Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently characterized the likelihood of a resolution from upcoming U.S.-force-fed peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as “difficult but possible.”
He has it exactly backwards—it is easy but impossible.
“Possible” implies that both parties are on the same terrain, respect the others’ interests, and are acting in good faith. “Difficult” implies that the two parties are far apart, but that with creativity and temerity they may be able to trade off competing interests and find win-win solutions.
“Impossible” implies that one party is inherently opposed to the interests of the other, and therefore would not negotiate in the conventional sense even if it left both parties satisfied, because the first party by definition is not satisfied if the second party is. “Easy” implies that the first party’s demands could yield an instant solution if given up, if that party were thinking and acting rationally—or if the second party were willing and able to use overwhelming force to obviate the first party’s demands.
I think it’s safe to say that the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are not on the same terrain, inasmuch as the preferred outcome of the conflict as expressed by Palestinians is for Jews to literally be driven off of that terrain into the sea. Given that Israel does not wish to voluntarily self-destruct, that’s where “impossible” comes in.
If they haven’t already done so after a half-century of murderous genocidal rhetoric and blood-spattered conflict, I also doubt the Palestinians will charitably give up their demands tomorrow, which rules out “easy.” That leaves only the overwhelming force option.
Fortunately, the Palestinians actually seem to respond rather well to that option.
The number of Palestinian deaths in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1987 is on the order of 7,500; Israeli deaths number approximately 1,500. This disproportionate figure reflects, not the bloodthirsty, excessive use of force on Israel’s part, but their use of more sophisticated and deadly weaponry.
Israeli deaths ranged from 0 to 34 per year from 1987 to 1992.
After Israel agreed to the Oslo Accords in 1993, the number of Israeli deaths did not decline, but rather spiked at 74 in 1994 and 75 in 1996.
Following the Camp David Summit in 2000, Israeli deaths did not decrease, but skyrocketed from 43 in 2000 to 192 in 2001.
This was the same year in which the Taba Summit was held. The next year, Israeli deaths shot up to 419.
Under George W. Bush, who subsequently ignored the futile “peace process” for the rest of his administration, since it had obviously yielded no results, Israel fought back against acts of aggression from Palestinians and their terrorists allies, thus inducing some of the highest yearly Palestinian casualty rates since the start of the conflict.
In response, the Palestinian leadership—which has proven it responds only to force, not reason—eased up on Israel: the number of Israeli casualties dropped from 419 in 2002 to 185 in 2003, and to 108 in 2004, and has been in double digits every year since 2005.
So Hillary Clinton may loftily announce, “There have been difficulties in the past; there will be difficulties ahead. Without a doubt, we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks. But I ask the parties to persevere.”
Barack Obama can pragmatically declare, “For any agreement to endure, peace cannot be imposed from the outside; it must be negotiated directly by the leaders who are required to make the hard choices and compromises that take on history.”
Benjamin Netanyahu can tell us, “We come to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples, while protecting Israel’s national interests, chiefly security. Achieving a peace agreement between us and the Palestinian Authority is difficult but possible.”
But anyone with a sense, not just of history but of the rigid, irrational thought system underlying Palestinian and Islamist ideology, knows exactly what a load of rhetorical crap all this is.
The Palestinians’ negotiating position recalls that of Ground Zero Mosque promoters Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, who claim they want to “build bridges” with those wary of Islam. Sure, they want to build bridges—as long as the other side sketches the designs, supplies the materials, excavates the banks, pours the concrete, lays the deck, paves the roads, and then tosses itself off and plunges to its death.
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