Isseroff: “Where is the Israeli peace camp?”

Israeli-Palestinian peace process? What peace process?

By Ami Isseroff

Salam Fayyad, premiere of the Palestinian Authority, met with presidents of Jewish organizations in Jerusalem, the closest thing to the “Elders of Zion” who run the “Israel Lobby” of anti-Semitic fable. This improbably meeting was an accomplishment in itself, but what Fayyad had to tell the assembled Elders and the Jerusalem Post was very bad news.

Fayyad was apparently not recriminatory and focused on Palestinian accomplishments in bolstering economy, trying to clean up the administration and jumpstart the economy. However, he made it clear that there has been very little progress in the peace process, and without that progress, everyone understands that days of the Palestinian Authority are numbered. It will fall and be replaced by a regime of Islamist extremists manipulated from Iran.

The behavior of the Israeli government has been tragicomic, though it shows an element of clever strategy. Whereas in the previous peace process, the issues under discussion were concrete and irreversible matters like Israeli withdrawal, the issues under discussion at this time are things like removing checkpoints and settlement freezes. The central issue doesn’t even involve any actual Israeli concession: it is whether or not to discuss Jerusalem first. So the first achievement of the Olmert government was to move the whole focus of the talks to procedural questions that have no impact and easily reversible concessions. Talking about what to talk about is a great way to waste time.

The second achievement was to cover every aspect of the peace talks in a thick layer of battle fog and self contradiction. Secrecy of negotiations should be respected, but that is not what we have. There is no secrecy. Instead there are series of contradictory statements: Israel is negotiating Jerusalem first, Israel is not negotiating Jerusalem first, Palestinians agreed to postpone Jerusalem talks, no they didn’t agree. Israel is freezing settlements, Israel is not freezing settlement construction, Israel is only freezing settlement construction in Jerusalem, Israel is not freezing settlement construction in Jerusalem. Israel is removing illegal outposts, it did remove outposts, there are more outposts, the removal was postponed, Israel removed checkpoints, but lo and behold – there are more checkpoints. Compare for example: here, here, here, here, here and many more. Nobody knows what Israel is doing really, probably Ehud Olmert least of all. He never showed signs that he knows what he is doing.

I have been watching this performance evolve over the past weeks and months. Strangely, Uzi Benziman may be the first to comment about it in Ha’aretz. The fashionable “peace” people have all been focusing their efforts on holding hands with the nice Hamas, and insisting that Israel must make an agreement with Hamas and Israel must end the “siege” of Gaza. Of course, that would mean the end of the Palestinian Authority and the end of the peace process.

Meanwhile, almost nobody has been telling Israel it has to get serious about peace with the Palestinian government in the West Bank. Where is the Israeli peace camp? Most of the real peace camp that represents Zionist Israel, the majority, went home after the Intifada. Some voted for Ariel Sharon. What remains seems to be tiny groups of true believers. Some are Hamas groupies who seem to be intent on destroying the Zionist state. They don’t represent anyone except themselves. Others believe, with some justice, that the weak government of Abbas is incapable of making peace and is propped up by the Americans and Israelis. In despair, they turn to Hamas as “truly representative.” But most Palestinians do not support Hamas any more, and Hamas will never make peace with Israel. Hamas can’t make peace because they are controlled by Iran, and Iran won’t allow it. Thus, the remnant of the Israeli “peace camp” is focusing on supporting the Hamas.

Apparently, the Israeli government studied the bad-faith negotiations methods of Yasser Arafat, and the technique of saying “I am too weak to make concessions” and are applying them to PA President Abbas and PM Fayyad. First you accept an undertaking, then you violate the undertaking, and then the whole negotiations process must be focused on getting you to honor the agreement.

The Palestinians have not been doing any better than Israel, despite Fayyad’s well-meaning salesmanship. The PA security forces are still incapable of guaranteeing security to Israel, even if they reduced the incidence of pickpocketing in Nablus. They have still not renovated and reopened Joseph’s tomb. There are still grave doubts, on the Palestinian side, about the issues of transparency and democracy. Palestinian media controlled by the PA continue to glorify suicide bombers as “Shahids” (Martyrs).

