When presidential adviser Jared Kushner said in a recent private discussion that “there may be no solution” to the conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, he was just stating the obvious.
For nearly a century, self-appointed wise men have been claiming to have the solution, but every such proposal has proved to be a mirage.
The British thought they had the solution in 1922, when they sectioned off the eastern part of Mandatory Palestine—78 percent of the original mandate territory—and set up an Arab kingdom there, which came to be known as “Jordan.” You’d think that giving the Palestinian Arabs 78 percent of the country would be enough to convince them to let the Jews have the remaining 22 percent. No such luck!
England tried again 15 years later. The Peel Partition Plan of 1937 proposed to divide up the remaining 22 percent of the country. The Arabs would get three-fourths of it. The British would keep Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Jews’ dwarf-state would consist of the Galilee and a thin strip of land running down the coast. Jewish leaders, desperate for a few grains of sand, were willing to negotiate on that basis. The Arabs, however, refused.
In 1947, the United Nations came up with its own “solution.” Once again, the Arabs were offered the majority of the remaining territory. The Jews would be given a piece of the Galilee, part of the coast and a portion of the Negev. Such a Jewish state would have been militarily indefensible, not to mention incapable of absorbing a large number of immigrants. But Jewish leaders, now desperate for anything in the wake of the Holocaust, accepted it. The Arabs, of course, rejected it. A bloody war followed.
State Department officials Daniel Kurtzer and Dennis Ross came up with a new “solution” in 1989. They convinced outgoing president Ronald Reagan and incoming president George H.W. Bush that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was for the U.S. to pretend that Yasser Arafat and the PLO wanted peace, and to negotiate with him. Bush had to withdraw U.S. recognition of Arafat 18 months later, when PLO terrorists were caught on their way to slaughter Israelis on the Tel Aviv beachfront and take hostages at the nearby American embassy.
But Kurtzer and Ross revived their “solution” 12 years later—and managed to embarrass the next President Bush in the same way. They persuaded George W. Bush that Arafat, having signed the Oslo Accords, really wanted peace this time. But in January 2002, Arafat was caught trying to smuggle in 50 tons of weapons on a ship called the Karine A. Now it was the other Bush’s turn to declare that “the Palestinians must develop a new leadership, not tainted by support for terror.” Like father, like son!
The Palestinians didn’t heed Bush’s advice. Instead of developing a non-terrorist leadership, they made Arafat’s number-two man, veteran terrorist Abu Mazen, whom we know as Mahmoud Abbas, their new leader. And—was this so hard to predict?—he promptly continued Arafat’s policies of glorifying terrorism, paying salaries to terrorists and encouraging terrorist attacks. So much for the Kurtzer-Ross “solution.”
Two desperate Israeli leaders, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, came up with “solutions,” too. Prodded and pressured by the State Department, Barak (in 2000) and Olmert (in 2008) offered the Palestinian Authority massive concessions. The Palestinians still wouldn’t accept.
Anybody remember Dennis Ross’s “solution” in 2010? He claimed more Palestinian housing would lead to peace. He pressured Israel to let Hamas import cement. “I argued with Israeli leaders and security officials, telling them they needed to allow more construction materials, including cement, into Gaza so that housing, schools and basic infrastructure could be built,” he later wrote in the Washington Post. “They countered that Hamas would misuse it, and they were right,” Ross admitted—Hamas used the cement to build “a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts and shelters for its leaders, fighters and rockets.”
But the State Department just won’t give up. Martin Indyk and his assistant David Makovsky came up with a “solution” of their own which, as usual, would have involved Israel making sweeping territorial concessions and the Palestinians getting an armed, sovereign state that would be jammed against Israel’s throat. Israel needed to release 104 terrorists (who had killed 70 Israelis) just for the “privilege” of negotiating with the PA. But then right in the middle of the 2013–2014 Indyk talks, the PA’s Abbas suddenly announced the creation of a PA-Hamas unity government. The Indyk-Makovsky “solution” was left in tatters.
Anybody notice a pattern here? Isn’t it obvious by now that any “solution” involving the permanent existence of a Jewish state of any size will never be sincerely accepted by the Palestinians?
All the professional peace processors and self-appointed Middle East “experts” still don’t seem to grasp a simple fact that an unassuming real estate developer-turned-presidential son-in-law evidently understands: the conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Israel has no solution. A century of bitter and bloody experience has made that painfully clear.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.