Israel and the Palestinians: Ending the Stalement

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The Journal of International Security Affairs


Fall 2008 – Number 15





i sraeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's July 30, 2008, announcement of his intention to resign from office and the recent upsurge in internecine violence between Hamas and Fatah operatives in Gaza has thrown a monkey wrench in the Bush administration's goal of seeing Israel and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority sign a peace treaty laying out the borders and powers of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. But even in the unlikely event that such an agreement is reached, far from stabilizing Israel's relationship with the Palestinians, it will likely have either no impact on the Palestinian conflict with Israel, or a profoundly negative one.

Indeed, even if the outgoing Bush administration and the lame duck Olmert government manage to sign a peace treaty with the increasingly powerless remnants of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, that achievement is liable to be quickly eclipsed by violence that will follow the signing ceremony. The likely upsurge in Palestinian violence against Israel, in turn, will demonstrate that the Administration's stated aim of establishing a Palestinian state—an aim which is supported by the Israeli government—has little relevance to the nature of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Moreover, seeking such a state today will likely exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the conflict. Indeed, the aftershocks of such an agreement will make clear that both Israel and the United States are basing their policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on false assumptions about the nature of that conflict.

Role reversal

In 1993, when Israel first recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli and American perception of the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation underwent a profound change—as did both countries' chosen paradigm for resolving the conflict.

Prior to 1993, both Israeli and U.S. policies were based on the view that the root of the conflict was the Arab world's rejection of Israel's right to exist. That view was codified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which asserted that two principles were to form the basis of any "just and lasting peace in the Middle East." The first was an Israeli withdrawal from some of the territory taken over by the Israel Defense Forces during the June 1967 Six-Day War. The second was that the Arab states must accept Israel's right to exist. While Resolution 242 was purposely vague about the extent of future Israeli territorial withdrawals, its language on the second component of a future Middle Eastern peace was explicit.

It asserted that a future Middle Eastern peace would be based on the "termination of all claims of states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders free from threats or acts of force."

Since Israel has consistently demonstrated its readiness to make territorial compromises for a lasting peace with its neighbors, it was this second condition that formed the foundation of both U.S. and Israeli policies towards the Palestinians specifically, and the Arab world generally, from the end of the Six-Day War until the onset of Israel's peace process with the PLO in 1993.

In basing their policies on the need for the Arab world to accept Israel's right to exist, successive American administrations and Israeli governments found themselves out of step with Western Europe, the Arab League, the United Nations and the Soviet Union. For these powers, the root of the conflict was not a refusal of the Arab world generally or the Palestinians specifically to accept Israel's right to exist, but Palestinian statelessness itself.1

The difference could not have been more profound. The Israeli-American view placed the burden of change on the Arabs. The European-Soviet-UN view placed the burden for change on Israel. In the former case, the underlying assumption was that the principal obstacle to peace was not Israeli claims to lands it took control of during the Six-Day War but the Arab world's refusal to accept Israel's existence. Until the Arabs changed their view, peace would be impossible.

To that the Soviets, Western Europe and the UN countered that Arab rejection of Israel was a consequence of Israel's assertion of control over the disputed territories, ignoring the historical contradiction in this claim (given that Israel only secured those territories in response to the 1967 Arab war of aggression whose stated aim was the destruction of the Jewish state).2 Consequently, they argued that the Arab world generally, and the Palestinian Arabs specifically, could not be expected to accept Israel's right to exist until the military outcome of the Six-Day War was entirely reversed. In this latter view, it was Israel, not the Arabs, which bore responsibility for the intractable nature of the conflict. And it was Israel, not the Arabs, which would have to amend its policies if peace were to be achieved.

By accepting the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs in 1993, both Israel and the U.S. essentially adopted this latter view of the nature of the conflict. A terrorist organization founded in 1964 with the goal of eliminating Israel altogether, the PLO represented the most extreme assertion of Israeli responsibility for the Arab world's refusal to accept its existence. Indeed, eternalizing that refusal was its raison d'être.

Although the agreements that Israel and the PLO signed in 1993 and throughout the latter half of the 1990s stipulated the Palestinian requirement to accept Israel's right to exist by, among other things, abrogating the articles in the PLO's charter calling for the annihilation of the State of Israel,3 no Israeli government was able to force compliance with that key commitment.4 And despite the fact that the PLO never officially accepted Israel's right to exist by carrying out the required changes to its charter, neither Israel nor the U.S. argued that the Palestinians' failure to do so cancelled Israel's responsibility to work to establish a PLO-led Palestinian state. Moreover, while the peace process was predicated on the PLO's commitment to combat terrorism, neither Israel nor the U.S. argued that the Palestinian Authority's consistent refusal to take action against terror groups in Palestinian society cancelled Israel's responsibility to work to establish a PLO-led Palestinian state.

