Op-Ed: When the Talks Fail Again
Dr. Mordechai NisanDr. Mordechai Nisan, is a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Among his books is The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz). His most recent book is Only Israel West of the River: The Jewish State and the Palestinian Question, available at Amazon.com.
When the present Israeli-Palestinian negotiations fail, and the mutual accusations ricochet against the diplomatic walls of acrimony, will a shred of simple truth be spoken? The bitterness of mutual recrimination, squabbling over responsibility and guilt, will recall earlier degenerate diplomatic efforts, as in 2000 and 2007.
Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat will appear disconsolate, Netanyahu and Abbas defiantly sober-minded. John Kerry will declare the failure but a pause on the long road, before the renewal of another round of useless negotiations.
This silly and maddening ritual of trying to put the square peg in the round hole is an insult to common sense and national pride. Israel, the military victor from 1967, has no compelling reason to withdraw (further) from its tiny homeland; and the Palestinians, who turned terrorism into the art of diplomacy, can expect no major gains any longer. Arafat, the alchemist shaman, is no longer around to outwit the naive and obstruct the path to peace.
The sacred mantra of 'two states west of the Jordan River' is a formula for conflict and war, not reconciliation and stability. There is insufficient land and water; too many intersecting roads and insurmountable military/security points of contention; no possible agreement on refugees and Jerusalem; and hardly an ounce of the necessary elixir - mutual trust.
The last three American presidents in particular, in their support of a Palestinian state and pursuit of the two-state solution, appear driven more by a subliminal obsession than guided by rational policy-making.
In the history of international conflicts and wars, there is never any guarantee that any agreement reached will be permanent. The Middle East and the Arab world have proven to be politically fertile terrain for a plethora of broken pacts and unfulfilled promises, as the various member-countries of the Arab League disputed, unified and divided incessantly over the decades. Note the dialectical aphorism: ‘treat your friend as if he will become your enemy and your enemy who may become your friend’.
A New Peace Paradigm
When the talks fail, and no Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic breakthrough occurs, we should reflect on the deep-seated religious animosity and political incompatibility between Jews and Arabs.
Israel must never lose sight of her vulnerable narrow coastal strip and critical importance of the Jordan Valley line; the dangerous exposure of her sole major international airport to proximate enemy attack; to the deep revulsion most Arab citizens feel toward the(ir) state of Israel; and no less and the first of all principles, the fact that this is the Hebrew Homeland for which Jewish identity, dignity, and history demand remains in the hands of its true sons and daughters.
The Palestinians, for their part, portray a pathetic self-image of victimology while bound to a culture of revenge. They lavish praise on their martyr-murderers and erase Israel from their maps of Palestine. Having lost all the battles, they still believe they will win the war.
Their tribal-like pride leaves no room for political compromise; and this is a people, or non-people, destined to romanticize its history and succumb to its delusionary dreams. The Palestinians are not able to ‘liberate Palestine’ though even if they ever get a state - rogue, terrorist, irredentist, and Islamic - it can’t last. Inevitably the exuberant Palestinians would provoke Israel and threaten and abuse her territorial and political integrity.
In a moment of recovery, Israel’s forthright response will terminate the Palestinian project and return the Palestinians to point zero.
The present and culminating political dead-end may hopefully evoke more reasonable thinking. The option of Jordan-is-Palestine, the only viable alternative to the quagmire of exhausted and tattered alternatives, should be explored in earnest. It was, in fact, proposed generations ago with Transjordan designated as the location for the Arab state of Palestine. Here is the missing component of the political puzzle and the jammed political process: Jordan as Palestine, and only Israel west of the river.
When the ongoing talks fail, like previous ones in the Oslo process for the last twenty years, politicians, statesmen, mediators, and negotiators will again be offered another chance to launch a major shift in history by adopting a truly equitable and realistic peace paradigm.
*Dr. Mordechai Nisan, author of "Only Israel West of the River", recently interviewed on Arutz Sheva, is a retired Hebrew University lecturer on Israel and the Middle East.