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The end of the peace process

This is a guest post by Brian Henry

A map with no Israel

A recent poll by a Palestinian research firm found that 88% of Palestinians favour violence as the way forward in their conflict with Israel (see here). This should surprise no one. The Palestinians can win make believe victories at the UN, but on the ground, the diplomatic route is futile, since Israel cannot give what the Palestinians want.

The last time anything happened in the peace process was in 2008 when then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians a comprehensive peace settlement. The offer included a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and international control over the holy sites.

Territorially, Olmert offered 100% of the total area claimed by the Palestinians: the West Bank and Gaza and a corridor connecting them in exchange for the slivers of land occupied by Israeli settlements.

Abbas said no thanks and he made no counter offer.

Why? Because the Palestinians aren’t willing to concede the Jewish claim to their own homeland. Hamas makes no secret of its desire to wipe Israel off the map. More “moderate” Palestinians insist on the “right of return.” That is, they claim that the four million grandchildren of refugees originally created by Arab wars against Israel should be allowed to move into Israel and thereby turn it into a Palestinian state.

Obviously peace requires the Palestinians to give up on this idea of eliminating Israel, and in 2008, peaceniks all threw up our hands in frustration at Abbas’s stubbornness.

In retrospect, we should breathe a sigh of relief. For it’s evident the Palestinians wouldn’t have kept the peace, and since the UN voted to give the Palestinians standing as a non-member state, it’s now clear that when the Palestinians break a treaty, the world supports them.

Indeed is there any part of their interim treaty with Israel that the Palestinians have kept?

The Oslo Accords state that neither side can unilaterally try to change the status quo, that the Palestinians cannot, for example, apply to the UN to be recognized as a state. But the Palestinian did just that, and the UN overwhelmingly supported them.

The Oslo Accords require the Palestinians to forego violence, yet since they were signed, the Palestinians have conducted thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel that have resulted in three wars: the Second Intifada and the Hamas wars of 2008/09 and  of November 2012.

The Oslo Accords forbid incitement. But terrorists are the great heroes of Palestinian society. Schools, summer camps, soccer teams and public squares get named in honour of terrorists.

Two days after winning their historic vote for statehood at the UN, the official Palestinian Authority radio station, broadcast songs glorifying suicide bombings against Israel. They included these lyrics:

“We are bombs… the enemies were beheaded… Grieve not, Mother, shed no tears over my torn flesh… heroic men who mock death… We praised the Lord, and set out for Martyrdom. We strapped ourselves with explosives, and trusted in Allah… Onward men, on the roads to glory.”

Is there any wonder Palestinians are so enamoured of violence? It’s actively promoted from the top down and from the bottom up.

The Oslo Accords state that parties who pursue their aims through unlawful means (such as terrorism) or that are racist cannot run in Palestinian elections. The clause was included specifically to exclude Hamas, which has launched thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel and openly proclaims its desire to kill Jews.

Canada, Japan, the U.S., Israel, and the European Union have all declared Hamas a terrorist group. Even the UN has declared it a racist organization. (More here.) Yet the international community didn’t object when Hamas ran in the 2006 Palestinian elections.
Strangely, it didn’t occur to people that democracy can’t thrive where political parties have private armies. In retrospect it should have surprised no one that the Palestinian elections were followed by a short, sharp civil war that left the West Bank ruled by the Palestinian Authority dominated by Fatah and Gaza ruled by Hamas.

Because the Oslo Accords were ignored, Israel now has a terrorist enclave sitting on its eastern border. Moreover, even supposing it wanted to, since the Palestinian Authority no longer controls Gaza, it cannot end the conflict with Israel.

As the Palestinians cannot implement a peace treaty, don’t keep their treaties, and receive the world’s support when they break a treaty, we need to recognize that the peace process is dead and that it’s time for the peace movement to change direction.

The obstacle to peace is the Palestinian “narrative.” Israel has long recognized the Palestinian right to a state of their own, but no Palestinian political party recognizes the right of the Jews to their own state.

Instead, the Palestinians – including supposed moderates – claim all of Israel as rightfully theirs, deny any Jewish connection to the land, and paint Israel as an evil entity that ought to be wiped off the map.

In addressing the UN on the historic occasion of the vote for Palestinian non-member status, President Abbas accused Israel of racism, apartheid, colonialism, aggression, murder and ethnic cleansing.

So long as this remains the Palestinian narrative, peace will remain a fantasy, no matter what pieces of paper might be signed.

Brian Henry is a writer and editor living in Toronto. He blogs sporadically here.