Over the years, both the Israeli and the Americ
an commitment to the Palestinians have become increasingly explicit and increasingly urgent. Whereas until his last month in office—two months after the Palestinians began their terror war against Israel—President Bill Clinton never explicitly advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state as the aim of the peace process between Israel and the PLO,5 President George W. Bush first stated his support for its creation (via then-Secretary of State Colin Powell) during his first year in office.6

In Israel, the commitment to Palestinian statehood was only made explicit in 2000, when at the Camp David peace summit that July, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered PLO leader Yasser Arafat a sovereign Palestinian state in the entire Gaza Strip, in ninety percent of Judea and Samaria and in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as well as in the Old City of Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount but excluding the Jewish and Armenian Quarters of the Old City), in exchange for a Palestinian declaration that the Palestinian conflict with Israel was over.7

Subsequently, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon argued that due to Palestinian population growth, Israel's ability to sustain itself over time as a Jewish-majority, democratically governed state will be destroyed unless the Palestinians establish a state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Sharon's assertion continues to be maintained by Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni today.8 The demographic data on which they base this view was exposed as fraudulent in 2005.9 Yet Israel's elected leaders continue to insist that unless Israel facilitates the swift establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and sections of Jerusalem, the Palestinian Arab and Israeli Arab population will outstrip Israel's Jewish population in a matter of years.

As for Washington, until November 2007, the Bush administration argued that a Palestinian state could not be formed and its borders and powers could not be determined until after the Palestinian Authority purged terror elements from its own militias and defeated terror forces operating within its territory. President Bush's landmark speech of June 24, 2002, in which he called for the Palestinians to choose new leaders who were not involved with terrorism, stated clearly that U.S. support for Palestinian statehood was conditional. The U.S. would not back a Palestinian state that was in any way supportive of terror or involved in terrorism.10

The road map peace plan, adopted by the Bush administration together with the other members of the Middle East Quartet (the EU, Russia and the UN) in 2003, is similarly explicit. The plan asserts that peace can be achieved between the Palestinians and Israel only with the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem. But it also asserts that this state can only be founded after the Palestinians defeat the terror forces operating within their society, end their incitement towards Israel's destruction, and build the institutions of a working democracy. The Palestinian Authority is required by the road map to fight terror forces with the aim of defeating them in the first phase of the road map's implementation on the ground. The road map foresees the establishment of the sought-after Palestinian state only in its third and final phase.11

In November 2007, however, the Bush administration broke with that view. Its new policy is founded on the belief that Israel and the Palestinian Authority must sign an agreement spelling out the borders and sovereign rights of the sought-for State of Palestine even before the Palestinian Authority fights—let alone defeats—the terror forces operating within its territory in Judea, Samaria and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made this point clearly in a press briefing on November 4, 2007. In her words: "The real breakthrough, it was actually a few months ago now, is that for a long time, if you remember, the argument was you couldn't talk about the Palestinian state or core issues, which was in phase three [of the road map], until you had completed phase one [requiring the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism], which got us into an extended kind of circular problem for a long time about phase one. Well… now we've broken through and they are, indeed, talking about… what's in phase three, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state."12

So over time, both the U.S. and Israel have come to view the prompt establishment of the Palestinian state regardless of the Palestinians' willingness to accept Israel's right to exist as the primary aim of their Palestinian policies. Revealingly, the urgency of the U.S. and Israeli calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state have increased in direct proportion to the radicalization of Palestinian society. The more radical Palestinian society becomes, the more intense the U.S. and Israeli desire to grant it sovereign statehood.

It takes two to tango

For their part, the Palestinians' interest in statehood has never been clear. Like their regional Arab compatriots,13 the Palestinians consistently maintain that Israel's so-called "occupation" is what hinders a peaceful resolution to the conflict. While Israel's leaders, like their American and European counterparts, assume that the Palestinian demand that the so-called "occupation" be ended is synonymous with a demand for statehood, and that the lands the Palestinians claim are limited to Judea, Samaria and the sections of Jerusalem Israel gained control over in the Six-Day War, the Palestinians have never accepted this claim. In fact, both symbolically and politically, the Palestinian Authority asserts that the areas under the so-called "occupation" include the entire State of Israel.14

This view was evident in Arafat's rejection of Barak's offer at Camp David in 2000. While Arafat never made a counteroffer, he gave three justifications for walking away from an offer that would enable the establishment of a Palestinian state. First, Arafat rejected Barak's argument that the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem would end the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Second, Arafat rejected the Israeli position that the immigration to Israel of Palestinian Arabs who left Israel during the 1948-49 war and their descendants would be limited to family reunification. In Arafat's words, "the right of return [of the former Arab residents and their descendants to Israel] is sacred and its sanctity is not less than that [assigned to] the holy places [in Jerusalem]."15

By couching Palestinian rejection of the Israeli offer in such terms, Arafat made clear that the Palestinian demands on Israel are not limited, and so amenable to compromise and conciliation. Rather they are unlimited, and impossible to appease. Here it should be noted that there are no Palestinian leaders who are willing to compromise on the demand that millions of foreign-born Arabs be allowed unfettered immigration to Israel. Moreover, the Palestinians are fully cognizant of the fact that such a move will destroy Israel by overwhelming its Jewish majority.16 Indeed, Fatah is no different from Hamas or Islamic Jihad—or Iran, for that matter—in its refusal to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.17

Finally, Arafat explained that he refused Israel's offer of statehood because the Palestinian conflict with Israel is not simply a nationalist quest for Palestinian statehood, but an Islamic religious struggle for domination that spans the globe. In a speech to the Arab League in October 2000 just after he had begun his terror war against Israel, Arafat asserted that that conflict was not a nationalist endeavor but a religious struggle: "A new, religious, dimension was added to the Arab-Israeli struggle. Everyone is well aware of the critical nature of this dimension, and knows how difficult it is to contain it and control its repercussions,"18 he said.

