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

Reviving the Peace Process Brings Great Costs and Little Potential for Success

June 26 2017

Now that President Trump has sent envoys to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, it seems clear that he will try to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which he has declared to be “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” Even those less sanguine argue that there is little harm in trying. Not so, writes Elliott Abrams:

To begin with, it is always harmful for the United States to fail—and for a president to fail. Influence in the world is hard to measure, but when a president devotes himself . . . to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the United States are diminished. . . .

What’s more, the United States has been championing the “peace process” now for about 30 years. . . . On the Palestinian side many view the “peace process” as a formula for sustaining the occupation. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance and worse: when they demand a stop to official Palestinian glorification of terrorism, they hear, “Don’t rock the boat now, negotiations may start.”

A further reason to be wary of another big peace effort is the opportunity cost. When each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. . . .

During the George W. Bush administration, those of us on the American side often demanded concessions from Israel to “set the tone for talks” or to “get things moving in the talks.” These steps often gave Abbas symbolic victories, but they rarely contributed to state-building. For example, we were more concerned with getting Israel to release some Palestinian prisoners—who may have committed acts of violence—than we were about getting Israel to remove checkpoints or barriers that prevented Palestinian mobility in the West Bank and thereby made both normal life and economic activity harder. How returning convicted criminals to the streets contributed to building a Palestinian state was never explained.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process