Barak’s pledge to the special American envoy followed an incredibly coordinated Western campaign. Western leaders are allowed to reprimand Israel on the issue of settlements and outposts, yet when the reprimands by Obama, Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel seem almost identical, we must to reassess the frankness of the West’s attitude to Israel.
Such insincere statements push the “honest brokers” closer to the status of the UN’s commission of inquiry looking only into “Israel’s crimes during Operation Cast Lead.” Even Israelis who believe that a painful compromise in the West Bank is a must are becoming fed up with Western leaders’ tendency to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only through the settlement prism.
I’m afraid that once we reach the phase where settlements are dismantled, the Mideastern advisors of Obama and his colleagues will be asking themselves: Where the hell do we go from here?
Western leaders virtually forced Netanyahu to utter the five words “two states for two peoples.” Great! Yet did they notice that one of the sides, the Palestinian people, is falling apart before their eyes, and not because of the settlements? Are they aware that the real obstacle to peace is the intense hatred growing within Palestinian society; the kind of hatred that prevents any possibility that a responsible leadership will emerge?
This hatred was born in the second half of the 1990s, when Arafat resorted to a highly humiliating move by ordering to shave the beards of Hamas men in Gaza. It came full circle in June 2007, again in Gaza, culminating in a brutal revenge massacre perpetrated by Hamas against Fatah men. This hatred created in the “territories” a split and divided society; all Egyptian attempts to unite it blow up time and again in the faces of Omar Suleiman and Hosni Mubarak.
As result of this failure, the Egyptians are attempting – with European cooperation – to tempt the sides with large sums of money earmarked for “Gaza’s rehabilitation,” as long as a national unity government is formed. A unity government? Bringing whom together, the executioner and his victim?
The West frequently mentions its endorsement of a Palestinian state. A state? Who exactly will be leading it? The politically impotent Mahmoud Abbas who is an exile in his own country, or Islamic fundamentalist Khaled Mashaal? After all, it’s clear that the real obstacle to peace is the absence of a serious Palestinian leadership and an authorized partner whose word will be kept and whose signature on agreements will be fully honored.
Bottomless barrel of aid funds
History is not kind to the Palestinians on this front: Ever since 1948, the only leader who managed to win the majority’s support in the “territories,” Yasser Arafat, reverted to terrorism and the armed struggle at the moment of truth. Since his departure, the Palestinians are indeed wearing nice suits, but they are again a herd of terror groups without a responsible shepherd to lead them.
Therefore, the real obstacle to peace moves along the axis of the conception that “we talk with whoever is available,” as Tzipi Livni believes, and “let’s wait for the next leader,” in line with Minister Bogi Yaalon’s views.
Another obstacle is the bottomless barrel of aid funds to the Palestinians, who since the 1990s wasted billions of dollars and Euros contributed by “donor states.” The leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, Scandinavian states, and the United States should be kind enough to look into the eyes of taxpayers in their countries and admit that their contributions only amounted to boosting terror groups in our region. Moreover, they turned the “territories” from an entity with a hard-working, productive population into a begging authority that has become addicted to donations without possibility of rehabilitation.
In any other place in the world, the funds donated to the Palestinian Authority would have been sufficient to establish industrial infrastructure, provide employment, housing, and a car to each worker. However, in the “territories” these funds have been swallowed up by terror arms, private pockets, and failed plants. Yet the only thing that matters is that the West washes its hands of the problem and believes that it promotes peace in our region.
The obstacle to peace also has to do with the West’s approach to our conflict: It’s double-standards; the calm with which it accepts Gilad Shalit’s abduction; the exaggerated pampering of the corrupt Fatah; the understanding shown to the demands made by Hamas terrorists, while only being strict and unbiased when facing our besieged democracy.
The obstacle also has to do with the failed comprehension of Mideast experts; for example, the excitement with the reports by American General Dayton, who boasts of the Fatah forces trained to fight terrorism in the West Bank. Let them not face a test there vis-à-vis Hamas; let us not withdraw IDF troops from the area. The US should go ahead and make these kinds of experiments in North Korea, not here.
On the day Israel completes the evacuation of the 23rd outpost, it must demand that Western leaders reassess the continuation of the process. The West should not be interpreting Israel’s willingness to dismantle outposts as merely a “beginning.” Western leaders must not utter the oh-so-predictable statement: “it’s a good start, but it’s not enough.” They should keep this response for the Palestinians, while at the same time demanding of them a series of actions that would point to the direction they wish to pursue.
Col. (res.) Moshe Elad served in senior posts in Judea and Samaria. Today he is a lecturer at the Western Galilee Academic College