Who Killed the Mideast Peace Process?

A commission of inquiry is needed to investigate who is responsible for the failure of the peace process.

It is hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu genuinely assumed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would buy the used goods he was selling, a "state with temporary borders." Even the man who came up with the idea, President Shimon Peres, had stashed it along with his other shelved plans. He told Netanyahu that no life-loving Palestinian leader would accept temporary borders without a deadline for permanent ones.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a formula that would give the Palestinians territory equal to that that Israel occupied in June 1967 (including, of course, the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem). If Netanyahu were sitting in the Muqata today, would he agree to anything less?

In an interview with Channel 2, Netanyahu, perhaps inadvertently, revealed that he has no intention of giving up Israeli control over all the territories. If Israel were to withdraw from the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, they would be taken over by hostile elements who would threaten the capital's residents, he said. Unfortunately, the interviewers neglected to remind him that Ramallah is a Qassam's trajectory away from French Hill, and that the distance between the Shoafat refugee camp in "unified" Jerusalem and the city center is the same as that between Qalqilya and the Kfar Sava mall.

If the prime minister really had been willing to transfer territory to the Palestinians, he could have gone through with the Wye River Accord. A dozen years ago, he himself signed a commitment to give the Palestinians control over 13 percent of Area C. But the past is too far off; at the 100th birthday of his father, the younger Netanyahu declared, "Anyone who does not know his past does not understand his present, and therefore cannot predict the future."

He proudly said that his father foresaw the 9/11 disaster. There was no mention as to whether he foresaw the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, or the Arab Peace Initiative, however.

The past that has shaped Netanyahu's present personality and future policy is overflowing with the graves of forefathers, the wars of the Jews and the horror of the Holocaust. All he wants is to convince us that the Palestinians are refusing to make peace. When his deputy Moshe Ya'alon was still in active duty, he promised to burn into the Palestinians' consciousness the notion that terrorism does not pay. Now that terrorism is ebbing, he is helping Netanyahu burn into Israelis' consciousness that the Palestinians are responsible for holding up the negotiations.

Netanyahu fears that giving the Palestinians concessions will bring down his government. He is not bothered by the political cost of missing a chance for peace. He just wants to get U.S. President Barack Obama off his back. As Major General (res.) Uri Sagie, who was Military Intelligence chief, stated in Halohem, the journal of the disabled veterans' association, "Israel whips itself over military failures in wars, but does not evaluate itself over strategic political failures." Two important commissions investigated the wars in Lebanon.

One examined the massacre at Sabra and Chatila in 1982, and the other the confrontation with Hezbollah in 2006. No commission has yet to investigate missing out on peace with Syria (and Lebanon) in 2000, which led to the unilateral withdrawal and the surrender of the territory [of southern Lebanon] to Hezbollah."

Sagie, who negotiated with the Syrians on behalf of Ehud Barak, says that it was "a major strategic political failure for Israel." Netanyahu was also not required to answer to the public on the failure of his exchanges with then-Syrian president Hafez Assad, through his friend, Ron Lauder.

No politician or body was asked to explain the failure of political efforts on the Palestinian track, starting from the problems the day after the Oslo Accords, through the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the outposts affair.

Nearly 50 years late, the Begin government appointed a public commission of inquiry to look into the murder of Chaim Arlosoroff. It is not too late to investigate who killed the peace, if for no other reason so that the leaders can see and be awed. Or perhaps the Palestinians alone are guilty, and the dream of two states for two peoples is a left-wing hallucination? Do we not deserve to know?