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Middle East Peace Won’t End Terrorism

Just as there was a certain segment of the intelligentsia which claimed after 9/11 that the U.S. “had it coming,” so too there will no doubt be some who claim that the Jews somehow had it coming because the Toulouse gunman, Mohammed Merah, cited the plight of the Palestinians along with other issues (e.g., the public ban on the veil in France) to justify his murderous rampage. The best riposte to this despicable line of argument comes from none other than Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who says as Jonathan noted yesterday: “It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.”

This will not, of course, silence the anti-Israel lobby which will claim that Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza will continue to drive would-be terrorists around the bend until a real Palestinian state is established. The argument, plausible on its face, falls apart at the slightest examination.


Just imagine that Fayyad and his boss, Palestinian Authority President Mohammed Abbas, had actually reached a “final status” deal with the Israelis. I know: it’s hard to imagine but suspend disbelief for a second. No one knows exactly what such a deal would entail but it’s safe to guess that, to be acceptable to any Israeli government, it would have to maintain Israeli sovereignty over much of Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs in the West Bank which are next to Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries. This would mean incorporating perhaps 5% of the West Bank into Israel proper with possible offsets elsewhere. The settlement would also presumably require Palestinians to recognize Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, to agree to live in peace with Israel, and (hardest to swallow) to renounce any right of return. Moreover Israel would probably insist–and rightly so–that any future Palestinian state be prevented from acquiring certain military capabilities (e.g., no anti-aircraft missiles that could shoot down jetliners landing at Ben Gurion Airport) and that Israel maintain some kind of security presence along the border between Jordan and the West Bank. Whatever happens with the Palestinians, the Golan Heights would remain under Israeli control at least pending a deal with Syria, which at the moment seems impossible to imagine.

Again, there is no realistic prospect of such a deal being done anytime soon; there is, for example, the inconvenient fact that Gaza is under the control of Hamas which won’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. But even if such a deal were done and the “peace processers” were to succeed beyond their wildest dreams—even if that were to occur, does anyone imagine that future Mohammed Merahs would react by saying: “I give up my jihad and am reconciled to the state of Israel. The Jews are now my friends.” The thought is absurd. What the Merahs of the world would say instead is: “An apostate regime of traitors has sold out the Palestinian birthright to avaricious sons of apes and I will never accept this sacrilege. The Jews remain my enemies.” In short what the Merahs object to is the existence of the state of Israel under any conditions, not its existence under its post-1967 borders.

To me this is so obvious that it barely needs saying. Yet a significant portion of the foreign policy establishments in the U.S. and Europe still don’t seem to get it. There is nothing wrong with pressing for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement; a deal, if it is a good one, is in the best long term interests of both sides. But no one would should imagine that any deal will deny extremists the ability to exploit the Palestinian cause to justify their own killer rage at the world in general and Jews in particular.


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