History repeats itself: A genuine, vigorous push by the United States and/or Israel to achieve a breakthrough toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crashes and burns because the Palestinian leadership simply doesn’t want any solution short of the end of the Jewish state.
This time the effort was initiated by Secretary of State John Kerry despite all the signs indicating there was virtually no chance of negotiations succeeding. His herculean if ultimately sisyphean campaign to keep negotiations going had been in trouble for weeks as it became increasingly apparent Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had no intention of extending talks beyond what had been an April 29 deadline to get something done.
The coup de grace came this week when Abbas announced a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the terrorist overlords of the Gaza Strip committed to the destruction of Israel.
For Hamas to be part of any Palestinian government negotiating peace, it would have to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terrorism and abide by previously reached agreements on the conflict. Hamas leadership made it explicitly clear that it has no intention of abandoning “resistance” — also known as blowing Israeli teenage girls to bits, bombing pizza parlors, markets and buses packed with civilians, and other such terrorist atrocities.
Israel rightfully suspended negotiations, and outraged members of Congress are calling for suspending the hundreds of millions of dollars America pours each year into the ineffective and corrupt Palestinian Authority government.
This latest blow to the peace process should come as no surprise. Abbas has demonstrated no commitment to preparing his people for ending their enmity to Israel. He hasn’t even tried to rein in the hateful anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic propaganda in Palestinian media and schools.
Abbas’ torpedoing of Kerry’s initiative tracks the history of these negotiations. In 2000 it was President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak who made a heroic effort to achieve peace, offering Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat the best deal imaginable. But the late Arafat was a terrorist to his bones and responded to the peace offering with a horrific terrorist war that killed, maimed and traumatized thousands of Israeli civilians.
In 2005 it was the late Israeli war hero and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who took a huge risk, withdrawing Israeli soldiers and dismantling Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. In pretty short order, Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority and established a terrorist statelet in Gaza that has fired thousands of rockets into southern Israel and attempted other terrorist outrages.
In 2008, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented Abbas with another generous peace offer: most of the West Bank, plus some Israeli territory in land swaps, for a Palestinian state; removal of tens of thousands of settlers; a division of Jerusalem; a secure corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza; a symbolic return of 5,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel, and multi-national supervision of holy sites in Jerusalem. Abbas didn’t even bother to respond.
Past attempts at a reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas after the 2007 Gaza civil war failed. There’s speculation that this latest attempt is nothing more than a ploy by Abbas to wring yet more concessions from Israel and the United States.
Even if that’s true, the point is that Abbas is looking for more concessions, not to do anything that might actually advance the cause of peace.