A Return to Madrid

“The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab nation—-[and] believe in Arab unity—-however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity—-”

Back on July 10, 2016, writing in the Forward, Nathan Guttman reported on the Republican decision of a major GOP shift to reject the infamous Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to declare that Israel is not an “occupier”.

No reference is made to a solution which would establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel but rather defers to Israel for a determination of preference. By way of clarification, it adds a statement whereby noting that the US seeks to assist in establishing a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, while opposing any interference on agreements or borders.

We learn that the Republican Party is determined to challenge the long-held notion that only territorial compromise will bring peace to the region. Further, it is stated that these ideas have the backing of Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, both attorneys and committed religious Jews, who are advisers to Donald Trump.

Approximately 18 months earlier, on January 9, 2015, in a Wall Street editorial on Israel’s Minister Without Apologies, Bret Stephens addresses remarks by Naftali Bennett, whom he considers a rising star, one who advocates against pursuing peace based on old formulas, which are obsolete

“For many years we’ve sort of apologized for everything—–About the fact that we are here, about the fact that this has been our land for 3,800 years, about the fact that we defend ourselves against Hamas, against Hezbollah.” Its time, he says, “—we raise or heads and say, we are here to stay, we’re proud of it, and we’re no longer apologetic.”

Stephens points out how throughout the years every Israeli government had categorically rejected the idea of a Palestinian state until the 1993 Oslo Accords after which both left and right effectively committed Israel to the two-state solution. By so doing it became a fanciful renaming of the failed land-for-peace mantra. Given its memento through US democratic dreaming, one recalls a well known cartoon which illustrated a North American Indian sitting in front of his tepee and uttering, “If they want to talk about land-for-peace, let them talk to me.”

History clearly demonstrates how the subject concepts has failed on every occasion from its commencement. By way of examples it is sufficient to commence with Oslo in order to demonstrate how and why.

Louis Rene Beres provided a reliable summarized assessment in the Jewish Press October13 edition. He notes that from Oslo’s very beginnings, on September 13, 1993, the Palestinian Authority persistently refused to honor its codified agreement to extradite Arab terrorists to Israel.

Then,there was the matter of refusal to insist on the right of return of the refugees,which essentially meant the right for Israel’s existence. Arab incitement was relentless including encouragement of acts of terrorism. Although not widely recognized or well understand, has to do with repeated PA/Fatah violations of international criminal law, most evidently the peremptory or incontrovertible jurisprudence obligation to extradite wanted terrorists.

As reported generally in the media, the Palestinians persistent demands for and end to Israeli settlement activity and the nearly universal international opposition to it, was not accepted by the Israelis. Apparently, little depreciated was the fact that Oslo made no mention of a settlement freeze – formal or otherwise – and in fact deferred the settlement issue altogether until the so-called “permanent status” negotiations to be held after five years following commencement. This omission and more importantly the PA’s failure to codify it within the accords themselves, remains one of the most serious and far-reaching flaws of the Oslo process from the standpoint of the PA. It is regarded as an “original sin”that continues to haunt the “peace process” and the Palestinian leadership to this day.

The emerging disappointment and frustration manifested itself in the break down of the accords in 2000 after the failure of the Camp David summit and the outbreak of the second intifada. Little is required to comprehend this. The Palestinians had obviously made a strategic choice to return to violence leaving no partner for peace.

The next major saga in the evolving Palestinian- Israeli conflict was Sharon’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005. What lessons did this disgraceful occurrence render? According to IDF General Uzi Dayan “In my opinion this will go down in history as the sixth disastrous event of Tisha B’Av.”His quote emerged from an address at the Begin-Sadat center for Strategic Forces to mark the 10-year anniversary of the disengagement.

To this day, the scenes of Jewish soldiers forcing Jewish civilians from their homes of 30 years will be forever scorched into the Israeli cultural memory. It is clearly a historic lesson in the perils of Israeli territorial compromise. If not self evident to some at the time of the event, it undoubtedly became so with Hamas’s takeover of the strip in June, 2007.

Considering security implications, even opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the centrist Zionist Union party called Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza a “mistake” and felt that it should not have been conducted unilaterally. At least one prominent individual, changed his thinking in the wake of the Oslo Accords, signed by Rabin in 1993.

Tzafrir Ronen, 53, a fighter for the Land of Israel and the Jewish People from deep within the secular left, founded the secular nationalist Nahalal Forum and became a frequent contributor to Arutz 7 opinion passage. He was raised on the ideals of the Labor party and the secular Kibbutz movement. Ronen served as senior campaign advisor for Rabin in the 1992 elections, and was a founding member of Kibbutz Gilgal in the Jordan Valley. However, the disengagement so heavily impacted him as to transform him politically.

