It’s been 47 years after the infamous “3 no’s of Karthoum”.
Immediately after the 1967 war, both Moshe Dayan (“I am waiting for a phone call from the Arabs”) and Abba Eban (“we will be flexible in negotiations”) were willing to negotiate a peace agreement in exchange for the lands conquered in the war. Instead, the Arabs replied with “no to recognition, no to negotiation and no to peace with Israel,”. Forty seven years later, you’d think that there would be a new breed of Arab and Palestinian leaders that would be willing to settle the conflict with Israel.
Instead, it looks like Abba Eban’s famous line “the Arabs don’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” is in permanent fashion in that part of the world.
Just the day after Netanyahu clearly said that some settlements will need to be uprooted from the West Bank in the context of an agreement towards a two-state solution; just a few days after Netanyahu clearly said again that Israel will have to make painful concessions; the Palestinian and Arab answer is once more a set of “no’s.” Erakat and Abbas say: “no negotiations without a settlement freeze.” The Arab League says “no recognition of Israel as a nation-state of the Jews.”
Well, isn’t it an oxymoron to say “no negotiation without the fulfillment of a pre-condition”? You’d think that negotiations are meant to resolve disputes, including those related to pre-conditions. Moreover, Israel has evacuated settlements in the past – in Sinai and Gaza – and one just has to listen to what Netanyahu said two days ago: “of course, some of the settlements won’t be part of the deal, everyone understands that” – in order to appreciate that the Palestinians’ position has nothing to do with settlements. If so, then what is it about?
The answer is in the Arab League’ s announcement that it “rejected Israel’s demands that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state, saying such a move would undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees.” The key issue, therefore, is not settlements.
“Undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees” is a “diplomatic” way of saying “we don’t accept the right of Israel to exist”. This is really the core of the problem, which many refuse to see.
While it is widely known that there are dozens of Muslim countries, the Arabs cannot accept one single tiny Jewish state. Secretary Kerry himself, when elaborating at AIPAC this past week on how the region could benefit from an agreement with Israel, mentioned “20 additional Arab countries and a total of 55 Muslim countries.” He said “additional” because he was referring to the Palestinian state, i.e., one more Arab and Muslim state. But no, 20 Arab countries and 55 Muslims countries cannot accept one and only little Jewish State….
Would Abba Eban believe that what he said over 30 years ago, is still alive and well – “the Arabs don’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”?