Kicking the PLO habit
The signs are everywhere that the time has come for Israel to abandon the PLO.
So long as the PLO remains in power, the lives of Israelis and Palestinians will only get worse.
PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas’s speech last Friday at the UN General Assembly where he repeatedly accused Israel of committing genocide was not merely an abandonment of direct peace negotiations with Israel. Abbas abandoned the very concept of peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abbas called for the UN to pass a resolution that will require Israel to cede Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in their entirety to the PLO within a set period of time. No Israeli consideration can be taken into account. No Israel concern can be attended to.
As he put it, “Palestine refuses to have the right to freedom of her people, who are subjected to the terrorism by the racist occupying Power and its settlers, remain hostage to Israel’s security conditions.”
As is always the case, the immediate victims of Abbas’s blood libels are the Israeli Left. The politicians and media elite that have hitched their horse to the PLO were again left stuttering by the wayside.
For some, like Meretz chair Zehava Gal-On, stuttering is a fine option. So she pushed out an endorsement of Abbas’s genocide speech.
Gal-On said, “Meretz supports Abbas’s international efforts to bring the end of the occupation and to get international recognition as a [Palestinian] state and member of the UN before and as a corridor to reaching peace in bilateral negotiations between equals.”
And she joined Abbas in blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for Abbas’s rejection of peace.
As the center-left commentator Dan Margalit noted in Yisrael Hayom, Gal-On and Meretz are basically alone in their embrace of Abbas today.
But they are far from alone in maintaining their slavish devotion to the idea that the only way to improve the situation is by giving Abbas whatever he wants.
And here the circle of victims of Abbas’s hostility expands from the Left to the entire country.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Opposition leader and Labor Party leader Yitzhak Herzog latched all of Israel to the Left’s position by seeming to condemn Abbas while insisting that he is Israel’s only hope.
Herzog wrote that Abbas’s remarks, “were disappointing but not surprising.
“I have met with [Abbas, aka] Abu Mazen dozens of times: He is not a friend or a sympathetic ally. He is someone we have to make a deal with,” Herzog insisted.
Herzog then repeated the same points he and his fellow leftists have made for decades: that Abbas is better than Hamas, that Israel’s security cooperation with the PLO is really great, and that the only way to get the world to be nice to us is by maintaining our allegiance to Abbas and the PLO.
Herzog concluded by joining Gal-On and Abbas in attacking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and blaming him for Abbas’s open transformation into Israel’s enemy.
The first problem with Herzog’s statement is that if it is true that he has always known that Abbas is our enemy, then he just told us that he is a liar.
Like all his friends on the Left, Herzog has continuously embraced Abbas and insisted that he is a man of peace and a moderate and interested in making a deal with Israel.
Yet far worse than his apparent serial dishonesty is Herzog’s insistence that Israel remain in the same policy straitjacket of embracing the PLO.
It is true that Israel gets some security cooperation from the Palestinian security forces. But it is also true that the only guarantor of Israel’s security is the IDF. Were the Palestinian security forces to disband tomorrow, Israel would be better off, not worse off.
This is the case because as Abbas showed, the PA views Israel as its enemy. For tactical reasons PLO militias do work with the IDF from time to time. But their strategic goal – Israel’s destruction – is unchanging. Any doubts that this is the case were dispelled by Abbas’s remarks in New York.
As for the PLO being preferable to Hamas, the PLO is Hamas’s coalition partner. Abbas staunchly expressed his commitment to the unity government he forged with Hamas in his UN speech.
Supporting the PLO in Gaza is the same as supporting Hamas.
Finally, Israel’s international position is continuously degraded, and has been since 1993 as a direct result of its embrace of the PLO. As Abbas showed yet again on Friday, the PLO is leading an international campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. By embracing the PLO, Israel is legitimizing the campaign against it.
Due to our adoption of the Left’s catechism, that Israel has no choice but to continue its embrace of the PLO, we find ourselves at this juncture — where the PLO no longer even tries to hide its rejection of peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state — unable to mount a concerted defense of our rights and legitimate concerns.
If we have no choice but to cut a deal with a group that openly seeks our annihilation in collaboration with Hamas, a terrorist group supported by Iran, then how can we defend ourselves and ensure our rights are respected and our interests are secured?
The short answer is that we cannot.
Since the PLO seeks our destruction, everything we do to strengthen it weakens us. Abbas made clear in his UN speech that he is playing a zero-sum game with Israel. Everything he gains comes at our expense.
Herzog and his comrades are right about one thing. Chances for peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians will increase in an environment where the Palestinians enjoy civil rights and economic opportunities. The problem is that the PLO has harmed, and will continue to harm both for as long as it remains in power.
In large part because the PLO recognizes that freedom and economic opportunity engender social happiness and peace, for the past 21 years they have taken active steps to repress freedom and strangle economic opportunities. Only a Palestinian society that is poor, immiserated and indoctrinated to hate Jews will agree to serve as foot soldiers in a perpetual war.
To this end, the PLO has stolen billions in international aid funds, imprisoned and tortured its critics, built an economy based on graft and protection, and brainwashed the Palestinians with a narrative of hating Jews and blaming Israel for the misery to which the PLO has reduced them.
Israel has two options going forward to secure its rights and protect its interests. Both options are preferable to remaining where we are. But to adopt either of these policies, we first need to abandon the pretense that the PLO is a credible, legitimate actor.
The first option is to adopt Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s plan to apply Israeli law over Area C of Judea and Samaria – that is, the land lacking a significant Palestinian population, and agreeing to Palestinian self-rule in the Palestinian population centers.
For this option to work, Israel will have to cultivate a security and social environment among the Palestinians that is conducive to the emergence of a genuinely moderate leadership. This new leadership could replace the PLO and lead the Palestinians to a better, freer life based on peaceful coexistence with Israel and freedom in a self-governing territory.
The second option is to adopt the policy I set out in my recent book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. That policy involves implementing Israeli law over all of Judea and Samaria and providing the Palestinians with equal rights under Israeli law.
Palestinians will receive permanent residency status as the Arab residents of Jerusalem and the Druse of the Golan Heights received in 1967 and 1981. Like them, Palestinians will have the right to apply for Israeli citizenship. Those who abide by the criteria of Israel’s citizenship laws will receive citizenship.
Both of these options will improve chances for peace. Both policies with secure the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and foster their rights and prosperity.
Friday Abbas told us that he is our enemy, and indeed the enemy of the Palestinians whose lives he insists on imperiling and embittering by locking them into a perpetual war for the destruction of Israel.
He told us to move on.
And move on we must, first and foremost by kicking our PLO habit.