Moments ago, head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, unilaterally opted to end the Oslo Accords, declared Palestine to be a state under Israeli occupation with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, and compared Israel’s occupation to the the Nazi occupation of Europe during WWII. Moreover, Mahmoud Abbas stated, he will be seeking to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, a threat he has been claiming for years now. Flagrantly however, Abbas ended his speech stating: “Meanwhile my people have outstretched hands for peace”. Correct me if I am wrong, but that doesn’t sound like hands outstretched for peace.
The peace process, of course, has always been controversial; it seems as though nothing can be agreed to.
Throughout the peace process, Palestinians, have been compromised by their own government, preventing them from accepting peace, and Israel has yet to be shown a true negotiating partner. History has shown that neither Yasser Arafat, the leader who incited the second intifada, nor Mahmoud Abbas, the leader who has incited continuous terror in Arafat’s memory, have provided a means to truly negotiate.
As previously stated, on the Palestinian side, Mahmoud Abbas has allowed a reality to develop in which no party can rightfully speak on behalf of the Palestinians, baring the Palestinians from ever accepting a true peace agreement with Israel. So long as the Palestinian Authority is separated from Hamas, the terrorist organization in control of Gaza, and so long as Hamas cannot control its own splinter groups, not one individual has the mandate to speak for the Palestinian people.
In fairness, the vast majority of Palestinians want nothing more than to live their lives in peace and security, the same reality Israelis have sought by continuously offering land for peace.
On the Israeli side, Israel has developed a peace based on water with the Jordanians, a peace based on land with the Egyptians, and a stability of necessity with the Syrians by annexing and claiming sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Unfortunately, Israel has been unable to establish a lasting peace with its most direct neighbor, the people within her own territory.
While Israel attempted to develop a peace based on water and technological advancements, the Palestinian Authority developed a policy of anti-normalization, punishing Palestinians who sell their houses to Israelis or put their homes on the Israeli water grid. Abbas’ latest speech could further be seen as a demonstration and evolution of said policy at a more international level. This must be taken into account in order to understand the reality on the ground today.
While the Palestinian public would gladly seek a peace based on land, even 98-99% of what the Palestinians requested proved not enough. Further, this has prompted Israel to develop upon areas it sees as a military and security necessity. The so-called settlements, while not themselves illegal, certainly did not contribute positively to creating a better status quo. Rather, it created a reality in which Palestinians saw themselves as committing acts of terror in so called responses to Israel’s actions. While violence is indisputably unjustified, one must take into account the goals of these terrorists in order to understand them and prevent them. This is not to strip agency from terrorists in claiming responsibility for their actions, rather it should serve as an explanatory analysis of what these terrorists themselves say.
However, it seems that as of today, the past has been declared the past, at least unilaterally for Mahmoud Abbas. In other words, today, Israel once again must seek to find a “Partner for Peace”. But what does this mean for the Palestinian people? Will the people back their leader who has stolen hundreds of millions from his people? Or will they back the organization who stole billions and commits acts of terror and violence in the name of peace?
Perhaps, there is an opportunity for Israel to unilaterally create a different reality on the ground, for better or worse. By Abbas’ own definition, Israel now has full rights over Judea and Samaria, more commonly known as the West Bank; and further, Israel has no responsibility to continue providing security population. Should Israel decide to abide by Abbas’ own definitions, Israel could decide to unilaterally withdraw from Areas A and B, while retaining sovereignty over Area C, leaving the Palestinians under Abbas to fend for themselves. In doing so, the Palestinians would be left to suffer under his rule. Therefore, Israel could adopt a policy allowing for Palestinians who seek to become Israeli citizens within Areas A and B to be given a fast track to citizenship.
This in and of itself adds the problem of allowing terror into our borders. However, this risk seems to be one of the only choices available to Israel in order to provide for the Palestinians as unfortunately Mahmoud Abbas has been unable to do. Rather than helping the Palestinians move forward, Abbas has systematically held them back; Palestinians have been held in perpetual refugee hood, prevented from economic prosperity, and striped of all agency in their own decision making.
So, we must ask, is this a risk that Israel will be willing to take? Will Israel be able to do for the Palestinians what their own leadership could never do? Only time will tell.