Prior to the 2005 disengagement from Gush Katif and northern Shomron, Ronen and others created Nahal Farms. By way of explanation for his odessy, he quotes Simon the Maccabee;“We cannot remain silent in light of the rampant insanity of uprooting Zionist pioneers. He echoes the feelings of many when he quotes Simon the Maccabee to Syrian Greek King Antiochus over 2000 years ago; “This is not a foreign country that we took for ourselves, nor do we rule what belongs to others. No, it is the land of our forefathers that was conquered unjustly by our enemies some time ago, and we, when the opportunity came, took back our fathers’ land.”
A few more thoughts from Tzafrir Ronen in support of the validity of arguments based on history and/or international law.:

[a] “We gained a state and lost our identity!”
[b] “true war being waged today is not for peace, but to cause us to lose our identity.”
[c] “Show me a British person who would be willing to negotiate away parts of London for peace with Al-Qaeda, or an American who would be willing to give away Washington DC -only we are willing to give away our heritage. How can we act this way?”
[d] What does it mean to be a part of a nation? It means to have collective memory. What does it mean to be a Jew? I’m not religious, and you are religious, what unites us?—That we have a mutual collective memory.
[e] “and the people who brought us Oslo have to be punished, put to trial. The nation must know that this was a crime.”
[f] “…My grandparents came here in 1921 from Russia. They were attached to this land, and fought for it; people died here for it “

Tzafrir Ronen’s comments reflected the views of a large segment of the Israeli populous. He died at the young age of 53; his story is fully accounted for in an Arutz 7 editorial by Hillel Fendel on 26/01/2008.

The Madrid Peace Conference on October 30-November 1, 1991 could have been viewed as an invitation to a beheading for Israel given that the conference was orchestrate by James Baker, the less than well disposed US Secretary of State towards the Jewish State. Since Israel reused to meet with the PLO, the Palestinian delegation was composed of individuals from the West Bank and Gaza, although they maintained constant contact with the PLO leadership in Tunis.

In of itself, the conference achieved little,although id did result in Israel being face to face the Israeli negotiators with those mandated by the PLO for the first time. The following year, Israel and the PLO opened independent negotiations in secret, which eventually resulted in the Oslo Accords, which in consequence permitted Jordan to conclude its own peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

What has characterized every previous encounter with the so-called Palestinians is rejection, riots or terrorism. Perhaps this should not be surprising is the fact that the agenda was always the same. Why would one expect otherwise? The forthcoming conference as promoted by Donald Trump, originally was to be other than the infamous “two state solution”, but no more.

The disengagement from Gaza was regarded by some as a test case. Having seen it fail miserably and become a haven for terrorists, why the expectation for yet another Arab enemy state to differ? How can one ignore the generous offers by both Barak and Olmert, which were not only rejected by the PA but led to an escalation in terrorism. What can be the expectation from another Palestinian state whose youth have been raised on hatred of Israelis or an Israel without defensible borders?

Arafat’s decisions to change his strategy by considering diplomacy through a a “Phased Plan” whereby he would seek continuous Israeli concessions while promising an elimination of physical violence proved to be a great hoax. Renaming the Arab-Israeli as a Palestinian-Israeli conflict proved to be a brilliant tactic making a little Israeli David facing a giant Arab Goliath appear as a Giant Israeli facing a little Palestinian enemy.

As Attorney Yossi Fuchs, head of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has stated, “We must understand that contrary to the common misperception, the basis in international law for the establishment of the State of Israel is not the UN Council’s resolution of November 29.The actual background goes back to 1920, when the San Remo Conference convened, ——-The Arabs received the entire territory west of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq etc. and no one thought of giving them rights in the Land of Israel. Obviously, no one spoke about a Palestinian people, which did not exist.”

On December 2, 1917, Lord Robert Cecil had said at a large public meeting in London; “ The keynote of our meeting is liberation. Our wish is that Arabian countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians and Judea for the Jews.”

With the upcoming Trump conference on the Middle East,Trump faces two options, failure as on Obamacare or success as in the case of Syria. By way of guidance, words from a Jewish leader who understood the Arabs:

“An end must be put to the widely accepted but definitely mistaken view. Many believe that in the eyes of the Arabs, Transjordan is more hallowed than western Palestine—-That is a lie. The holy places of Islam are found only in western Palestine, in Jerusalem and Hebron. In the Islamic tradition Transjordan has no recognized position. In the history of the Arabs as a people, Amman or as-Salt cannot be likened to Jaffa or Acre—-If an Arab nationalist would have to choose one of the two sides of the Jordan, on the assumption that one of them had to come into Jewish hands, there is no doubt that he would give up Transjordan.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.
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