A New Strategy for the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Tell the Truth

Jan. 30 2017

For decades, the American government has implicitly and explicitly adopted the Arab narrative about the Palestinians. Thus, ranking U.S. officials have spoken as if Jews and Palestinians have equal claim to Jerusalem, refused to admit that west Jerusalem is Israel’s capital (or even part of Israel), pretended that the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” (really the descendants of refugees) is seriously up for negotiation, and acted as if Palestinian society or its leadership is sincerely interested in peace. Max Singer argues that Washington can do much good by insisting on the truth:

The biggest falsehood the U.S. needs to expose is that there exists “Palestinian territory” that Israel refuses to “give back” because of its expansionist ambitions and purported security needs. It would be controversial, rather than a falsehood, to say that justice and peace require Israel to turn over to a Palestinian state all or almost all the land it seized in its defensive war in 1967. But there is a big difference between the controversial statement that the West Bank should become Palestinian territory as part of a peace agreement and the false statement that these areas are now, or ever were in the past, Palestinian territory.

The distinction . . . determines whether Israeli proposals to provide land for a Palestinian state are returning stolen property or are offers to give up disputed land to which it has serious claims, in order to make a healthy peace with its neighbor. From the Palestinian point of view, [this is the difference] between an immoral submission to a thief who has more power and a wise compromise with neighbors who have overlapping claims of right. . . .

[Similarly], if the Palestinian people knew the truth [about Jews’ historical ties to the land of Israel], they might be more willing to accept a Jewish state on part of this land. This suggests that it might be constructive for the U.S. to remind the Palestinians that according to Islamic tradition, the Temple Mount was built by Jews as the site of the Jewish Temple. . . .

If Israel were a stranger to the land, simply a colonial power taking Arab land by force, as the Palestinians falsely argue, it would be cowardly for them to yield. [F]orcing Palestinians to acknowledge Israel’s historical and moral claim to the land would provide them with an honorable basis for compromise. . . . When the American and European democracies accept Palestinian falsehoods, it creates a disincentive for the Palestinians and their supporters to face the realities of their situation.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship