Now that the Trump Administration has shown itself to be unabashedly pro-Israel, the usual suspects in the media and elsewhere are spreading their usual logorrhea* on the subject of Mideast peace and of course, the vital necessity of a Palestinian state.
What's interesting is that most of what these people are suggesting has been tried in the past, and it hasn't worked. Their usual suggestions involve the old clunker of land for peace (by Israel of course, not by the Arabs who call themselves 'Palestinians'), boosting Palestine's economy, Jerusalem as a shared capitol 'for all faiths' as one of them put it, and borders on the old 1948 ceasefire lines. In exchange for which Israel obtains a guarantee from the Arabs of peace.
None of this would work, even if Israel gave in to all of 'Palestine's' demands. I'll explain why as briefly as possible, and then tell you what I think might actually achieve Mideast peace, since I live in the real world.
'Land for peace' has already been tried and it's been a total failure except for once, with Egypt and that's because Anwar Sadat actually needed peace, liked the idea of getting Sinai back and a nifty $1.5 billion every year in badly needed US aid in exchange for a few promises. It's been a dismal, blood soaked failure every other time for Israel every other time it's been tried, especially when dealing with the Arabs whom call themselves Palestinians.
The Israelis have no reason to trust Hamas and Fatah since they've repeatedly violated Oslo and the Road Map, which were essentially land for peace deals. If you've actually been there, you understand giving 'Palestine' the high ground in Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank to the initiated) also involves a major strategic risk for Israel, since it puts both Israel's most populated areas and Ben-Gurion airport in easy missile range. No reason Israel should give this area up to its mortal enemies for some 'promises.'
The Jordan Valley, overwhelmingly populated by Israelis is another point worth mentioning. Putting that in 'Palestinian' hands gives Iran free access to 'Palestine' via Syria and Jordan, and allows Iran to do what they did with Hezbollah and Hamas...arm them with missiles. If you were Israel, would you do something that stupid for 'promises' by the Arabs?
Boosting 'Palestine's' economy? Well, that's been going on for quite some time. The results have done very little to achieve Mideast peace. If 'Palestine' were a normal country, I'd agree that trade helps peace. It isn't and it won't. Proof of this is that prior to the First Intifada, Israel literally built 'Palestine's' infrastructure - schools, roads, power grid, universities, hospitals, etc. and that even continued after Oslo, before Arafat showed his true hand in the Second intifada.
Palestine' under Arafat and Abbas has received more aid than any developing country in history. The only results have been fat bank accounts in Jordan, the Emirates and Europe, excessive 'security forces,' luxurious villas for the elites, a growing payroll of convicted terrorist killers and their families, and a few monopoly industries wholly controlled by the Fatah mafiosos.
'Palestine' is essentially a kleptocracy. According Mahmoud Dahlan, Abbas and Arafat's former 'security chief', Abbas personally embezzled more than $1.3 billion personally from aid money and 'taxes', and he and the other Fatah cronies take a cut of all economic activity. The IMF says that at least 50% of the donor aid money gets 'diverted' into the bank accounts I mentioned, spent on supporting jihad and incitement against Israel, and supporting the resulting jailed criminals and their families. The main reason American-born former primes minister Salem Fayyad was fired by Abbas is because he actually started exposing some of this thievery.
Aside from that, there's no upside for Israel in helping the 'Palestinians' make more money to buy missiles and bullets to shoot at them. Palestine has nothing Israel needs, except perhaps a certain amount of cheap labor. And even that has pretty much been done away with after a number of Palestinian workers turned on their fellow workers,both during the Second intifada and the more recent Knife intifada. So Israel is importing guest workers now when that becomes necessary.
The bottom line is that there's no incentive or upside for Israel to strengthen the economy of what amounts to a hostile regime. Been there, done that, just like 'Land for peace'
Jerusalem a city of shared faiths? It already is, at least since the Israelis annexed it after Jordan attacked them in 1967. Under the Arabs, it was anything but. Every Jew living there in 1948 was ethnically cleansed. 28 historic synagogues with their Torah scrolls were burnt to the ground, Jewish tombstones from the Mount of Olives were used as paving stones and the Kotel, the holiest site in Judaism was used as a garbage dump and latrine. The Israelis aren't giving it back. Especially after experiencing violence and hideous vandalism at other Jewish holy sites like the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's tomb that they actually attempted to share with the Arabs who call themselves 'Palestinians.'
What I'm trying to point out here is that the usual demands made on Israel for peace have two things in common. They've already been tried and they haven't worked.
