Another way of wording my headline would be “an offer that Israel can’t afford to refuse – for the sake of its own health”. Or we could just call it “Don Corleone rides again”.
It seems quite incredible that no one in a position of authority has stopped to think about the logical fallacies, let alone injustice, in forcing Israel to negotiate under the threat of violence, murder and boycotts.
Here are some items which should give everyone pause for thought:
If even Tzippi Livni, Israel’s dovish Justice Minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians, is lambasting Mahmoud Abbas’s unacceptable positions on the peace talks, then it is time for Israel and the US to take a step back and reconsider the entire process:
Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, on Saturday lashed out at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying in an uncharacteristic critique that if he stuck to his “unacceptable positions” the Palestinians would suffer the consequences.
Abbas has recently stated that no peace agreement would be possible without all of East Jerusalem [including the Old City] as the Palestinian capital, has staunchly refused to recognize Israel’s self-definition as the state of the Jewish people, and has demanded the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel proper, saying nobody but the refugees themselves could negotiate away that right.
Abbas’s maximalist demands were only exacerbated by PLO (Fatah) official Tawfiq Tirawi calling for “armed resistance” to accompany any peace talks:
Negotiations with Israel will lead to “zero results” if not fortified by armed resistance, a senior Fatah official said, adding that the first signs of a new Palestinian uprising have already begun to appear on the ground.
“There is no possibility of a Palestinian state being established on the West Bank and Gaza in the coming 20 years. None at all. Anyone who believes otherwise is wrong. Negotiations will bring us nothing … we, all Palestinian factions, must return to the cycle of action. When we will do this, many things will change.”
The resumption of armed resistance, Tirawi argued, must be done in an organized and coordinated manner, not sporadically.
“There should be a strategic national plan that all organizations can agree upon, both within the PLO and without it,” he said.
Nadav Shragai in Israel Hayom points out that Tirawi is not alone in this sentiment
I eagerly await a condemnation from the Europeans of this call to violence – those Europeans who are so quick to condemn Israel and to blame the settlements for all the regions ills. (Not holding my breath).
Expecting Israel to negotiate under threat of violence is the equivalent of demanding that a victim give in to blackmail or extortion. It is unconscionable, but the world, once again, remains silent.
A further obstacle in the way of peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. The importance of such a demand is that such recognition would entails the understanding that Israel is not to be flooded with Palestinian “refugees” and then turned into a 23rd Muslim state. Israel has to be recognized as the national homeland of the Jewish people. This has less to do with religion than with nationalism, and if it’s OK for 22 countries to be called Islamic or Muslim, then there is no reason other than antisemitism to object to the Jews wishing for self-determination in their own country.
The fact that an EU official can say that he does not understand this demand, and that Israel will “of course” be blamed for the failure of the peace talks only underlines the vital and urgent necessity for Israel’s spokesmen to get this point across.
Netanyahu has repeatedly declared that he considers the Palestinians’ unwillingness to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or as the nation-state of the Jewish people, as the core root of the conflict. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have said they will never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, with some officials saying this would disenfranchise Arab citizens of Israel and require the Palestinians to give up their national narrative and the demand for a “right of return” to Israel for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
“We’re not asking them to change their religion and they have full civic rights,” Netanyahu said this week in an interview with Canada’s CTV News, referring to Israel’s non-Jewish minority. “Arab citizens of Israel serve in the Knesset, our parliament, they serve in the government, they serve on the Supreme Court. It’s full civic equality. But what we say is that this state, with its flag, with its symbols, its national holidays and the ability to accept Jews from around the world — that’s the nation-state of the Jewish people, with full civic rights to those who are non-Jews.”
The fact that President Peres can deride such an idea underscores our terrible PR problem.
By contrast, President Shimon Peres has reportedly said that such a recognition is “unnecessary,” as have other senior government officials.
As for the “stumbling block” of the settlements, Netanyahu said that he would not remove one settlement from any land handed over to the Palestinians and suggested that instead, those residents should become citizens of the Palestinian entity.
His suggestion backfired rather spectacularly on all sides. The Israelis rightly condemned it as dangerous, with Naftali Bennett accurately predicting the murder of any Israelis left on Palestinian soil.
But the Palestinians too rejected the idea, for no reason other than pure racism: not one Israeli shall remain on Palestinian land.
“No settler will be allowed to stay in the Palestinian state, not even a single one, because settlements are illegal and the presence of the settlers on the occupied lands is illegal.”
The logical fallacy in this argument is that if a peace treaty is signed, then the settlements will not be “illegal” any more (even though they are not illegal at the moment either. More on that later). Saeb Erekat’s position reveals his bigotry and racism.
