Op-Ed in The Jewish Press (Wednesday, October 31, 2007)
By: Morton A. Klein
In November, a U.S.-sponsored conference involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority and possibly several Arab states will convene in Annapolis to frame yet another plan meant to end the Arab-Israeli war and create a Palestinian state. This conference is doomed to fail. The reason: The Palestinians’ ultimate goal is not statehood, but rather Israel’s destruction.
That fact has remained unchanged since Israel embarked on the disastrous Oslo process with Yasir Arafat in 1993, culminating in a terror war after then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered a Palestinian state on nearly all of the disputed territories, which was rejected.
Despite this, the Bush administration, with international approval, is proceeding on the fiction that Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, which he co-founded with Arafat and which controls the PA, want peace and accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.
If only it were true. The PA is required under signed commitments in the Oslo agreements and also in the 2003 road map peace plan to arrest terrorists, confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder, including against America, in PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. It has failed to do so.
In April 2007, the acting speaker of the Palestinian legislature, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, called for the murder of every Jew and American, declaring, “Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one.”
That neither Abbas nor Fatah even criticized the statement should not surprise us. The Fatah constitution to this day calls for the “demolition” of Israel (Article 12); condones the use of terrorism as an indispensable part in the strategy to obtain that goal (Article 19); condemns Zionism as racist (Article 7); calls on countries to prevent Jews from moving to Israel (Article 25); and opposes any political solution whatsoever (Article 22).
It’s no wonder that since September 2000, Fatah has been responsible for as many murders of Israelis as Hamas.
Nor have these horrors been the act of renegade elements that Abbas repudiates. He has praised suicide bombers (“Allah loves the martyr”), and said of wanted terrorists that they are “heroes” and that “Israel calls them murderers, we call them strugglers.”
Should it come as a surprise, then, that wanted terrorists are shielded in his own presidential compound in Ramallah — one of whom, Khaled Shawish, a Fatah figure responsible for the murder of 19 Israelis, was only captured when he ventured out of the compound?
Even Abbas’s official negotiating positions are inimical to peacemaking: he has repeatedly reaffirmed that the “right of return” is non-negotiable, meaning Israel would be inundated with millions of Palestinians, ending Israel as a Jewish state. In English he speaks of recognizing Israel, but tells Arab audiences, “It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel.”
Under the terms of the 2003 road map, which Israel accepted only with deep misgivings and 14 objections, support for a Palestinian state was conditioned upon a first phase of sustained and effective effort by the PA to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure and end incitement, and a second phase of provisional statehood with provisional borders and limited sovereignty.
In contravention of this plan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s push for a conference on core issues at Annapolis simply jumps to the third phase — creating a fully sovereign Palestinian state, in her words, “as soon as possible” — although the PA has complied with neither the first nor second phases of the road map. This constitutes a huge reward for Palestinian non-compliance, terror and incitement.
Clear majorities of the Israeli public oppose any concessions to the Palestinians. A May 2007 poll foundthat 72 percent oppose uprooting of Jewish communities within the framework of further Israeli unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria; and 58 percent reject the “land-for-peace” formula whereby Israel has made territorial concessions to the PA. An October 2007 poll also demonstratesthat a clear majority of Israelis oppose, even in return for a peace agreement, Israel’s handing over any part of Jerusalem to the PA, as do a majority of Knesset members.
Israeli concessions to the PA in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem would bring Palestinian terrorist groups within rifle and rocket range of the rest of Jerusalem and other major population centers, thereby endangering all residential neighborhoods of Jerusalem and civilian aircraft landing and taking off from Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport.
At the very least, the U.S. and Israel should be insisting on the observance of the road map plan, not discarding the checks and balances it was supposed to provide to ensure a genuine peace process. The Annapolis talks will proceed in flagrant disregard of these requirements. For any negotiations to proceed, Palestinian action is vital on ending terror and incitement to hatred and murder and creating the minimal conditions in Palestinian society necessary for peacemaking.
Logic dictates that such steps are prerequisites for any peace talks and no concessions or rewards for the PA should be forthcoming from either the U.S. or Israel until these things happen.
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.