In his major address to the University of Louisville on November 21, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell once again emphasized US continued support for the principle of land for peace. This principle has served the Palestinians well. When Israel agreed to this precept she expected to be served equally well. In retrospect, however, it is clear that the hoped for peace was a chimera - wishful thinking without merit. Here’s what happened.
September 13, 1993:
Israel began the process of trading land for peace under the auspices of the 1993 Oslo Accords (the “Declaration of Principles”). As a first step, Israel traded the Gaza Strip and Jericho areas. In return, Arafat made specific promises to Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people. Primary among these was “. . . to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict…” As it has become evident this past year, there was never any intention by the Palestinians to end confrontation and conflict. Secondly, Arafat and Israel agreed “… to recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights…” Israel did get a mealy-mouthed recognition of its statehood, but as events have shown this promise was never sincere. On the contrary, the Palestinians began a worldwide campaign of anti-Israel vilification with the object of destroying Israel’s international legitimacy. In this effort they receive the automatic support and approval of the Arab League and the Muslim states - a formidable 54-nation bloc. Thus, hundreds of anti-Israel resolutions were initiated by Arab States in the UN to serve this purpose, with only the American veto to block Arab intentions.
Another basic undertaking under the Declaration of Principles was “…to strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security…” Instead, Israel has been hit with the “intifada,” whose specific aim is the very opposite of peaceful coexistence. There never was any PLO intention of according Israel dignity and security. On the contrary, Israel traded land for peace and received a “kill-the-Jews” variety of racial hatred, anti-Semitic incitement and premeditated, murderous terrorist warfare.
The ultimate, long term goal of the Oslo Accords was “…to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.” It has become clear to a majority of Israelis that these finely crafted phrases were either never internalized by the Palestinians or they were never honest objectives in the first place. It has been made abundantly clear that what PLO so-called peace partners wanted was not land for peace, but the Land of Israel itself. Without Jews. Without democracy. Without any peculiar attachment to the rule of law. The map of Israel, all of it, hangs in Arafat’s office and is published in all PLO literature and books, only it’s called Palestine.
Aside from the more esoteric, psychological aspects of the Oslo Accords, there are very practical matters addressed therein, as well. The document states: “…to guarantee public order and internal security for the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the (Palestinian) Council will establish a strong police force.” The Palestinians certainly wanted to establish a strong police force. Indeed, Israel even supplied them with arms and equipment to help them guarantee “public order”. Yet, public order in the Arab street was the last thing the Palestinians had in mind. Their intention instead was a nascent army, which would not be used to deter their hotheads from making trouble for the Israelis, but which would gain experience in firearms. Soon enough, it too joined in killing Israelis.
September 28, 1995:
As part of the peace process another agreement, the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was signed on September 28, 1995, in Washington. One of the early clauses in this agreement reaffirmed the “mutual commitment to act… immediately, efficiently and effectively against acts or threats of terrorism, violence or incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.” Yet, incitement was always the exclusive weapon of the Palestinians. Their school textbooks, printed with funds from the European Union, taught and teach contempt for Jews and incite future generations to hate. Even today, after all the years of murder and mayhem Israelis have suffered at the hands of the Palestinians, Israel does not inculcate its young with racial or religious hatred, nor do we glorify suicide bombing, as is done on PA television.
Again, the Interim Agreement reiterates, “In order to guarantee public order and internal security for the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Council shall establish a strong police force…” At the same time, Israel is given “responsibility for defense against external threats, including… responsibility for overall security of Israelis and Settlements, for the purpose of safeguarding their internal security and public order…” Despite what PLO pretentions to the contrary, the Agreement contains no demand for dismantling of the settlements, no reference to “occupied” territory. Rather, it has a straightforward admission that the settlements have a right to be there and that Israel has a right to protect them and their Israeli inhabitants. All agreed to and signed by Israel and the PLO and witnessed by representatives of the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Kingdom of Norway and the European Union.
Article XIII of the Interim Agreement, dealing with security, states, “The (Palestine National) Council will, upon completion of the redeployment of Israeli military forces… assume the powers and responsibilities for internal security and public order in Area A… There will be a complete redeployment of Israeli military forces from Area B… and the Council will assume responsibility for public order for Palestinians…” The role of the Palestinian police in keeping public order (i.e. in preventing another intifada) is continually emphasized in this document, accepted and signed by the Palestinian Authority. How utterly deceitful they were.
The article referring to the Palestinian Police states that “[e]xcept for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” So much for Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Tanzim, Force 17, the PLFP and other armed terrorist groups which have, contrary to this very specific agreement entered into by Mr. Arafat, operated feely with the open support and under the protective umbrella of the Palestinian Authority. Recent events have made it abundantly clear that the Palestinian signatories never had the slightest intention of arresting or preventing these armed terrorist groups from killing and maiming Israeli civilians, in spite of solemn undertakings freely arrived at in face-to-face negotiations. Today Palestinian Authority spokespersons wriggle and squirm as they try to twist the truth by alleging that Israel wants Arafat to be Israel’s policeman. On the contrary, all Israel wants is for Arafat to carry out the policing duties he readily agreed to when he signed this agreement. Based on President Bush’s explicit and oft repeated definition, can there be any doubt that the PA qualifies as a terrorist organization?
Article XV, entitled “Prevention of Hostile Acts,” states that “[b]oth sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other´s authority and against their property, and shall take legal measures against offenders.” Israel must surely have believed there was a better than 50 percent chance that the Palestinian Authority would abide by this clause and take legal measures against offenders, but, based on what we know today of their utter disregard for these responsibilities, what can be the measure of our confidence in their honesty of purpose?
Israel took upon itself many “confidence building measures,” as specified in the Interim Agreement: “With a view to fostering a positive and supportive public atmosphere… establish a solid basis of mutual trust and good faith… facilitate the anticipated cooperation and new relations… both Parties agree to carry out confidence building measures…” Among those measures was to “…release or turn over to the Palestinian side, Palestinian detainees and prisoners, residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip… Those released will be free to return to their homes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” After Israel did what it promised to do under the Agreement, thus freeing experienced murderers and terrorist schemers to join Arafat’s infrastructure, those released rejoined terrorist militias, including Arafat’s police. A “confidence building measure” for which Israelis have undoubtedly paid in blood. Such was Israeli naivete.
In exchange for land, Israel did not get peace, it got suicide bombers, suicide machine gunners, drive-by terrorists, snipers, mortar bombs, car bombs, fire bombs, grenades, booby traps, explosive packages, remote controlled explosives, forest fires, lynching, and kids bludgeoned to death. Israel also got a few staged arrests and revolving prison doors. In the last 14 months alone Israel got paid with over 230 Israelis killed by PLO militias. Thousands others were maimed, many for life.
Israel cannot even get a 7-day cease-fire, never mind peace, as an indication of Arafat’s peaceful intentions. Yet, there remain those who are afraid that if Arafat is eliminated, things could get worse.
Isn’t it just as likely that Israel might get peace?Jock Falkson is a columnist based in Israel.
©2001 - Arutz Sheva