When the Obama administration resumed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians last July, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hoped to do what no other White House could do over the last 66 years: Find peace. While today’s Palestinian population is split between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, neither side speaks with one voice. Obama and Kerry have negotiated only with the Ramallah-based group led by 77-year-old former terrorist Mahmoud Abbas. While more grandpa-like today then when he allegedly financed the 1972 Munich Massacre of the Israeli Olympic team, Abbas has partnered up with the U.S. and European Union to advance the peace process. There’s no ambiguity with Hamas’ position on peace with Israel: Hamas remains at war with the Jewish State, now and forever.
Kerry and the U.S. State Department hoped they could broker a peace deal with Israel bypassing Hamas, still officially named on the U.S. terror list. With all the pleadings of Obama and Kerry to put together a deal before the April 29 deadline, Abbas refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. “They [Palestinians] say they will never recognize a Jewish state and that they will never give up on the right of return,” Netanyahu told Israeli Public Radio. Netanyahu drew his line in the sand, refusing to compromise on what he sees as the most basic issue. “I want to make clear that I will not accept an agreement that does not cancel the [refugees’] right of return and which does not include Palestinian recognition of the Jewish State,” said Netanyahu, putting the U.S. and Palestinians on notice that he sees no deal. Netanyahu understands that Abbas lip-service is only empty rhetoric.
Netanyahu sees no point in establishing an independent Palestinian state with ongoing plans to destroy Israel. Rejecting the idea of the Jewish State, Netanyahu believes is Palestinians’ wiggle room about eventually seeking to destroy Israel. “These are basic conditions, which are justified and vital to the security of Israel. Since early days of peace talks in the decades following the 1967 Six Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur War, Palestinians, largely through the late Palestine Liberation Chairman Yasser Arafat, were reluctant to acknowledge Israel’s so-called “right-to-exist.” Since Israel’s founding in 1948, Palestinians and other Arab States fought a series of wars of annihilation. Once the U.K. handed the British Mandate of Palestine to the Jews in 1948, Palestinians were told to leave their land with the promise of winning it back through a violent overthrow of the fledgling Israeli state.
What Palestinians and Arabs didn’t anticipate was the resourceful work of Jews—together with U.S. help—to build a democratic, technologically advanced and militarily secure state in the Holy Land. By the time Arabs realized that Israel was going nowhere, it took years of planning to launch the coordinated Arab attack known as the 1967 Six-Day-War. Attacking Israel with forces from Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, Israel wiped out their militaries in six days, humiliating Egyptian Gen. Gamal Abdel Nasser. When the dust settled June 10, 1967, Israel controlled Egypt’s Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, Jordan’s West Bank, East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights. Palestinian’s claim the land for an independent state is on Israeli spoils of the 1967 War. Forty-Seven years of strife since the Six-Day-War have hinged on Arab demands to return to the pre-1967 borders.
U.S. peacemaking efforts up to the George W. Bush administration accepted Arab demands of Israel to swap land-for-peace. Sept. 11 changed the peace process forever. Israel found out the hard way that swapping land-for-peace since Israel gave back the Sinai Peninsula in 1979 under former President Jimmy Carter's Camp David Accords didn’t lead to peace. Even after the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave back the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel saw more violence and the Hamas takeover. Obama and Kerry continue to pressure Israel to give back more land for peace. Netanyahu, with strong backing from U.S. conservatives, doesn’t believe that he can make peace with Palestinians unless they explicitly accept Israel as a Jewish state. Without that condition met, Netanyahu believes Palestinians still harbor the intent of eventually winning a violent struggle to destroy Israel.
Calling Palestinians’ bluff, Netanyahu wants no peace agreement unless Palestinians put in writing their commitment to peace with the Jewish State. “The Palestinians are not showing any signs that they are getting closer to entering into a practical and justified agreement,” said Netanyahu. Abbas has already insisted that his bottom line includes establishing East Jerusalem as a capital of a new state. Netanyahu has signaled that’s a no-go. Unlike past peace negotiations, Palestinians have little clout to make demands on refugees’ right of return or a capital, especially because the West Bank government is based in Ramallah. “ . . .We may be a lot to things, but we’re not suckers,” said Netanyahu, thinking that Israel would sign any peace deal where Palestinians do not explicitly recognize Israel as a Jewish homeland. Refusal to do so, keeps hope of violent revolution alive.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.