Palestinians, Not Israel, Hold the Key to Peace

The Americans should revolutionize their approach and concentrate their efforts on those who hold the key to peace: the Palestinians.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
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Israel Harel
Israel Harel

The suspension of the demand to continue the settlement building freeze does not herald the end of the short-sighted moves of the American administration. The alternatives to the freeze will continue to distance the Arabs from direct talks instead of bringing them closer. And there is no end on the horizon to the web of illusions that has gone on for more than four decades. No miracle happened for us.

The essence of the entrenched campaign of illusions is that the Arabs want a state in the 1967 borders that will exist in peace alongside Israel. Israel is responsible for the failure to achieve the peace the Palestinians yearn for. Most of the leaders of this extended illusion campaign, which has claimed thousands of lives, are Israelis who have infected the world with their messianic illusion.

Illustration.Credit: Amos Biderman

U.S. President Barack Obama, who should have learned something from the Palestinians' refusal to return to direct talks even after the 10-month freeze he brokered, also persists in the illusion. His emissary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, could well announce tomorrow what "alternative" gesture Israel will be requested - or, more precisely, compelled - to make to the Palestinians to get them to back down.

At the upcoming Saban Forum, where Clinton will speak, any hint that Israel is to blame for the freeze will be welcomed. A substantial proportion of the participants, Israeli and American Jews, share the idea - which has been repeatedly refuted by reality - that the Arabs long for peace within the 1967 boundaries and that Israel holds the key to peace.

Another shattered idea, which is being exposed in its theoretical and practical nakedness at this very time, is the linkage by the illusion leaders between solving the Palestinian problem and restoring political stability to the entire Middle East. It isn't Israeli rejectionism that endangers the "moderate states" and threatens to put them in the clutches of Iran and other extremist forces. Thanks to WikiLeaks, it is clearer today than ever before how right were those Israelis who rejected this linkage, though their voice was barely heard in the fixed game that is the Israeli media. But here too, where the idea takes on nearly religious properties, there is no chance that anything will change in the perception of people who cannot see the truth.

After more than four futile decades of unnecessary pressure on Israel, the Americans should revolutionize their approach and concentrate their efforts on those who hold the key to peace: the Palestinians. True, this is contrary to the opinion of the Israelis that the Americans listen to, but it has traction for most Israelis. Even more important, it is right.

The essence is this: As a first step, the Arabs must be brought to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and as the national home of the Jewish people, in a public and binding way. As part of a peace agreement they must declare, on behalf of all their factions, the end of the conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians and a complete relinquishment of the right of return.

A binding Arab commitment to these three elements will convince many Israelis who today do not believe in the Arabs' desire for peace to reconsider their position. For the Palestinians to accede to the American demand, there must be a revolutionary change of approach in the Israeli "peace camp" as well. As long as the Palestinians know that this camp, which has great media impact in the world, automatically supports them, they will remain entrenched in their refusal. Focusing pressure on the Palestinians will prove that the aim of this camp is indeed what most Israelis have doubts about: peace.



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