Another round of Middle East diplomacy has recently concluded with President Obama being the star attraction. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and King Abdullah of Jordan. The majority of media attention deservedly focused on the meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas.
Reflecting on the press conferences held after meeting with both leaders something occurs to me which may be obvious, but is rarely, if ever mentioned. More on this below.
In his comments Mahmoud Abbas referred to Israel’s establishment as the “nakba,” which is used my many Arabs and means “the catastrophe.” Obama offered no rebuttal to this disgraceful statement. In his remarks the President boiled down the conflict to two key issues- settlements and Israel’s security. He said without dealing with these two issues the conflict will remain “challenging.”
Keep in mind Abbas walked away from direct negotiations in 2009 and hasn’t returned to the table because of Israel’s construction on land he claims for a Palestinian state. He demands a freeze on said construction as a pre-condition to returning to negotiations. To his credit while standing next to Abbas, Obama said in essence, negotiations are pointless if demands must be met ahead of them. However, Obama is incorrect about there being two key issues to resolving the conflict. While there may be numerous issues to discuss, the conflict cannot be resolved with addressing the most important issue – Israel’s security.
Security is The Issue
From the moment the UN partitioned two states in 1947 resulting in Israel’s statehood, security became the issue. It remains to this day. There was no settlement construction at that time. [nor was there at the time of the Six Day War in 1967] The only issue was and remains the existence of a Jewish state, period.
Since Yasser Arafat renamed select Arabs ‘Palestinians’ he, followed by Mahmoud Abbas have been bemoaning their plight as if they’ve been victimized by a monstrous bully whose goal is to disregard and destroy their aspirations of freedom, dignity and statehood. Accepting this notion would be akin to believing the Holocaust wasn’t horrific. Both views are reprehensible.
Palestinians blame Israel for all their problems. Everything would be fine if Israel would only stop “stealing land”, take down the security barrier, give them a state, and Jerusalem….etc. etc. In reality, these are smoke screens deflecting the real issue. Israel isn’t building, nor did they erect the security barrier because they want to “steal land.” What’s obvious, but rarely mentioned, is the construction of homes and the security barrier provides protection from the Muslims who are committed to destroying them. This isn’t a complicated matter to understand. Any fair minded individual with common sense knows what’s going on. The problem is common sense is too uncommon.
Obama had the opportunity to address this while Abbas stood next to him. However, he [like so many others] balked because he doesn’t have the courage to say it aloud. He knows the charter of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party is full of statements calling for the destruction of Israel. Yet he doesn’t demand its amendment, and continues to insist peace will come if Israel reduces itself in size by 40% to the ’67 borders. This would bring committed terrorists to the edge of 70% of Israel’s population and into Jerusalem under the protection of statehood. Pressuring Israel to do this calls into question the sincerity of Obama’s oft repeated statement that “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable.”
Abbas Must Be Accountable
While Obama and most world leaders consider Abbas to be a “moderate,” the principles of his party are no different than Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. The fact that he wears suits and is willing to meet with western leaders doesn’t qualify him to be a “moderate” if his party’s goals are no different than the terrorists. It’s time to stop ignoring this.
For Abbas to actually be a “moderate,” he has to prove it with actions, not just saying he accepts ’67 borders in front of western media.
Would a “moderate”:
- Be party to a charter calling for the destruction of Israel?
- Be chairman of a party whose emblem has a single state of Palestine covering all the land Israel sits upon?
- Say he will never accept a Jewish state of Israel?
- Refer to Israel’s establishment as “the nakba?”
- Glorify murderers of Jews by naming public places after them?
Abbas speaks with two tongues. One to western media, and a very different one to the Arab world. No one is holding him accountable, not even Israel’s so-called best friend, the United States.
The Palestinians could have their own sovereign state tomorrow. All they need to do is accept the same for Israel, and agree to leave it be. Israel’s goal is peace. However, the Muslim’s goal is eliminating Israel, one piece at a time.
For Obama to say resolving the conflict boils down to two “key” issues suggests construction and Israel’s existence are of equal importance. The inclusion of Israel’s home construction in the same sentence with the Muslim’s sanctioned murder of innocent people, and their goal of destroying Israel is a fundamental breach of moral standards. If the President wants to broker peace the person to talk to isn’t the prime minister of Israel. Moreover, Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable, and must be addressed first and foremost.
When its existence ceases to be the issue, everything else becomes negotiable.
Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page