Wednesday, May 22, 2024 -
Print Edition

The needed US message to the Palestinians

A century-old lesson not yet learned

After a week of terror attacks that took the lives of 11 people, Israelis are wondering whether they are on the brink of a third intifada.

The Jewish state’s security forces are redoubling their efforts to try to anticipate or prevent further such atrocities.

But the Israeli government needs to worry about more than whether these seemingly random attacks will lead to more violence from Hamas or elements linked to the Palestinian Authority.

It also has to be concerned about whether its sole superpower ally and other Western countries will use these tragedies as an excuse to revive failed policies of the past, whose goal is to pressure Israel into making more concessions to the Palestinians.

Throughout much of the last 30 years, that was the pattern. But instead of taking an honest look at Palestinian political culture —which lauds terrorism, view it as a legitimate and necessary expression of national identity — the West consistently treated acts of murder as a cry for help from the disadvantaged.

Such thinking was the product of a fundamental mistake about the nature of the conflict. Rather than Palestinian violence being caused by alleged Israeli oppression or the lack of progress toward peace, it was instead an expression of a long-held belief in the illegitimacy of a Jewish state — and the need for action to eliminate it.

Given repeated Palestinian Arab refusals of offers of compromise on even the most advantageous terms dating back to the pre-Israel (pre-1948) era, this should have been obvious. The support for terror even on the part of so-called Palestinian moderates, who have continued to subsidize terror against Jews, had to be ignored. A policy that responded to terror waves with diplomatic pressure on Israel rewarded Palestinians for violence.

Clashing agendas at the Negev summit

If the events of the past weeks are the harbinger of more attacks inside Israel, the question is whether President Joe Biden’s foreign policy team will do the same as every past administration (except Trump’s). If they announce a renewed emphasis on reviving peace negotiations, they should not expect the results to be any different from the past.

Talk of peace negotiations would not undermine the rationale for terror against Israel, it would send a message to the Palestinians that violence is the way to garner more support for their century-old war on Zionism and any Jewish presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Delusion is still present in the Biden administration. At the summit meeting in the Negev desert held between Israel and four Arab states, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was not so much a participant as a saboteur.

While Israel and its Arab partners were focused on Iran, Blinken was not there to present a united front against Tehran’s bid for regional hegemony and a nuclear weapon.

He may have paid lip service to that position, as well as to the idea of Arab states’ normalization with Israel. But his presence was more of a reminder that the Biden administration views the Abraham Accords as an impediment to its goals rather than one of American diplomacy’s greatest triumphs.

As Blinken made clear in his remarks in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Washington remains wedded to the assumption that peace in the region hinges on empowering the Palestinians.

By downplaying America’s widely reported appeasement of Iran, he tried to shift the conversation back to criticism of Israeli policies.

Blinken was out of tune with the priorities of the other summit attendees and the reality of the region.

As Blinken’s comments at the summit indicated, the US foreign policy establishment still doesn’t understand that the Abraham Accords and the normalization of relations between Israel and much of the Arab world aren’t just about a common fear of Iran being enriched and empowered by a calamitous American commitment to Tehran.

It also reflects the Arabs’ understanding that the Palestinians have no interest in peace. The Arab states are unwilling to to have their security and economic interests held hostage to their sick fantasies about a world without Israel.

The UN: Oppose Russia, yet embrace Russia

The assumption since Biden took office has been that he and Blinken were not going to devote any real effort to reviving the long moribund peace process with the Palestinians. Biden’s foreign policy team is almost entirely made up of Obama administration veterans. Some of them, including Biden and Blinken, harbor sympathy for Israel, though that is conditioned on the Jewish state weakening itself with territorial surrenders and a willingness to countenance US appeasement of Iran.

However, the State Dept. and the National Security Council are full of people whose hostility to Israel is not a secret. They are aware that the chances of getting the Palestinian Authority to seriously negotiate for a two-state solution are negligible.

President Barack Obama devoted a considerable amount of time to pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, the latter never reciprocated. They torpedoed Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2014 full-scale effort to bludgeon Israel by slighting the Americans and taking their case to the UN, where there was no danger of them being asked to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders were drawn.

Although the UNis preoccupied with its ineffectual efforts to respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, this hasn’t prevented the UN from pushing ahead with a new Iran deal —with the help from the very same Russian regime!

The message the US ought to send

A growing portion of the Democratic Party base buys into the fantasies of a world without a Jewish state, persuaded by intersectional myths that depict Israel as an expression of “white privilege.”

There could be support for a turn against the Jewish state, reinforced by the messages from openly anti-Zionist groups like Jewish Voices for Peace and IfNotNow.

The message the US ought to send to the Palestinians now is a stern warning that rather than generating support for pressure on Israel, terrorism will only further isolate them.

Those who remain fixated on a two-state solution, which the Palestinians have been ignoring these last 30 years, are closing their eyes to what happens every time that violence against Israel was rewarded with diplomatic support.

Biden and Blinken need to understand that the price for such a policy will be paid in more spilled blood inside Israel.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *