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Commentary

Not Looking for Peace

Manuela Paraipan, Bucharest, Romania, January 11, 2007

The simplest and perhaps most reasonable solution for both parties involved is to partition the land roughly along the 1967 lines.

In an interview with Al Jazeera a couple of months ago, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya stated the conditions for Hamas' support of a Palestinian state:

"The establishment of any Palestinian state on Palestinian land — the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 territories, with Jerusalem as its capital, and with [the release] of the prisoners and [the return] of the refugees. We support this and accept it — but in return for a truce, and not for recognizing [Israel], or for giving up the land of our fathers and forefathers."

Israel has offered concession after concession to the Palestinians in an effort to create a lasting peace. At the end of the last century, it looked as if peace were truly attainable. But, Yasir Arafat refused to accept peace because that would have undermined his power, and his reason for being. Arafat and his successors have proved time and again that they do not just target the Jews; they are capable and willing of killing each other for power as well.

The Palestinians were forsaken by the Arabs for nearly 50 years. Even today, no Arab state is willing to commit meaningful resources to the Palestinians. Where do they get their money? Since the international community stopped funding Hamas terror, Iran has offered to financially support the so-called Palestinian cause, Hezbollah is training the Palestinian militias, and Syria offers safe refuge to all high profile Hamas members that are eager to escape being jailed for terrorist acts against Israel.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a constant, never ending cycle of terror, regardless of the involvement or the lack of engagement of the quartet [the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia], or of the international community, at large. Where does the conflict come from? The problem is the land, and the fact that there is only one country to contain two separate nations both of whom originate from the same place. Also, the Palestinians as a people remain too divided and too brutalized to acknowledge reason.

The simplest and perhaps most reasonable solution for both parties involved is to partition the land roughly along the 1967 lines. To do that both parties need to be committed to the principle of partition. Despite the rather mixed messages of the Israeli government, there is a majority in the Knesset for such a partition, if it is arrived at through negotiation. Even members of the ultra-orthodox Shas Party signaled that they would support a negotiated partition.

Unfortunately, since January, the Palestinians have had a government and a Parliament overwhelmingly opposed to partition. This may well be an honestly held belief, but it is in opposition to the only realistic solution to the conflict.

As a result of the hazy regional state of affairs, Saudi Arabia publicly announced that it had severed ties with Hamas officials. The Saudi leaders are sending a strong message that it is in the interests of moderate countries in the region to pull together and to oust the most extreme elements that stand in the way of peace. Hamas and Hezbollah's friendly relationship with Iran, made the Saudi royal family rethink its alliances. It started with Saudi criticism of Hezbollah's provocative kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, and the triggering of the July war with Lebanon. It did not escape Saudi attention that it was Iran that caused Hezbollah to provoke a conflict at the time of the Group of 8 meeting in Moscow. This was in Iran's interest to avoid a joint G-8 declaration against Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Looking ahead, the Saudis see a nuclear Iran as a bully who will want to control the oil in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and in the Persian Gulf. If Iran has nuclear power, together with the militias it controls, it can easily gain access to most of world's oil resources, while continuing to harm the relations between Sunnis and Shias. That is certainly not a pretty picture for the Saudis.

The Palestinians' insistence that all of their demands be met before peace is nothing but a distorted expectation based on facts that will bring about the death of the state of Israel. That is their intention, and Hamas didn't hide it. They call it the right to return, land for peace, and so on, but in the end it's merely a step-by-step process to negate Israel's right to exist as a state, and as a people.

In history, peace deals between countries grew from compromise. Borders were slightly changed with Egypt and Jordan, and peace now exists, even if it is a cold one.

Furthermore, a United Nations resolution asking Israel to allow the return of refugees in 1948 was blocked from being enforced by Arab countries that saw it as a way to end the conflict out-right. Palestinians, under Arafat and since then, believed that the Arab countries would unite and destroy Israel. Today's reality is different. Except for Iran, neither the Middle Eastern Arab states, nor the other Muslim countries, rush to ask for Israel's eradication.

Generation after generation of Palestinians has been infused with a mentality dominated by violence, the desire to take revenge, and self-destruction. The vote Hamas received in elections is proof of the Palestinians' very troubling approach toward life. It is as if they are trapped in a cubicle of backwardness and all they know and all they choose is violence.

Negotiation with Hamas, whose charter asks for the destruction of Israel, is a fruitless endeavor. Hamas is no different from Al Qaeda — human life and dignity means nothing to them. Israel must instead dismantle all settlements in the West Bank and any remaining in Gaza. Afterward, the borders must be enforced with an iron fist. Let the Palestinians learn the responsibilities of being an independent nation. If they seek peace, then peace they will have. On the other hand, if terror is all they are interested in, they must be ready to live with the consequences of their acts.

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