the Palestinians a dose of ‘reality therapy’
in the East Room of the White House last week, I experienced an emotion as close
to euphoria as I have ever experienced perhaps in my lifetime. I was finally
beginning to witness that moment in history when some rather fatal delusions
that the international community has held dear for decades were finally
beginning to erode, at least within certain quarters of the United States.
have been more than a passive player in the history of trying to expose the
truth about the real intentions of the Palestinian Authority. I have witnessed
their duplicitous game of talking peace in English and in Arabic, inciting their
children to hatred and violence.
have seen the Palestinians “play” the international community to engender
world sympathy and receive billions of dollars in donations, simultaneously
eroding the community’s belief in the rightness of Israel’s cause, while
eroding that belief in some circles within Israel.
have become close friends with many parents whose children have been lost in
suicide-bombings, knife-stabbings and car-rammings, and had been revolted when I
heard diplomats from both sides of the Atlantic cavalierly dismiss the profound
pain of their losses, calling them euphemistically, “sacrifices for peace.”
have always felt that the greatest litmus test of Palestinian intentions is what
they teach their children and have seen that their textbooks incite towards
violence, demonize Jews and teach them maps with all of Israel, calling it
have kept some notes throughout. Just one example:
July 24, 2000, the day that the Camp David talks between Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Barak, Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Arafat and U.S.
President Bill Clinton broke up, I was in the audience at a prominent Washington
think tank—the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—when Attorney
General Elyakim Rubenstein who had been with the Israeli negotiating team came
to address the group.
look every one of you in the eye,” he told his audience, “and I can assure
you, we went as far as any responsible Israeli government could possibly go. In
fact,” he continued, “what we offered was so breathtaking that many would
argue that we weren’t acting like a responsible government. The terms were simply
incredible for Arafat,” mused Eli, almost as though he was still
trying to digest the news of the day’s events, trying to make some sort of
sense of it.
we offered was shared sovereignty of Jerusalem, with the Palestinians
maintaining control of the Temple Mount, or the Haram el Sharrif. We
would give back 95 percent of the West Bank, and all of Gaza, and offer a land
swap within the Negev for the five per cent that would not be returned. We would
dismantle all of the Jordan Valley settlements, which have always been our eyes
and ears to the East. And finally: We were offering a ‘right of return’ for
thousands of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war, and a compensatory package
for those who could not be absorbed.
of our delegation are right now, in their limousines, on the way to the airport,
crying. We felt that if we just made Chairman Arafat an offer that was so good,
he couldn’t refuse it, he wouldn’t.
fact, many could argue that this offer was so generous, it wasn’t responsible
for us to offer it.
he didn’t say ‘yes,’ and he didn’t say ‘no.’ He simply walked away
from the table.”
was almost two decades ago.
that offer came an even more generous one in 2008 from Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. This included
giving the Palestinians the entirety of Judea and Samaria, (the West Bank), with
eastern Jerusalem, and placing the old city with the Western Wall under
the Palestinian leader walked away from the table. Each time, the response to
these exceedingly generous offers was met by a renewed round of violence,
resulting in more than 1,000 Israeli fatalities.
Palestinians have never once accepted the right of the Jewish people to have a
sovereign state. They have never once abided by the basic premise that the Oslo
Accords were conditioned upon the total abdication of violence and incitement to
the same, tired, old, stale thinking was recycled. The international community,
as well as the United States, under every other president would come back with a
more and more generous offer for the Palestinians.
time, Israel was denied the chance to have defensible borders—something that
is absolutely essential, particularly in the volatile Middle East.
this plan is different. It gives Israel, for the very first time, real,
defensible borders with the natural topographic boundary of the Jordan
Valley—something so important in an age of increasing Iranian hegemony.
does not erase the Jewish people’s history or claim to the holy sites. It
demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. It demands
that the Palestinians abolish the incitement in the textbooks. It calls for the
end of the revolting “pay-for-slay program,” incentivizing terrorism with
greater payments for the greater number of Israelis they murder. And it calls
for something that the Arab world has found very difficult to do since 1948:
accept the reality of Israel as a Jewish state.
would give the Palestinians 70 percent of the West Bank and $50-plus billion in
investment in an economic infrastructure to build institutions of democracy, and
for an educational path so their people can climb out of the cycle of poverty
and self-imposed victimhood.
time, Abbas would not even take Trump’s phone call, calling him “a dirty
dog,” among other worse epithets.
this time, the Palestinians will have to learn that the patience of the
international community is not infinite. For once, time is not on their side.
After continually walking away from the negotiating table and resorting to
violence, they have come to the point where their bad behavior will not be
rewarded. They will have to learn that Israel is here to stay and cannot be
wished away. The Palestinians will have to learn that by refusing to negotiate
in real faith, they are losing, both figuratively and literally, the ground that
they have been planning to be standing on.
N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET),
a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington,