From Elihu Stone:
I have seen reports that the government decided not to go through with release of prisoners. That seems excellent news. Of course, the Palestinians are painting this as: 1) a failure on our part to abide by our commitments. 2) a slap by us to America.
(This seems a particularly ridiculous time to have our foreign ministry on strike…)
Israel’s commitments to sacrifice are not made in a vacuum – that there were specific conditions made for this commitment and the Palestinians broke their promises first. They negotiated in bad faith and they are the ones slapping the Americans.
We tired to death of being played for suckers in a desperate hope that our concessions will bring peace or even the mere opportunity to talk about peace. The continued and incessant incitement which was part and parcel of the first three releases show the true intent of the Palestinians. the routine and insistent praise heaped by the “moderate” PA leadership upon murderous thugs – who are touted as heroes and role models by PA state organs and media – and whose acts of murder and mayhem against innocent civilians are praised as “resistance” – is nothing short of abominable. It is utterly wrong, heinous and despicable.
Furthermore, we will not be a party to the ruination of yet another generation of Palestinian society. The continued glorification of convicted murderers – precisely for their murderous deeds in particular-- can never end well and bodes disaster as much for Palestinians as for Jews and Israel.
In regard to Abbas’ threat to pursue international recognition via UN bodies it is most significant that Abbas chose last week to deny Jews’ right to pray at the Kotel.
Out of every state in the Middle East, only in Israel is there reliable institutionalized protection of all religions’ holy places. Indeed it is sui generis that Jews have restricted their own rights to pray at their own holiest sites in order to avoid inflaming others’ sensibilities – I would submit that this behavior is as ineffective as it is morally obtuse. I find it incredible that I, as Jew, cannot even visit my forefather Isaac’s tomb, because the Palestinians who have no connection to Isaac have usurped that tomb in particular. While Abraham - who is holy to Islam- is buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, all the others buried there are connected to the Jewish – rather than Islamic - narrative of the Land. Yishmael (Ishmael) is not buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs. And yet – we have a time sharing arrangement between Jews and Moslems, there. That is not enough for the Arabs – who are now railing against even the possibility of such an arrangement on the Temple Mount.
Territorial exchanges, the release of convicted murderers and unilateral building freezes will neither resolve this issue nor move the Arab/Palestinian position on it one millimeter. There is no freedom of religion in Arab countries – they simply do not understand the concept. They also have not a scintilla of respect for real democracy.
In this context, the fact that Abbas went to the Arab League to have it rubber stamp the absolute refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state - (not a new idea, as it was the basis for UN resolution 181 in 1947 – which the Arabs all rejected) – indicates that the Arab/Israeli conflict still continues. There is no Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians are merely proxies for the continuation of the Arab/Israeli conflict under a new conceptual framework.
After 1967 the Arabs understood that it would be nearly impossible to beat Israel by sheer force of arms. The 22 member states of the Arab League also realized that, in a world where being the perceived underdog provides immense soft power – and that public opinion can be mustered to cause interference with the progress of armed conflicts, they could not hope to win public sympathy if they were perceived as monolith ganging up on Israel – 22 against 1. Therefore, they carefully cultivated the image of an asymmetrical conflict – not one that pitted 22 oil- rich and largely despotic Arab states against Israel – but rather one where the poor, stateless “democratic” Palestinians are the opponent of the Goliath - Israel. The Saudis even put forward a ‘comprehensive’ peace plan, that could never be accepted by all parties. The Arabs don’t care about the Palestinians one whit –except insofar as their status can be used as a weapon against Israel. (A quick look at what is happening in Palestinian camps in Syria makes that point with sinus-clearing certainty.)
As the Palestinians move for statehood in the UN bodies we should emphasize strongly that they are talking about a 23rd Arab state, that will be Islamic and forever opposed to any religious freedom for Jews – and anyone else. The PLO charter still calls for the destruction of Israel and remains subject to an approval process that can never result in its approval. Abbas has pledged never, ever to accept a Jewish state – and to put any concessions at all through an “approval process” involving every Palestinian in the world. Clearly, Abbas has no intention of moving toward peace and is leading everyone who believes otherwise by the nose.
Our refusal to release convicted terrorists at this juncture sends an important message that we will no longer make unilateral concessions that the Palestinians can simply pocket and then ask for more. The ratcheting strategy they have used so far must be called for what it is – and stymied.
There appears no good will on the Palestinian side and none has ever been cultivated by Abbas or the other Arab states. They should be called on this, in public. Unless there is mutuality there will be never be any hope for a negotiated peace here. UN bodies should understand that granting legitimacy to yet another rejectionist Arab state will do nothing but exacerbate problems here and world-wide. Abbas should be called to account.
Finally, if President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry still choose to coddle Abu Mazen in the mistaken hope of salvaging the current process, we should continue to speak the truth, firmly and clearly. I do not believe that we will be isolated if we articulate our position with resolve. We should look to Netanyahu's 2011 address of a joint session of Congress where he ably reiterated all the main points of contention in this conflict - and did a particularly good job of setting out our right to be recognized as a Jewish state, specifically. Of the scores of standing ovations Netanyahu received during his address, a particularly strong one - some 18 seconds - is evident when he noted specifically that the failure of the peace process was squarely due to the refusal of the Arabs - and Palestinians in particular - to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
What I [EoZ] am afraid of is that Israel will reject the prisoner release, MKs will strut about how they stopped it, and then the government will buckle under to pressure from the US. So they will lose the advantages of not releasing them, look like their resolve is paper-thin and also lose the (relatively slight) goodwill advantage of releasing them.
I would be very surprised if this is not what happens.