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Opinion

Opinion

Palestinians are seeking land without peace

October 1, 2011

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While diplomatically inconvenient for the Western powers, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ attempt to get the United Nations to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state has elicited widespread sympathy. After all, what choice did he have? According to the accepted narrative, Middle East peace is made impossible by a hard-line Likud-led Israel that refuses to accept a Palestinian state and continues to build settlements.

It is remarkable how this gross inversion of the truth has become conventional wisdom. In fact, Benjamin Netanyahu brought his Likud-led coalition to open recognition of a Palestinian state, thereby creating Israel’s first national consensus for a two-state solution. He is also the only prime minister to agree to a settlement freeze — 10 months — something no Labor or Kadima government has ever done.

To which Abbas responded by boycotting the talks for nine months, showing up in the 10th, then walking out when the freeze expired. Last week he reiterated that he will continue to boycott peace talks unless Israel gives up — in advance — claim to any territory beyond the 1967 lines. Meaning, for example, that the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem is Palestinian territory. This is not just absurd. It violates every prior peace agreement. They all stipulate that such demands are to be the subject of negotiations, not their precondition.

Abbas unwaveringly insists on the so-called “right of return,” which would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state. And he has repeatedly declared, as recently as last week in New York: “We shall not recognize a Jewish state.”

Nor is this new. It is perfectly consistent with the long history of Palestinian rejectionism. Consider:

• Camp David, 2000. At a U.S.-sponsored summit, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offers Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza — and, astonishingly, the previously inconceivable division of Jerusalem. Arafat refuses — and makes no counteroffer, thereby demonstrating his unseriousness about making any deal. Instead, within two months, he launches a savage terror war that kills a thousand Israelis.

• Taba, 2001. An even sweeter deal — the Clinton Parameters — is offered. Arafat walks away again.

• Israel, 2008. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert makes the ultimate capitulation to Palestinian demands — 100 percent of the West Bank (with land swaps), Palestinian statehood, the division of Jerusalem with the Muslim parts becoming the capital of the new Palestine. And incredibly, he offers to turn over the city’s holy places, including the Western Wall — Judaism’s most sacred site, its Kaaba — to an international body on which sit Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Did Abbas accept? Of course not. If he had, the conflict would be over and Palestine would already be a member of the United Nations.

This is not ancient history. All three peace talks occurred over the past decade. And every one completely contradicts the current mindless narrative of Israeli “intransigence” as the obstacle to peace.

Settlements? Every settlement remaining within the new Palestine would be destroyed and emptied, precisely as happened in Gaza.

So why did the Palestinians say no? Because saying yes would have required them to sign a final peace agreement that accepted a Jewish state on what they consider the Muslim patrimony.  

The key word here is “final.” The Palestinians are quite prepared to sign interim agreements, like Oslo. Framework agreements, like Annapolis. Cease-fires, like the 1949 armistice. Anything but a final deal. Anything but a final peace. Anything but a treaty that ends the conflict once and for all — while leaving a Jewish state still standing.

After all, why did Abbas go to the U.N. last week? For nearly half a century, the United States has pursued a Middle East settlement on the basis of the formula of land for peace. Land for peace produced the Israel-Egypt peace of 1979 and the Israel-Jordan peace of 1994. Israel has offered the Palestinians land for peace three times since. And been refused every time.

Why? For exactly the same reason Abbas went to the U.N. last week: to get land without peace. Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. Statehood without negotiations. An independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel.

This is the reason that, regardless of who is governing Israel, there has never been peace. Territorial disputes are solvable; existential conflicts are not.

Land for peace, yes. Land without peace is nothing but an invitation to suicide.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

Comments

ljwhirled 2 years, 6 months ago

Lets give them Texas. Good riddance.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 months ago

Many times I have wondered if I am the only poster here that has signed up for and receives free emails from the following websites:

www.freemuslims.org

www.bitterlemons.org

www.jpost.com

It's very interesting to read differing points of view, while realizing that the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 months ago

The Koran is very explicit in stating that no Muslim is to have a Christian or a Jewish friend. If there is no friendship, how can there be peace?

From the Koran:

The Family of Imran [3.28] Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.

The Women [4.144] O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?

The Dinner Table [5.51] O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. [5.81] And had they believed in Allah and the prophet and what was revealed to him, they would not have taken them for friends but! most of them are transgressors.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 months ago

In about 1820, my father's family left what is now Germany and went to Russia.

For those not well educated on the subject of European history, before the Franco Prussian War of 1870 - 1871 there was no Germany, there were only a number of German principalities. After Prussia was defeated and no longer existed, Germany came into being.

After leaving the German principalities, there was no talk in my family of leaving Russia and going back to Germany, instead they built a new life in a new country.

Then, between the years 1880 and 1917, the Russian government began to renege on the promises made to the German immigrants, and it became especially bad when the Bolsheviks took over the Russian government after the Russian Revolution in 1917.

So, a large number of Germans left Russia and came to the Midwest of the United States. We feel very much at home here. The only thing that is a bit confusing is when old family stories are retold that mention "the old country". It's often not clear whether it is Germany or Russia that is being referred to.

No one in my family has ever thought of returning to Russia or Germany.

