King Solomon instructed us in Ecclesiastes 3 that: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”
For years I have been a strong advocate of a negotiated “Two States” resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would not compromise Israel’s security.
Today — with growing concern over developments in the Middle East, Europe and here in the U.S. — I have come to the conclusion that now is the wrong time to restart the so called “Peace Process.” One reason is that none of the leaders currently in place — Israeli, American or Palestinian — has the political authority, personal courage or national interest to make the compromises needed to reach and sign a permanent agreement that will guarantee Israel’s long-term security and very existence.
History and current events negate the possibility of any resolution in the foreseeable future that will not result in the destruction of Israel and the massacre of its Jewish and Christian population.
- 1947: The U.N. General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish state (yet to be named) and an Arab state (yet to be named). The Jews celebrated and established the State of Israel; Arabs rejected and launched a war to destroy the nascent Jewish State.
- 1949: Rhodes armistice talks. The Arab countries and Palestinian leaders rejected suggestions to revisit the partition plan.
- 1967: After the Six-Day War, Israel offered to return Sinai and Gaza to Egypt, the West Bank to Jordan and the Golan Heights to Syria — in exchange for full peace treaties.
But the newly formed Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) objected vehemently and threatened the Arab leaders. The PLO convened the Arab League that decided on the “three no’s”: no recognition of Israel; no negotiations with Israel; and no peace with Israel.
Only King Hussein of Jordan secretly made peace with Israel but refused to take back the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians living there stateless.
- 1973: After the Yom Kippur War, Israel and the U.S. made several unsuccessful attempts to approach PLO leaders, including Yasser Arafat. In some cases the Palestinian interlocutors were murdered by rivals within the PLO.
The best chances for resolution were during the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, when extraordinary concessions were made by Israel to both Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), giving them over 90 percent of the area of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. Both leaders rejected the offers and demonstratively walked away from the negotiating table … without making a single counteroffer.
As Israel proved in the 2005 pulloout from Gaza, Israeli communities beyond the armistice lines (aka “settlements”) are not a hindrance to the peace process. Israel showed clearly that when national interest and security are at stake, despite the pain and cost, Israel is willing and able to evacuate and uproot whole communities.
In conjunction with the evacuation of Gaza, Israel received written guarantees from the PLO leadership that there would be no terrorism from Gaza after Israel pulled out.
But just a year later Hamas, which is not a member of the PLO, violently took over the Strip and launched terrorist attacks that killed Israelis and started three wars.
This brings us to today:
Abu Mazen is an illegitimate president, being in the 10th year of a three-year term. The Palestinian Authority’s parliament (elected 10 years ago and also not recognized in Hamas-controlled Gaza) has not met in years.
All polls show that in the West Bank, Hamas has grown in numbers of fighters and supporters at the expense of Fatah (which is Abu Mazen’s faction in the PLO) and is accumulating weapons including rockets, mortars, machine guns and vehicles. Their declared goal is to launch attacks against Israel’s heavily populated center and coastal areas as soon as the IDF pulls out … if a hasty and ill-advised agreement is forced on Israel.
ISIS has already infiltrated Gaza and is being reinforced there by anti-Hamas Salafi forces as well as defectors from Hamas. It’s only a matter of time before they gain control of the missiles, rockets and tunnels Hamas has prepared over the past year, and launch attacks on Israel.
The leaders of Hamas, ISIS and those who oppose Abu Mazen in the PLO, together with the commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) and the Grand Ayatollah himself, have declared that any deal with Israel is only temporary, must start with a full withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 Cease Fire “Green” line and … eventually must lead to the destruction of Israel.
- With the Middle East currently in flames,
- With an ever-growing ISIS literally on Israel’s borders,
- With the Palestinians having neither credible nor legitimate leadership,
- With Israel’s three regional allies — Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — embroiled in their own counter-Islamist terrorism conflicts, and
- With Bibi Netanyahu’s new government hanging on by a razor thin majority of one…
… this is certainly not the “season” nor the “time” to re-open the Pandora’s box of the peace process.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: email@example.com
Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: www.swjc.org
DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.