Palestinians Should Blame Their Leaders

Palestinians Should Blame Their Leaders

Have the Palestinians ever accepted the concept of two states for two peoples?

They could have had it, without a single drop of blood being spilled, if the leaders of the Arab world had not rejected the U.N. partition plan in 1947. They could have had an independent state in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem any time between 1948 and 1967 if the (illegal) occupiers of those areas, Egypt and Jordan, had permitted such a state to be established. Perhaps they could have gotten a state in 1968 if the Arab League had accepted Israel’s offer to withdraw in exchange for recognition and peace and then allowed the establishment of the (first ever) Arab state of Palestine; unfortunately, the Arab League replied with three nos (no negotiation, no recognition, no peace).

I believe that Israel’s decision to claim all of Jerusalem as her united capital was a correct one, considering that Jordan had banned all Israelis (of any religion) from the Old City between 1948 and 1967 and had also allowed the desecration of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. Nonetheless, Ehud Barak proposed the creation of a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank, with the possibility of shared governance in part of Jerusalem, in 2000-01. Yasser Arafat rejected the offer without making a counterproposal.

Mahmoud Abbas did the same when Ehud Olmert renewed the offer, with somewhat more generous terms, in 2008.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined his vision of a demilitarized Palestinian state living peaceably beside the nation-state of the Jews. Abbas never discussed the proposal with Israel, but he did announce that he could never accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. But “two states for two peoples” requires precisely such recognition.

The sad truth is that the Palestinian people have been kept poor and stateless by their own leaders for nearly 70 years. They have been promised by those leaders that their plight will end only when they can return to the homes their forebears fled. Until the Palestinian leaders admit that Israel will continue to exist, there is no chance for two states for two peoples.

Netanyahu was quite right to focus on the threat posed by an Iran with nuclear arms; it is not his responsibility to get the Palestinians out of the quagmire their leaders have created.

— Toby F. Block, Atlanta

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