Taking an Axe to
By Shoshana Bryen
August 29, 2018
Trump administration has restored the United States to the position of honest
broker – emphasis on “honest” – and taken a hatchet to a series of
fantasies underlying the notion of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Twenty-five
years after the Oslo Accords ushered in radical, despotic, kleptocratic
Palestinian self-government, the Accords are dead. And that’s good.
new construct is as follows:
U.S. is not neutral between Israel, America’s democratic friend and ally, and
the Palestinians, who are neither.
has a “narrative,” a national story. Not everyone’s narrative
is factual. The U.S. will insist that there are facts, and that
history – both ancient and modern – is real and knowable. The
American government’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of
Israel is simply the acceptance of the truth of history. The city was
the capital of the Jewish people and never, ever the seat of government for any
other. In this assertion, the president was joined by many members of
the U.S. House and Senate, irrespective of party – although some had more
trouble saying so than others.
U.S. will not pay for fraud, mismanagement, or support of terrorism by the
Palestinians or the United Nations. Repeat the comment about
will we fund two Palestinian governments simply because it is easier than
figuring out what to do with Hamas and Fatah, who are fighting a civil war and
agree on little besides the need for Israel’s ultimate demise. Repeat
the comment about congressional support.
the new game, the Palestinians have something to lose – the sine qua
non of successful negotiations.
Washington rumor mill believes that President Trump’s next move will be to
change the definition of Palestinians as “refugees” in the American lexicon. Palestinians
will cease to be the only population in the world in which refugee status is
handed down generationally through one’s father, which ensures permanent
geometric growth in the refugee population. Palestinians will become
like every other group. If you lose your home and can’t go back –
think Rohingya or Montagnard – you are a refugee. Settled in a
country that will have you, you are no longer a refugee, nor will any of your
future generations be. Think Vietnamese.
tandem, then, comes the proposition that the descendants of refugees have no
“right” to go and settle in places their parents, grandparents, or great
grandparents claim to have lived. This, again, will make the
Palestinians just like every other refugee population. Time moves
forward only. Israel is here, Israel will remain, and Israel can
determine who lives within its borders.
the other hand, and there is always another hand, much of the discussion is
driven by money. Although money is fungible, it isn’t always easily
so, and contrary to the professional refugee-managers, the goal is not to punish
Palestinians whose only crime is the misfortune of living under Hamas or the
American Taylor Force Act – passed and signed – will have the United States
withhold money from the P.A. in the amount of the stipends the P.A. pays to
terrorists and their families. The Palestinian Authority paid out approximately
$350 million in 2017. The knowledge that their families
will be taken care of financially has, in fact, led to a number Palestinians
choosing what we, in the U.S., call “suicide
by cop.” Palestinians who feel hopeless and for one or
another reason figure that they can best provide for their families by killing
Jews are encouraged by their own government. That’s an easy one. If
P.A. strongman Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t spend the money on terror stipends, he
can replace the American shortage and spend the money on other things.
Trump administration has also announced that it will stop the flow of U.S.
taxpayer funds to the U.N. Human Rights Council – a bastion of anti-Israel
sentiment. “We’ll calculate 22
percent of the Human Rights Council and the High
Commissioner’s budget, and our remittances to the UN for this budget year will
be less 22 percent of those costs – and we’ll say specifically that’s what
we’re doing,” NSC adviser John Bolton said. “We expect that
impact to occur on the Human Rights Council.” Again, not much of a
problem. One might hope the UNHRC will produce 22 percent less hot
air, but that is not certain.
comes a more difficult issue. The administration has cut $300
million from UNRWA, leading to the expected wails about starving
babies. UNRWA has, for almost seven decades, been the prison guard of
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and
Syria, as well as running shanty towns for Palestinians in Jordan, where many
hold both citizenship and refugee status. It has also hired Hamas and
Hezb’allah operatives and shielded their weapons in UNRWA schools.
won’t starve unless the Palestinians want them to for a photo op. (Don’t
be huffy – it was Gaza leader Yaya Sinwar who praised “the sacrifice of”
Palestinian children “as an offering
for Jerusalem and the right of return.”) On the other
hand, it behooves the United States to work closely with Israel – the Israelis
being most acutely sensitive to the connection between money and terror – to
manage the change in available funds for the short term. Otherwise,
it is possible that Hamas and the P.A. can gin up even more unhappy souls to
engage in terrorism.
If “peace” is a bridge too far, a long-term stabilization process is not out of reach based on President Trump’s new foundations for American policy. At a minimum, the United States can be sure that the policies that it pursues are consonant with American interests and American allies. President Trump has done that.