Charles J. Mouratides Exec. Director
If Secretary of State Kerry shoehorns an agreement between the Israelis and the “Palestinians,” the most he can expect is a temporary deflation of conflict. It would not affect the historic aspirations and expectations of either party, and there will be only one loser regardless of terms: Israel.
The “Palestinians,” whoever they might be, will have gained at least some of what they now seek. Most important, by securing Israel’s signature on a pact, Palestinians secure de facto recognition of their dubious ethnic identity.
Recently, an op-ed piece from the New York Times spoke of “Palestinians” and a Palestinian state as if they exist beyond question. This thinking is fashionable mostly among people who want to show they are being “open minded.”
As for Kerry, I guess it is important for him to eventually stand under a sign that declares, “Mission Accomplished.” That’s wishful thinking that ignores history’s lessons. Kerry surely knows what I have observed about this conflict: Neither side has any intention of shifting radically from the ground on which it stands. It is all smoke and mirrors.
As a populist demand, Chairman Mahmoud Abbas seeks East Jerusalem for Palestinian capital and elimination of Israeli settlements in the area known for 3,000 years as Judea and Samaria – also called West Bank since 1948.
Even so, Abbas has no real authority. He heads the PLO and Fatah party since 2004 and is President of the phantom State of Palestine. A council elected him to the presidency until 2005. He unilaterally extended his term for another year, and continues in office eight years later.
As a result, rival party Hamas which controls the breakaway Gaza area, does not recognize Abbas. So, we have a fake president in a state that exists only on paper. Prime Minister Netanyahu steadfastly states that Israel cannot exist without some presence in Judea/Samaria, the historic home of Judaism’s patriarchs David, Solomon, and Jacob. For security purposes, he expects some control over what would be an independent Arab state.
For me, the paramount historical lesson is for the world to realize how much Israel has to cut off of itself and deny its very soul, if it abandons Judea and Samaria for the sake of an elusive “lasting peace.”
Who are the “Palestinians?” No easy definition. If you ask me about Greeks or Israelis, I can immediately offer a one-paragraph definition of who they are. But Palestinians? It is not even superficially sufficient to say they are those who live on the land we call Palestine. Partial differentiation ends there, as Christians and Jews would also be Palestinians represented by Abbas.
Greek Historian Herodotus (5th century bce), who apparently first coined the word Palestine, was on the scene a millennium before the Arabs made their mark. After that, even if you go through a dozen qualifications to wriggle an answer from a dozen history periods, you still do not have a succinct idea of who is a Palestinian.
Even encyclopedias take a page to explain what a “Palestinian” may be. The modern myth of Palestinians as a separate ethnic group rests greatly on the picture of late Chairman Yasser Arafat and the checkered cloth he wore on his head and around his neck as a trademark.
Jordan, whose population is almost 50% “Palestinians,” walked out of Judea and Samaria, just to avoid being overrun by them. How does Jordan make the distinction who among its citizens can be classified “Palestinians?” Simply based on the date shown when each entered Jordan.
Judea and Samaria, now claimed by the “Palestinians,” became part of Jordan when handed over by the British to Transjordan, the previously manufactured state near Jordan River. Otherwise, Judea/Samaria were never part of an Arab state.
The British of course, had an even lesser claim on that land. Who made the British – or the French – lords over the Middle East? None other than the League of Nations, a scheme cooked up by our President Woodrow Wilson after World War I to bring a “lasting peace” to the Middle East. The British and the French loved the League which willed them empires, but the U.S. Senate objected, and America never recognized the League.
Déjà vu! The U.N. and the EU try, in the name of “lasting peace,” to force Israel to abandon its historic right to Judea and Samaria. Israel has officially accepted the idea of two states – its own and one for Arab “refugees,” the “Palestinians.” Yet, they still squeeze Israel for additional concessions.
Rich Arab states can solve the problem permanently. All they need is to do is officially absorb the “Palestinians” within their borders as they have done de facto for 70 years, indeed the past 1300+ years. Instead, they prefer to cultivate an image of stateless refugees in camps because it supports official claims against Israel. Democratic Israel itself has about 1.3 million Arabs among its 7.5 million citizens. But, do you expect Israelis to live in “lasting peace” with people who grow up on the milk of mothers whose lullaby sings Israel’s elimination?
Perhaps, with promises and more arm twisting from Kerry, the two sides will sign an agreement even if they have to accept conditions that, as history teaches, never nurture a “lasting peace.”