I wonder why Arabs are so different.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 6 months ago

what's the issue here? the US did this to indian tribes forever....and when the tribes got footing in the US Court system the US Congress asserted plenary power to abrogate treaties whenever it felt necessary like the Lone Wolf Case of 1903 in the US Supreme Court. Members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy went to the League of Nations in in 1921-22 like the Palestinians to gain justice. In fairness, the Haudenosaunee people never resorted to the violence and rocket launching Hamas and the others have.

It reminds me of the 19th century conflict between the Pawnee and Lakota peoples. The Lakotas were the bosses on the block fighting numerous tribes and the US government being successful most of the time. The Pawnees had the US Government and other tribes and settlers encroaching on them. In the end before removal to Oklahoma in the 1870's. Pawnee warriors had to side with the US Military as scouts to be able to mount a resistence to the Lakota who attacked them with impugnity. The more I looked at the similarities between Israel and the Palestinians and the Pawnee and the Lakota I had to write this. I'd like to see an agreed peace in the Middle East but until one side feels like the other side will stop attacking them and the other side is willing ot acknowledge the other side's right to exist... what can one do?

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Abdu Omar 2 years, 6 months ago

During the so-called 10 month freeze, there were other issues going on. The attack on Southern Lebanon. Let me touch on that: Two Israeli soldiers ventured into Lebanon. Hezbollah captured them and tried to make a deal to get Hezbollah and other groups freed from Israeli prisons. But the Israelis didn't want to negotiate because they had the chance to make an international issue out of those two soldiers. They attacked Hezbollah and Hezbollah repelled them. Israel went into a state of shock and couldn't mobilize the Knesset. As I stated in another post on another topic, I am not against Jews. Jews are part of the People of the Book that is revered in the Quran. I am not anti-semitic, partly because I am semitic. But, the world cannot accept nor should the world accept apartheid in any form. A Jewish State is not a good thing for the world. What would happen if say France decided to expell everyone who is not Christian; not Catholic? Where would the Muslims go who were born there and had land and were part of the electorate? Or the Jews or the Non-Catholics? Even their president would be exiled. Apartheid is not good.

Of course there are many more issues than the settlements, ie the Wall, Jerusalem, refugees, and so on. So when everything is equal, every side will be able to negotiate with equal power and that is a good idea for the Palestinians who have never had that going for them. Did someone say "fairness"?

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Abdu Omar 2 years, 6 months ago

In order to get elected, Netanyahu became hard line against the Arabs. There can be an easy peace if they just look at the facts. One of the facts over looked all the time is that Israel has superior military power over the Palestinians a hundred fold. The PA gets a few rockets, a few guns and grenades and that is about it. Israel has air power equal to the US and a determination to use them if the Palestinian children throw rocks. If the wall was erected on Israeli land, no mention would be made, but they cut off much of the trade and trade routes in the Palestinian land by erecting it on Palestinian land. Remove the wall or replace it on their own land and a major problem is solved. Does Israel really worry about security? No. Why should they? They have the second strongest military in the world and America isn't going to attack them. Their choppers can cut down an entire 20 acre grove of olive trees in a minute. What have they to fear? Really. A few rockets and when Palestine becomes a state, the government will punish those who shoot them into Israel. The recognition of Israel is a moot point since it is there, it is armed and it is ready to take on the world. The Palestinian recognition of Israel has been recorded. The only problem is the SETTLEMENTS which takes away land Palestine needs for its country and the roads to and from them into Israel is another issue. Palestinians are prohibited from using the roads although they are on Palestinian land. There is more to this problem than meets the eye and Abbas is right in wanting to stop the settlements by declaring that it is sovereign Palestinian territory. But Israel wants the land and they refuse to give them up.

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Abdu Omar 2 years, 6 months ago

Why do you suppose there are missle attacks? These are renegade Hamas lead people who are fighting agains Abbas. This isn't the PA sending those rockets even though they are an attept to stop the settlements. Let's look at the whole aspect of this: First, Israel was created by a grant by Balfour during WWI. What right did he have to give away Palestinian territory? Second, when Israel became a state, recognized in 13 minutes by Harry Truman, they began by annexing more land and that is what caused the first war with the Arabs. They immediately expanded what they were given by someone who had no right to give it. The Arabs are discriminated against and are killed for defending their own land. Their olive trees and groves of fruit trees have be bulldozed because of the building of the wall, on Palestinian ground. Constant building of settlements on Palestinian ground is the road block to peace although Bibi has offered peace with them but refuses to stop building. How fair is that? The Palestians have been accused of throwing rocks at the Israeli troops and they, in turn, shoot the Palestinian children. I know these things because I took a trip there and saw the destruction by the Israelis and the utter fear that permeates the whole land. This must stop, but what do the Palestinians get? A sliver of land that isn't occupied by Israelis?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

"Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. "

This is an indication of what a liar Krauthammer is. UN recognition of a Palestinian state would come with the requirement of recognition of all other UN-recognized states, including Israel.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

And Israelis will use the cover of their disingenuous negotiations to steal ever more Palestinian lands (in addition to the rest of the country, already taken through decades of terrorism and ethnic cleansing.)

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 months ago

"Palestinians are seeking land without peace"

This is news?

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