Already ahead of the Camp David summit, the Palestinian Authority had begun mobilizing Palestinian society for war.19 Young boys under the age of 16 were called on for firearms training, and incitement for violent attacks rose to new heights as major Palestinian figures began calling for or justifying armed attacks against Israeli civilians. Israel and the U.S. did not confront these calls to arms with forceful responses. Rather, they were met with the first overt U.S. and Israeli calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

President Bush's June 24, 2002, speech was the strongest U.S. statement of support for Palestinian statehood until that date. Notably, the address came at the height of the Palestinian war against Israel and in the aftermath of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israel reasserted its military control over Judea and Samaria. That operation produced massive documentary evidence that Arafat and his associates were directly involved in directing the violence against Israel. And yet, the President's speech ignored the distinct possibility that the Palestinians would not select new leaders and reject the path of terror and jihad. It included no hint of what the U.S. would do should the President's call for democratization and liberalization of Palestinian society go unheeded.

In Israel, official support for Palestinian statehood rose in the months before Arafat died in November 2004, when Hamas was beginning to eclipse the Fatah movement in popularity among Palestinian society.20 It was at this juncture that the Sharon government announced its decision to unilaterally withdraw all Israeli civilians and military personnel from Gaza.

Both Israeli and U.S. support for Palestinian statehood became effectively unconditional after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006 and then ejected Fatah forces from power in Gaza in June 2007. So counterintuitively, the U.S. and Israel have become most supportive of Palestinian sovereignty as Palestinian society has become more extreme. Viewing this cycle, one might be led to the conclusion that Israeli and American policy is the equivalent of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. But this interpretation assumes a basic Palestinian interest in statehood. And the Palestinian Arab desire for a state is far from clear.

Since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, far clearer than the Palestinian Arab desire for statehood has been the Palestinian Arab rejection of Jewish statehood. Championing Palestinian Arab statehood has never been the explicit policy of either the Palestinians or the rest of the Arab world. Rather, rejecting the right of the Jewish nation to sovereignty in the land of Israel has been the consistent policy of the Palestinian Arab leadership as well as the general Arab leadership since 1917, and most pronouncedly since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Given the Palestinian Arabs' historic refusal to accept partition and in light of the radicalization of Palestinian society since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the reasonableness of viewing the Palestinian conflict with Israel as separate from the larger Arab world's rejection of Israel's right to exist is called into question. And this raises the prospect that Israel's decision in 1993, supported by the U.S., to recognize the PLO and adopt the European-Russian-UN view that the root of the conflict is the expansion of Israel rather than its very existence, was wrong and should be reversed.

Biding time in Israel…

The policy ramifications of this conclusion are clear. Until the Palestinians and the larger Arab world accept Israel's right to exist, there is no way to resolve either the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or the Arab-Israeli conflict of which it is a component part. It can only be stabilized and then managed until such a time as the Palestinians, with the support of the wider Arab world, accept Israel's right to exist and abandon their efforts and designs to see the Jewish state eradicated. In this state of affairs, it is clear that policies aimed at immediately resolving the conflict must be discarded in favor of more modest efforts that seek to end Palestinian terrorism and the links between Palestinian terror groups and outside state sponsors of terror. Similarly, these policies must be aimed at encouraging Palestinian society to accept Israel's right to exist and coexist peacefully with the Jewish state.

An Israeli policy that accepts this state of affairs would involve:

Eradicating Hamas rule in Gaza. The existence of the Hamas regime in Gaza serves both to endanger Israel's national security and to radicalize Palestinian society still further. Hamas's rule enables Iranian security personnel and Iran's Hezbollah proxy—as well as elements of al-Qaeda—to build a presence on Israel's doorstep. Hamas itself serves as an engine of radicalization for Palestinian society as a whole, and as a force that compels the Fatah movement to openly embrace jihad as its strategic path. Israel's refusal to date to take action to destroy this threat has only served to strengthen the movement and its associate Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt. Moreover, it has brought Gaza deeper into Iran's sphere of influence. By waging a military campaign to overthrow Hamas's regime, Israel would be making clear that this state of affairs will no longer be tolerated.

Making clear that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO have refused to abide by any of their commitments to Israel and the international community to fight terrorism, and demonstrating that the Palestinian Authority since its establishment in 1994 has been actively involved in enabling and carrying out terrorism. These commitments have inclu
ded arresting and punishing terrorists; permanently cutting all ties with terror groups; ending all direct and indirect financial, political, cultural and media support for terror; ending amnesties for terrorists; extraditing terrorists for trial in Israel and the U.S.; cooperating with international (including Israeli) anti-terror campaigns; outlawing terror groups; and providing information regarding them to law enforcement authorities throughout the world. To date, in the interest of maintaining the peace process with the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, the Israeli government has refused to explicitly acknowledge the basic fact that the Palestinian Authority has systematically facilitated and directed terror and has refused to combat it. This policy should be reversed.

Ending Israel's recognition of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. In light of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority's refusal to end its involvement in and support for terrorism against Israel, Israel should reclassify Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO as terrorist organizations and make it illegal to collaborate with them in any way. So too, Israel should end its financial and diplomatic support for the Palestinian Authority.

Stopping Palestinian delegitimation of Israel and Jews. To end its designation as a terrorist organization, the Palestinian Authority should be required to end Palestinian incitement to murder Israelis and destroy Israel in the Palestinian media, school and university system, and mosques. The Palestinian Authority should likewise be required to cease actions aimed at delegitimizing Israel in international forums. It should abrogate its anti-Semitic laws, such as the law requiring capital punishment for Arabs who sell land to Jews.

