People looking for ways to stop the wave of violence plaguing Jerusalem, especially the Palestinian terror attacks, are trotting out all the old formulas. Destroy houses, bring the army into Jerusalem, arrest thousands of Palestinians, and so on. And it took less than 36 hours before this appeared: an article headlined, “Negotiate, before it’s too late.” You can read it of you want–it’s a circular, illogical argument that says if nothing else works, then only negotiations can stop the violence.
If only it were that simple.
Sometimes when negotiations begin, there is a drop in the level of violence. But when they end in failure, there is an inevitable surge. Israelis blame Palestinian incitement, and to be fair, the article in question acknowledges that but mostly absolves Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of responsibility for it, despite his frequent and incendiary statements, even equating the butchering of four Jews in their house of worship with imagined, false “changes” in the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, which have always favored the Muslims and still do. Palestinians blame Israel for all kinds of other reasons, mostly the fact of the occupation.
Here’s what’s wrong with the “negotiations will stop the violence” argument.
First of all, the only calls for negotiations are coming from Israeli writers like this one, backed, of course, by the diplomats of the EU and John Kerry–part of a formula that includes calling for restraint on both sides after a Palestinian terror attack. There is no such call for talks from the Palestinians. Apparently they don’t really feel all that threatened by the violence.
The main problem, though, is that negotiations always fail. Israel offered the Palestinians a viable state in 2000. Yasser Arafat responded by walking out and slamming the door. President Bill Clinton amplified on that offer in late 2000, just before leaving office. Israel accepted his plan, but the Palestinians rejected it.
In 2008, Israel once again offered the Palestinians a state in the equivalent of all of the West Bank, the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, plus a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Here is good representation of that offer.
It’s worthwhile noting that such a corridor is not part of the now “holy” 1967 “border,” which is neither holy nor a border. In any event, this time Abbas was the one who refused to sign the map he was offered, turned around, walked out and ended the negotiations. You might not know about that– AP banned me from writing about it when I discovered the offer in early 2009.
So what’s the point of restarting negotiations, or worse, pinning such high hopes on them, when peace talks have reached their conclusion twice, but haven’t brought peace? I don’t want to call anyone any names here, but you know how they define a person who repeats the same mistake over and over again, but expects different results.
Is the conclusion, then, that there is no solution to the wave of Palestinian violence? No, there is a solution, but there is no way to implement it now. It’s separation–a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, with a closed and carefully guarded border between them, sealed for as long as it takes for the Palestinians to realize what Egypt and Jordan realized long ago–it’s in their interest to have cooperation with Israel, even if you don’t like Israel.
Clearly, that can’t be done now. There is no one to do it. So Israel may be forced to take interim measures, like crackdowns and fortifications, to bring this violence under control. So would any other country.