Only one way Israel-Palestine peace talks can succeed

There's really only one thing the Palestinians have to do to get a deal with Israel: end rejectionism. Do that, and the rest is detail

Jerusalem won't be the point
Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher
On 29 July 2013 09:37

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Never heard that line before. Talking about a peaceful resolution to this conflict is all they have been able to do for decades. And talks in Washington are talks about peace talks, not peace talks themselves.

I am already seeing the pundits being rolled out on the international television networks. Interviewers crease their foreheads; interviewees struggle and strain to ensure the viewers know every last nuance about the refugee question, about Jerusalem, about settlements, about incitement, the 67 "borders", demilitarisation, and so it goes on.

They're all important matters; some easier to deal with than others. But some sort of deal is imaginable on all of them, even Jerusalem where a Palestinian Presidential Palace could be allowed in the city just so the Palestinians can say that their formal capital is in east Jerusalem while, with that one diplomatic exception, the city remains united and under Israeli control. 

Refugees? It's ultimately a non-issue. The term is bogus when applied to the vast majority of the five million (or whatever number is being dreamed up this week) people the UN calls refugees anyway. The real number of refugees from 1948 -- those who actually left at that time and remain alive -- is probably no more than around 30,000.

These and all the other issues can be dealt with. Except that the most important one isn't being raised: Palestinian rejectionism. That after all is the reason why there was a conflict in the first place. Israel accepted the two-state solution proclaimed by the United Nations under its 1947 partition plan. The Palestinians rejected it, as they have rejected every other peace plan since.

The most spectacular rejection in recent times was of the various peace deals brokered by Bill Clinton in 2000 and 2001. Ultimately, Arafat knew he couldn't sell any deal that ended up legitimising Israel to his own people. And that's the key point.

Without in any way excusing the Palestinian leadership's behaviour, it is helpful to understand precisely what it is that they will be doing in accepting a peace agreement. First, they will be asking their people to accept a deal under much worse terms than the one they were offered but turned down in 1947.

Second, and what that means, is that they will be asking them to accept that, over more than six decades, every single drop of blood has been spilled in vain and that "the struggle", therefore, has achieved precisely nothing for them. That is psychologically tough to accept.

To repeat, I do not excuse that mentality. On the contrary, I blame the Palestinian leadership for a decades long campaign of brain washing its people into a victim mentality from which they may not now be able to escape.

But the blame question is, at this stage, beside the point, which is that enduring Palestinian rejectionism over the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East remains the overwhelmingly important obstacle to achieving a lasting peace.

Robin Shepherd is the owner/publisher of The Commentator. Follow him on Twitter @RobinShepherd1

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