For its part, and given the inherent hostility of the Palestinian Authority to the Jewish state, Israel should take active steps to end official Palestinian incitement against Israel in Palestinian society and use its voice in international forums to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority so long as it refuses to take such actions on its own. Israel should also use international podiums to explain the basis for the actions that its authorities take to end such malicious incitement encouraging Israel's destruction and the murder of its citizens.

Ending the construction freeze in Israeli "settler" communities. By enabling construction in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, Israel will signal three things. First, that the Palestinians will pay a price for their terrorism. Second, the Jews also have legitimate claims to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. And third, in the event that a democratic, peaceful Palestinian state which accepts Israel's right to exist does eventually form in those areas, it will be required to accept Jewish citizens as equal members of society, just as Israel accepts Arab citizens.

Gradually ending military rule. To enable the democratic development of Palestinian society in Judea and Samaria, Israel should gradually replace the military government now in force in those areas with the more progressive Israeli law as security is established and terror groups are disarmed. Palestinians not tainted with terrorism should be granted access to the Israeli economy and labor market. Since Israeli law allows non-citizen residents to participate in local elections, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria should be allowed to hold local elections to select leaders who can eventually act as credible interlocutors with Israel in future negotiations.

…and reorienting policy in Washington

In an effort to stabilize the situation in Palestinian society, and to set the conditions for an eventual peace between the Palestinians and Israel, the U.S. should adopt the following policies:

Reattaching U.S. Palestinian policy to its wider foreign policy goals. U.S. support for Palestinian statehood despite the Palestinians' obvious and overwhelming support for terrorism has placed U.S. policy towards the Palestinians at variance with its fundamental policy towards terror regimes and organizations. Consequently, the most fundamental contribution the U.S. can make to stabilizing the situation in the Palestinian Authority is to align its Palestinian policy and its policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict with wider U.S. policy goals. To do so, it must end its current insistence on viewing Palestinian terrorist groups as legitimately motivated organizations to be bargained with and supported, while confronting other terrorist groups around the world.

Washington should inform the Palestinian Authority that it cannot expect to receive aid or maintain diplomatic contacts with the U.S. so long as it keeps terrorists associated with any of the recognized terror groups, including those affiliated with Fatah, on its payroll. The U.S. should begin to fully implement anti-terror legislation against Palestinian terror groups, and the President should cease the practice of automatically granting the PLO and the Palestinian Authority waivers from compliance with section 1003 of the Anti-Terror Act of 1987 which allows them to maintain diplomatic missions in the U.S. The U.S. should end all provision of military assistance and equipment to the Palestinian Authority, and it should list Fatah as a terrorist organization for so long as it continues to have active terrorist wings, such as the already-listed al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. By the same token, it should list the PLO and its component Palestinian Authority as terrorist organizations for so long as they carry under their wings active terrorist groups.

The U.S. likewise must stop falsely proclaiming the moderation and anti-terror credentials of senior Fatah officials. Such statements, which are contradicted in both the statements and actions of men like Palestinian President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister and former Hamas finance minister Salaam Fayyad, undermine U.S. efforts to wage a credible public diplomacy campaign against terrorism. They send a counterproductive message that there is such a thing as "good terrorism" which contrasts with "bad terrorism." Moreover, such American support of terror-supporting leaders actually destabilizes the region, enabling terror groups to arm, recruit members, carry out attacks against Israel, and terrorize Palestinian civilians under the protective embrace of the U.S. government.

Finally, the U.S. must begin to press its allies to act towards all Palestinian terrorist groups the way the U.S. expects them to act towards non-Palestinian terrorist groups. Rather than promote financial assistance to Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (and other Palestinian terrorist groups), the U.S. should tell its allies that it opposes such assistance. Obviously, the U.S. should also cut off its direct support for Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.

Combating Arab irredentism. While the U.S. should not presume it has the ability to force massive social change in the Arab world, it can and should take steps to break down the overwhelming Arab antipathy towards Israel and through it towards the U.S. itself. It must begin by reasserting the basic conditions of the pre-peace process years: that it cannot accept as a genuine negotiator for peace any party that does not explicitly accept the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel, and the necessity for all states to accept Israel's legitimacy and oppose any belligerence (including diplomatic and economic warfare) against Israel.

By the same token, the U.S. will need to make clear that it will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state predicated on the current demand that no Jewish pe
ople may be granted citizenship in that state or that the State of Palestine can only be established after all Jews are expelled from their homes in Judea and Samaria and their communities destroyed. The establishment of such a racist state, predicated on anti-Semitism and racial exclusivity, is antithetical to American values and to the U.S.'s basic interest in a stable, multi-confessional and free Middle East.

Furthermore, the U.S. should make explicit its rejection of the Palestinian demand for the so-called "right of return" of foreign-born descendants of Arabs who left Israel in 1948-49. The U.S. should state explicitly that such a demand is irreconcilable with the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East and with the U.S. commitment to Israel's existence.

Utilizing diplomatic sticks as well as carrots. In 2002, President Bush asserted that the U.S. would not support the establishment of a Palestinian state unless that state were peaceful, democratic and engaged in fighting terror. To restore the credibility of its demands, the U.S. should declare explicitly that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority have failed to meet any of the most basic international conditions for support and that it has become apparent that the Palestinian Authority is neither democratic, nor peaceful, nor terror-fighting—and that it is not developing in a way that can lead to confidence about its embracing such moral and political infrastructure in the future. These words must be followed by deeds, including the suspension of American support for Palestinian statehood for an interim period of ten years, in order to provide the Palestinians with sufficient time to reform their society. After that interim period, a subsequent reevaluation of the Palestinian commitment to developing institutions and practices that would enable the creation of a state that meets its international commitments will be undertaken.

