The reason that Israeli Jews don't trust the Palestinian Arabs is self-evident to everyone with eyes: because the PLO has have reneged on agreements in the past, such as Oslo II. They launched a terror war as a response to failed negotiations. The very first promise that Yasir Arafat made in the 1993 exchange of letters with Yitzhak Rabin, where he stated "the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators" was proven a sham. Even today the terrorist offshoot of Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, is still around and still bragging of its terrorist bona fides.
The PA has done little in the intervening years to make Israelis feel that the PLO/PA could ever be trusted again.
In Article 5 of Annex 1 of the Interim Agreement of 1995, known as Oslo II, the PA promised to provide security as well as free access for Jews to visit the holy sites in Area A, namely Joseph's Tomb and the Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho.
The PA never lived up to these promises either, and the only way Jews can visit these holy sites today are with scheduled monthly visits coordinated with the IDF under heavy security. There are still violent incidents reported at each site.
My peace plan is very simple. Have the PA adhere to its own signed agreements relative to these two sites - just for starters.
This means that the PA would ensure normal daily access to the holy sites in Area A. They would assure that all Jews who visit are safe and feel safe.
This also means that they would have to educate their people in Nablus and Jericho that (just as they insist to the West) they have no problem with Jews, but only with Zionism. Therefore, their people should show respect to those who want to visit and pray at their own holy sites. This would involve a major publicity campaign that would result in a situation where anyone who wants to throw rocks and firebombs at the Jews would be shamed, stopped and reported by their own people. It means that kids would be taught that they must respect Jews as much as they should respect Muslims and Christians. Jewish tourists to those areas would feel free to visit nearby stores and shops safely.
The way things were before the first intifada.
If this would happen - if Palestinian Arabs would act according not only to their signed agreements but also according to their own words when they speak to Western media as far as respecting Judaism and Jews - it would cause a major shift in how Israelis think. It might take a couple of years but when coexistence returns, so would trust. With trust would come the desire for peace. And with the desire for peace would be a flexibility on the part of Israelis that has not been seen in decades. It would be driven by Israeli Jews, not by Americans cajoling both sides towards an illusory "peace."
It all comes down to trust.
Of course, as long as EU-funded NGOs, PA TV and other media, PA politicians and pundits are working overtime against an atmosphere of trust, this is impossible. But the single most effective thing that the Arabs could do, if they were interested in real peace, would be to work to re-establish trust. Without that, everything else is doomed. Israeli reciprocity is a given; after all, isn't that what Israeli Jews want more than anything else, to have normal relations with their neighbors?
On the other hand, any agreement signed without trust is worse than worthless. It is telling that the existing efforts from Oslo I to the Roadmap all were predicated on confidence building measures before peace could occur - and that basic prerequisite seems to have been dropped by the current round of talks that seems aimed at an agreement being signed without that crucial component.
Now, the question is - why aren't the EU, UN and US working towards such a self-evident requirement to establish a real state of trust? How could any shortcut plan possibly work without building trust, that basic prerequisite for peace?
Abbas, in his talk to prominent American Jews, airily stated that "Jerusalem will be an open city. They can come and go freely." Really? Jews would be allowed to freely visit the Temple Mount and the Kotel the Mount of Olives, under Abbas' desired PA security control, without fear? When the PA cannot even make that promise today, one that they signed, for Area A?
In the end, the fact that this EoZ peace plan is not tenable - that the PLO is demanding concessions without giving the Israelis any confidence that they would adhere to this foundational requirement - is really all the proof you need that real peace is impossible.
Jonathan Sacks – Encampments & Journeys
7 hours ago