From the time of the British Mandate in Palestine (September 29, 1922 to November 29, 1947) to the present, numerous British, American and European government commissions and official emissaries have come to the region to investigate the underlying causes of the Palestinian Arab/Israeli dispute. Academics and journalists have added their own analyses.
In the absence of a solution, a myriad of myths continue to proliferate about the conflict. US Secretary of State John Kerry joins the pantheon of American diplomats, academics and journalists who appear either ignorant of why the dispute remains intractable, or are blinded by their contempt for Israel or their own biases. Many seem psychologically incapable of accepting the reality that Palestinian Arabs refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist, and that until they do so, the war against the Jews will continue.
Two Basic Questions Not Addressed
Some of these “experts” are so “obsessively focused” on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as “obstacles to peace,” they fail to ask two fundamental questions: Do the Arabs want a two-state solution? Is establishing a separate Arab state in the best interests of Israel and the West?
For many of Israel’s enemies and detractors, even the suggestion of abandoning this formula is proof that Israel does not want peace. The assertion that once the matter of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is resolved, a peaceful resolution of the conflict will be achieved, is fallacious. There is no mention of the homicide bombers; pervasive incitement in the schools, mosques and social media; attempts to deny Jewish connection to the land of Israel; the Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries; or the deadly rock-throwing and fire-bombing attacks, beatings and stabbings.
Rarely, if ever, is there any recognition that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasir Arafat 94 percent of Judea and Samaria, which he refused, and then launched the second Intifada. Ten years later, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas 93.6 percent of Judea and Samaria with a one-to-one land swap. This means that expansion has not significantly reduced the land available for establishing a Palestinian Arab state.
To secure Abbas’s consent, the Jewish communities of Elon Moreh, Ofra, Beit El and Kiryat Arba would be destroyed, Hebron abandoned, and Jerusalem divided. In the process, tens of thousands of Jews would be expelled from their homes. Abbas rejected the offer.
Why Do Arabs Reject the Two-State Solution?
These rejections should not have come as a surprise. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie on February 6, 1948, Jamal e-Husseini, representing the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, explained why: “The Arabs of Palestine…will never submit or yield to any Power going to Palestine to enforce partition. The only way to establish partition is first to wipe them out—man, woman and child,” which is precisely what the Arabs had planned for the Jews.
“It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace,” asserted Kifah Radaydeh, Fatah regional official, in a 2009 statement reported by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). “Peace is a means, the goal is Palestine. I do not negotiate in order to achieve peace. I negotiate for Palestine, in order to achieve a state.” When Fatah, the Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine, says Palestine, they mean all of Israel.
In April 2014, PMW reported that Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi asserted: “I’m telling you that the two-state solution does not exist…The two-state solution is over. We must return to the option of one Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. Palestinians, Palestinian leadership, listen to me: The only solution before us is the historic solution presented by Fatah in 1964,” which called for the “liberation” of Palestine, meaning the destruction of the Jewish state.
A New Strategy:
‘Time and Demographics’
In place of the two-state solution, Adam Shay and Pinhas Inbari from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, found that the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) new strategy is to play for “time and demographics,” the “two basic elements that will bring about the demise of Zionist theory.” The theory is that once there are more Palestinian Arabs than Jews west of the Jordan River, the Arabs would be in control. Continued acts of terror and pressure from Palestinian Arabs and the international community would force Israel either to consent to more onerous concessions or endure endless violence.
This explains, in part, the reason for the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel. Creating the pretense of spontaneity and unpredictability is critical to the success of this “planned to be unplanned,” terror campaign orchestrated by the PA and lead by Fatah. Everything is intended to create the impression that this a popular and unrestrained insurrection, which the PA has limited ability to influence. Public debate and the media are exploited to stimulate violence.
In place of the outdated shahid posters extolling martyrdom, Shay and Inbari found that social network sites emerged with extensive photos, reports and cartoon videos depicting the daily battles between Israeli security forces and Palestinian Arab youth in the compound, and at times within the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This, and other videos charging Israel with plotting to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, reached significant numbers of young Palestinian Arabs who believe the Mount is Islamic and belongs to them. Jewish presence is prohibited, and only force, they are told, will prevent Jews from entering the compound.
Gilad Gamliel, an Arab affairs monitor at Israel’s Channel Two news, reports that one video, “viewed by thousands and shared by hundreds,” exhorted young Palestinian Arabs to “take a decision by yourselves. Do not wait for this or that leader or senior official; go out in the city squares, for this is the day of confrontation. This day is your day, heroes.”
One of the primary means to pay tribute to these heroes is for relatives to post pictures of the shahid allowing family, friends and supporters to express their feelings, memories and eulogies. Some photos appear on Fatah’s Facebook page.
Though the PA assumes no responsibility for the assaults, their announcements proclaim: “With full honor and esteem, the movement [or sometimes a certain branch in one of the districts] mourns the death of the hero shaheed, a shaheed of Jerusalem. Our souls will redeem Al-Aqsa.” A picture of the Dome of the Rock serves as a backdrop.
Gamliel adds that in October 2015, Palestinian Arab social networks began claiming the stabbing attacks were an Israeli ploy to conceal executions of these adolescents. Many people posted “before and after” pictures of corpses of offenders (or failed perpetrators), and claimed the Israelis had murdered them in cold blood. The Israelis then allegedly placed knives at the scenes, in order to prove the shooting occurred during an attack. Fatah embraced this charge on its Facebook page.
By using words “based on cultural codes, a specific pre-defined meaning” is communicated. When Mahmoud Abbas proclaims that “they [the Jews] have no right to defile them [the al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher]…we will not allow them, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem,” he endorses the escalation from stone-throwing to knifing and vehicular attacks.
These codes, Shay and Inbari point out, enable Abbas to regulate the intensity of the assaults and the targets to attack, which allows him to re-direct international attention in order to pressure Israel to re-start the never-ending and futile peace process. The ability to manipulate world public opinion was especially critical when the Iran nuclear issue appeared to make the Palestinian Arab conflict increasing irrelevant.
Lack of Arab Support for Uprising
If the Palestinian Arabs expected the uprising would gain sympathy for their plight or defame Israel, asserts political scientist Daniel Polisar, this did not happen. The appearance of teenage boys and girls brandishing knives and scissors and being disarmed or arrested by Israeli security forces did not evoke the image of “David versus Goliath.” At the same time, Western leaders failed to reward the Arab perpetrators by censuring Israel or compelling her to make concessions. To achieve their national objectives, the Palestinian Arabs reasoned, more lethal attacks would be required.
Polisar found this to be consistent with the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research’s (PSR) December 2015 finding that 64 percent of the participants in the poll expressed support for “attacks on Israeli civilians within Israel,” which is a considerably greater amount than any period during the second Intifada, when homicide bombings were frequent and backed by a substantial number of the Palestinian Arab population. By the time each cycle of hostilities ends, notes Daniel Pipes, the Palestinian Arabs have suffered the most with regard to dead and wounded, commercial buildings and homes destroyed and an economy in shambles.
A Palestinian Arab State Is a Death Sentence for Israel
For Israel, the creation of what would assuredly be a Hamas-controlled, Iranian-influenced Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria is unacceptable, Pipes contends. Israel and the West do not need another hostile state attempting to destabilize Jordan, undermining the stability of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and providing a port for Russian and Iranian ships. By aggressively pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state, America and the West are imposing a death sentence on the Jewish state.
Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, is a consultant to the America-Israel Friendship League, a member of the Council of Scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and an advisor to Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).
By Alex Grobman, PhD