This week, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas informed the U.S. envoy, David Hale, that his new unity deal with Palestinian terror organization Hamas is a “national need,” and explained that Israel should nonetheless engage in peace negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by stating that clearly the PA had allied with terrorists, and that they needed to “choose between the path of Hamas and the path of peace. The Palestinians,” he added, “embraced terrorist organizations that call for Israel’s destruction.”
Technically, of course, the Palestinian Authority is a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction. Despite the fact that former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin legitimized the PA and Yassar Arafat in the eyes of the world, the organization reflected both its leader and its supporters. It was terrorist in orientation and genocidal in intent.
And yet those on the left continue to call for Israel to make concessions. President Obama has maintained that the real problem is Israeli settlement activity, as though the PA and Hamas cared more about a house built in Ariel than a house built in Tel Aviv. This is sheer nonsense – Israel has made concessions repeatedly. The problem here is simple: Israel accepts the legitimacy of Palestinian national aspirations, and the Palestinians do not accept the legitimacy of Israeli national aspirations. There is no common ground. When even a peacenik like Shimon Peres – the brains behind Oslo – says that the PA has to choose between Hamas and peace, it’s clear that this isn’t the time for negotiations at all.
There is no greater advocate for Israeli concessions than former U.S. ambassador Dennis Ross. Even Ross now concedes that there is no peace to be had so long as political conditions remain this way. “[T]here should also be no illusions about the prospects of a breakthrough any time soon,” he recently wrote. “The psychological gaps between the parties make it hard to resolve their differences and have bedeviled all the work for peace talks over the past few years.”
In short, the occupation isn’t the cause of a failure of peace talks. The Palestinian philosophy of Israel’s illegitimacy is. Until the latter problem is resolved, there’s no way the former can or should be.