The chimerical prospect of peace in the Middle East, which has eluded every well-meaning American president since the founding of Israel in 1948, has now claimed its latest victim.
President Trump has met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Their joint press conference can be seen here.)
Abbas has signed a declaration of principles which is as meaningless as any other declaration of principles signed by Palestinian leaders, and has been allowed to engage in the same meaningless rhetoric which has characterized the “peace process” since it began in 1993.
Immediately after the announcement, two things occurred which guarantee the failure of any new peace initiative. First, Abbas’ empty rhetoric about seeking peace based on the “two-state solution” was immediately denounced by Hamas, the governing party in the Gaza Strip. Second, and equally predictive of failure, was the denunciation of any attempt to reopen negotiations with the Palestinians by members of Israel’s HaBayit haYehudi party. The defection of this party would topple the current governing coalition, leading to new elections in which the alignment might be quite different than it is now.
A recent poll shows the following results for parties currently represented in the Knesset: Yesh Atid, 25; Likud, 23; HaBayit haYehudi, 13; Joint List (Arab), 13; Zionist Camp, 11; Yahaduth haTorah, 9; Kulanu, 7; Shas, 6; Yisrael Beytenu, 7; Meretz, 6.
Either a coalition would be formed with Yesh Atid’s head, Ya’ir Lapid, as prime minister, with unpredictable results, or (more likely) an even more right-wing coalition than at present would result, with a weaker Likud and a much larger Bayit Yehudi faction than now.
For comparison purposes, the current coalition is: Likud, 30; Kulanu, 10; HaBayit haYehudi, 8; Shas, 7; Yahadut haTorah, 6; Yisrael Beytenu, 6.
Abbas, in his remarks, demands “peace” on the basis of the “two-state solution” with Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a Palestinian capital in Eastern Jerusalem. This completely ignores that, according to current Israeli census figures, there are now 406,302 Jewish Israelis residing in the West Bank. They are not all going to be evacuated; it simply isn’t going to happen.
Another factor is the mendacity of Abbas’ speech. He asserts, for instance, that Palestinian Arab children are being raised with the desire for peace with Israel. This is outrageously false. Cartoons on PA television encourage children to aspire to kill Jews. Killing Jews is a regular topic of sermons in mosques and on radio and television broadcasts. No Arab leader has been willing to prepare the Palestinian Arabs for the painful compromises a real peace solution would entail. Palestinians have been encouraged always to take maximalist positions concerning Arab refugees and their descendants in the camps, and concerning the use of violence and terror. There are near daily reports of stabbings and attempts to murder with vehicles.
To show how convoluted the path toward this “peace” is, consider one major point which Mr. Trump raised with Abbas — that he pays salaries to terrorists.
For years, the PA has been paying terrorists salaries to conduct attacks in Israel, and has been paying the families of terrorists who are killed or captured and imprisoned by Israel.
Shortly before the meeting, a group of Republican senators sent a letter to Trump demanding that he raise this issue with Abbas. They also asked that he publicly support the Taylor Force Act, legislation introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) in memory of an American victim of Palestinian terrorism. The act would require the United States to curtail financial aid to the Palestinian Authority until the payment of such salaries ceases.
Sean Spicer said after the press conference that Mr. Trump did indeed raise the topic of the salaries with Abbas.
Not long afterward, senior Palestinian official Ahmad Majdalani claimed that the Palestinian Authority is in possession of a document signed three years ago by Netanyahu’ special envoy to the PA, Dr. Yitzchak Molcho, John Kerry, and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator. Majdalani says the letter specifically authorized such payments so long as they are issued from PLO funds, not PA funds. Netanyahu has denounced the letter as a fabrication and a forgery, and it probably is — but this is yet another example of the sort of negotiating partner Israel has in the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas leads a faux government with no control of major parts of the Palestinian Arab population (neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad are members of Fatah) that routinely issues fabrications, teaches children to murder Jews, and compensates the murderers and their families.
Trump just accepted a signed “declaration of principles” from him.