Millions around the world believe that when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the United Nations Friday for admission of Palestine as an independent state, he was setting the stage for a new era of peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, nothing is more certain than that those hopes—like all the hopes raised by the accords and treaties and agreements and road maps that have come before—will be met with disappointment.
Abbas, not surprisingly, blamed the failure of earlier negotiations on Israel. He complained that “the Israeli government … frantically continues to intensify building of settlements on the territory of the state of Palestine. Settlement activities embody the core of the policy of colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people and all of the brutality of aggression and racial discrimination against our people that this policy entails.”
Are the Israeli settlements really the problem? No, they’re just the obstacle du jour. In fact, the Palestinian Arabs rejected the United Nations’ original proposal to create a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947, long before any “settlements” were on the horizon. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained in his own UN address on Friday: “Our conflict has been raging for—was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. … [Abbas] said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967, he said from 1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict.”
The Arab states surrounding Israel opted not to accept a “two-state solution,” but instead to go to war with the new Jewish state in 1948, assuming that they would be able to destroy that state easily and obviate the need for a new Arab state alongside it.
They were wrong, of course. And subsequently Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied the West Bank for the next 19 years, until 1967—yet during that time, there was no talk among the Palestinian Arabs about the humiliation of occupation and their need for a state. Only after the Six Day War, when Israel took over administration of those areas, did such talk begin. And so on Friday when Abbas retailed a long list of grievances, they were all merely the latest in a long line of pretexts justifying what is ultimately an implacable animus toward Israel, which will never be satisfied by anything other than the total destruction of the Jewish state.
Neither Abbas’ PLO nor its rival Hamas, which controls Gaza, has ever recognized Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. And Islamic theology does not allow for the legitimate existence of an infidel polity on what is considered Muslim land. Hence the goal remains, for all too many Palestinians, the utter destruction of Israel. The creation of a Palestinian state will simply be a stepping stone toward that goal.
In fact, the creation of such a state will mirror what happened when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. “We left Gaza hoping for peace,” recalled Netanyahu in his speech to the UN on Friday. “We didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements. … Now, the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace. But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace. We got war.”
And that is exactly what Israel will get from a Palestinian state that the world hopes will finally bring peace. Instead of bringing peace, such a state will just become a new base for jihad attacks against a truncated and diminished Israel that is already surrounded by hostile Arab Muslim states. Unless the Palestinians discard the jihad ideology, which is virtually inconceivable, they will never accept Israel. A Palestinian state will just be a platform for new attacks against the Jewish state.
The U.S., which faces the same jihad, should thus stand firmly with Israel and reject a Palestinian state.