One argument frequently used is that because of them munificent aid we give Israel, they should be willing to negotiate some of these things. Actually, in terms of dollars and cents, the aid Israel receives is small considering what Israel gives the U.S. in goods, access and services. There's a healthy argument that from a financial standpoint, Israel might be better off giving up the aid and simply doing what most of our other allies, like Turkey do - charging the U.S. the going rate.
The going rate Israel could charge America per year just for maintaining and guarding America's Mideast Strategic Arms depot on its soil alone would probably come close to the amount of the aid we give them per year just by itself. The chief benefit for Israel isn't the aid, by US backup internationally. And as I said, the Israel-US relationship is weighted heavily towards the US and is one of our few foreign policy bargains.
The argument is that Israel should simply bend over and endanger its people for the sake of US support doesn't wash. That support can be subject to change when you have a president that hearts Islamists and does not like Israel at all. Commitments and even written treaty guarantees change suddenly change then, as we've seen,with someone like Barack Hussein Obama in charge. And Arab 'good will' when it comes to the Jews and other infidels is also rather shaky and subject to change, especially when they think they have the upper hand militarily. But land and strategic positions last a lot longer, and can only be reclaimed by blood. The Israelis have simply bent over too many times.
For that matter, we give 'Palestine' a substantial amount of aid too and get zero for it. None of the people msking these arguments ever mention what we should demand from 'Palestine' based on that. It's always Israel that has real concessions are demanded. Never 'Palestine.' Funny thow that works, no?
If you've walked with me this far, I suppose you see where I'm going. Because of their hostile and violemt behavior, 'Palestine' has nothing Israel wants, and Israel has no reason to trust them. In any event, any deal Abbas makes is not going to be accepted by Hamas, so even the idea of peace is a farce. Even assuming Fatah and Abbas cut some kind of deal and offer Israel uncontested ownership of Jerusalem, forego the so-called right of return and recognize Israel as a Jewish state or make some kind of pledge for peace, so what? Israel either has those things already, isn't going to deal on the items in question and realizes that 'peace' is likely to be a mirage anyway.
Trump's idea, I'm sure, is a sort of grand bargain involving not just the Palestinians but the whole Arab region as a way of unifying against Shi'ite Iran. Some of these countries would go along, and some of them are even trading and engaging in security cooperation with Israel under the radar, but the Palestinians remain problematic. Half the Mideast has already tossed them out of their countries as a violent, divisive element. But they have also used the Arabs whom call themselves Palestinians as a propaganda point against Israel for decades. They're in a trap of their own making, with the possible exception of Egypt and al-Sissi.
So here's how to really achieve a lasting Mideast peace.
Fatah and Hamas will never make peace with Israel. Period. We have Bill Clinton to thank for insisting that a murdering, corrupt thug like Arafat be rescued from obscurity in Tunis and made the new 'Palestinian' strongman. The start of any peace process will be to realize that it isn't a peace process so much as a divorce, and likely not an amicable one.
In exchange for recognition of Palestine by Israel, Israel could make a final offer consisting of the following conditions:
- Israel would recognize a Palestinian state in Area A of Judea and Samaria, where the vast majority of the Palestinians live. Area C where the majority of Israelis live would become part of Israel. Borders in Area B would be negotiated by the parties. Once borders are negotiated, appropriate population swaps would be completed.
- An immediate end to Palestinian incitement in its mosques, media and schools.
- An immediate end to financial support for convicted terrorists in Israeli jails and their families.
- The new Palestinian state would be completely demilitarized. Jordan isn't going to attack them, and neither is Israel unless Palestine violates this new, binding agreement. There's no need for more than a small, lightly armed police force. Palestine would agree to turn over non-police weaponry like the armored cars Obama gave the two combat brigades he had General Keith Dayton train and arm for use against Israel.
- The new Palestinian state will make a complete break of all relations with Hamas unless Hamas signs the agreement and complies with all its terms. That won't happen of course, but it's worth putting in there.
- Palestine would officially declare the conflict over, agree to recognize the new borders as final and abjure all claims on Israeli territory. Israel would likewise recognize Palestine as a state.
This gives the Palestinians a state on pretty much the same terms as Oslo, which of course they violated. It separates the two sides and gives the Palestinians a chance to build a state based on something other than stealing donor aid and fomenting violence and hatred of Israel. If Abbas really wants a Palestinian state he'll take it, because the other things he wants he isn't getting anyway.
*a Ten dollar word for excessive BS
Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com and other publications.