In the heart of Palestinian consensus
Israelis who think it is possible to reach an accord with the Palestinians that includes annexation of settlement blocs in the West Bank or leaves East Jerusalem under Israeli jurisdiction are deluding themselves.
Forty years after the Six-Day War, the Palestinian attitude that has become consolidated toward the State of Israel is quite clear: It is possible and necessary to achieve an agreement for coexistence with Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. Israelis who think it is possible to reach an accord with the Palestinians that includes annexation of settlement blocs in the West Bank or leaves East Jerusalem under Israeli jurisdiction are deluding themselves. In all the decades that have passed since occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, not a single Palestinian voice has been heard that agrees to less than that. Of course, there have been those who demanded more, and even today some want to destroy Israel entirely, but no Palestinian will agree to allow Israel to annex even one meter beyond the boundaries of the Green Line.
If one can speak of any power to this Palestinian position, it stems from the fact that it enjoys total public consensus. Aside from a few isolated exceptions, all Palestinians adhere to one position that the Palestinian state will be established within the 1967 borders and that East Jerusalem will be its capital. Of course, it is possible to speak about differences between the political approaches of the Hamas and Fatah movements regarding profound ideological gaps: Hamas' leadership is, under no circumstances, willing to recognize Israel, while Fatah is. But this can be viewed as differences in principle that lack any practical significance.
Fatah is ready for a peace agreement, while Hamas is ready only for a long-term cease-fire. Should an issue be made of that? We have very successful peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, although, practically speaking, they are not much more than cease-fire agreements. And in general, if there is absolute quiet within the borders of Israel and Palestine, and that is called a cease-fire rather than peace, not a single Israeli will complain.
We can ponder that in light of the major effort being made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and even more by Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, to prove to the entire world that the Mecca agreement for establishing a Palestinian unity government is a historical turning point. Meshal, who is scheduled to arrive for a visit to Moscow today, declared in Cairo at the end of the week that the Mecca agreement is: "A message of peace to the entire region." He called on the United States and Europe to recognize the existence of the new Palestine that was born in Mecca, and spoke of a Palestinian state to be established within the 1967 borders. When asked if that means recognition of Israel, he was evasive. Although Meshal is about to visit Tehran this week as well, the Palestinian leadership is talking about Hamas coming closer to the Arab world, and about tensions and suspicions between Hamas and Iran - all as a result of the Mecca agreement.
The Palestinian consensus regarding an agreement within the 1967 borders is strongly reinforced by the Arab position in support of it. A Spanish-Arab summit in which representatives of 19 Arab countries participated took place in Madrid last weekend. The announcement that emerged from there confirmed the decision of the Arab summit regarding peace, normalization and the establishment of full relations between the Arabs and Israel after Israel's withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Apparently most of the Palestinian public believes this is possible. In light of the Madrid announcement, a journalist from East Jerusalem said that if there are 22 Arab embassies in West Jerusalem, he is certain that the peace agreement will be stable.
What spoils the optimistic picture is the refugee problem and the right of return. But this is a relatively minor problem relative to the Israeli situation that has been created since 1967, which prevents us from even thinking about a return to the Green Line in general, and to Jerusalem in particular.