Interestingly, the far-left American Jewish organization J Street, which claims to be pro-Israel, reveals its biases by siding with the Palestinians on this issue and decrying Netanyahu’s suggestion to leave the settlers in place:
While the State Department refused to take a side in the settlers-in-Palestine furor, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami suggested that Netanyahu’s proposal risked derailing the ongoing negotiations.
“J Street fears that it is such statements and positions that risk revealing the Israeli leader as a supporter of the two-state solution in name only – willing to accept the idea of two states in principle but not the tough choices needed to make it a reality,” Ben-Ami wrote in his statement. “Those tough choices include relocating settlers living outside the permanent borders of Israel back home to the state of Israel.”
Has Ben Ami demanded that the Palestinians remove their own citizens, the Arab Israelis, from Israeli territory? I thought not.
I know we are dealing here with realpolitik, but nevertheless, has anyone ever challenged the Palestinians in a public forum for their antisemitism? For that is what their demand amounts to. No Jews in Palestine. When did we last hear about Judenfrei land? Wasn’t it back in the 1930s?
This brings us to the subject of boycotts, specifically European ones, but not only.
Dan Margalit in Israel Hayom says it’s Europe against the Jews once again:
The boycott is a measure extremists in Europe — and a few collaborators in Israel — are pushing on the mainstream international community. The declared anti-Israel activists, and even those who tell themselves they “helping” the negotiation process, know their harsh methods are disproportionate. The boycott is particularly dangerous because already at the outset, it resembles an epidemic: Boycott leads to boycott, company after company divests, and the Jewish people are for some reason unprepared to handle the prevalent opposition from European markets. Jerusalem was asleep at the helm for many years, as though there was nothing to be concerned about.
The European boycott is not legitimate and will be promoted all around the world; Israel must understand it does not have the means of stopping it on its own. Israel needs international assistance to render this anti-Jewish boycott illegal. It needs the assistance of European governments, which are not enthused to comply. On the contrary, they are leading the war.
The blogger Tuvia Brodie (h/t Amanda T) differs on the danger of the boycott threat, calling it baseless fear-mongering:
First, the threat is not as real as it seems. While many at EU headquarters may want a boycott, their boycott is no boycott (“The E.U.’s New Guidelines on Israel Are Not a Boycott”, The New York Times, July 19, 2014). It does not affect trade. It applies only to official EU-sanctioned activities. It does not apply to the 28 member-states of the EU—or to corporations within those states.
[…]The boycott threat is more symbol than real. The Left, so terrified because a boycott means rejection, can’t see this distinction because its nightmare of rejection transforms every threat into disaster.If the feared wave of boycotts is modelled after the EU approach, the boycotts would be ‘boycott’ in name only. Livni’s fears will have been baseless.
I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle between these two opinions.
This brings me to the ultimate weapon in Israel’s armory, one that has not been used fully, in fact has hardly been used at all. This is the Levy Report, the report on the legality of the settlements recorded by Justice Edmond Levy, and which concludes that the settlements are entirely legal according to international law.
These are the legal grounds Israel has in Judea and Samaria – charges by the international community not withstanding. It is what I – and my co-chair on this effort, Jeff Daube, head of the Israel office of ZOA – are working on ever diligently with regard to the Levy Report and associated documentation.
I am eager to share the URL for our website (which is up, looking splendid, but still a work in progress): http://thelevyreport.org . Please, see it and share it!
I see what’s coming down the road in all likelihood (some of you have already heard this from me):
Just days ago, the EU ambassador to Israel declared that if the “peace talks” fail because of the settlements (which means the PA declares it cannot go on because of the settlements), then, “Naturally…the blame will be put squarely on Israel’s doorstep.”
This feels like a carefully orchestrated plan to put the onus on Israel, with the PA then marching to international organizations and agencies for support. It will not do for Israel to make claims about rights in Judea and Samaria at that point. This position has to be in place prior to that. It is not enough to say, “Well, we cannot go back to the 1967 line for security reasons.” It absolutely MUST be said that we have legal grounds in Judea and Samaria. And said now.
This is what our campaign is about, at its core: Defending Israel’s legal rights to the land.
I recommend that we all read the Levy Report and look at the website to understand the issues.
And then we need to pressurize our politicians, whether Israeli, American or European, to stop their hypocrisy (I know, they’re politicians…), to demand a stop to the mafia like attitude of threatening Israel during negotiations, and to put a halt to their one-sided biased support for the Palestinians against the legitimate rights of Israel and the Jews to the Land of Israel.