Riot at Israeli embassy in Cairo
Riot at Israeli embassy in CairoIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The main obstacle to Israeli-Arab peace is the Palestinian nationalist movement’s fanaticism and refusal to compromise, historian Benny Morris has said.

Morris, who was once numbered among Israel’s most staunchly left-wing academics, told Haaretz, “The decades of researching the conflict… left me with a feeling of deep despair,” he said. “I’ve written enough about a conflict that has no solution, primarily due to the Palestinians’ consistency in rejecting a two-state solution.”

He mentioned his most recent book, “One State, Two States,” which, he said, describes a “historic journey” with a political purpose.

“I want to open readers’ eyes to the truth,” he declared. “My goal is to expose the goals of the Palestinian national movement – to wipe out the Jewish national enterprise and to take possession of all of Palestine for the sake of the Arabs and Islam.”

There is no difference in that regard between the Islamist Hamas terrorist group and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, he added. “The Palestinian movement - both of its heads, the fundamentalist led by Hamas and the secular led by Fatah - is ultimately interested in Muslim sovereignty over the entire land of Israel, with no Jewish state and no division,” he said.

Morris first became known for research implicating the fledgling Israeli army in the flight of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Israel during the War of Independence. In 1988 he refused to serve as a reservist in Judea and Samaria, and he has repeatedly called to create an Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

However, in recent years he has disappointed some supporters by saying that Israel’s expulsion of Arabs in the state’s first months was justified. “When the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide – the annihilation of your people – I prefer ethnic cleansing,” he told a Haaretz interviewer in 2004.

In this week’s Haaretz interview, he was asked if Palestinian refugees descended from Arabs expelled from their homes in Israel during the War of Independence should have the right to “return” to Israel. “The fulfillment of the right of return would, in practice, require the destruction of the Jewish state,” he said.

That is the reason PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas refuses to talk with Israeli leaders, he added. “He has no desire or intention of reaching a solution of two states for two peoples.”