Where do we go from here? That is the question Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for peace are asking themselves after the showdown at the UN. And the answer to that question is hardly encouraging, judging from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech.
In outlining the causes for the recent stalemate in peace negotiations, Abbas placed the blame squarely on Israel’s shoulders while ignoring the Netanyahu government’s unprecedented 10-month building freeze during 2010 in Judea and Samaria.
Abbas went on to portray Yasser Arafat as a man of peace, without mentioning the deceased PA president’s rejection of the 2000 Camp David initiative backed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former prime minister Ehud Barak.
Nor did Abbas mention Arafat’s collaboration, shortly after his rejection of Camp David, with Hamas and other anti-Semitic terrorist groups in the launching of the suicide bombings, shootings and other assorted lethal violence directed at Israelis that became known as the second intifada.
Finally, the PA president neglected to explain why he has to this day refrained from responding to a peace offer made during negotiations in 2008 with former prime minister Ehud Olmert, which, like Camp David, offered the Palestinians the equivalent of close to 100 percent of the West Bank, after land swaps, and the sharing of Jerusalem as the capital of both a Jewish and Palestinian state.
Palestinian leadership must begin preparing its people for peace with Israel by acknowledging that the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel is profound on historical, religious and cultural levels.
Only then will Palestinians bring themselves to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace as a homeland for the Jewish people, alongside a sovereign Palestinian state. Willingness to compromise on issues, such as the right of return, will follow.
The Jerusalem Post (Sept. 28)