In this regard, the U.S. should support Israel's decision to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria while stipulating that such a step does not mean that Israel or the U.S. are withdrawing their support for a territorial compromise, just as the application of Israeli law to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights has not precluded an Israeli willingness to compromise on their future international status.

Then too, the U.S. should announce that it no longer opposes Israeli building in Judea and Samaria. By doing so, Washington will be taking a highly significant symbolic step towards insisting that a Palestinian state must not be founded on bigotry and hatred but rather must be as hospitable a place for Jewish citizens as Israel is for its Arab citizens.

Finally, the U.S. should implement its law requiring the transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and end its refusal to fully recognize Israel's capital city. Like the removal of U.S. opposition to Israeli building in Judea and Samaria, the U.S. need not accept Israel's claim to sovereignty over the entire city by recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the parts of the city that have served as its capital since 1949.

Eliminating the infrastructure of the conflict. One of the reasons that the Palestinians are able to reject Israel's right to exist is because for 60 years, through the UN, the international community has been perpetuating the statelessness of Palestinian Arabs who fled Israel in 1948-49. The UN Relief Works Agency, UNRWA, was set up in 1949 for the specific purpose of preventing those refugees from being resettled. The U.S. must end its financial support for UNRWA and take steps to close the agency and end the systematic discrimination against the Palestinian Arab refugees by placing them under the authority of the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees together with all other global refugee populations.

Beyond working for UNRWA's dismantlement, the U.S. should move to close down other UN and international agencies whose sole purpose is to isolate Israel and maintain the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many such bodies were set up in the UN following the approval of the 1975 General Assembly resolution which defined Zionism as a form of racism. These bodies include the UN Division for Palestinian Rights (created in 1977), and the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (established in 1975). The U.S. should boycott these bodies and call for their abolition in the same manner as it campaigned for reform of UN human rights bodies. Moreover, it can advocate the abandonment of the UN regional system of country blocs until Israel is accepted as a full member of the Western European and Others (WEOG) bloc of member-nations.

Outside of the UN, current U.S. moves to abrogate the Arab economic boycott of Israel should be stepped up. Specifically, Washington should enforce its anti-boycott law on commercial relations with states like Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the Iraqi government should be pressured to end its boycott of Israel and officially terminate the formal state of war that has existed between the countries since 1948. Finally, U.S. pressure on Arab states to end support for terror groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah must be expanded to ending support for terror groups like Hamas and Fatah.

Rewriting the script

The main thrust of all these recommended Israeli and U.S. policies is that they are based upon a renewed American-Israeli acknowledgement that Israeli territorial claims to the lands it took control over in 1967 are not the root cause of the conflict with the Palestinians. Rather, Palestinian and wider Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist is the cause. The reform and stabilization of Palestinian society depends on such a reorientation. Since the Palestinians themselves have never made the attainment of statehood their primary aim, whether a Palestinian state will emerge from such a reoriented Palestinian society cannot be known. But what is absolutely clear is that there is no chance that any Palestinian state that is not a terror state at war with Israel will ever be established unless such a reform and stabilization of Palestinian society takes place first.

For 15 years, Israel and the U.S. have based their policies towards the Palestinians on the false narrative of Israeli culpability for the endurance of the Arab world's conflict with Israel. Consequently, all of their policies aimed at resolving that conflict have been predicated on false assumptions. Not surprisingly, they have not only failed to resolve the conflict, they have exacerbated it by strengthening terror forces while weakening voices of liberalism. The time has come to reassess this state of affairs, and move toward Israeli and U.S. Palestinian policies based on the true nature of the conflict.


Caroline B. Glick is the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post. She is also the senior fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. Her book, Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad, was released in the spring of 2008. Ms. Glick lives in Jerusalem.


