Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

No peace in sight for Middle East

Published: August 27, 2010
Section: Opinions

After 18 months of shuttle diplomacy and indirect proximity talks headed by Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, the Israelis, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinians, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, have agreed to negotiate a two-state solution via direct talks. Will they succeed? I can respond with a definitive no.

Some on the left may say that the cause of this is the “occupation”—that the growing Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria make a Palestinian state impossible to create. However, this reasoning ignores the fact that both at Camp David in 2000 and at Annapolis in 2007, the Israelis offered to end settlement growth past the green line and to give the Arabs upwards of 90 percent of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza.

Additionally, the Netanyahu government recently issued a settlement moratorium, closed check points and took down road blocks in the territories, illustrating its flexibility on this issue. At the same time, Israel is rightly wary of making additional unilateral concessions that, based on prior disengagements such as the ones in Southern Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005, will weaken its security and diplomatic position, dramatically worsen the lives of the settlers and empower its Arab foes.

Instead, the primary obstacles to culminating direct talks lie elsewhere. First, the 1949 armistice lines, or the 1967 borders, are indefensible and leave Israel lacking for strategic depth. Indeed, in some areas, only approximately 10 miles separate the Mediterranean Sea and Judea and Samaria, making Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, among other cities, easy targets for Palestinian rocket fire.

Second, the Palestinians refuse to demilitarize, or to at least agree to measures that can guarantee Israeli security and decrease the potential of militants and extremists to access arms that can be used for offensive purposes.

Third, the Palestinian Authority indoctrinates its citizens with Anti-Zionist, Anti-Semitic propaganda that incites them to violence and terrorism and makes them psychologically unable to peacefully coexist with their Jewish neighbors. This is not to mention Hamas, which takes this despicable behavior to an even further extreme.

Fourth, the Palestinians refuse to grant Israel the legitimacy it seeks by acknowledging its role as the Jewish state. In this sense, they deny thousands of years of history and tradition and the need for Jewish self-determination. Also, this complements their demand for a “right of return,” in which thousands of Palestinian refugees would swarm into Israel and destroy it through demographic means.

Fifth, Israel lacks legitimate partners to negotiate with. Mahmoud Abbas’ term of office expired nearly two years ago, and he lacks a popular mandate. Additionally, while his party, Fatah, rules over Judea and Samaria, Hamas runs Gaza, and ir has turned it into a virtual terrorist state and Tehran proxy on the Mediterranean.

Therefore, Abbas cannot serve as an adequate representative for the Palestinians, and Hamas refuses to negotiate with Israel, does not accept its right to exist and is adamantly opposed to any peace agreement that legitimizes the Jewish state.

Sixth, the Iranian nuclear program, Syria and Hezbollah serve as major distracting concerns for Israel, and they collectively make its leaders very cautious about making land and security concessions to the Palestinians.

And finally, what will the nature of a Palestinian state be? Will it be led by a truly moderate government, as supposedly advertised by Abbas and Salam Fayyad? Or will it, like Gaza, be taken over by terrorists and used as a launching pad for missiles and rockets into Israel? Without the Israeli military presence in Judea and Samaria, will there be enough security forces present to prevent this from happening? These questions are, at the moment, impossible to answer.

Instead of a two state solution, I advocate that Jordan incorporate the Arab portions of Judea and Samaria, while Egypt takes over Gaza. Jordan and Egypt are reasonable states that have signed peace treaties with Israel and have a proven track record of competence, stability, cooperation and moderation.

Yes, the Palestinians have nationalist ambitions. However, in my view, the well-being and security of Israel is infinitely more important than creating the 23rd Arab State. Furthermore, the Palestinian identity is primarily an Arab fabrication and a propaganda tool that has been used against Israel since the 1960s. Therefore, instead of holding direct bilateral talks between Netanyahu and Abbas, the U.S. should invite Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah II of Jordan to negotiate a trilateral solution to this century-old conflict.