Commentary Magazine


Israel’s “Peace Partner” and the Nakba Day Riots

Nakba Day protests, as Omri correctly noted yesterday, are effectively a demand for Israel’s eradication. Thus it’s important to realize that these were not spontaneous demonstrations; they were deliberately organized—first and foremost by Israel’s very own “peace partner,” the PLO headed by Mahmoud Abbas.

Last week, Haaretz reported that Ramallah was plastered with posters urging residents to take part in Sunday’s Nakba Day demonstrations. The posters bore the text of a mock letter from a Palestinian refugee to the city of Haifa, which is in pre-1967 Israel. “My beloved Haifa, I’ll be with you soon,” it read. The posters were signed by the PLO’s refugee department.

The PLO is Israel’s official peace partner. All Israeli-Palestinian agreements have been signed with the PLO, not the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, Abbas has stressed this point recently in an effort to persuade the world that his agreement to form a unity government with Hamas doesn’t preclude negotiations. It’s no problem, he asserted, because the unity government will only run the PA, while talks with Israel are conducted by the PLO (which he also heads).

But it turns out that 18 years after the Oslo Accord was signed, Israel’s “peace partner” is still telling its people that the “two-state solution” will consist not of a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one, but of two Palestinian states: a state judenrein in the West Bank and Gaza alongside an “Israel” that has been transformed into a Palestinian-majority state by dint of an influx of several million descendants of refugees.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Gazan Hamas leader often described by the media as “moderate” or “pragmatic,” gave a Nakba Day speech yesterday in which he declared: “Palestinians mark the occasion this year with great hope of bringing to an end [to] the Zionist project in Palestine. . . . Palestinians have the right to resist Israeli occupation and will one day return to property they lost in 1948.”

That message is indistinguishable from the one sent by the PLO’s posters, except for one important detail. Haniyeh states the implication of his goal openly: he wants a “return to property lost in 1948” precisely because it would spell “an end to the Zionist project.” The PLO, in contrast, merely calls for a “return” to pre-1967 Israel and hopes the world won’t notice the corollary that Haniyeh crassly made explicit.

And so far it’s working. The entire world continues to deem the PLO a “peace partner” and blames Israel for the impasse in negotiations.

It’s high time to end this farce and tell the truth. There will never be peace as long as Israel’s “peace partner” keeps telling its people that the only acceptable agreement is one that ends with Israel’s eradication. And since you can’t expect the world to be more Catholic than the pope, that truth-telling has to start with Israel’s government. As long as it maintains the pretense that the PLO is a peace partner, the world will be only too happy to fall in line.