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Israel’s Former Defense Minister on the Turmoil in the Middle East

April 20 2017

Describing the current situation in the Middle East as “the greatest crisis since the days of Muhammad,” Moshe Yaalon explains how Israel can remain secure in the face of a host of threats and points the best way forward in the conflict with the Palestinians:

I supported the Oslo process at the beginning; I value human life more than land, and I’m not messianic. I [also] believe that, on the one hand, there is no chance on the horizon of reaching a final settlement. Yasir Arafat was not ready to accept such an arrangement when negotiations were based on the 1967 lines and the dividing of Jerusalem. He was not ready then, and Mahmoud Abbas is not ready today to state that he will consider [such an agreement] a viable end to the conflict. In other words, he is not ready to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people in any boundaries.

On the other hand, I do not want to rule the Palestinians or annex them. This means we have to make our own decisions about annexations . . . and on where to settle. If we wish the Palestinians to be a political entity, we cannot settle everywhere. We must also make progress on the economy, infrastructure, and security. . . .

There is a fundamental problem regarding the dream of Oslo, and it is that the promotion of terror still exists in Palestinian refugee camps. If you educate the young generation that Palestine exists from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and that there is no room for concessions, and that “Tel Aviv is the biggest settlement,” then you are not preparing your people for co-existence and reconciliation. The people of Tel Aviv don’t understand that these Palestinians see them as settlers. Young kids are educated to hate us—as Israelis, as Jews, as Zionists. You can see it by watching Palestinian television programs for children, or reading their textbooks. It is shocking. This was my personal awakening in 1995 while serving as head of intelligence under Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin.

Read more at BICOM

More about: Israel & Zionism, Middle East, Oslo Accords, Two-State Solution, Yasir Arafat

 

The Palestinian National Movement Has Reached a Point of Crisis

With Hamas having failed to achieve anything through several weeks of demonstrations and violence, and Mahmoud Abbas reduced to giving rambling anti-Semitic speeches, Palestinian aspirations seem to have hit a brick wall. Elliott Abrams explains:

[Neither] Fatah [nor] Hamas offers Palestinians a practical program for national independence. . . . [The current situation] leaves Palestinians high and dry, with no way forward at all. Whatever the criticism of the “occupation,” Israelis will certainly not abandon the West Bank to chaos or to a possible Hamas takeover. Today the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is simply too dangerous to Israel and to Jordan to be contemplated. . . . There are only two other options. The first is the “one-state solution,” meaning union with Israel; but that is a nonstarter that Israel will reject no matter who is its prime minister. The other option is some kind of eventual link to Jordan.

In polite diplomatic society, and in Palestinian public discourse, such a link cannot be mentioned. But younger people who visit there, Palestinians have explained to me, can see a society that is half-Palestinian and functions as an independent nation with a working system of law and order. Jordanians travel freely, rarely suffer from terrorism, and [can vote in regular] elections, even if power is ultimately concentrated in the royal palace. The kingdom has close relations with all the Sunni states and the West, and is at peace with Israel.

The fundamental question all this raises is what, in 2018, is the nature and objective of Palestinian nationalism. Is the goal sovereignty at all costs, no matter how long it takes and even if it is increasingly divorced from peace, prosperity, and personal freedom? Is “steadfastness” [in refusing to compromise with Israel] the greatest Palestinian virtue now and forever? These questions cannot be debated in either Gaza or the West Bank. But as Israel celebrates 70 years and the “occupation” is now more than a half-century old, how much longer can they be delayed? . . .

The catastrophic mishandling of Palestinian affairs by generations of leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini (the pro-Nazi mufti of the British Mandate period) to Yasir Arafat and now to Mahmoud Abbas has been the true Palestinian Nakba.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians