The Palestinian Authority has always been good at coming up with excuses for rejecting peace with Israel.
In 2000, Yasser Arafat walked away from then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of 92 percent of Yehudah and Shomron, 100 percent of Gaza, sovereignty over half the Old City of Yerushalayim and “custodianship” over Har HaBayis. (He was insulted that anyone would expect him to give up the Palestinian “right of return” and every last inch of “East Jerusalem,” his people explained.)
In 2008, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said no to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of a near-total withdrawal from Yehudah and Shomron, which proposed that Israel retain 6.3 percent of the territory in order to keep control of major Jewish communities and that the Palestinians be compensated with Israeli land equivalent to 5.8 percent of Yehudah and Shomron, along with a link to the Gaza Strip, which would also be part of Palestine.
To further sweeten the deal, Olmert offered to withdraw from Arab-populated neighborhoods of eastern Yerushalayim and to place the Old City — including Har HaBayis and the Kosel — under international control. Plus he agreed to accept a “symbolic” number of Palestinian refugees into Israel.
Abbas said no, despite Olmert’s entreaties that it would be “50 years before another Israeli prime minister will offer you what I am offering you now.” His excuse? He hadn’t been allowed to take the maps home to study them. “He showed me a map,” Abbas concedes, “[but] he didn’t give me a map.”
These days the Palestinians aren’t even waiting to receive an offer to come up with excuses. They won’t even hold talks because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “is under criminal investigation” and the Trump administration is “biased” in favor of Israel.
While it’s true that Netanyahu is under investigation, as we know you are innocent until proven guilty; and this is one of the most ridiculous claims that came up.
The complaint about Trump administration bias relates to its refusal to condemn Israel for temporarily seizing control of Har HaBayis following the terrorist murder of two Israeli policemen there last month. Fatah leader Hanan Ashrawi claims that Jared Kushner “disqualified himself” from being a Mideast peace negotiator after he characterized Israeli actions during the crisis as “reasonable.”
It might also have something to do with the president demanding that Abbas stop inciting to terrorism by naming major sites after killers and paying them and their families generous monthly stipends.
While there are many excuses for the Palestinians not making peace with Israel, there is just one reason: their refusal to recognize the right of Jews to any part of Eretz Yisrael.
This was confirmed last week by a very courageous Palestinian woman, Sandra Solomon, who returned to her home town of Ramallah and spoke out against terrorism and the two-state solution.
Solomon, the niece of Fatah official Sahar Habash, a close confidant of Yasser Arafat, told reporters what it was like growing up in Ramallah. “As a child, I was brought up to hate Israel,” she admitted. “The most important thing to us was the liberation of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the liberation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the State of Israel.
“[During the Second Intifada,] after every big terror attack — including when children were killed — candy was given out. The education that was given to me was that only Palestinians are the victims, that they are oppressed in this conflict and that the Zionists are the occupying criminals who took the land for themselves.”
Solomon, now 39, eventually converted to Christianity and moved to Canada, where she was exposed to information about the Jewish people. “I started reading the Jewish Bible and I realized that a long time before Muhammad and Islam, Jews lived in the area. The power of truth changed me,” she added.
While she recognizes that Palestinians have a right to exist as an equal minority under Israeli sovereignty, she rejects the notion of a two-state solution. “I don’t believe in a two-state solution because I see what happens in the West Bank. There are pictures hung in the streets of terrorists who are considered to be heroes. The Palestinian people don’t want peace; they glorify the intifada,” she concluded.
President Donald Trump will continue sending his envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, to the Middle East in a genuine effort to bridge gaps and promote peaceful coexistence, if not peace. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will continue to welcome them and declare his willingness to meet with Abbas for direct talks, with no preconditions, anywhere, anytime.
But nothing will change as long as the Palestinians continue making excuses instead of addressing the core reason for why peace has been so elusive.