Monday, December 17, 2012

How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Will End

Daniel Pipes call this "The Oslo handshake to nowhere"
Sep. 13, 1993: (L-R) Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, Yasir Arafat

Israel at Peace -Daniel Pipes, PhD

I am optimistic [Israel] will survive. Several reasons lead me to this conclusion.

First, Israel is strong. The country is characterized by military prowess, high technology capabilities, a strong economy, a booming energy sector, robust population growth, and cultural creativity. Over time, it grows increasingly more powerful than its enemies.

Second, Israelis show a historically unprecedented willingness to compromise. The Israelis' having returned a captured Sinai Peninsula three times to Egypt (in 1949, 1957, and 1982) has no parallel in the history of war and diplomacy. Nearly all the territories Israeli troops conquered in 1967, with the exception of historic Jerusalem, has been open for discussion since just a week after their seizure. In the history of warfare and negotiations, no victor has shown such a willingness as Israel to make "painful concessions" to reach a deal...

Third, no state of hostilities goes on forever. Circumstances change, new enemies appear, old angers dissipate, willpower grinds down. Even the longest lasting conflicts eventually get solved. The English and French states, for example, fought each other for over seven centuries before they finally reached an "Entente cordiale" in 1904, allying in the face of an emerging German foe and since then remaining steadfast (if irascible) allies. The Arab-Israeli conflict, one century old, also will not continue unendingly.

One has to wonder for how long the Palestinians and their supporters can sustain their goal of eliminating Israel. As the generation of 1948 refugees dies off, will its children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and further progeny continue to dream of a future in Jaffa or Haifa, rather than where they actually live? How long can they mortgage their lives to an ever-more remote irredentism?

Fourth, Palestinians will realize that blind devotion to extremist and rigid ideologies leads to a dead-end. This process has already begun. For example, interviews with extremist Palestinian leaders of an earlier era – Nayef Hawatmeh, Ahmed Jibril, Leila Khaled, and Mohammed Oudeh – shows how the passage of time has changed their perspectives and led to the acknowledgment of basic mistakes. Hawatmeh, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, notes that "After 60 years, we are struggling for what we could have had in 1947. We have missed many historic opportunities." Oudeh, planner of the Olympic games attack in 1972 that killed 11 Israeli athletes, says that "maybe, just maybe, we should have shown some flexibility. Back in our days, it was 'the whole of Palestine or nothing.' But we should have accepted a Palestinian state next to Israel."

Hawatmeh and the others forwarded a nationalist agenda which time has passed by and that now has little appeal. The same, no doubt, will happen to today's favored ideology; however strong they are today, the Islamist forces of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah shall also lose their vitality one day, and their old men will express a similar remorse about opportunities missed.

So, yes, the conflict will come to an end.

Before an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was actually signed in 1979, it was assumed that this would lead to a general ending of the conflict because Egypt is the strongest enemy of Israel. That assessment turned out to be wrong because the signature of a military autocrat (Anwar el-Sadat) persuaded few others. For several years in the 1980s, I focused on the Syrian government, arguing that "The conflict will go on until Syria follows Israel's other three neighbors and resigns itself to Israel's existence; once this happens, the struggle will come to a rapid end." That also turned out to be wrong, for Damascus commands little loyalty among Islamists, professors of English, or members of the United Nations. Instead, the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are key. When they tire of conflict, it will end.

The conflict will go on for about another generation and may be resolved in about the 2030s. This estimate is based on the assessment that the conflict was ripe for peace twenty years ago, in the aftermath of the Kuwait war and the Soviet collapse but was derailed by a combination of Israeli naiveté and Palestinian deceit. Only now, after a long and painful detour, have Israelis begun to figure out the mistakes of diplomacy they made in the Oslo Accords and succeeding efforts. Starting about now, it could take about twenty years for the correct path to lead to a breakthrough.

The Oslo process of 1993-2000 showed that compromise is not, in fact, a solution. As in most conflicts, the end of hostilities requires someone to lose and someone to win. The war terminates either when Arabs accept the sovereign Jewish state or when Israelis give up the Zionist project. It ultimately comes down to a raw question of which side will first crush the other's will. The alternatives are stark and dual; efforts at mitigation actually only postpone a resolution.

An Israeli victory destroys extremism and actually liberates the Palestinians from their present plight. Only when Palestinians give up on their anti-Zionist dream of destruction will they be able to invest their efforts to creating an attractive polity, economy, society, and culture. Only when Palestinians give up destroying can they build.

Each of us must do his part to make sure the conflict ends with a positive outcome.
[The Dorchester Review]


Israel's New Islamist Neighborhood -Reuel Marc Gerecht

Israel may one day be accepted by its Arab neighbors and by its most deadly foe, Iran - but only when Arab and Iranian Muslim identities allow for it. At best, that change is decades away.

Modern Islam's great internal tug of war, between the search for authenticity and the love of modernity, must quiet before the Israeli-Palestinian clash can end.
The writer, a former Middle East specialist at the CIA, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Wall Street Journal)

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