NEW YORK (JTA) – Before year’s end, a U.S.-sponsored conference involving Israel and the Palestinian Authority will convene in Annapolis, Md., to frame yet another plan to end the Arab-Israeli war and create a Palestinian state. Sadly, this conference has as much chance of succeeding as did Oslo because the same mistakes that ensured failure then are being made now.
During the Oslo years, the Palestinians received half of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza, weapons and billions in aid while the world ignored Yasser Arafat’s non-fulfillment of any of his obligations to prevent terrorism, arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end incitement to hatred and murder against Israel and Jews in their media, schools and official speeches.
We even ignored the fact that the Palestinian Authority named schools, streets and sports teams after terrorists. Indeed, Arafat was not held accountable for his lack of compliance and promotion of terror. From then until now, the Palestinian public has become more, not less, radicalized against the very existence of Israel even as Israeli concessions and U.S. funding continued.
Now the same failed scenario is unfolding with the new “Annapolis accords.” Instead of ending concessions and aid and applying pressure to the Palestinian Authority to finally fulfill its Oslo commitments, Israel and the United States are promising virtually all of Judea and Samaria, parts of Jerusalem, the forced eviction of 70, 000 Jews and hundreds of millions in U.S. aid. It’s as if the past 14 years of Palestinian terror and promotion of terror didn’t happen.
But we’re told the big difference now is that P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas is not Arafat and is a “moderate.” Is that true? Hardly.
Not only does Abbas allow the incitement against Israel to continue and refuse to arrest terrorists, but he refers to terrorists as “heroes,” and proclaims “our rifles are aimed at the occupation” and “it is our duty to implement the principles of Yasser Arafat.” He proved these anti-peace statements have meaning by endorsing the so-called “prisoners plan” and the Hamas-Mecca agreement, which called for more violence against Israel.
Here is further proof that Annapolis won’t succeed with Abbas: some U.S. aid to the P.A. president has ended up in Hamas hands; Abbas has called Hamas “an integral part of the Palestinian people”; and he promises to engage in further talks with Hamas if it cedes control of Gaza. Hamas could take over the Palestinians anytime it wishes, and Abbas knows this.
Why do Abbas and the Palestinian Authority continue to promote extremism and terror? Because their goal is not a two-state solution but Israel’s destruction.
The Arabs keep saying “no” whenever a state is offered. They rejected a Palestinian state in 1948; they didn’t establish one from 1948 to 1967 when they controlled Judea, Samaria, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem; and they rejected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of statehood in 2000.
Not only does Israel not appear on any Palestinian map of the Middle East, but recently Abbas told a Palestinian TV audience, “It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel.” And this very week, both Abbas and senior P.A. negotiator Saeb Erekat refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Regrettably, the evidence makes it painfully clear that the Palestinians never wanted a state alongside Israel but rather an Arab state in place of Israel.
Yet despite all of these disturbing facts, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are willing to take some vague words in English from P.A. officials as proof of moderation, rationalize the Palestinians’ anti-peace behavior and convince themselves that maybe after they are given a sovereign state, peace will prevail. But remember, North Korea, Iran and Syria are sovereign states. Are they peace-loving countries?
Even Egypt’s foreign minister has advised that all should find a pretext to postpone Annapolis indefinitely, realizing it can’t succeed.
The Zionist Organization of America suggests that before there is any Annapolis-type conference, American Jews should urge their members of Congress, the State Department and Israel to demand that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority first comply with all its written commitments to end terror and incitement, and accept Israel as a Jewish state.
We must also demand that U.S. funding be conditioned on fulfilling these 14-year-old Oslo obligations and urge no consideration of Israeli concessions until this happens. Otherwise, any “agreements” will suffer the same fate as Oslo.
Morton Klein is the president of the Zionist Organization of America.