Palestinian Leadership Prevents Peace

The Israeli-barred visit by two first term U.S. congresswomen, Freshmen Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Muslim women elected to Congress, has sparked increased debate over the Palestinian issue.  Talib and Omar, who are virulently anti-Israel, sought to achieve a public relations coup by their intended provocative trip to the Jewish State.

They sought to raise opposition to both the Netanyahu government, and the Trump Administration’s efforts to produce a peace plan.  The Trump administration recently held a “Peace to Prosperity Workshop” in Bahrain, attended by both Israelis and representatives of Arab states. Arab nations, now more concerned with Iranian expansionism than the ongoing Palestinian issue, have been more open to dealing with Israel. Clifford May quotes Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa: “Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region historically. So the Jewish people have a place amongst us.”

The actual roadblock is the fault of the leadership of the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas leads the “State of Palestine” and has been chair of the Palestine Liberation Organization since 2004. He has refused to negotiate with Israel or the U.S., and is locked in a bitter feud with other Palestinians. In that refusal, he is following in the footsteps of Yasser Arafat, who was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1969 to 2004 and President of the Palestinian National Authority from 1994 to 2004.

 The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) / reports that “…at least three times the Palestinians have refused statehood when it was offered to them… n 2008, after extensive talks, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and presented a comprehensive peace plan…  In the summer of 2000 US President Bill Clinton hosted intense peace talks at Camp David between Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli leader Ehud Barak, culminating in a comprehensive peace plan known as the Clinton Parameters… Despite the vast concessions the plan required of Israel, Prime Minister Barak accepted President Clinton’s proposal, while Arafat refused, returned home, and launched a new terror campaign against Israeli civilians (the Second Intifada)… UN Resolution 181, the Partition Resolution, passed in November 1947, called for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in the land which at that point was controlled by the British-run Palestine Mandate. All the Arab countries opposed the resolution, voted against it, and promised to go to war to prevent its implementation. Representing the Palestinians, the Arab Higher Committee also opposed the plan and threatened war, while the Jewish Agency, representing the Jewish inhabitants of the Palestine Mandate, supported the plan.”

Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for the Defense for Democracies writes “The Six-Day War of 1967 was a second attempt to use military force to vanquish Israel. When the fighting halted, Gaza and the West Bank, territories that had been occupied by Egypt and Jordan respectively, were in Israeli hands. That presented a new opportunity. The Israelis could attempt what Egypt and Jordan had not: establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, a so-called ‘two-state solution.’ In exchange, Palestinians would only need agree to peacefully coexist with their neighbor. The Arab League promptly issued the Khartoum Resolution, the ‘Three No’s’: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.’ “The Israelis persisted. Deals were proposed in 2000, 2001 and 2008.The Palestinians were offered more than 90% of the West Bank. Each time, the Palestinians – or at least those who led them – declined. No counteroffers were presented.”

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew the Israeli military and civilian presence from Gaza as an opening peace move.  Rejecting the bid, Hamas and rival Fatah went to war with each other, preventing the attempt from succeeding, each fearing the other would gain an upper hand in an independent Palestine.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government.