In the midst of all the euphoria concerning Mr. Trump’s election to the presidency, the president-elect has suggested that a possible role for his son-in-law Jared Kushner might be to broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Arabs.
One hopes that Trump and Kushner do not, in fact, waste any time pursuing this will-o’-the-wisp. Four major, intractable obstacles stand in the way of any conceivable peace agreement; until they have gone away, there is no prospect.
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Arab intransigence
Despite offering numerous meaningless statements since 1993, no Arab interlocutor has been willing and able to prepare his people to make the compromises necessary for peace. Every single Arab politician has always encouraged the maximalist positions; treacherous terrorist assaults have been glorified and the perpetrators treated like heroes and martyrs. To this day, “Palestine” refuses to acknowledge the very existence of a Jewish state.
The last time I was in Israel, I had occasion to play with the television set in our hotel room, and decided to practice my (rather rusty) Arabic by listening to the official PA news broadcast. The broadcast began with a map of “Filastin,” which extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, and conspicuously neglects to list a city named Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean shoreline.
In other words, the de facto position of the Palestinian Authority is not the two-state solution of the supposed peace process, but a “one-state” solution — and the state is called “Palestine.” Listen to what they say in Arabic, not the hypocritical nonsense they spread for general consumption in English or French.
- Arab states’ refusal to absorb “refugees”
The surrounding Arab states — including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt — have completely refused to address the situation of the so-called “Palestinian refugees” within their borders by granting them citizenship, the right to employment in their countries, etc. All of them have constantly encouraged irredentism and extremism in the camps, and often funded, aided, and abetted terrorist operations against Israel.
Meanwhile, the former Jewish populations of these same Arab countries were expelled; many of those Jews were settled in Israel. A transfer of populations has occurred. The Arabs who fled from Israel and their now far numerous descendants must be settled within the Arab states in which they currently reside, or no peace is possible.
This situation of population transfer following war is hardly unique. What is unique is the Arab states’ refusal to absorb these Arab populations for 70 years.
The Graeco-Turkish War ended in 1922 with the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Greeks from lands in Anatolia which they had lived on for two millennia or more; they were absorbed in Greece for the most part, and Greece and Turkey are not at war. Similarly, at the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans were expelled from what was once East Prussia, Upper Silesia, and the Sudentenland region of the Czech Republic, and absorbed by Germany — which is today at peace with the Russians, Poles, and Czechs.
Where there is a will, there is a way; there is at present no will among the Arab states.
- The presence of 250,000-300,000 Jews in “settlements” in Yehuda and Shomron, and the insistence by the “Palestinians” that the territory of any future state be Judenrein
This simply isn’t going to happen. Vast numbers of people are not going to be uprooted from their homes simply because Arab leaders refuse to accept Jews living within their midst.
Israeli Arabs are as fully integrated into the state of Israel as they want to be — serving as members of the Knesset, the judiciary (including one member of the Supreme Court), and the diplomatic corps – and most are law-abiding, decent citizens. (Note the full citizenship granted Arabs within Israel vs. the 70-year-long refugee status imposed on Arabs within Arab states.)
Any conceivable peace agreement with a contiguous state of Palestine must accept that Palestine would have Jewish citizens.
That’s not going to happen any time soon.
- The status of Jerusalem
Israel has annexed eastern Jerusalem, but virtually no country in the world is willing to recognize that any part of Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, let alone that Israeli sovereignty extends over the entire city. Most of the world — including the U.S., although Donald Trump’s platform includes recognition and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — remains locked in a time-warp in which it is forever 1947. Jerusalem is treated as an “international city” under UN control, even though this status has not been accurate at any moment during the last 70 years.
These four do not encompass all of the barriers to peace; there are also individual issues with certain Arab countries (for instance, Syria and Lebanon refuse to recognize Israeli annexation of the Golan). Yet these four would scuttle any effort Kushner might make.
Every president since Nixon has tried to achieve peace there — usually by putting pressure on Israel and none at all on the Arabs. Every president since Nixon has also failed, because there is no will in the region to solve the problem.
Jared Kushner has better things to do with his time.