The US is usually thought to be biased in favor of Israel, even after its recent acceptance of UNSC Resolution 2334. But for many years, the US has been a big part of the reason why the diplomatic world accepts a false narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict that harms Israel and makes it harder to achieve peace. Washington should move to a truth-telling strategy to dismantle the structure of false views that slander Israel and stand in the way of peace.
With the start of a new era in the White House, Israel must let go of the two-state solution as defined by the Clinton Parameters. It is time for a reassessment of Rabin’s approach, which stressed the importance of the preservation and development of Area C in Judea and Samaria under Israeli control as a prerequisite for defensible borders.
The moribund state of the peace process has prompted the suggestion of two opposing unilateral “solutions”: either Israeli withdrawal from, or the annexation of, parts of the West Bank. Neither would be wise policy.
Israel has gradually come to realize that the Palestinians are neither a partner for peace nor capable of establishing a viable state. Therefore, Israel’s recent governments have adopted a de facto conflict-management approach, rather than a conflict-resolution strategy. This prompts several questions. Should Israel speak explicitly about the dim prospects of a two-state solution, or play along with the illusory preferences and pretensions of the international community? Should Israel apply more “stick” than “carrot” to the hostile Palestinian Authority? Would the collapse of the Palestinian Authority serve Israel’s interests? And how diplomatically active should Israel be on the Palestinian issue?
The three types of area jurisdiction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) – A, B and C – were meant as a short-term fix until a real Israeli-Palestinian peace accord could be crafted. More than 20 years later, both sides have broadly infringed on these parameters. Israel regularly penetrates Area A for security reasons, while the PA (with EU support) is building illegally and dangerously in key parts of Area C that are critical to Israel. Israel should halt this encroachment with determination.
While there is no doubt that Israel is facing a difficult security situation, the surge in Palestinian violence does not pose any existential threat to Israel. Israel has weathered longer and harsher waves of terrorism. Israeli leaders must keep things in proportion, and reject calls for “massive retaliation” that will not truly improve security and could make things worse.
An incendiary propaganda document replete with blatant lies and utter distortions of history penned by Saeb Erekat, recently sent to foreign media, exposes the futility of the Palestinian mindset, and reveals just how far the Palestinian leadership is from accepting the premises necessary for true peace with Israel.
Legacies of Hajj Amin al-Husseini’s work are still with us. The broadcasts of Radio Zeissen, the Mufti’s propaganda station, resonate in the 1988 Hamas covenant, and indeed still reverberate throughout our region. So do the recurrent references to Nazi imagery and texts in the Palestinian public domain. To demand a proper historical reckoning is therefore not to “demonize” the Palestinian people but to treat them, for a change, as adults capable of coping with a culture of responsibility.
As hard as it may be, the delicate balance between exercising force and exercising restraint must tip in favor of restraint. Israel must be sure to avoid steps that could make tensions boil over. Israel’s strategy has to make it clear that violence reaps no rewards.
The false Palestinian narrative of one-sided victimhood is a major hindrance to all efforts in the direction of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Global actors need to help the Palestinians move beyond wallowing in self-pity and rituals of bashing Israel, and towards difficult compromises with Israel.