  1. On Europe see for instance, Bat Ye'or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005), 48; On the Soviet Union, see Joel Fishman, "The Big Lie and the Media War against Israel: From Inversion of the Truth to Inversion of Reality," Jewish Political Studies Review, Spring 2007,
  2. Mitchell Bard, "The 1967 Six-Day War," Myths and Facts Online, n.d.,
  3. See, for instance, "Exchange of Letters between PM Rabin and Chairman Arafat," September 9, 1993, Peace+Process/Israel-PLO+Recognition+-+Exchange+of+Letters+betwe.htm, and "Note for the Record," January 15, 1997, cess/Note+for+the+Record.htm.
  4. See, for instance, Peace Watch, "PLO Charter Wasn't Changed," Legal Opinion, April 25, 1996,, and interview with Fatah leader Farouk Kadumi on ANB television, November 2, 2005,
  5. "DOCUMENT: Clinton Minutes of Proposal for Agreement Between Israel and Palestinians," Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), December 23, 2000,
  6. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Remarks at the McConnell Center for Political Leadership. University of Louisville, Kentucky, November 19, 2001,
  7. "A Breakthrough and Not a Breakdown," Palestinian Authority website, July 30, 2000,
  8. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Speech to Jewish Agency Assembly, June 28, 2005,; Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Address to the Herzliya Conference, January 24, 2006,; Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speech at the Herzliya Conference, January 23, 2006,
  9. Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael L. Wise, "The Million Person Gap: A Critical Look at Palestinian Demography, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Perspectives on Current Affairs, May 7, 2006,
  10. White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership," June 24, 2002,
  11. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," April 30, 2003,
  12. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "Roundtable With Traveling Press," Jerusalem, Israel, November 4, 2007,
  13. "Moussa: The Intifada Will Continue as Long as the Israeli Occupation Continues," WAFA (Ramallah), August 31, 2001,
  14. This symbolic refusal to accept Israel in any size is made clear by the PA's consistent publication of maps of Palestine that encompass the entire State of Israel. Then, too, Fatah leaders, like Hamas leaders, refer to Arab citizens of Israel as 1948 Palestinians—that is, Arabs who have been living under Israeli occupation since 1948 rather than since 1967 in the case of the Arabs from Gaza, Judea and Samaria and unified Jerusalem. See for instance, Fatah editorial, "The Eyes of the World Turn Towards Jerusalem," January 11, 2001, Moreover, the official PLO position on Palestinian statehood is that any Palestinian state must be based upon the partition plan set out in 1947 by UN General Assembly Resolution 181. See, for instance, Fatah editorial, "Actualizing Palestinian Sovereignty," September 27, 2000,
  15. Yigal Carmon and Aluma Solnick, "Camp David and the Prospects for a Final Settlement, Part I: Israeli, Palestinian and American Positions," Middle East Media Research Institute Inquiry and Analysis no. 35, August, 4, 2000,
  16. Yotam Feldner and Aluma Solnick, "Palestinian Thoughts on the Right of Return," Middle East Media Research Institute Special Report no. 5, March 30, 2001, chives&Area=sr&ID=SR00501.
  17. "Abbas Continues Rejecting 'Jewish State' Notion," Jerusalem Post, December 1, 2007, Article%2FShowFull.
  18. Speech by Yasser Arafat at Arab Summit at Cairo, October 21, 2000,
  19. Itamar Marcus, "This Week in the Palestinian Media," Palestinian Media Watch, August 3, 2000,
  20. "Hamas Wins Local Gaza elections, U.S. Unimpressed," Palestine Media Center, January 29, 2005,
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  • Marc Handelsman, USA 10/12/2008 at 2:20

    There will be no progress with resolving the Arab-Israeli Conflict until Arabs genuinely accept Israel’s right to exist. When the U.S. recognized the PLO back in December 1988 that began a series of events, which have gradually undermined Israel’s security. With both Israel and the U.S. accepting the PLO as a peace partner, many unwise compromises were made that have weakened Israel in the region. As a result, Arabs sense an opportunity to eliminate Israel. And another costly war will be won by Israel because jihadists forgot they’re on the wrong side of history.

  • marcel cousineau 10/12/2008 at 2:38

    ‘Israel’s decision in 1993, supported by the U.S., to recognize the PLO and adopt the European-Russian-UN view that the root of the conflict is the expansion of Israel rather than its very existence, was wrong and should be reversed.
    ‘By waging a military campaign to overthrow Hamas’s regime, Israel would be making clear that this state of affairs will no longer be tolerated.’
    The time has come to reassess this state of affairs, and move toward Israeli and U.S. Palestinian policies based on the true nature of the conflict.’
    It’s been a fraud since day one and yet Israel let it get this far.
    The question is can Israel finally jump off this train headed for Holocaust II ?
    However late ,you make a great case of ending the Oslo and Road Map accords quitting this game of ‘Israel will now always lose’
    the Arabs never had a chance to win once in all their wars against Israel and this ‘process’ was only to level the playing field in favor of Israel’s enemies.
    The reality is that this has never been about peace but the defeat of Israel.
    Who else but a close friend could get close enough to put the knife in Israel’s back ?
    If the US were truly a moral nation,the no peace process would have ended log ago and the Palestinians defeated.
    The object has always been to make sure Israel never defeats another Arab army.
    Do you remember how from the beginning the u.S. has restrained Israel and limited israels response when attacked.
    How the U.S. rescued Hizbollah from certain defeat after Olmert the lap dog finally sent in the IDF ground forces ?
    It is a known fact the the U.S. gave it’s blessing for a limited air war in Lebanon.
    The U.S. will never allow Israel to defeat Hamas in Gaza as this would endanger it’s close friendship with Arab nations and that is more important than Israel to Washington.
    The sad reality is that Israel put her trust in a phony peace broker when the table was always stacked against Israel to lose.
    You are in a trap with the determined outcome already decided.
    Even a country bumpkin understands that Islam’s goal will never be to co-exist with Israel and that Israel’s continued survival exposes Islam as a fraudulent religion.
    “If allah is truly God then why do Arabs continue to lose against the greatly outnumbered Jews.”
    That is the shame of every Moslem across the globe and why they are driven madly to exterminate israel.
    The Palestinians never wanted peace ,that was only the bait to lure Israel into the trap.
    This is battle of major spiritual dimensions that no political agreement will ever solve as we see 15 years on.
    Remember how it went in Egypt when a lowly Moshe went before the superpower Pharoah.
    He found no reason to listen to or fear the Jews.
    We are about to see something similar in our day. Israel’s search for peace with a false friend will soon end.
    The whole world will again learn about and fear the Holy One of Israel and the Jewish people who have been the tail of the nations will become the head of the nations.
    There will no longer be the fraudelent religion of Islam and Arab and Jew will finally live in real true peace.

