By Sarah L, Hope for Israel Staff Writer
Many have asked, “Is peace possible between Israelis and Palestinians?” After 75 years of conflict, a better question might be, “Do Palestinians want peace with Israel?”
In May of 1948, Israel declared “the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.”1 Mere hours later, the surrounding Arab nations – Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq – mobilized their full military might against the Jewish nation. Their (understandable) assumption was that Israel would prove a soft target to their larger, better-equipped armies. However, miracles do happen, and Israel won her independence.
Tragically, around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled their homes during the war, mostly to the Jordanian-controlled bloc of Judea and Samaria, known in most of the world today as the “West Bank.” Some of these Palestinians fled the approaching Jewish forces, but more left because they were told to by approaching Arab armies. Today, they and their descendants remain refugees, receiving more than 1.1 billion dollars a year in international aid, mostly from the United States and European Union.
The Arab nations spent the next 30 years denying Israel’s existence, while simultaneously losing four more wars and a significant amount of territory (mostly during the Six-Day War), to the Jewish State. Most of the conflict today centers around Israeli activity in these territories conquered by Israel, where, according to the Oslo Accords, a Palestinian state will exist in the future.
In 1979, Egypt was the first to bravely make peace with Israel; 14 years later, in 1993, Jordan followed suite. Today, 30 years have passed since the Israeli-Jordanian treaty, but the Palestinian people – stateless as they are – remain convinced that one day, they will be in possession of all the Land, “from the River to the Sea,” as they say. Tragically, had Palestinian leadership been willing to compromise, they could have had their own state, at least four times over – in 1947, in the 1990s, in 2005, and most recently as part of the Abraham Accords.
Many would consider the Oslo Accords the closest that Israel has ever come to peace with the Palestinians. During the Oslo talks, mediated by the US Clinton Administration, Israel and the Palestinian Authority attempted to define the borders of a potential Palestinian state, as well as discussing the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and more. However, ultimately the talks imploded. US President Clinton later blamed Palestinian president Yasser Arafat for their failure.
Two additional eye-witness accounts – one Israeli and one Palestinian – would agree that peace could have been achieved at Camp David, were it not for Arafat’s unwillingness to transition from a spokesperson for the victimized to the leader of an independent people. In the transcript of a news interview, one of Israel’s leading negotiators at Camp David, Shlomo Ben-Ami said,
Camp David failed because Arafat refused to put forward proposals of his own and didn’t succeed in conveying to us the feeling that at some point his demands would have an end… We didn’t expect to meet the Palestinians halfway, … [but] we did expect to meet them at some point. The whole time we waited to see them make some sort of movement in the face of our far-reaching movement. But they didn’t. The feeling was that they were constantly trying to drag us into some sort of black hole of more and more concessions without it being at all clear where all the concessions were leading, what the finish line was…. It is impossible not to form the impression that the Palestinians … want to denounce our state more than they want their own state.
Perhaps even more implicating is the testimony of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the “Son of Hamas.” Yousef was directly connected to the upper echelons of the terrorist organization Hamas, and, as a spy for Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, was privy to some of the most secretive events in the Middle East between 1997-2007. In the memoir from his years working with the Israelis, Yousef writes about the Oslo Accords,
This “land for peace” offer represented a historic opportunity for the long-suffering Palestinian people, something few Palestinians would have dared imagine possible. But even so, it was not enough for Arafat…. Indeed, Arafat had been handed the keys to peace in the Middle East along with real nationhood for the Palestinian people – and he had thrown them away.
In 2003, Israel returned to the negotiating table, and in 2005 began preparations to withdraw entirely from the Gaza Strip, investing $25 million through the UN Development Program towards the development of infrastructure in the Strip. Only two years later, in a bloody grab for power, Hamas overthrew the Palestinian Authority and took control of the Strip. Today, most Israelis consider the Gaza disengagement one the biggest mistakes ever made by their country.
To answer the question at the beginning of this article, Palestinian leaders are only willing to accept peace on their terms – they prefer violence and victimization to compromise. Furthermore, when the modern events presented here are examined in the light of historical evidence presented in Parts 1 and 2 of this article, the Palestinian refusal to negotiate seems even more foolish; their claims to the Land of Israel are not backed by recent history, archaeology, or even by their own Qur’an. However, this makes the plight of the Palestinian people not less, but more, tragic.
In a day and age when anti-Semitism is growing, when BDS activists threaten artists and businesses who work with Israel, and when western universities indoctrinate the next generation of leaders to oppose Israel, it is time to understand the truth and to stop blaming Israel for Palestinian suffering. It is time for Palestinian leaders to be held accountable for the lives of the people they claim to represent.
To quote one of Israel’s most famous prime ministers, Golda Meir, “We can forgive [the Arabs] for killing our children, [but] we will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us...”3
- “Declaration of Independence.” Knesset.gov.il, 2021, main.knesset.gov.il/en/about/pages/declaration.aspx.
- Mosab Hassan Yousef. Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices. Milton Keynes, Authentic, 2014.
- “TOP 25 QUOTES by GOLDA MEIR (of 93).” A-Z Quotes, www.azquotes.com/author/9943-Golda_Meir.
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