Where is the Palestinian Sadat?

Obama needs to know: even a Herzog-led coalition would require a Palestinian partner to achieve a two-state deal

President Obama and many others on both sides of the Atlantic were counting on Israelis to swap out their intractable “hawk” for a more flexible “dove.” That in turn, conventional wisdom informs, would clear the way for a quick final deal with Iran (including immediate removal of sanctions) and hasten a two-state solution in the Holy Land, perhaps before President Obama leaves office.

The reality on the ground in Israel however is more complex. Let’s assume for a moment that Mr. Herzog had won 30 seats and set up a center-left coalition. Prime Minister Herzog would still be committed to thwarting Tehran going nuclear. The Ayatollah Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard, and other Iranian leaders would still be calling for the Jewish State’s annihilation. Israel’s Prime Minister will be confronted with a new strategic threat from Iran and its Hezbollah terrorist lackeys as they hunker down in Syrian territory–opposite the Golan Heights–preparing a new missile-laden front to threaten the Galilee and Israel’s northern panhandle. To date, their brazen moves have raised nary a peep of protest from either the US or the European Union.

And it is certainly true that Israel’s Left remains strongly committed to a two-state solution. However, the continued terrorism and genocidal hate of Hamas and the celebration by leaders of the corrupt-riven Palestinian Authority of terrorist murderers of Jews, leaves many Israelis, including on the Left that Mahmoud Abbas has neither the inclination nor the ability to reach a final settlement. However much American Administration and the EU want to push a quick peace deal, even a Herzog-led coalition would need a Palestinian partner ready to tell his constituents in Arabic that their Jewish neighbors are there to stay and that they too have every right to be in the Holy Land. In other words, any Two-State Solution awaits a Palestinian Sadat. For now none is on the horizon.

In the aftermath of Bibi’s unexpected emphatic victory, almost all the talk remains on the strained personal relations between the American President and the Israeli PM. Last week’s trial balloon floated about possible US backing for a UN Security resolution that would force a shotgun marriage between Jerusalem and Ramallah is a non-starter. Such a move will only backfire–further weakening Israel’s Left, while emboldening Hamas and Hezbollah to ramp up terror attacks against a Jewish State that may no longer have the US in its corner.

In pursuit of peace there are important steps that President Obama and Secretary Kerry can take that would forge an environment that would bring both parties to the table. We know what they want Israelis to do. Here is a short list they should send Abbas:

1. No International Court shenanigans. Seeking indictment of your negotiating partners for crimes against humanity is not a confidence-builder.

2. No more unilateral moves to gain UN-recognized statehood without negotiating with the Israelis.

3. No more anti-Semitic attacks and incitement by Palestinian media, religious and other leaders. Stop denying the Jewish people’s link to its ancestral homeland. Such hatred incenses Israelis and contributes to the explosion of anti-Semitism across Europe and on North American university campuses

4. US and European donors are ready to invest billions more in peace. For that to happen, transparency on each project must reign–insuring that help actually reaches Palestinians who need it. The brutal truth is that if elections were held on the West Bank right now, Hamas would win in a landslide, because of one central issue: PA’s corruption.

And Bibi? He has already backtracked from a recent statement that may or may not have ruled out a Palestinian state on his watch. But Israelis know that if and when a viable partner emerges from the Palestinian camp, any elected prime minister would rush to the table in a flash.

Personal feelings aside, Netanyahu must also do everything in his power to tamp down emotions and de-personalize disagreements with President Obama.

But do not expect Netanyahu to step back from his stance on Iran. He (and every Jew) is right to take the Mullahocracy’s existential threats at face value.

I was present at our Nation’s Capitol for Bibi Netanyahu’s speech on Iran. Love him or hate him, everyone there, and all Israelis watching at home, saw a true world leader in action. In the end, his respectful and masterful speech reminded everyone, that he has earned his place on the international stage, no matter how discomfiting his message is to some.

If the Obama Administration really wants to impact on Israelis, denouncing the democratic results decided upon on by the Israeli electorate, is not the way to go. What Israelis are waiting to see is a coherent US game plan for thwarting the implosion of their neighborhood and hearing details of a potential deal with Iran that, to paraphrase Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, Israelis and Iran’s Arab neighbors, can “literally live with”.

We can only hope that President Obama’s belated phone call to Netanyahu will help both to recalibrate and refocus for the enormous tasks at hand.

About the Author
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Associate Dean and Global Director of its Ed Snider Social Action Institute