  • David Custis Kimball 10/12/2008 at 7:30

    Caroline… Your exposure of the weaving laws and deceit of mainly the PLO and Arab extremists (defined as overtly sympathetic or actively engaged in terror) is foundational to establishing a structure that will support the tough, but necessary laws that will be required to be acted upon with certainty.
    I wanted to propose something that struck me while reading your effort to End the Stalemate. Laws need to be equally balanced. For example, as long as there is a law punishable by death for an Arab to sell land to a Jew, then a Jewish law should not allow a Jew to sell to an Arab, retroactive to the establishment of that Arab law. Gaza, since it was given to Arabs(I assume), but more likely at great cost to Jews, then that balance should be met either to return Gaza or other lands….perhaps those won in defending Israel in the 6 day war.
    Straight laws, symmetrical laws….what’s good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander… laws.
    Given this digital age…try to increase the number of the laws rather than the complexity, which engulfs our more elegant, analog and narrative way of thinking, writing… make laws that can be programmed into large defensive or offensive machines and can respond unequivocally, certainly and with sufficient accuracy to be overwhelmingly successful. The first volley might even be paintballs, marking territory. The animal world has been dooing it successfully for eons…maybe we can learn from them.
    Knowing little of the Torah, but understanding the multitude of laws, this shouldn’t be such a stretch for applied to Social or Relational laws mano to mano, so to speak.
    Also forgive my rather naive interpretation that follows, but I as the younger brother, survived several existential challenges growing up…can attempt to understand Cain’s frustration of his betrayal as an innocent.
    I also had the courage and inspiration to ask a question of Paul A.M. Dirac about time, after his lecture in 1969 where axb does not equal bxa for the electron…and he was concerned if logic and mathematics were breaking down, the closer we looked into the quanta of our world. He assured me that if I could show it mathematically, it would be true. So I am inspired to go back to consider first principles…and that is what is so elegant about your dissertation.
    Should I ever be so blessed, you would be the first I would recommend for a Nobel Peace Prize. Your work that seeks justice and accountability is the only foundation for a lasting peace…
    This was inspired from my thesis in empathy with Cain…that his question to the lord, Am I my brother’s keeper was meant as an exposing question to the guilt of the lord (as well as pain of Cain) of having been expelled from Eden. He did nothing wrong there; and it was the lord who did not act as his family’s keeper which set the example. Cain seemed to have won the argument…for he was marked with a blessing…or a warning for others not to touch him…which Israel should believe that still should exist.
    My point: Israel is not its brother’s keeper, even if loosely we believe that Arabs or PLO or Palistinians are so called brothers. Israel should be the keeper of justice, fairness and a spirit that when you know you are right and just…do not hesitate. I think that laws should be time stamped so that they are transparently clear as to the cause. When was this law punishing Arab sellers first put into effect?
    It’s all a part of making Israel’s argument an overwhelming one…and to over time eliminate those devilish details that scream Gotcha…and the only thing left in people’s memories are those details….like welcome to USA’s politics when 90 percent of the media favors one side….the wrong side…the side of sympathetic and otherwise useful idiots to leftist propaganda… and extorsion.
    We are asked to compromise so much in life…that we often loose track of when how, where, and why…and when we must do to strategic conditions, these should be noted and referenced if not to the enemy’s demand…to our own next time advantage…that the prior existence of tolerance is no guarantee of a next. Even a small note in a compromised agreement, noting the that transparent and existential option may be an important deterrant, if not the first time, but certainly the second, where the second will have the instant reference to the primary. Put that in their Flak’s pipe and smoke him.
    A blessed new year wish to you and yours.

  • Bill K. 10/12/2008 at 9:10

    Absolutely brilliant! You have demonstrated that the establishment of a Palestinian state, at the present time, is an exercise in futility.
    The only purpose of a state is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. But before we can talk about a state, rights must be properly defined:
    “A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)”
    This concept of individual rights is completely alien to most Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. They live in primitive societies dominated by warlords, tribal chieftains or dictators. The error in thinking the Israeli and American administrations make is that the establishment of a state for the Palestinians will make them appreciate the economic and political freedoms that will somehow magically be bestowed upon them. As a consequence the Palestinians will then realize that Israel is no threat to them and recognition will follow. This is putting the cart before the horse. It is a long intellectual and moral path to the Constitution of the United States and its Bill of Rights and the Palestinians must earn the right to form a state, which they have shown no inclination to do.
    An alternate and more likely method, given the nature of the Palestinians, is to have a liberal state forced on them after they have been unconditionally defeated in a war and their territory occupied. The violent elements in their society such as Hamas, Fatah and the PLO would be expunged and a new government established. The American occupation of Japan after WW2 would be a good model.
    You are right to insist that The United States follow Israel’s lead in dealing with the Palestinians. For too long the United States has been dictating terms to Israel, much to her own detriment.

  • marcel cousineau 10/12/2008 at 18:19

    Akko – 2 views ,1 Christian,1 Jewish
    Israel’s Capitulation
    Is this the epitaph on Israel’s tombstone ?
    ‘Destroyed by the peace process ,For this fake peace Israel sacrificed her soul and lost both’
    Last year another Moslem inciter Sheikh Raed Saleh incited a mob on the Temple Mount and the government did nothing but select more Jewish communities to sacrifice to the god of Islam’s strange peace.
    Everyone can see ,Israel has capitulated,everyone but those drunk on the fumes of this strange Islamic peace.

