War, Diplomacy and the Trojan Horse

John Kerry is America’s chief diplomat, but only for the next three weeks. John Kerry has been a student of the Arab-Israeli dispute for over forty years, yet he has learned next to nothing about the PLO. John Kerry still clings to an old paradigm which has failed to materialize over the course of twenty five years, i.e. the moribund, and soon to die, two-state solution. John Kerry claims to be a close personal friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but has he ever read chapter 5 of Bibi’s book, A Place Among The Nations?

I urge the whole world to read chapter 5 of Bibi’s book. It is titled “The Trojan Horse”. In this one chapter, Mr. Netanyahu, not yet prime minister, clearly delineates the PLO strategy of diplomacy as a weapon of war. If ever there was a clear answer for the strategic purposes of Israeli settlement building, chapter 5 is certainly that answer. Bibi was then an opponent of the two-state solution because he saw it for what it has always been — a part of the PLO’s diplomatic strategy of “phased struggle” against the “Zionist entity” it ultimately seeks to destroy.

As children, we all know the purpose of the Trojan Horse — deception through illusory peacemaking leading to victory in war. Apparently John Kerry didn’t learn that lesson as a schoolboy. So for the sake of his Middle East education, I will describe the purpose of the PLO’s change in strategy — from war and terrorism to phony diplomacy and the so-called two-state solution.

In the aftermath of the 1973 Israeli-Arab War, it became clear to the PLO that without the West Bank the chances of defeating Israel in war were next to nil. The PLO needed a new strategy, and “phased struggle” leading to the two-state solution was adopted over time. To quote Mr. Netanyahu: “A few months after the Arab failure in the Yom Kippur War (October 1973) the Palestinian National Council met in Cairo to consider the situation. It concluded that Israel in its post-1967 boundaries could not be destroyed by a frontal military assault. What was required was an interim phase in which Israel would be reduced to dimensions that made it more convenient for the coup de grace. Thus was born the phased plan, adopted by the PNC in that meeting on June 8, 1974. The phased plan had two important stipulations: First, create a Palestinian state on any territory vacated by Israel (Article 2); Second, mobilize from that state a general Arab military assault to destroy a shrunken and indefensible Israel (Article 8).”

Netanyahu went on to say that although the “phased struggle” plan was adopted in 1974, it took another 14 years for it to be fully embraced by the entire PLO. After the PLO’s supposed recognition of Israel at Geneva, Abu Iyad, Arafat’s number two, clearly defined the PLO’s diplomatic/military strategy: “At first, a small state, and with the help of Allah, it will be made larger and expand to the east, west, north, and south…. I am interested in the liberation of Palestine step by step. The Palestinian state will be a springboard from which to liberate Jaffa (Tel Aviv), Accre (Haifa), and all of Palestine (Israel).”

Abu Iyad emphasized that the phased plan in no way contradicted the PLO Charter seeking Israel’s elimination. He went on to say that the new diplomacy was merely a tactical response to a changing geopolitical situation and would eventually be the means to implement Israel’s destruction. Abu Iyad said, “We swore that we would liberate pre-1967 Palestine. We will liberate Palestine stage by stage. The borders of our state as we declared it represent only part of our national aspirations. We will work to expand them in order to realize our aspiration for all the land of Palestine (Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan).”

When Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords, he insisted that the PLO Charter be officially abrogated to expunge the essence of its articles, to ensure that the goal of PLO diplomacy would be a finalized peace treaty with Israel and not a step-by-step process to destroy the one and only Jewish state. To this very day, the Charter of the PLO remains the same. For the international community, the Palestinian leadership is no longer perceived as duplicitous because (supposedly) they have accepted the idea of a demilitarized West Bank state. But such a state has been negotiated through the administrations of three US presidents and four Israeli prime ministers. In all this time and over the course of twenty-five years — including the most recent attempt by Kerry and Obama — all negotiations ended without success.

Arafat and his successor Abbas have rejected any Israeli security control over the West Bank’s border with Jordan. This fact, and not the settlement blocks close to Israel’s pre-1967 lines, had been the key stumbling block in the advanced negotiations of 2000 and 2008. By the time John Kerry became Obama’s secretary of state in 2013, the Palestinian leadership had decided that direct negotiation could never lead to an Israeli relinquishment of the essential security border between Israel and Jordan on the West Bank. Everyone knows, with the possible exception of Obama and Kerry, that the negotiations of 2013-2014 were never taken seriously by Abbas or his leadership team. In fact, they were abandoned by the Abbas in hopes of a political deal with the terrorist organization Hamas.

