I have heard the following platitude ad nauseam:
“It is presumed that Israel will retain high Jewish population centers in the West Bank, known as the blocs, in any final status agreement for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.”
Who says this? Nearly every Western diplomat, wire service, newspaper, or liberal commentator. Who never says it – any Arab diplomat or spokesperson.
There was one mention of a land swap by a Palestinian Arab leader, but that was in May, 2010. “Addressing reports according to which he has agreed to give up four percent of the West Bank’s territory in the framework of a peace deal with Israel, [President] Abbas said, ‘We’ve agreed on the principle of exchanging territories based on reciprocity, but we have yet to reach an agreement on the actual land that will be swapped.’” That comment has since disappeared from public Palestinian Arab discourse.
Every modern American president has tried his hand at solving the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The last formal talks ended in 2014, shepherded by President Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry. Now, President Trump has the same illusions of being the one to cut the Gordian Knot and bring “peace” to the Middle East: “I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians, that would be such a great achievement, because nobody’s been able to do it,” Trump said in a meeting with staffers from The New York Times.
Trump added that though “really great people” have told him it is “impossible” to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, “I disagree, I think you can make peace. I think people are tired now of being shot, killed. At some point, when do they come? I think we can do that. I have reason to believe I can do that.” (timesofisrael.com)
The Middle East is currently in one of its least peaceful decades since the end of WWI. That alone makes “peace” improbable in the region for the foreseeable future. A further impediment is the assumption that because Israel is the most powerful state in the region, it must make concessions to the weak Palestinian Arabs. This is nonsense. By the same reasoning, the Allies should have conceded to Germany and Japan, instead of insisting on unconditional surrender. It’s the Palestinian Arabs who must make concessions to Israel, if they ever hope to have permanent autonomy.
Nevertheless, Israel’s leaders have in fact made concessions, without significant reciprocal actions. In 1993, under the Oslo Agreement, Israel invited the terrorist PLO to decamp from exile in Libya to Judea and Samaria (universally called the West Bank to minimize its Jewish history) to solely represent the Arabs, who were given self-governance of major cities there and in the Gaza Strip.
In 1997, Israel gave control of almost all of Hebron (Judaism’s second holiest city after Jerusalem) to the Palestinian Authority. The Wye River Memorandum of 1998 called for further Israeli redeployment in Judea and Samaria. At the Camp David 2000 Summit, Prime Minister Barak offered 95% of the “occupied territory” and all of Gaza to President Arafat, who rejected the offer without proposing a counter-offer. In talks between 2007-2009, Prime Minister Olmert offered nearly 99% to the Palestinian Authority, which Prime Minister Abbas rejected.
(See revolvy.com for a detailed analysis of all peace negotiations.)
The plain fact is that the majority of Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria, as well as in Gaza, do not desire peace and will certainly kill any leader who would sign a genuine peace treaty with Israel. (King Abdullah I of Jordan was assassinated in Jerusalem by a Palestinian Arab in 1951; President Arafat of Egypt was assassinated in 1981; King Hussein of Jordan died peacefully in the US, but his son, Abdullah II, sits uneasily on the Jordanian throne.)
What the Arabs want is to extricate the Jews from “Arab land” and to take over Israel, much like they accomplished in Gaza. We all know how that’s turned out. The successful, affluent Jewish communities of Gaza were destroyed and turned into strongholds for attacking Israel. We’ve had wars with Gaza at regular intervals since 2007.
The current illusion is that Israel will somehow make an agreement with the Sunni Arab states which will include some sort of sovereignty for the Palestinian Arabs. Yet the terms that even the “moderate” Arab states (moderate only in comparison to entities like ISIS) propose fall short of any practical agreement that Israel could accept, even if Israel had confidence that the terms of the treaty would be honored.
History: President Clinton unsuccessfully proposed that Israel cede the Golan Heights to Syria in 2000. In February 2009, when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry visited Damascus. He said in a press conference during the visit: “President Barack Obama’s administration considers Syria a key player in Washington’s efforts to revive the stalled Middle East peace process. Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.” In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s [Bashar al Assad] a reformer.”
If a peace treaty between Israel and Syria had been implemented, the Syrian tyrant Assad’s troops, or ISIS or Hezbollah terrorists, would be situated on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. Such a treaty would have put our enemies in position to easily fire on Israelis or invade Israel, as Syria repeatedly did before the 1967 Six Day War.
Middle Eastern pundit Martin Sherman definitively states the argument against signing agreements with Arab leaders in this period of Arab/Muslim chaos: “There is little guarantee that [any] Arab entity that makes commitments toward Israel will be the entity called upon to honor them when need be. After all, what would be the value of any understanding on integration entered into in 2010 with say Syria, or Iraq or Libya…” (israpundit.com)
So, platitudes such as, “It is presumed that Israel will retain high Jewish population centers in the West Bank, known as the blocs, in any final status agreement for a two-state solution with the Palestinians,” are patent nonsense, presupposing an Arab desire to exist peacefully alongside of the Jewish State of Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least in the foreseeable future. However, one can always hope…