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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Do Palestinians want peace?

It's not the first time Palestinian officials or Fateh officials have said frankly that they have no intention of keeping a peace agreement, and probably it won't be the last.  According to Palestinian Media WatchFateh  activist Kifah Radaydeh said,

"Fatah is facing a challenge, because [Fatah] says that we perceive peace as one of the strategies, but we say that all forms of the struggle exist, and we do not rule out the possibility of the armed struggle or any other struggle. The struggle exists in all its forms, on the basis of what we are capable of at a given time, and according to what seems right...

What exactly do we want? It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; and the goal is Palestine. I do not negotiate in order to achieve peace. I negotiate for Palestine, in order to achieve a state." 
The young lady is convincing, engaging and well worth watching. Click to see video if it is not displayed below.

Others have said it much more explicitly in the past. In April of 2006, one "Abu Ahmed,"  Fatah member and leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in northern Gaza was quoted as saying:
The base of our Fatah movement keeps dreaming of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Akko..."  "There is no change in our position. Abbas recognizes Israel because of pressure that the Zionists and the Americans are exercising on him. We understand this is part of his obligations and political calculations."
More recently, in 2009,  Fatah Central Comittee member and PLO representative Abbas Zaki said,
Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.
A recent FAFO poll asked Palestinians what their vision of peace with Israel was. The question and the major responses as FAFO reports:

The survey asked about people's hopes for a future political solution to the conflict with Israel...:

Two states (35 %; Fatah supporters 47 % versus Hamas supporters 21 %)

One Islamic state (33 %; Fatah supporters 17 % versus Hamas supporters 58 %)

One state with equal rights for all (20 %; Fatah followers 22 % versus Hamas followers 12 %)

Only 35% of Palestinians supported a two state solution, while 53% supported one state solutions. 9% "didn't know."

Is it really surprising that Israeli leaders are skeptical about the prospects for peace? Is it possible for even the most sincere advocates of peace, even for pro-Palestinian analysts, to believe that perhaps Palestinians do not want a state, or want a state that Israel  could never accept? Evidently it is, as Sever Plocker points out.

Can we understand that it is legitimate, in these circumstances, and in view of the experience of the Second Intifada, to be at least somewhat skeptical about the possibility of achieving peace with the Palestinians?  Can we admit that not every Israeli politician who is not eager for peace negotiations and optimistic about the outcome, and who is not willing to put their political career on the line in order to back another round of disastrous negotiations, is necessarily a "right wing ultranationalist extremist?"  

From his point of view, US President Barack Obama needs to take into account the possibility that if the Palestinians don't want a two state solution, they will never agree to any peace proposals. He will have forced numerous concessions from Israel  but still will not get peace in the Middle East. The Arabs will blame the United States and Israel, and the usual people in the United States will blame Israel.

That does not mean that we should not try. Let the failure be blamed on the Palestinians if there is to be a failure. But let's keep our eyes open.

Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


  • Ami,
    You concluded your excellent article with the following words:

    "That does not mean that we should not try. Let the failure be blamed on the Palestinians if there is to be a failure. But let's keep our eyes open."

    Ensuring that the failure of peace efforts be blamed on the Palestinians, is far more difficult then it seems.

    Though Israel may not be lily white as regards sincere efforts for peace in the past, relatively speaking it is the Palestinians that bear the vast majority of the blame for those efforts not succeeding.

    In spite of that, world opinion still largely puts most of the blame on Israel or that opinion glosses over the hugely disproportionate blame on the Palestinians and thus both Israel and Palestinians are blamed equally.

    Israel however must bear part of the blame for being unfairly and dishonestly accused of being responsible in the main or equally for the failure of peace efforts thus far. That is due to Israel failed to consistently, aggressively and assertively advocating in her own cause.

    She has failed to unequivocally assert her own narrative, her historical and legal right as regards the land of Israel, to denounce Palestinian/Arab claimed rights that are no rights at all or if there is legitimacy to any of their claimed rights, for failing to assert that those rights are inferior to Israel's and her failure to persistently spotlight the antithetical disparity between the English and Arabic words of the Palestinians/Arabs.

    Instead, Israel in trying to be conciliatory with a view to engaging in real peace discussions, has given credence to the rights claimed and demands made by the Palestinians in spite of the fact that the Palestinians/Arabs give no credence to Israel’s positions.

    That failure also includes failing to put front and centre at all times, the facts pertaining to what Palestinians/Arabs really are saying, usually in Arabic, which is that they look at the two state solution differently then what the quartet and the vast majority of world opinion envisions, as is made clear in your article and your referenced sources.

    For the Palestinians/Arabs, their words in Arabic mean that achieving a two state solution is just a stage from which to launch yet a final assault to destroy Israel.

    Israel remains in a state of war with the Palestinians/Arabs since 1948.

    All that has really changed is that the Palestinian/Arab genocidal strategy has changed to for now focus less on military engagement and more on the battlefield of words and ideas. They effectively advance their positions through the political/economic power of the Muslim/Arab world that has led non-Muslim developed nations to cater to their views either out of fear or a perception that their own vulnerable and already bruised self interests can only be advanced in the Muslim world through appeasement.

    In order for Israel to sincerely continue to pursue peace, she must adapt her strategies and tactics so that if failure comes, that there can be no doubt that blame lies with the Palestinians/Arabs.

    As I said, it is no easy task to accomplish that when most of the world remains willfully blind and blinkered so as to guage their positions vis a vis Israel on how best to relate to the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim world to best advance their own interests.

    Bill Narvey

    By Blogger Bill Narvey, At July 13, 2009 4:33:00 PM GMT+00:00  

  • The guy who dreams of Tel Aviv is interesting, because Tel Aviv was founded on sand dunes by Jews in 1909. It was never an Arab city.
    Of course there are all those nice cars and buildings, as well as lots of pretty women, so I suppose it's understandable.

    -- Vic Rosenthal

    By Blogger Vic Rosenthal, At July 13, 2009 7:22:00 PM GMT+00:00  

  • To be fair, if the only objective is peace, neither does Israel want peace at ANY price. Sure, we could have peace tomorrow; all we have to do is roll over and surrender. It doesn't seem right that we would expect the Pals to do the same. I think a much more productive way to look at this is to deconstruct legitimate aims and illegitimate aims from the opposing viewpoints. At the most basic level, the objective of the Pals is, in some sense, the same as ours: to have a nation-state. At least on the surface, that seems legitimate, although one can question whether the Pals truly desire such a state or whether the stated preference is just a politically convenient position to take. Why, for example, will the Pals not simply declare a state within existing borders, and simply state - probably with the UN's and many nations' support - that the state exists but that its borders are yet to be defined? There is no real reason why not, other than its leaders just don't want to, because that would make them have to actually be responsible and act like a true government.

    Similarly, if indeed the Pal state is a legitimate aim, then it is fair to ask, What is the vision that the Pal political entities have for its governance? What is their view of private property in the hands of foreigners? How will disputes be resolved between citizens, and between citizens and non-citizens? Do they propose truly free and fair elections? And so on. The point here is that the state that the Pal politicians seem to want is not one that anyone I know would want to live in, which raises a real question about their intentions.

    But I do not believe it is fruitful to go after the Pals on the peace question - they are simply taking a bargaining position and it is probably worth just letting their position fail.

    By Blogger DMark, At July 15, 2009 3:06:00 AM GMT+00:00  

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