The Palestinians: More than Seven Decades of No to Peace

March 13, 2020
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The long-awaited “Deal of the Century”—US President Donald Trump’s proposal aimed at bringing decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to a close—was revealed on January 28. In the months since the detailed 180-page plan saw the light, world leaders, governments, experts, international bodies, forums and leagues have all commented, speculated and weighed in to express staunch support, noncommittal recognition or adamant opposition.

Yet the two most important voices concerning the peace plan are those of the parties involved in the conflict: Israel and the Palestinians.

Various Israeli leaders gave the plan their nod of approval. Hailing it as the “opportunity of the century,” Benjamin Netanyahu vowed: “Israel will not miss the opportunity.” Benny Gantz called it “a significant and historic milestone.”

Palestinian leaders, however, responded with a resounding no. Their reaction was hardly surprising. Over the past seven odd decades, Palestinian leaders have responded to every peace plan in the same tone. The answer was no to the 1947 UN Partition Plan that would have left the Palestinians with a sizable chunk of the Promised Land as a state, no to the 2000 offer of a state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem, no to numerous proposals and endeavors in between, and no—once again—to the “Deal of the Century.”

There is much to be said for the terms, feasibility and prospects of President Trump’s plan. However, perhaps one of the most pertinent points for the international community to note is that it once again underscores the tragic trajectory of all past peace efforts involving the Palestinians. Once again it showcases that Israel is eager for peace and willing to make the necessary if painful concessions. Yet once again, Israel finds itself without a partner for peace.

“Peace requires compromise…” President Trump said when revealing the plan. Yet therein lies the rub. There is no word for “compromise” in Arabic.

No, No and No

“We say a thousand times: No, no and no to the ‘Deal of the Century’…We just heard President Trump…talking about the slap of the century. The plot of the century won’t pass, and it will end up in the dustbin of history.”
—Abbas’s tirade hours after the announcement of the plan

“We will continue to oppose the deal in all its forms…and not surrender to the usurper, the Trump regime.”
—Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in the Gaza Strip, which claims Jerusalem as a “purely Islamic city” and holds that the Promised Land from the “river to the sea” belongs to the Palestinians

“We announce our rejection of the ‘Deal of the Century.’ So, all options are open. The occupation and the US administration will bear the responsibility for what they did.”
—Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas deputy chief in Gaza told Al-Aqsa TV.

“The shameful deal is the result of the betrayal by some Arab governments…”
—Ayatollah Mohammad Movahedi-Kermani, the Friday prayer leader in Tehran, possibly referring to the Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE statements in favor of the peace plan 

“The satanic, evil US policy about Palestine—the so-called #DealOfTheCentury—will never bear fruit, by the grace of God. About the Jewishization of #AlQuds and saying it should be in the hands of Jews, their [sic] talking foolishly and unwisely.”
—Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Twitter

“From the first day of the revolution, its [Iran’s] slogan has been ‘Death to America.’ Today…the Muslim Iranian people [are] still shouting ‘Death to America.’ We…promise to Allah, to the Palestinian people and to all the peoples of the region that it will thwart the ‘Deal of the Century.’ This response…will consist of more operations, more missiles and more targeting of Zionist soldiers and officers across Palestine, Allah willing. This is our answer. The answer to the ‘Deal of the Century’ is the deal that Allah has called us to, which is jihad [“struggle,” Islamic war with unbelievers] for the sake of Allah. The answer is jihad until Jerusalem and Palestine are liberated.”
—Hashem Safieddine, Head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council

 A Line in the Sand

“President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries will be there…to help you in so many different ways…Your response to this historic opportunity will show the world to what extent you are ready to lead the Palestinian people to statehood…Today’s agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own. After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have.”
—President Trump appealing to Abbas’s better judgment

“If they show up…and agree to the different terms and conditions, the Palestinians could have their own state tomorrow…You have five million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership…We’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. They have a perfect track record of missing opportunities. If they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking at the international community in the face saying they’re a victim, saying they have rights.”
—Jared Kushner, President Trump’s special Mideast advisor, during a CNN interview.

“In their response to the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan, Palestinian leaders have once again succeeded in what they do best: taking any hope for the well-being of their people and driving it straight into the ground.”
—Khaled Abu Toameh, Arab–Israeli journalist, writes in “Palestinians: Abbas Chooses Hamas Over Peace with Israel”

Highlights of the “Deal of the Century”

Borders

A detailed conceptual map of a future Palestinian state, comprising the Gaza Strip, about 70% of the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria and two pockets of land in the Negev, bordering Egypt. Gaza would be connected to Judea and Samaria by a tunnel.

No Israelis or Palestinians would be uprooted from their homes.

Security

A Palestinian state able to govern and police itself within its own borders, but establishing a military force or possessing any heavy duty weapons or military machinery is prohibited.

Jerusalem

Although Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided capital, it allows for the natural boundaries that have already divided the city—Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem—to serve as the future capital of the potential Palestinian state.

Gaza

All terror groups, including Hamas, must disarm.

Palestinian Refugees

The Palestinian right of return would be solved outside the State of Israel.

The Culture of Incitement

Palestinian leadership must reverse its policy of incitement to violence and cultivate a culture of peaceful coexistence with their Jewish neighbors.

Mutual Recognition

The Palestinians must agree to recognize Israel as the Jewish state—something they haven’t done since it was reborn in 1948.

Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/shutterstock.com

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