside their never-ending animosity, and truly experimented with nation building. True, Gaza may not have become a Singapore or a Hong Kong, but the Palestinians could have tried to build a new world for themselves. Instead, they broke down into civil strife and elected a monstrous terrorist organization to rule over them.

Palestinian leaders claim they are in dire financial straits, yet they refuse to stop paying convicted murderers in Israeli prisons. They bemoan their economic reality, yet they shun President Trump’s economic proposal. For years now, they have milked the international community in terms of sympathy and funds. But the world is tired of this issue. Even their Arab brothers around the Middle East are tired of it. But instead of negotiating with the Trump administration or the Israeli government, they kick and scream and lob insults at anyone who tells them to accept Israel’s existence and come to the table.

The reality of the situation is that this conflict will not end until the Palestinians wake up from their maximalist dreams and realize they will never replace Israel. Some may say this view is pessimistic, but a bitter dose of reality is needed.

If you examine the protests in the West Bank denouncing the economic conference, you will see signs and placards that show “Palestine” superimposed on top of Israel. There are no two states in these pictures. Nor does any sign advocate for a general atmosphere of peace. In the Palestinian mind, the future Palestinian state will include all the land from “the river to the sea.” These are the boundaries of the maps displayed on Palestinian TV. These are the borders illustrated in Palestinian textbooks. And that is what they will continue to fight for.

And so the conflict will rage on — until a time comes when the Palestinians realize that the only way to achieve statehood is by accepting their neighbor and living in peace with her.

Harold Ohayon teaches junior high school students in Hokkaido, Japan. When not slaving away at school, he enjoys musing about politics, religion, and philosophy over Korean food.

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