  • Master of Obvious 10/12/2008 at 18:57

    Too long – didn’t read. Let me summarize:
    “Never again” means “anytime, anywhere”.

  • Ron Grandinetti, USA 10/12/2008 at 19:43

    Caroline, as Bill K puts it “Absolutely Brilliant”. I second that along with Curtis Kimble’s recommending you for the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact you should be appointed point person to lead the peace process.
    Again, I don’t pretend to understand the Middle East situation and all she puts forth is kinda over my head. I am a simple person with a simple idea. After that said, I am a firm believer that in order for Peace and Statehood.
    1. The Palestinians and the rest of the Arab nations must recognize Israel’s right to exist. Not only her right to exist but to respect and I mean RESPECT her RIGHTS and her people. Peace begins with RESPECT.
    2. Before a Palestinian Statehood, they must prove to their neighbor Israel and the rest of the world to be civil and responsible. Seek peace by peaceful means. Begin with outlawing and make illegal hate groups such as Hamas and other Arab terrorist groups. Avoid any influence from the Iran and Syria. Don’t look now but these two along with other militant groups are using you and your people to bring about the destruction of Israel.
    I am sure most Americans like myself want our country to fully support Israel in this process and it not what we feel is right, but what is important is what Israel feels is right.
    It’s not for us to decide. It’s not taking sides. It is a matter of what is right. We also want to see the Palestinians with Statehood and living and enjoying peace with her neighbor. Sending rockets, suicide bombers in your neighbor to kill innocent civilians is not exactly anyone’s idea of extending an olive branch.
    It’s time for responsible Palestinians and I am sure there are enough of them to take charge and do it.

  • davis,br 10/12/2008 at 22:20

    Wow …just, wow.

  • Leaky M. 10/13/2008 at 14:15

    “Palestinians….. I (I dont think there are a people called palestinians sorry to say even arabs)” and their “arab….” all will onetime pay for the falsehoods they have machined. The sea of lies will topple on them& Israel THE LAND OF Jews will be saved. Thanks and all glory to to Adonai, Holy One of Israel.

  • lawrence kohn 10/14/2008 at 14:34

    This article is a foundational document for a new policy. It would help if Likud would adopt it as a formal policy declaration and if an American private organization such as Glick’s Center for Security Policy led by Frank Gaffney adopted it as a formal policy paper. Handelsman’s comment re: 1988 is correct that recoginizing the PLO by the US was a key step in undermining the long standing US position. The 1991 Madrid conference reinforced this by making two major errors: including a Palestinian delegation in the Jordanian delegation rather than excluding it and bringing Russia into this international conference. The Russian role is very important and adds an additional dimension to the global strategy Glick’s article proposes. Russia remains the main enemy of the U.S. It is the sponsor of Iran, Syria and North Korea. It is allied with Communist China. It is attempting to gain hegemony in the Middle East and continued its support of these regimes even under Yeltsin whose Presidency gave a semi democratic veneer to Russia’s efforts to join Western economic institutions and receive access to Western technology. Russia’s support for Chavez is undermining the strategic rear of the US and will have further negative effects on Israel as a result. And Russia is moving towards nuclear superiority as it has under Yeltsin built a new land base nuclear ICBM and under Putin a mobile version and now a multiple independent re-entry vehicle nuke as well as a new submarine launched nuclear weapon. The US has frozen its development in this field and is even losing the personnel who have the knowledge to re-start development. All of this affects not only the future of Western democracy in the long term but Israel in the short term as it makes unlikely the ability of a future US President to do what Nixon did during the Yom Kippur war as Moscow threatened to intervene; to climb the ladder of escalation high enough to deter Russian threats.

  • Timothy Kriete For Israel The Apple Of Jehovah EL Shaddai's Eyes AMEN 10/14/2008 at 18:16


  • Timothy Kriete For Israel The Apple Of Jehovah EL Shaddai's Eyes AMEN 10/14/2008 at 18:18


  • Timothy Kriete For Israel Forever More AMEN 10/16/2008 at 3:00

    Dear Caroline; Hey Sis, What Happened In Acco,
    Israel??? I Keep Hearing And/Or Reading Reports
    Of Terrorism Against Israeli Jews By Israeli
    Arabs And/Or Muslims Living In Acco, Israel.
    Can You Tell Me In Writing Or Write An Article
    About This Sis??? Thanks In Advance For Your
    Assistance, I Am Seeking ONLY Truth, I Know You
    Are A Very Reliable Source For Truth About
    Events Taking Place In Israel Sis. Thy Servant
    And Brother For Zion’s Sake Timothy Kriete AMEN.

  • J. Lichty 11/19/2008 at 0:52

    While I agree with CG’s framework, there is a significant problem. Who exactly is going to implement it.
    This change in view will not start in DC, but rather in Jerusalem. Netanyahu does not appear ready to shift the paradigms, and will continue with the fiction that Abbas good, Hamas bad.
    This is the trap Sharon got us into. He made the conflict all about Arafat, and then when Abu Mazen and Dahlan were thrown on him by the State Department, he had backed himself into a diplomatic corner.
    Israel needs to change the game and Washington may follow. But right now, it is conventional wisdom, even in the pro-Israel community that Fatah is the answer and the two state solution is set in stone.
    Until the Government of Israel stands athwart this madness and says stop, nothing will change in Washington.
    AIPAC is really the only way to get thinking on the hill changed, and AIPAC will not break ranks with the government of Israel (unless there is a right wing policy shift, which will make for an interesting dynamic).


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