In his recent New York Times op-ed, Thomas Friedman came up with the insight that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are interested in a peace process, and that American pressure on both sides merely hinders them from getting along on their own for lack of any other choice.
Well, welcome to the club. After all, this is what the rightist camp has been warning of all along: Impossible peace plans that exact thousands of “peace victims. However, let us hope that Friedman will not stop there and will proceed to go deeper, into the root of the problem – the reasons why the leftist peace perception was hopeless to begin with.
The deal offered to the Arabs by the “peace camp” is simple: 1948 in exchange for 1967. We will hand over to you everything we conquered in the Six Day War, and in exchange you will recognize the Jewish State’s existence and the Green Line as its lawful border. That is, you will give up much of the land of Palestine, your previous homes, and your dream of returning to them. You will give up everything you fought over through wars and terrorism.
The Arabs have rejected this deal from the outset, and the argument over it persists merely among the Jews. The Arabs, based on their religious, cultural, and national perceptions, cannot sign a deal that in their view would turn a Muslim state into a Jewish one; an Arab state into an Israeli one. Whoever does so, will pay with their life.
An authentic Arab leader will also not be giving up the right of return of Muslim Arabs to the heart of the “house of Islam.” Arafat in 2000 and Abbas in 2009 reached this obstacle and drew back. The blind Americans and Israelis failed to understand why.
A realistic position vis-à-vis the Arabs requires a different approach:
1. Don’t recognize our existence and certainly not our existence as a Jewish entity; as we already exist, we have no need for such recognition. It won’t give us anything. “Recognition” is not a type of merchandize and we offer nothing for it.
2. Don’t give up Haifa and Jaffa. Signing such deal would pain you while granting us no benefit. We know that should we become weaker one day, you will take back the 1948 Palestine even if you declare a thousand times that you renounced it. Hence, “renunciation” is not a type of merchandize either.
3. Don’t engage in negotiations with us and don’t sign an agreement whereby you cannot get more than 1967 in exchange for 1948. This will merely create frustration and disappointment and bring catastrophe to both sides. We will maintain ties, understandings, and even friendship “under the table” – de facto and not de jure. We will have a modus vivendi rather than a formal “peace.”
Our official ties with Jordan have been characterized by King Abdullah as a “cold peace.” It appears that the secret ties that prevailed previously were better. When it comes to give and take, Jews and Arabs get along very well – ranging from commerce to health and from matters of garbage collection to knowledge-sharing and joint projects.
Whatever it is that is deemed worthy for both sides because of neighborly needs goes well, as long as it is managed far away from the watchful eye of the media and public opinion; that is, far away from politics and the agreed-upon lies.
Salam Fayyad’s plan to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state stems from the inability to sign agreements. It is preferable for him to have a de-facto state in so-called Area A, rather than being perceived as a person who renounced sacred demands and rights.
It is difficult for us to internalize the fact that the conflict with the Palestinians is a zero-sum game: Each side feels deep in its soul that this is its land, and this is the only conflict in history where both nations demand the same city as their capital. Only a fool or a swindler would be seeking a “solution,” a term taken from the math realm, just like “peace process” is reminiscent of chemistry, as if we are dealing with exact science here. In life, not everything is resolvable.