Both sides claim they are “weak governments” and use this as an excuse for lack of progress. Indeed, they really are weak governments. But they can only become stronger by giving each other concessions that can be pointed to as achievements. If they can’t decide the details of the big issues, then let them do small things or move ahead on general principles of the big issues. The Palestinian government won’t fall if they make Al Hayat Al Jadida say that suicide bombing is wrong. The Israeli government won’t fall if a few checkpoints and outposts are removed. Can we at least get to the point where there is free Palestinian traffic along one major West Bank artery, without terror attacks and without checkpoints, and then build on that?

Both sides can talk about Jerusalem even if they agree to disagree. The sky will not fall if Mahmoud Abbas admits that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people and accepts that it is a Jewish state in the sense of UN General Assembly Resolution 181. The sky will not fall either if Abbas and Erekat admit that Muhamad didn’t build the wailing wall or the Hebrew University, that Jews are buried in the Mt. Olives cemetery, and that Israel and the Jews have historic and religious and national rights in East Jerusalem. The Shas party for its part, will be happy in its education subsidies, and will have to get used to the idea that Shuafat and Abu Dis are not an inseparable part of eternally united Jerusalem forever.

The Gaza problem looms over these negotiations and cannot be neglected. But every realist also understands that if ever Israel removes the Hamas from Gaza, or if they are made to magically disappear, then Gaza will revert to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian authority will not survive long if there is no progress in peace talks.

February 24, 2008 | 6 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. Gary actually:


    The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had steadfastly refused to acknowledge UN resolution 242, because it granted legitimacy to the State of Israel. It was largely marginalized following its expulsion from Beirut to Tunis in 1982. Beginning in 1986, local groups in the West Bank and Gaza initiated an Intifadeh – “shaking up” against Israeli occupation. The resistance included both violence and relatively non-violent confrontations, ranging from strikes to stone throwing by children, to throwing of large paving blocks and armed attacks. The Intifadeh was a success, in that it succeeded in calling the attention of Israel and the world to the occupation and to Palestinian dissatisfaction. The leaders of the Intifadeh were careful to give their allegiance to the PLO, but their goal was ending the occupation, not destroying Israel.

    Faced with pressure from the uprising leadership in the territories, from gains of rival Islamic and leftist groups, from the USA and due to Jordan’s disengagement from the West Bank, the Palestinian National Council met in Algiers in 1988, and gave, for the first time, what some interpret as tacit approval to the idea of recognizing the existence of Israel alongside a Palestine state. The PNC approved a Palestinian Declaration of Independence. This in itself was a radical move, that was not particularly appealing to Arab states that had fought the establishment of a Palestinian State. The declaration had no immediate practical consequences, since at the time the PLO was in exile in Tunis.

    While the declaration mentions that the Palestinian people are peace loving, it makes no mention at all of Israel. It refers to UN Resolution 181 as granting the Palestinians the right to sovereignty in Palestine, but it also refers in that regard to the League of Nations Covenant of 1919, which made no such explicit proviso.

    In December of 1988, under pressure from the United States, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat made a speech that explicitly referred to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which recognizes the rights of all states to sovereignty.

    Ami Isseroff

    THE DECLARATION: link below:

    As long as Pali Terrorism is seen by them as successful they will never negotiate in good faith. Why should they they believe they will get all of Palestine through terror, and use negotiations to advance this aim.
    The first thing that we fail to recognize is that terrorism is not caused by frustration, disenfranchisement or poverty. That is the big lie of terrorism. That may help explain how terrorist leaders can recruit people to blow themselves up, but it doesn’t explain why the terrorist leaders who are wealthy, well-educated and calculating opt for the tactic of terrorism. And the reason they opt for the tactic of terrorism is because it has a proven track record of success, particularly certain kinds of terrorism, and particularly [because of the reaction of] the USA, European community, the United Nations, the Vatican and some liberal churches.
    Palestinians began international terrorism. It started with them in 1968. They used it as the first resort, not the last resort. They invented it, they perfected it, they benefited from it and they taught the world how to use it and that it would be successful.

