Monday, December 23, 2013

Palestinians give up on reciprocity

The various attempts by countries in the international community to bring about a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict deserve our gratitude, but we have to put things in the right perspective, because it seems as though we are repeating past mistakes. Yet again, Israel has become subject to ongoing international criticism, even though Jerusalem compromised on some of its most fundamental interests, expressing a willingness to pay a heavy price for the sake of achieving the lofty goal of peace. Just as it was before, no matter what price us Israelis are willing to pay for peace, or how far we are willing to go, our country remains under the microscope. That kind of skewed perception stems from pursuing the wrong interests.

Former Foreign Minister Abba Eben once famously said that "the Palestinians never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity," and it appears that this time around that statement is going to ring true as well. Why? Just look at the way the Palestinians are behaving.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't just speak with candor (what the Arabs call "dugri"), he also completed actions illustrating both his intentions and the direction he was aiming to follow. After an extended deadlock between the two sides, Israel went ahead and released Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands. The prime minister agreed to do that because he wanted to reach understandings that could change the reality in the region. It was a duty he was obligated to fulfill, and if you are not Israeli, then you cannot understand the sacrifice that we made -- previous experience has taught us that many of these prisoners end up relapsing into terrorism.

Instead of staying the path and creating a positive atmosphere, the Palestinians have been drawing a contradictory line, basically destroying everything we have worked so hard to build. That line forces us to wonder and seriously question their true intentions. It reminds us of the 1990s, when Yasser Arafat would talk about peace in English and then turn around and give legitimacy to terrorism, sometimes engaging in it himself.

Other countries don't know about the "intifada of stones." They have not experienced it in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians realized that terrorist attacks were causing more harm to the perpetrators, the Palestinians, than the Israelis, so they opted for violence that doesn't make sensational headlines, violence which just injures children, women and other innocents. At the same time, the Palestinian Education Ministry broadcasts daily incitement against Israel and Jews. There is an inherent connection between those two things. In November 2012, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was interviewed on Channel 2, hinting that he was ready to give up on the right of return. But he was immediately ridiculed and condemned on the Palestinian side, so he was forced to respond. Abbas released a statement clarifying his position. That clarification was worrisome and truly put a fat question mark over the Palestinians ultimate objectives.
Palestinian antagonism has also manifested itself in a number of small, symbolic incidents. Earlier this year, Israeli police were pursuing a vehicle traveling 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour in an 80 kph (50 mph) zone. Managing to pull over the car, the police were shocked to find that the car belonged to none other than senior Fatah official Ahmed Qurei. Too bad Qurei is not also rushing to make peace; the Palestinians' violent behavior toward law enforcement is reprehensible.
The Jewish side is willing to give peace a chance. This is the ethos that Israelis were born and raised on. But we'll only make peace if we can maintain security and form a reciprocal relationship. The situation demands at least that.

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