Journalist: Professor Rubin, why is Israel making a two-state solution impossible by building 3000 apartments in east Jerusalem?
Me: In 1993, Israel signed an agreement with the PLO in which there was no ban whatsoever on Israel building more buildings on existing settlements.
The Palestinians formed a government that received political control over all the towns and villages of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It agreed that Israel would continue to control Jerusalem. The two sides further agreed that the political status of these territories would be changed only through a mutual peace treaty.
In 2000, the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected the offer of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem living in peace alongside Israel.
Instead it launched a war against Israel whose main feature was terrorist attacks on Israel civilians.
A few months later, it rejected an even better offer of peace with a Palestinian state having its capital in east Jerusalem on the exact amount of territory that constituted the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem before 1967.
Ever since then, for 12 years now, Palestinian leaders have repeatedly said they no longer accepted a two-state solution, or at least would soon stop doing so.
Israel withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip and dismantled all the settlements there in order to encourage the Palestinians to move toward a two-state solution by developing that area and showing they were willing to live in peace. Instead, Hamas took over, openly declared its rejection of all previous agreements, that it would never accepted the two-state solution, fired rockets and missiles at Israel, put on television programs teaching children that they should grow up to be suicide bombers, and that all Jews in the world be murdered.
Despite these positions of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has tried endlessly to make a deal bringing Hamas into the government, a government that would have to be based on a platform rejecting any real, lasting two-state solution.
This policy was continued after the 2008-2009 and 2012 Hamas escalations to war with Israel.
For more than a half-dozen years the PA has refused to negotiate seriously with Israel.
PA schools teach that Israel should be wiped off the map; sermons in PA-controlled mosques say that Israel should be wiped off the map; PA officials demand that eventually Israel be wiped off the map.
Those who murdered Israeli civilians are glorified by the PA, which names schools, squares, and soccer tournaments after them.
When Israel, at U.S. request, froze all construction for ten months, the PA refused to negotiate seriously.
For the last three years, the PA has concentrated all of its efforts on abandoning a negotiated two-state solution and getting their own state without making any such commitment. Now, the UN — including many European countries — has helped them achieve a non-member state status. Thus, due to Palestinian action the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement has been killed, every deal made since then abrogated, every concession and risk taken by Israel during this period has been deprived of anything in return.
Remember also that if the PA were to negotiate a peace deal with Israel, all the settlements on Palestine’s territory would be dismantled. So if construction upsets them so much, why don’t they stop it permanently by making a peace deal? You know who made this exact same point? King Hussein of Jordan. And that was in 1986. They ignored him.
Now, in the wake of the UN General Assembly decision, PA leaders have been proclaiming that Israel is a racist state that shouldn’t exist, that the UN has now endorsed the Palestinian claim to all of the 1967 borders (which is not true), and that they will go to the international court to prosecute Israel for allegedly being the occupier of territory belonging to another country which has (not true) been declared sovereign over that land.
Reportedly, some of the countries that voted Palestine would be a non-member state at the UN asked the PA for assurances that they would not use this new status to launch lawsuits against Israel at the World Court. Within hours, however, the PA announced that this is precisely what it will do. The main goal is to get the court to rule that Israel is occupying the territory of a sovereign state and thus must withdraw immediately, with no peace treaty and no end to the conflict. Thus, as called for in the PLO Covenant almost a half-century ago, a state of Palestine would serve as a base for a “second stage” in which Israel would be completely eliminated.
And yet despite every point listed above, if the Palestinian side were to give Israel the slightest incentive today to believe it was interested in a real negotiated peace, those buildings would not be begun, much less built in a few years.
Now, after all this has happened, you want to blame Israel for the destruction of the negotiating process and the abandonment of a two-state solution? Don’t you realize how absurd this claim is?
Journalist: Thank you very much, Professor Rubin, for this very clear and detailed answer. I have only one more question: Why is Israel making a two-state solution impossible by building 3000 apartments in east Jerusalem?