    Ask any individual,group or Leaders of most countries today if they favored a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel and they would unanimously ans. in the affirmative. then ask the same people groups and leaders Then how many people favor an independent Tibet? How many people favor an independent Basque state? How many people favor a Chechen state? Most people won’t know what I was talking about. Everybody knows of the plight of the Palestinian people. And yet when you put the Palestinian situation in comparison to, say, the Kurds, the Tibetans and the Armenians, those claims are certainly no greater. In fact, they’re probably considerably lower; the Tibetans have been under occupation for a far longer time period, there are many, many more of them, and they’ve never been offered a state. The Palestinians were offered a state in 1948 and they turned it down. They could have had a state between 1948 and 1967 and they turned it down. They were offered a state at Camp David and they turned it down. Ask yourself, why has the Palestinian cause leapfrogged over all other causes? Why has the pope met with Arafat seven times and never met with a Kurdish leader or an Armenian leader? It’s a reflection of the success of Palestinian terrorism. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s the only way of achieving success; But they opted for the tactic of terrorism and for them it has worked.

    What happened after the Camp David accords failed. The Palestinians had been offered 93 percent or something of what they wanted and they turned it down and they were actually looked at very negatively by the European community. So they decided to play the terrorist card again. What happened? You blow up a couple of Israeli children and Israel’s going to overreact. As soon as Israel overreacts, the European community hates Israel and begins to love the Palestinians. They’re able to change the dynamic very quickly by using a tactic — terrorism — which they know will cause a democracy to overreact. The United States overreacts, Israel overreacts, Britain overreacts, Canada overreacted in 1970 — you can always count on a democracy overreacting to terrorism and thereby getting the moral low ground in the world community because the world community then says it’s a “cycle of violence.” And they create this metaphor of moral equivalence.
    The worst offender of moral equivalence has been the Vatican, which simply fails to understand the difference between democracies that fight back against terrorism and terrorists who target babies and children. I just can’t imagine the pope, who met seven times with Arafat, being willing to meet seven times with other killers. It’s sent a message: You can Kill JEWS, you can blow up airplanes and you will still be greeted by the man who’s supposed to represent the greatest international morality in the world.

    The double standard of the world to Israel is as good an example of definition of modern antisemitism as we can find. Moral equivalence is thus used as a weapon by the antisemites of the world as a weapon against the Jews using Israel as their proxy. EXAMPLES: Compare what Jordan did: In one month, it murdered 20,000 Palestinians. Israel, in 55 years of fighting the Palestinians, has killed a tiny fraction of that 20,000, much of it in warfare, most of them guilty. The number of civilians killed by Israel is probably the smallest of any country in the modern world. Compare the number of civilians that Israel killed with the number of civilians the United States killed in Vietnam. Compare it to the number the United States killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Compare it with the number that the British killed in the firebombing in Dresden. No country has ever fought a war, certainly in modern times, where fewer civilians have been killed. Israel has never, for example, bombed a city. It always sends in its troops to do it retail, like in Jenin, where 23 Israeli soldiers were killed, along with 50 or 60 Palestinians. When the police fight criminals, you certainly don’t expect equivalence. You don’t expect one policeman to be killed for every criminal. You expect that there would be a much, much higher rate of death among the criminals than there is among the policeman.

    I believe The moral success of Palestinian terrorism is what led Osama bin Laden to calculate that he will get tremendous support around the world for Sept. 11. I thought that Bush had gotten it right when he issued the Bush Doctrine, not nuch of anything left of that and Terrorism world wide and especially here has not abated. As long as the Palis believe they will get what they want through terrorism we will continue. The counter argument then should be obvious, we must reverse the clock to pre- Oslo in terms of policy and our expectations of the final outcome, both in substance and in tactics. We must end all contact with PA, direct our Security services to crush them in the most brutal way, and then direct a solution that has at its core the reduction of Arabs populations in and outside of the territories from the Jordan to the Med.

  2. A highly placed person with the government of Israel said to me in January that the peace process is all for show and nothing is going to happen. It sure looks that way. Isseroff is right on with his observations here.

