The enemies of Israel offer a very simple solution to the Israel-Arab conflict: end the occupation.
The occupation weighs on the Palestinian people, and it weighs on the Israelis who must enforce it. Gershon Baskin wrote, “More than 800,000 Palestinians have spent time in IDF military prisons since 1967. Those who deny that there is an occupation are living in a world of fantasy. There is an occupation and it is a harsh occupation.”
Unfortunately, without a solid agreement with the Palestinians on security, Israel cannot end the occupation. Israel cannot afford to have its main airport and its largest cities within a few kilometers of terrorist rocket launchers, because this would destroy its economy.
Unfortunately, the Palestinians chose to become occupied and they choose to remain occupied. It is hard to believe, but the evidence is overwhelming:
- The UN partition plan of 1947 provided a Palestinian state that included some Jews with a vast majority of Arabs. It also had a Jewish state that included mostly Jews with a large minority of Arabs. Palestinians could have had their own state, and they would still have had considerable influence in the Jewish state. There was no need for anyone to be displaced. There was no need for the “nakba”. The “nakba”, like the occupation, was a Palestinian choice.
- After the 1947/1948 war, during which Jews were ethnically cleansed from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, those territories had only non-Jewish residents. Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt controlled Gaza. The Palestinians had 19 years, from 1948 to 1967, to create a Jew-free Palestinian state.
- In July 2000, at the Camp David Summit, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a state that included Gaza, the West Bank (with some borders swaps), and East Jerusalem.
- In September 2005, Israel completed an evacuation of its settlements and its soldiers from Gaza, giving Palestinians the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to run a state by living in peace in Gaza and developing its economy.
- In September 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians a state along the same lines as the one offered by Barak in July 2000.
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, over several years, stated and restated his willingness to negotiate a two-state solution without any pre-conditions, most recently in September 2015.
For each and every one of these opportunities, the Palestinian response was an unequivocal “No”.
By being occupied, the Palestinians obtain many of the benefits that they would not have otherwise:
- They have no need to act responsibly in running a state.
- They get sympathy for their cause while Israel is vilified for being the occupier.
- They receive extensive financial and other forms of humanitarian aid, not only from the West but also from Israel.
- They maintain the faint hope that Jewish sovereignty can be eliminated from the Middle East and that Jews can be forced to flee for their lives.
- They are judged by a far lower standard than Israel because, in addition to being Arabs (who are the recipients of a bigotry of low expectations), they are also an occupied people.
Of course, the Palestinians had plausible excuses for every time they said no to their own state, but it is clear that having their own state was never a priority for them. Their priority was, in every case, the refusal to accept a Jewish state of any form or any size.
So the Palestinians remain an occupied people, by choice. They choose to be controlled by Israel. They choose to not have freedom and dignity. They choose to live with Israeli checkpoints. They choose to depend on Israeli aid and international charity. They choose to remain the world’s most celebrated cause.
Every day since November 29, 1947, exactly 68 years ago, the Palestinians chose hate, terrorism, and dependence over statehood and independence. They continue to do so today.
By contrast, the Jews accepted the 1947 UN partition plan despite strong reservations, they evacuated Gaza despite the pain it caused to many Israelis, they offered peace agreements that were agonizing for most Israelis to offer, and the Israeli Prime Minister continues to accept the two-state concept despite the decreasing credibility of that concept among Jews. This is because, unlike the Palestinians, the Jews cherish their nation-state, and they are willing to compromise to keep it.
As an Arab who feels a kinship with the Palestinian people, I support the Palestinian cause. As a left-leaning person who feels sympathy towards the weak and disadvantaged, I support the Palestinian cause. I do not however support the destruction of the Jewish state, and I never will.