Israel Report

July/August 2003         

Israeli Fool's Gold

By Ariel Natan Pasko - August 19, 2003
Well the Palestinians went and did it again. Just as Israeli leaders were contemplating turning over four more cities - Jericho, Kalkilya, Ramallah, and Tulkarm to Palestinian control, in spite of continuing Hudna - cease-fire - inspired violence. Just as the Israeli Cabinet lulled itself back to sleep, ignoring the growing "cease-fire war" - i.e. that's where the Palestinian Authority keeps defining the situation as a cease-fire - and both Israel and the PA wink and ignore ongoing terror attacks. Just as they got Israeli politicians comfortable with "minimal" numbers of murdered Jews, the Palestinians had to go and do it again.

And what did they do, you ask? They reminded everyone they just don't want a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - and Gaza, but that they want to destroy Israel itself.

How you ask? PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, speaking at a hotel in the Lebanese capital Beirut recently said, "No condition has been set for a return [only] to an independent Palestinian state. The right of return is no longer an illusion. It is an integral part of the Arab peace initiative, which is one of the reference points in the roadmap." Shaath continued, "I want to be clear, this right includes returning to an independent state and to Palestinian cities in the Jewish state. Whether a person returns to Haifa [in Israel] or to Nablus [Shechem in Judea/Samaria, the West Bank] their return is guaranteed," he promised. The PA minister was referring to the Saudi initiative adopted by an Arab League summit meeting in Beirut in March 2002. Evidently the Palestinians see the roadmap very differently than the Israelis do.

So problematic is the "right of return" for Israeli politicians that even opposition leader Knesset Member Shimon Peres of Labor and far-left Meretz party MK's Yossi Sarid and Ran Cohen, after hearing of Shaath's speech, emphasized that they would adamantly oppose a peace agreement that includes a Palestinian right of return to Israel, since such a right poses a threat to the state's identity and to the solution of two states for two peoples. Labor MK Matan Vilnai said, "The Palestinians had better realize that all the parties in Israel are united against the so-called right of return."

Quickly, senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said that, "there will never be a return of refugees to the State of Israel." And Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner emphasized that the road map did not address the right of return, and that refugees would never be allowed to return to Israel. "It's a statement that can only hurt things because it's false," he said. "The roadmap says absolutely nothing about the [refugees'] right of return and this statement is detrimental" to implementation of the roadmap. "Israel has no intention, under any circumstance and within any framework, of accepting the return of refugees in Israeli cities which Nabil Shaath terms Palestinian cities," Pazner said. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin also jumped in declaring, "There is no Israeli government that will ever accept it. There will be no Palestinian state so long as they continue to espouse the right of return." So there you have it Israeli officialdom has spoken. You can rest easy now.

But truthfully we've heard it all before. "We won't release anyone with blood on their hands" they said, sure no problem, after they had just released Ahmed Jbarra, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Sukkar. Jbarra served 28 years of a life sentence - he received 14 life-sentences - for murdering 14 people and injuring dozens, when he planted a refrigerator bomb in Jerusalem's Zion Square in 1975.

And what did he do after his release?

In spite of signing an agreement not to engage in any violent activities upon his release - as has all the recently released Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah prisoners - he called on Palestinians to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for the prisoners held by Israel. Abu Sukkar was recently appointed as Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's special adviser on the issue of the prisoners. Jbarra also praised the Palestinians for killing one Jew for every three Palestinians killed during the current intifada, noting that in the previous intifada, the figure stood at one Jew for every 28 Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israeli Army. So much for "repentant activists", one can clearly see the lessons they've learned. Why hasn't Israel issued an arrest warrant for Jbarra, since he's violated the terms of his release?

Israeli leaders knew of this before they released the additional 334 prisoners. They knew they were likely to return to "work", but chose to deceive us and look the other way. As they have consistently since the beginning of the Oslo process. And so, when the next big attacks took place, they "froze" the release of an additional 76 prisoners, for all of three days.

Does anyone remember the late Yitzhak Rabin promising to quickly confiscate the machine guns he gave to Arafat's men, if they would be used in attacks against Israelis. Yet within a year of signing the Oslo agreement in September 1993, Palestinian Authority "police" started a shoot-out with the Israeli Army. Did Rabin demand the weapons? Did he send in troops to confiscate them? How about Shimon Peres saying that if the Oslo process doesn't work out, we can stop it? Or, what about Binyamin Netanyahu talking tough before elections in 1996, but then giving the PA more territory after being elected? Their perfidy would be laughable, if not for all the crying, over the thousands killed and injured since 1993.

So, you can rest easy now. No return of Palestinian refugees to Israel will take place, so promises, Israeli leaders from the government and the opposition.

But two other Israel personalities expressed satisfaction at Shaath's statements. Well-known Israeli journalist Dan Margalit wrote, "We must thank Shaath. He helped Israel by revealing the secrets of his heart. He has strengthened the suspicion, that in any event was nesting in our hearts, that the Palestinians have no interest in solving the refugee problem outside the State of Israel [i.e. exclusively in a Palestinian state]." And MK Aryeh Eldad - National Union Party - also expressed satisfaction with Shaath's remarks, "Because they remind us what the Arabs really want." Eldad said a solution to the refugee problem could only be found within a Palestinian state on the East Bank of the Jordan River, in Jordan.

There you have it, the Palestinians grabbed another opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot again. Like when the Israeli Cabinet recently was debating the prisoner release and PA Prime Minister Abbas demanded, that not a few hundred prisoners, but all 6,000 be released. Or, just after accepting the roadmap, his immediate refutation of a central part of it, stating he has no intention to disarm Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the other groups, and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. Just as the Israelis are moving toward them with new concessions, giving into their previous demands, the Palestinians make new ones. Yet, maybe the Palestinians aren't fools after all.

It's not the Palestinians who have lied or hushed up their demands. True they often say one thing in English to Israel and the international community, and quite another in Arabic to their own people and the greater Arab/Islamic world. But it's hard for me to believe that they think Israel's so dumb as not to hear what they're saying to each other. How can you miss the Jihad videos on official PA television?

No, to get right down to it, Palestinians have been pretty honest about their goals from the start. It's Israel's leaders who have been misleading the Israeli public. They've overlooked violations of signed agreements by the PA right from the start. They've so much wanted this "peace process" to succeed, that even if the Palestinians maim and kill, while calling it a Hudna - cease-fire - they'll turn the other way. It doesn't matter that it's not leading to real peace, a peace "as good as gold". They've been doing a good job conning the Israeli public into accepting this false peace. Just wait and see if they'll hold out against the return of refugees. Or, will they eventually give in on that too, risking the destruction of the Jewish state? Since the beginning, they've been selling Israelis "fool's gold".

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at:

Source: Freeman Centre

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