    I agree with Bill here. Fatah will not declare a state. No one will recognize them. They have control over no territory and so on.

  3. Gary, I do not see the Palestinians anytime soon, taking the lead from the Albanian Muslims of Kosovo and declaring themselves an independent state.

    The Serb province of Kosovo has defined borders, just as states in the U.S. and provinces in Canada, something which the Palestinians do not have.

    If the Palestinians were to declare themselves an independent state, it would at best be symbolic for it would be a state without defined borders.

    To add to the factors mitigating against a unilateral declaration of Palestinian as an independent state is the fact that there are two authorities in conflict governing the Palestinians. Neither Hamas or the PA would allow the other to speak for all Palestinians, for to do that would be an act that sought to gain recognition of their respective govermental authority to the disadvantage of the other.

    Isseroff has been a supporter of a two state solution, but realistic enough to see that the Palestinians by virtue of their intractable Jew hatred, internal conflicts and weakness, create their own impediments to moving forward in responsible fashion towards the end point of the two state solution.

    Whiles Hamas may be losing support amongst Palestinians, the PA are doing little to capitalize on that by gaining support for themselves amongst Palestinians.

    The reality is that Hamas remains perhaps an even greater threat to the viability of the PA then it does to Israel.

    The PA has also not managed to capitalize on the support it does not deserve, but gets from the West in the form of annual welfare stipends in the billions and the recognition it gets as the legitimate Palestinian representative on the world stage, including that recognition given it by Israel, to become a strong and responsible voice for Palestinians and lead them away from those aspects of Palestinian culture and belief that have been major stumbling blocks to Palestinians gaining their own state.

    The opinion of a great many including Isseroff is that the Olmert government itself is weak and a rudderless ship on the ocean that moves only in the direction the shifting winds take her and thus cannot chart her own course.

    Maintaining the status quo against those forces that would have Israel concede more to gain nothing but greater risk to her well being and to her very being, might be the best that can be hoped for as a bullwark against the forces that would see Israel weakened or gone.

    In such case the respective weaknesses of the Palestinians and Israel combined do not allow for either Israel or the Palestinians to move forward along a path that leads to a menacing dark horizon, at least for Israel.

  4. Yamit: Isn’t Isseroff just trying to point out the brilliance of a strategy that mimics the Palestinian strategy over the years? The promises broken, the goodwill squandered, the going back and forth and in every direction without accomplishing a thing is, as Isseroff points out, a great strategy (if you like the status quo and don’t want to make progress that will satisfy world nations with Israel’s bit-by-bit destruction through negotiation).

    Since there has been little difference between truth and lies in the negotiations conducted by various Palestinian terrorists through the decades, even when they have everything to gain and Israel everything to lose, they have failed to be coherent beyond the point that they clearly want all of Israel and temporary solutions are not to their liking.

    What looms around the corner is a self-declaration of statehood by the Pals, like in Kosovo. It will probably be worded to allow the annexation of all of Israel as the opportunities allow with their ongoing campaign of terror.

    Any ideas on what Israel might do if the Pals take this road? Will Arab nations embrace such a declaration?

  5. The Gaza problem looms over these negotiations and cannot be neglected. But every realist also understands that if ever Israel removes the Hamas from Gaza, or if they are made to magically disappear, then Gaza will revert to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian authority will not survive long if there is no progress in peace talks

    Isseroff’s political nightmare is my political wet dream

    I used to think that Ami was a smart guy who just had it all wrong politically. Not so terrible as at least 40% of all Israels fall more or less in this category. I have after this article changed my mind and can say with a strait face and no qualms the Ami Isseroff is a true believer extremist and is as dangerous to the future of Israel as any terrorist! He has learned ZIP, ZERO, NADA, from our History since 1992, and especially since 2000! None of the facts and lessons have been allowed to enter his brain. He fails at deductive logic and equating facts with reality. It is apparent he knows the facts but cannot allow himself to draw the the only conclusions possible in order to come to a logical reasoned analysis based on accepted fact and realism which determines proper formulation of ideas and conceptual thinking.