Palestinian Exceptionalism prevents “Two state solution”
One rarely, if ever, hears foreign politicians and media questioning why Palestinians do not rise against their own leaders in favor of a peace agreement with Israel. Many foreign “experts” say that the Palestinian population wants an independent state that will flourish peacefully next to Israel. That myth is also being spread by the shrunken Israeli left, part of whom can be considered “national masochists.”
Many other independence-seeking nations have never been offered a state. Spain, for instance, a member of the democratic European Union does not want to give Catalonia independence. The Kurds in South West Asia number around 30 million and have never been offered an independent state. In contrast, previous Israeli leaders have offered Palestinian leaders a state more than once.
In 2000 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made at Camp David a far-reaching proposal to Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat. Bill Clinton was the U.S President at the time. He has said that Barak offered the Palestinians control of the Temple Mount, the holiest site of Judaism.1 Even this proposal was rejected by Arafat.
In 2008 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority leader Mohamed Abbas discussed an agreement. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was present at the negotiations told PATV that Olmert accepted all the PA’s demands, He offered Abbas a little more than the full area of the West Bank. Yet Abbas rejected this proposal. Erekat said that he told Abbas to accept it.2
The question of why Palestinians do not rise against their leaders in favor of peace with Israel is particularly relevant at this time. In various countries people march against their rulers and risk prison and sometimes their lives for more democracy. One major current example is Russia. Despite brutality by the security services, peaceful protesters keep marching mainly in Moscow against the banning of opposition candidates.3 Hong Kong is yet another example.
The claim that rising against leaders for more democracy is un-Arab has become obsolete in this century. In 2010, Tunisian fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in his town Sidi Bouzid. The protests against the Tunisian government started there and spread into several other Arab countries. Those uprisings became known as the Arab spring.4
One of the standard pro-Palestinian answers to the above question is that the Palestinian population is afraid. That is a largely misleading answer for a number of reasons. There are Palestinians who are willing to risk their lives for a cause. That purpose is to murder Israelis, including civilians.
The Palestinian Authority has made that risk also financially rewarding. It pays murderers substantial money if Israel jails them. If they do not survive their attack the money goes to their family members. One example is the 2001 terror attack at the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria in which fifteen Israelis were murdered. The murderers or their families have so far received more than $900,000 US dollars from the PA.5 Among the murdered were five members of the Dutch immigrant Schijveschuurder family. Two other family members were wounded. The payments to the murderers were indirectly also made possible by the Dutch Government which continues to subsidize the Palestinian Authority. That money props up the Palestinian budget.
There is further proof that the Palestinian population is not very keen on independence. In the only Palestinian parliamentarian election in 2006, Hamas obtained an absolute majority. This movement promotes genocide against Jews. According to the Carter Center of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the elections were “open and honest.”6
Thanks to the Dutch historian and journalist, Els van Diggele, we know much about dissent in the Palestinian territories. She lived for a year in the Palestinian territories interviewing extensively both on the West Bank and in Gaza. Her 2017 book titled “We hate each other more than the Jews” is only available in Dutch. She concludes that there are Palestinians who disagree with the PA and Hamas and have even paid for that by being jailed. None, however, have risked jail for pushing for acceptance of Israeli offers of a Palestinian state. From her book on can deduce that peace with Israel apparently is not something worth taking personal risks for.
In an interview, authorized by her, Van Diggele said: “Looking through history’s lens at Palestinian society, I concluded that there was a century of stagnation, destruction and a power battle which was fought on the back of common Palestinians. Nobody asked them anything. This attitude runs as a common thread through Palestinian society. A strong example is the forced exit of former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. I spoke with this moderate man and also with Hamas executives. The moderate voice cannot succeed in Palestinian society.”
She added: “Fayyad wanted to create an orderly state by working together with Israel He said: ‘A state is not only our right but also our duty. We need law and order, disarmament and a fight against corruption.’ The Palestinians did not want this. They preferred resistance. Abbas pushed Fayyad out.” 7
There is only one rational conclusion from the above. Creating a second Palestinian state in addition to Jordan on what was once British mandate territory — and perhaps with Gaza separate, a third one — is most probably not going to lead to peace. The most probable result is to establish a stronger platform for Israel’s Palestinian enemies to spread hatred and violence.