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Emotion drives Palestinian rejection of peace with Israel
By Ray Hanania
As always, Israel is dragging its feet in the peace talks and the Palestinians are making it easier to blame themselves.
It’s true that Israel has the upper hand in the current peace talks pushed aggressively by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. But Palestinians put too little faith in the power that peace gives Palestine once it becomes a sovereign nation recognized by the United Nations, and, more importantly, by the United States.
The extremists as well as many disenchanted Palestinian moderates are upset at the perceived focus on Israel’s demands, and the many concessions Palestinians are being pushed to make.
Another concern is Israel’s sincerity to achieve a final peace agreement through negotiations. While talks are continuing, Israel continues to expand its settlements, with a well-financed pro-Israel PR spin arguing that the expansion is not in terms of land being taken but in terms of new housing units being built in existing settlements.
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I get the ridiculousness of Israel’s argument, as pointed out by the foes of peace. Israel is reinforcing its stranglehold on lands taken from the West Bank peppering it with illegal Israeli settlements, clearly to intentionally make a Palestinian State non-viable. Israel doesn’t want to dismantle settlements, especially the larger ones mainly because most Israelis oppose peace with the Palestinians.
Israelis love to talk the talk of peace, but they don’t walk the walk. Israelis are more concerned with how they appear to the public, something I think Palestinians should spend more time doing.
Palestinian activists, however, are battling hard to torpedo the peace talks, putting pressure on the weak Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is doing more than can be done with the poor hand Palestinians helped deal to themselves through shortsightedness and strategic failure.
Yes, Palestinians are partly responsible for Israel’s success in strengthening its hold on the land, its illegal annexation of Arab East Jerusalem, and the expansion of its settlements.
The Palestinians make it easy for Israel through their failed policies and the extremism.
Every act of Palestinian violence is accompanied by a sophisticated and heavy pro-Israel Public Relations campaign casting Palestinians as terrorists who hate Jews. In contrast, Israel’s violence continues against Palestinians – either by the settler terrorists or by IDF strikes that often take the lives of Palestinian civilians.
Palestinians need to be like the Israelis. They need to re-engineer their strategy and end their history of strategic failures. They need to stop developing policies by emotion.
In a final peace accord, a Palestine State, no matter its size, would inherit huge international protections and powers that can stop Israel’s expansion and violence.
International Statehood recognition would give Palestinians a balance of power with Israel that they have never had.
The most emotional issue is the issue of the Right of Return. In 1947 and 1948, Israeli pre-state forces intentionally forced Palestinian civilians to flee their villages, lands and homes. Israelis wanted a Jewish majority in their new state and they could not have it without a dramatic expulsion of non-Jews from what became the State of Israel.
The proposed UN Partition called for a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Arab State was more than 99 percent non-Jewish, while the proposed Jewish State was only 55 percent Jewish. In the months before declaring independence and before the so-called “Arab Invasion on May 14, 1948,” Israeli forces occupied more than 40 percent of the proposed Arab States, adding thousands more non-Jews to the area they controlled and making non-Jews the majority.
Yet to achieve a “compromise,” Palestinians must give up on demanding that the refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their lands and homes inside what is today Israel.
It’s not an easy thing to accept because acceptance violates every international law that has applied in civilized human history to the occupation and displacement of civilians.
But the Palestine-Israel conflict is unique in many ways, including that the Arabs have fought Israel since its creation and has lost every battle, only achieving a PR victory in the October 1973 war.
In other words, the Arabs contributed to much of their own failures, and their actions made it easy for Israel to continue to violate the international Rule of Law in terms of protecting Palestinian civilian rights.
What do the activists say in response to this argument? They insist that Palestinians should continue to reject compromise with Israel unless Israel agrees to allow every refugee to return to their lands and homes in what is now Israel. They demand that Israelis, who are reluctant to accept a Palestinian State, accept one state where everyone goes back to square one, prior to Israel’s creation and a “Democratic State” is created for Jews and non-Jews where they can all live together happily.
They can’t even live together unhappily. The idea of One State is not an achievable dream but a very likely nightmare.
Palestinian rejection of peace will result in a One State solution that will create an even larger Israel where pockets of non-Jews live surrounded by an Israel that has annexed most of the West Bank.
The extremist and rejectionist belief is that this will result in continued conflict and that continued conflict will result in a new chance to reverse the historic growth of Israel and implement Palestinian National Rights.
Yet in all of the history of this conflict, Palestinians have never defeated Israel.
Instead, the situation of Palestinians continues to worsen. Rather than assume the responsibility for this dire fate, the extremists and rejections continue to put the blame on Israel’s ability to do a better job of presenting itself to the World that counts, America.
Palestinians have a chance to establish a state and reverse their misfortune. If history shows anything, peace opens doors to things we can’t even imagine today. I’d rather gamble on that possibility than the proven failed track record of the Palestinian activists, extremists and rejectionist who have built up a culture of anger and emotion but have never reclaimed one inch of Palestinian land or re-established even a sliver of Palestinian rights.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and author. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania. Hanania is the managing editor of the Arab Daily News online newspaper.)
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