The Palestinian strategy remains the Trojan Horse. In order to achieve this strategy, they now completely rely on the UN Security Council and the US Democratic Party. Kerry and Obama are so wedded to the two-state solution that they fail to understand the “phased struggle” component of the PLO’s final ambition. But how does one explain Netanyahu’s embrace of the two-state solution in 2009? It is likely because Netanyahu understood that the US establishment of both political parties still believed that a West Bank state could be negotiated in 2009. Bibi had little choice but to work with the new Obama administration. So he did. However, all along Netanyahu knew the true motives of Abbas and his PLO — diplomacy as war by other means. As long as the Israeli prime minister stood firm (on Israel’s essential security need) with regard to the West Bank’s border with Jordan — a permanent Israeli security presence — a West Bank Palestinian state would never be negotiated by the Palestinian leadership. But Netanyahu never anticipated the depth of the Obama administration’s misunderstanding of the PLO’s motives.

Now the US has a new president, a Republican president. Donald J. Trump is no fool. Unlike Obama and Kerry, he knows how to negotiate a deal, and he knows how to negotiate a deal with leverage. That’s precisely why Trump called Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran probably the worst deal in history, because all the leverage was put upon Obama from Tehran. A similar situation exists with the Palestinians. Their new leverage has become the UN Security Council. But President Trump understands that, because of Obama’s abstention at the UN, the so-called two-state solution has now become an unfair negotiation.

President-elect Trump also understands that Obama’s actions have nullified any lingering hope that the so-called two-state solution can remain viable. So too does Prime Minister Netanyahu. Now the idea that Israel will separate from the territories of Judea and Samaria has become null and void. The Israeli leadership must craft a new narrative for the West Bank that encompasses integration with the Palestinians, but doesn’t lead to their incorporation into the body politic of the Jewish state. This will either mean autonomy or condominium. But such outcomes must be done with leverage. In the next four years, Israel must build more and more housing for settlements throughout Judea and Samaria. President Trump’s support will provide the leverage. If France, Britain or anyone else objects, President Trump will know how to play hard ball with these nations.

In the next four years, the Palestinian people must be shown that the US and Israel mean business. While Israel builds, the Arabs of the West Bank must be encouraged to exercise their political rights as Jordanian citizens. This could all become part and parcel of an essential governing narrative long needed in the Arab world, i.e. democracy above dictatorship and absolute monarchy. Meanwhile, the very future of the UN has been clouded by the failed presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. Instead of doing anything about the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in Syria, or the regional rise of Iran, Obama chose to use the UN to scapegoat Israel for its settlements in Judea and Samaria. All of these Israeli settlements are legal under international law. But the UN (along with Obama and Kerry) has a distinct anti-Israel bias. They have chosen to disregard the paramount international legal precedent on sovereignty of Uti Possidetis Juris. Instead, they castigate the Jewish state under a bogus theory (applied to Israel only) of the Geneva Convention. This international prohibition assumes that Jordan’s illegal occupation of the West Bank in 1949, in some convoluted way, entitles the Palestinians to hold sovereignty over land originally mandated for a Jewish homeland in 1922. This means that the UN (in true Orwellian form) now deems Israel to be the aggressor in the wars of 1948 and 1967. This is tantamount to blaming Israel for the Holocaust. Furthermore, this same convoluted legal argument (based on the Geneva Convention) has never been utilized anywhere else in the world (more on this in the future).

Is it any wonder that Israel has used settlement building to protect itself from the UN and the international community — as represented by the likes of Europe, communist China, Venezuela and Cuba, all the states of the old British empire, and now the US Democratic Party under the leadership of Barack H. Obama and John Kerry. Soon, however, the ball will be in the hands of a new American leader, Donald J. Trump. Israel can rest assured that, more than any other world leader, the new US president (and his team) will be able to recognize the lies and distortions of the Palestinians and their hypocritical supporters throughout the world. Unlike those who would diminish his presidency before it even begins, Donald J. Trump at least can recognize a Trojan horse when he sees one.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).