Analysis: Out-of-the-box peace proposals

A possibly realistic approach to the conflict between Arabs and Jews from Bar Ilan University scholar Mordechai Kedar.

Yochanan Visser ,

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Eliran Aharon

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva.

Last week, news broke that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) had castigated Palestinian leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, for spurning every opportunity to make peace with Israel over the past 40 years.

According to Israeli TV Channel 10, MBS told a gathering of Jewish leaders in New York in April it was high time “the Palestinians accept the offers and agree to come to the negotiating table or they should shut up and stop complaining.”

The Saudi Crown Prince also told the American Jewish delegation the Palestinian issue was not on the top of the agenda of the Saudi government anymore, but reiterated his stance that the establishment of bilateral relations between his country and Israel still depended on a peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

The Saudi leader was reportedly heavily involved in drawing up a new American out of the box peace proposal which would result in a Palestinian state ‘minus’.

He summoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh in January this year where he told the aging Palestinian leader that Israel would retain security control over territories in the future Palestinian Arab state, according to the Israeli broadcaster Kan.

At the time Kan also reported, exchange of territories under Trump’s upcoming peace plan would not be based on the so-called 1967 lines, the arbitrary armistice line of 1948 which left Israel indefensible.

The Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed later reported Trump’s peace plan envisions land swaps in the northern part of Sinai and includes building a seaport and an airport in the area of the Egyptian city of Rafah.

Shortly after Abbas returned to Ramallah, he delivered an angry speech in which he cursed the American president repeatedly using the Arabic curse “may your house be destroyed”. It was clear the Palestinian leader felt boxed in and had finally dropped his “moderate” mask.

All this is important to understand what happened last week when Abbas again delivered an angry anti-Semitic speech at the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah in which he distorted history once again and suggested the Holocaust was the result of the Jews’ “function in (European) society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on”

The Palestinian leader also claimed there had been no single anti-Semitic incident in Arabs countries for 1400 years, contradicting a long and documented record of anti-Semitism in the Arab world.

“You think I am exaggerating? I challenge you to find a single incident against Jews, just because they were Jews, in 1,400 years, in any Arab country,” Abbas told the PNC before denying that the Jews' return to their ancestral homeland Israel was a result of a longing to Zion.

“So their narrative about coming to this country because of their longing for Zion, or whatever – we're tired of hearing this,” according to the PA president.

“The truth is that this is a colonialist enterprise, aimed at planting a foreign body in this region," Abbas, whose "academice" thesis was based on the lie that the Zionist Movement collaborated with the Nazis, added.

His speech led to a flurry of condemnations even from pro-Palestinian media such as The New York Times, which for the first time ever, called upon the PA leader to step down.

In an editorial titled “Let Abbas’s vile words be his last as Palestinian leader" the NYT editors wrote Abbas had spread “reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories” and had “shed all credibility as a trustworthy partner.”

The world’s most influential paper finally admitted the PA was “a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction” and called upon the Palestinian Arabs to elect a leader “with energy, integrity, and vision” in order to achieve independence and peace.

Even the far-left Israeli paper Ha’aretz finally criticized the Palestinian leader.

Ha’aretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer called Abbas a “corrupt, obdurate and risk-averse autocrat” who is useless when it comes to achieving peace, but Pfeffer nevertheless called for an end to “51 years of occupation of another people.”

Abbas later indulged in damage control when he issued the following statement:

"If people were offended by my statement, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them. I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths,” Abbas wrote while calling the Holocaust the “most heinous crime in history.”

The Israeli government rejected Abbas’ apology with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calling Abbas “a wretched Holocaust denier”.

Others, like former member of Knesset Anat Wilf, pointed out that Abbas’ apology still denied the Jewish people’ historical national rights by using the phrase “people of the Jewish faith.”

“Key point to understand in #Abbas apology: For Palestinians, there is no such thing as a Jewish PEOPLE. There are only those of Jewish FAITH. Those can be awarded respect, as long as they do not insist on their right, AS A PEOPLE, to a sovereign state in their ancestral homeland,” Wilf tweeted.

Needless to say, there were no condemnations of Abbas’ remarks on the Palestinian side and this should us teach two things.

First, the idea that to end the deadlock in the so-called ‘peace process,’ all the Palestinian Arabs need to do is to elect ‘new leaders’ with “energy, integrity, and vision,” as the NYT would like us to believe, is based on wrong assumptions.

Abbas himself had been hailed as such a leader when he replaced arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat in November 2004.

Recent polls which were taken in the PA-controlled territories and Gaza show the Palestinian Arab public still prefers a terrorist as their new leader.

“In presidential elections between Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh and Abbas, the former receives 52% and the latter 41% of the popular vote • In presidential elections between Haniyeh and Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, the former receives 39% and the latter 55% of the popular vote,” the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey reported on March 28.

Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for orchestrating three shooting attacks that killed five Israeli Jews.

Secondly, the idea of a bottom-up peace which is currently floated by Oded Revivi mayor of Efrat and head of Foreign Relations of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, seems to be an illusion too.

Revivi believes ordinary Palestinian Arabs are ready for co-existence with their Jewish neighbors, just as Efrat’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin thought prior to the beginning of the so-called Second Intifada.

“I have absolutely no doubt that Palestinians want normalization. You see it in the Rami Levy Supermarket in Gush Etzion where Jews and Arabs shop together and in other places of interaction,” Revivi said after he hosted a number of Palestinian Arabs in his sukkah during the Sukkot holiday in 2017 and 2016.

That may be so, but Revivi failed to mention that outside the Rami Levy supermarket at the Gush Etzion intersection a great number of IDF combat soldiers are preventing terror attacks on a daily basis after numerous Israelis were stabbed and even killed by Palestinian Arabs in the area.

Revivi is also against a stop to the funding of the Palestinian Authority because “more extreme money would be coming in”.

At the same time, he admits the Palestinian Arabs have no trust in the PA which arrested the Arabs who visited his sukkah in Efrat both times.

A possibly realistic approach to the now hundred-year-old conflict between Arabs and Jews in the land of Israel has come from Bar Ilan University scholar Mordechai Kedar.

Kedar is promoting the so-called 'Palestinian Emirates solution' instead of a two-state solution with the defunct and corrupt Palestinian Authority.

‘Due to tribal rifts and local patriotism, there will never be a successful unity government among the Palestinian Arab population centers in Judea and Samaria or Gaza,” Kedar argues.

“Like the PLO in the past, the PA/Fatah and Hamas do not represent the true ambitions of the majority of peaceful Arabs who just want a better future for their children within a traditional framework and local governance,” according to the Middle East expert.

Kedar notes that Palestinian Arabs in “Gaza and from competing tribes in the West Bank are so culturally different that they rarely marry among each other,” and he thinks that “it is best for the Palestinian Arabs to be broken up into (8) homogenous emirates.”

These independent emirates, Kedar says, should be the seven major cities in the current Palestinian Authority and Gaza while Israel should retain control over the other areas in Judea and Samaria and over Jerusalem in order to prevent the creation of "another Hamastan" overlooking much of Israel's coastal plain and part of the Negev desert.