“Gentlemen, the Charter is dead. But it did not die a natural death. It was murdered. And you all know who is guilty. My country will never recognize such a decision. It will never agree to be responsible for it. Let the consequences be on the heads of others, not on ours”.
“The Trump initiative was born dead”
More than 72 years have passed between the first “Death Certificate” – that was “signed” by Amir Arslan, Syrian Ambassador to the UN, on 29th November 1947, following the adaption of the partition plan (181) – and the second “Death certificate” that was “signed” by Mohammed Shtayyeh, Palestinian Prime minister, on 15th February 2020, following the announcement of the American Peace Plan.
Throughout those 72 years, Palestinian leadership has managed to bury two more peace initiatives – Israeli PM Barak Initiative in 2000 and Israeli PM Olmert initiative in 2008. Indeed, two weeks ago Palestinian President Abu-Mazen met former PM Olmert in New York and gave him a warm hug. Alas. If only he gave him this warm hug twelve years earlier …
A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) among 500 West Bankers and 500 Gazans, shortly after the American Peace Plan had been published, attracted already much attention when it showed that 94% of West Bankers “categorically reject” the Plan (by the way it will be interesting to see that only 70% of Gazans totally rejected the plan while 20% thought they should “wait and see the details” and 10% were willing to accept it). But the more surprising findings of the poll were that nearly 60% of Palestinians – whether in Gaza or the West Bank – thought that “resumption of peace negotiations with a new Israeli government” is at least “fairly likely” after the Israeli elections on March the 2nd!
A statement published by the US government following the announcement of the plan (also known as The Vision) states clearly that: “If the Palestinians have concerns with the vision, they should bring them forth in the context of good-faith negotiations with the Israelis … The United States hopes the vision will lead to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians”. Moreover, in answering a question about Palestinian responses to the plan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said lately: “I hope they will then present a counteroffer if what’s presented isn’t acceptable.”
Since 1947, when Arab leaders rejected the Partition Plan, until this very day, Palestinians were pushed to adopt radical positions and were actually not free to make their own national decisions. And while being often subject for decisions made by other states, Palestinians were the only people to pay the price for those, often wrong, decisions.
Now for the first time we do hear a different tone, if not a different music, from some of the moderate Arab states. While giving full support to Palestinians claims for sovereignty, those states did not reject the possibility of direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Just as 60% of Palestinians themselves did in both the West Bank and Gaza.
And yet some other states, that do not have any border with the Palestinians or Israel, still push the Palestinians to boycott any direct negotiations with Israel after the coming elections. Moreover, those states are pushing the Palestinians to adopt radical positions – like insisting on the return of millions of refugees to the State of Israel or pulling back to the 1967 borders. Positions that are a complete non-starter for Jews living in Israel.
In the case of Turkey things are even more complicated. Turkey is supporting a terror organization that threatens the lives of more than one million Israelis who live around Gaza and also challenges the chance of the Palestinians to ever fulfil their national aspirations. By supporting Hamas, which is recognized as a terror organization by both the EU and the USA, Turkey’s approach is, unfortunately, unhelpful to the peace process.
Henry Kissinger once said that a good compromise is one that leaves both sides equally dissatisfied. No peace plan will give either side all what it wants and it is better for both sides to abstain from illusions.
Few people in Turkey are aware that in Israel too there is some objection to the Plan. Many in Israel consider any independent Palestinian state – even if demilitarized – a threat for the safety of the Jewish state. This lack of belief in the ability of Palestinians to establish a stable state is leaning heavily on their failure to produce such stability in Gaza after the Israeli pull-back in 2005.
Palestinian frustration is understood. But this frustration is not different from the Jewish frustration following the Partition Plan that was adopted by the UN in 1947. Yet, Mr. David Ben Gurion, the leader of the Jewish people at the time, understood the need to compromise. He also understood that frustration is not a work-plan.
Palestinians might get more from the Plan. But unless they conduct direct negotiations with Israel this will not happen. Some moderate Arab states, that are fed up with the miserable situation in the Middle East and would like to see an end to a bloody conflict that is 100 years old, have understood it already. They are pushing the Palestinians not to reject the Plan on the spot but try to make the best out of it. It is better if other states, which are not directly connected with this national conflict, will not try to thwart it.