Your View: Israel needs a willing partner to produce peace

 I read the first half of a June 15 op-ed concerning the Mideast peace process in complete agreement (”Your View: Don’t let Mideast peace slip from our grasp again”). Like many across the world, I shared the author’s joy and hope when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met Yasser Arafat at the White House after signing the Oslo Accord in 1993.

The second half of the piece, unfortunately, places undue blame on the Israeli government for the current plight of the Palestinian people. Moreover, Master puts too much weight in the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas when he concludes that this could be the launching pad for a peace process.

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is one of the most complicated disputes in history. Palestinians and Israelis alike hold legitimate claims to land.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians have never chosen peace when it was presented, and that is the fatal flaw in the op-ed. A peace process can never truly begin without a willing partner with whom the Israelis can negotiate.

The Palestinians have consistently rejected any deal with Israel that does not include the Palestinians taking the land “from the river to the sea.” For those unfamiliar with this phrase, it means that the Palestinians seek the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (i.e., all of Israel). This is not a compromise position, but rather a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Robby Wax
Israel and the Palestinians have been mired in their worst conflict in years as Hamas militants fired rockets into the Jewish state and Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery.
Israel and the Palestinians have been mired in their worst conflict in years as Hamas militants fired rockets into the Jewish state and Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/TNS)

The Palestinians rejected the United Nations partition plan in 1947, which would have created two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. When Arafat rose to power in 1969, he used terrorism as his chosen tool rather than seek peace. Arafat called for a boycott of Egypt when Anwar Sadat signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979.

As for the Oslo Accord, the Palestinians sent waves of suicide bombers into Israel rather than implement the Oslo roadmap to peace. In July 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a peace plan possible in exchange for the end of his reign of terror. Arafat rejected the proposals and refused to offer any counterproposals. Rather, the Palestinians began a new wave of terror resulting in the murder of more Israelis.

The same narrative played out again in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, another broad peace proposal. Once again, the Palestinians rejected it and refused to discuss any concessions.

The June 15 op-ed fails to acknowledge that generations of Israeli leaders — those on the left and the right — have failed to secure peace. It hasn’t been for lack of effort, but rather because Palestinian leaders seem to have no desire for peace.

How does Gaza play into this narrative?

For those who aren’t familiar with the Gaza Strip, it is a small territory along the Mediterranean Sea, which previously included numerous Israeli villages.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pursued a different approach to the peace process. Since the Palestinians still refused to come to the negotiating table, he required the unilateral evacuation of all Israelis from the Gaza Strip, so the Palestinians could control their own destiny in Gaza.

Gaza is now being controlled by Hamas, which the United States has recognized as a terrorist organization for nearly 25 years. Backed by Iran, Hamas terrorists routinely fire rockets indiscriminately into populated areas within Israel, including Tel Aviv.

Hamas launches these rockets from schools and hospitals, using Palestinians as human shields. In 2015, I visited Sderot, a small town near the Gaza border, and I witnessed firsthand the bomb shelters being used by children and elderly alike who have only a few seconds to dive into these bunkers for safety.

Unfortunately the June 15 op-ed skips this entire reality. It mistakenly blames settlements and security measures undertaken by the Israelis for the lack of an effective peace process. These are not the impediments to peace.

As is noted by various commentators, if the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be no more Israel.

I yearn for the day when Palestinian children can look forward to a brighter future, and I dream of a time when Palestinians and Israelis can live adjacent as peaceful neighbors.

However, the only hope for peace is the eventual realization by Palestinian leaders that compromise and diplomacy are the answer, not terrorism fueled by Iran.



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