Friday, September 23, 2011

The false Palestinian narrative

Moshe (Bogey) Ya’alon

The Palestinians have succeeded in making us believe a series of false assumptions, and on the basis of these false assumptions, they have submitted a series of false claims. Our problem with them is not where the borders will be, but rather with their refusal to recognize that this is the Jewish national home. Public discourse in Israel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past several months, particularly in light of the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and the Palestinians’ intention to ask for recognition as a state has been full of erroneous perceptions that need to be eradicated. This is necessary not only because these perceptions mislead many Israelis and cause confusion, but also because that same confusion radiates outward, leading many international leaders in the West to adopt them.

The source of these perceptions is the false Palestinian narrative. Precisely because this is happening, it is important to state that there is nothing more just than the Jewish people’s right to return to live in their ancestral homeland. This is moral, historical, legal, political, security-related, national and religious justice.

On the other hand, the false perceptions have been presented very well in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' various speeches over the years, and recently with even greater force. This is the place to refute them.

1. According to the first perception, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is territorial in essence, and its solution is well known and could be accomplished in a short time if both sides would only show a great deal more flexibility.

The truth is that even though the conflict has a strong territorial component, since two peoples see the same piece of land as their homeland, the heart of the conflict is existential, and centers on the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the Jews’ right to build their national home, whatever its borders may be, in this land. This is why the Palestinians refuse to accept Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. The false perception is that of the two sides, Israel is the one who refuses to resume the talks about the arrangement, and therefore pressure must be applied to it so that it will change its policy.

Actually, the Palestinians are the ones who consistently oppose the resumption of talks and set preconditions for entering them. Israel has made every effort to resume the talks, even freezing construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months in order to make it possible.

2. The second false perception is that Israel’s security demands are exaggerated, and in any case most of them can be solved by means of a third party.

Actually, the new reality in the region and our experience with previous concessions that we have made, when all the land that we handed over became an incubator for terrorism, show that Israel’s security demands are absolutely justified, and compromising on them or putting our security into the hands of a third party could be disastrous.

3. The Palestinians are suffering terribly from the cruel Israeli occupation. For example, Abbas said that the settlers train their dogs to attack Arabs and release wild boars into the area in order to harm Palestinians and their crops. This situation cannot continue.

Actually, Israel has no interest in ruling over the Palestinians, nor does it have any interest in maintaining the status quo, but it wants to make certain that the situation that replaces the current one will be no worse nor more dangerous. Meanwhile, as long as the conditions that would enable us to reach an arrangement do not exist, Israel is doing all it can to make things easier for the Palestinians. In light of the decrease in terror attacks and the improved functioning of the Palestinian security organizations, Israel has removed many checkpoints and works to enable the Palestinians to live normal lives and benefit from economic prosperity.

4. If Israel does not give in to the Palestinians’ dictates, the two-state solution will shatter and one state will arise in which the Palestinians will soon be the majority.

Actually, on the one hand, Israel has no intention of compromising its democratic character, nor does it have any intention of annexing territory populated by Palestinians. Even today, the Palestinians have control over all civil aspects of their lives except for those that have to do with Israel’s security. They have a legislative council and a government that, if not for their own internal crisis, could function in a democratic manner. This is a completely groundless and empty threat because the Palestinian leadership in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria has an interest in holding on to the political and economic power that it possesses.

5. The Palestinians are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and are trying to reach peace and an end to the conflict.

Until now, all the Palestinian organizations have negated Israel’s right to exist. Fatah’s founding covenant, which was ratified in that organization’s sixth conference in August 2009, calls for the destruction of the Zionist entity via “armed struggle.” The Palestinian institutions -- in other words, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority -- resigned themselves to Israel’s existence only because they realized that unless they did so, they would not be able to enter Judea, Samaria and Gaza to establish the Palestinian Authority and live their day-to-day lives and conduct talks with Israel. However, they overcame the problem of recognition by means of their absolute refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. As they see it, the return of the refugees and the high birthrate among Israeli Arabs will, in the end, correct the great injustice that was done to them, if they cannot accomplish this goal by force.

Not only that: No political agreement between the sides will stand the test of time as long as the young generation of Palestinians is taught to deny the existence of the Jewish people and the connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel, and is educated to glorify suicide bombers.

6. Recent developments in the region intensify Israel’s need to be flexible and allow for an agreement to be reached.

This claim is made all the time, with no connection to the actual situation. Actually, the problematic situation in the region only intensifies Israel’s need to insist on its security demands. It also seems as though the developments in the Arab world show how baseless assertion for diplomatic flexibility is. True, there is an exaggerated amount of hostility to Israel in the Arab world, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the main cause of it, nor is it the first subject on the Arab agenda.

7. The Palestinians are the victims, and one must never allow a situation in which there is only one nation that has no state.

Actually, the Palestinians brought their troubles on themselves by rejecting the partition proposal and fighting Israel in 1947. They are the ones who perpetuate it by their refusal to enter negotiations and recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

8. The settlements are illegal, illegitimate and an obstacle to peace.

Not true. The settlements are legal because by not accepting the partition resolution, the Palestinians walked away from the land that they were supposed to receive, leaving it as disputed territory. As far as international law is concerned, the San Remo Conference’s resolution to turn the land into the Jewish people’s national home remains in force.

What is unacceptable is the Palestinian intention to make the Palestinian state Jew-free.

Therefore, a wrong diagnosis has led to failed prognoses (the proposals for a “solution”) over the past two decades. Recognizing this will enable us to find a better way to manage the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

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