Published in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle and Kansas City Star
Seven years ago when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo agreement, I couldn’t believe that the Israeli government intended to negotiate for peace with a terrorist organization which was responsible for murdering and terrorizing innocent children and women for 25 years. While most Israelis were ecstatic and euphoric about the future, I saw only bloodshed. I knew that telling the truth to people yearning for peace and tired of wars would be a difficult task. But I knew that I could not be silent when I felt so strongly the dangers to come. I hope that the recent violence that erupted in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs will shatter the remaining myths repeated by those who prefer to be blinded by the illusions of peace rather than realize that even major concessions will not lead to peace.
Myth I: Major land concessions in the West Bank and Jerusalem will lead to Peace and Security.
At the Camp David Summit in July, Israeli Prime Minister Barak offered Arafat 88 percent of the West Bank including the strategic mountains of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan valley along with its water sources that supply roughly 50 percent of Israel’s water. He agreed to dismantle many settlements and considered leaving others under Palestinian rule. He accepted the idea of giving sovereignty to the Palestinians over Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, and agreed to share sovereignty over the Temple Mount and parts of the Old City. He offered to let 100,000 Arab refugees reunite with their families inside Israel and agreed that more than half a million others could return to a future Palestinian state in the West Bank.
If the Palestinian Authority had agreed to such proposals, never contemplated before by any other Israeli leader, including Rabin himself, they would be on their way to having an independent Palestinian state and, part of Jerusalem to call a capital. Arafat rejected the unprecedented Israeli concessions, demanding that 100 percent of his demands be met including total sovereignty over all east Jerusalem including the Old City and the Temple Mount. Now Arafat has
orchestrated the so called “spontaneous” riots in the Palestinian areas.
It appears that Arafat, who used terrorism to persuade the world to recognize him as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians , is again using violence as a negotiating tool, as he has done repeatedly during the last 7 years, in order to pressure Israel to give in to his demands . Barak has repeatedly asked Arafat to “put an end to the violence and riots via a determined and aggressive efforts”. However, Arafat has refused to call the riots off and the Palestinian police and the security forces have continued battling the Israeli army while the Palestinian Authority ‘s media continued to incite Arab youth to violent confrontation.
Myth II: The Palestinian can Share sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount and the other holy Jewish sites, allowing freedom of access to all religions.
Despite the fact that Israel has had full sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount for 33 years and that the Temple Mount has been the most sacred site in Judaism for 3700 years, a one hour visit there by Arik Sharon, the head of the major opposition party in Israel, “provoked” the Palestinians to participate in bloody riots with stones and live ammunition against the Israeli army and police. The Temple Mount is attached to the Western wall ; a mere 50 yards from it. The Palestinians claim, that Sharon’s visit was a provocation because it was intended to show Israel’s sovereignty , is ludicrous. In reality Sharon’s visit was sued by Arafat as a pretext for premeditated violence.
The violence erupted minutes after the end of Friday prayers at the Al -Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, and spread throughout the West bank , Gaza, and Israeli Arab towns during the following days which included the two days of Rosh Hashana. Hundreds of Palestinians began throwing stones at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below the Temple Mount injuring some . The police were forced to fight the rioters trying to reach the Wall and to evacuate worshippers on both days of the Jewish holiday as violence spread in Jerusalem.
It seems rioters were incited by Arafat appointed Islamic clerics during the prayers and by Palestinian media calls to “ join the battles to protect Al-_Aksa Mosque.” Many rioters described the battles as a “holy war”. Intense gun battles between Palestinian police and Israeli troops also occurred when rioters shot and tried to break into Joseph Tomb, where an enclave of Israeli soldiers remained after Israel’s withdrawal from the city in 1995, to protect the holy Jewish site. A 19 year- old soldier was shot and bled to death when his rescue was blocked by rioters and Palestinian police gun fire. Hundreds of Palestinians attempted to break into Rachel’s tomb in Beth- Lehecm but were dispersed by Israeli forces who guard the site. In Hebron, the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs and home for 600 Jews, scores of fire bombs were thrown and intense fighting followed.
Myth III: A Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza will end the conflict
Recent events in which Arab Israelis for the first time in Israeli history , joined their Palestinian “brothers’ in violent fighting against the Israeli police inside Israel proper , should convince Israelis that a Palestinian state in the West bank and Gaza will never satisfy the national aspirations of the Arab s and produce a stable peace . During the last 7 years, Arafat has repeatedly declared that the Oslo agreement is the first step in implementing the 1974 PLO “ Phased Plan” which calls for the establishment of the West bank and Gaza state as the first Phase in the destruction of Israel.
After the establishment of the state, the plan calls for Israelis Arabs to claim their right for independence through an intifada , in regions in Israel with an Arab majority such as the Galilee and the Negev. Of course, the “right of return” of Arab refugees into Israel and a final assault on a smaller Israel with the help of the other countries would ensure its ultimate destruction.
In March, a survey conducted by Givaat Havilva’s institute for Peace Research in Israel revealed that nearly 80 percent of the 1.2 million Arab Israelis citizens, which constitutes 20 percent of Israel’s population, described themselves as Palestinians. Less than 20 percent called themselves Israelis. When the same questions were put to interviewees in a similar poll five years ago , 46 percent described themselves as Israelis. It appears that during the last seven years, the Palestinian Authority has worked closely with Arab Israeli members of Parliament and the Islamic movement to brainwash and incite the Arab Israelis. Israel must now work hard to uproot the extremist forces, block Palestinian interference and win the streets back.
It is true that one makes peace with his enemies, however not all enemies are ready for peace. Israelis must now unite and realize that in the present they are in the midst of a war. Luckily they were given a small preview of the dangers to come if Barak’s concessions would have been accepted. Let the Palestinians declare a state in the 40 percent of the territories they already control and over the 95 percent of the Palestinian population they rule. However, this process of continuous concessions, called by others -the “ peace “ process, must stop now to secure Israel for generations to come.