Whatever the Economist’s ultimate motivation might be, it is certainly in line with its Arab advertisers (it is rather ironic that the major piece of advertisement in this issue is Downtown Dubai) and smacks of the 2002 King Abdullah (Saudi Arabia) Peace Plan, which demanded Israel’s acceptance of the Palestinian refugees, and Arab-Muslim control over the Old City of Jerusalem and, not surprisingly, the total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
The Economist is wrong in stating that “the instant the peace process ends, the war process begins.” History has proven otherwise. Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel lived in relative peace without a peace process. It was clear to the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular (especially after the 1982 war in Lebanon) that Israel could not be defeated conventionally and that the price for taking Israel on militarily was too steep. Conversely, the peace process known as Oslo led to the bloody Intifada, which cost Israel over a 1000 lost lives, mostly civilians.
“The unending Israeli occupation …gives these rejectionists (Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas) their oxygen. Give the Palestinian a state on the West Bank and it will become much harder for the rejectionists to justify going to war.” The banal charge of occupation, which the Economist employs is meaningless, and the editors validate it by admitting that Israel’s ending its occupation of Gaza did not make Hamas more forthcoming in terms of peace or acceptance of Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah get their oxygen from the very existence of a Jewish state regardless of it size. To them (and to most Arabs), Tel Aviv is as much “occupied” Palestinian territory as Hebron.
The so-called “occupation” has been a pretext for continued armed struggle while the Palestinians pretended to participate in the peace process. The “occupation” would have ended in the late 1990s if the Palestinians had kept their end of the Oslo bargain. There would have been no “occupation” at all had the Palestinian chosen to accept the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan. But then and now, the Palestinians have sought to destroy the Jewish state rather than build a state of their own. They want the whole pie rather than a part of it…They wish to take over Israel rather than live side-by-side with Israel.
An imposed solution, as the Economist editors recommend, is undemocratic, arbitrary, and will not prevent war. A weakened Israel will be a tempting target for attack by Iran, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians. Iran’s fanatical mullahs and its Hezbollah agents will not end their hostility towards Israel if an imposed peace is created, as the Economist itself conceded. And the West Bank Palestinian leadership will not be more agreeable to a real peace with Israel with or without a settlement building moratorium.
My advice to the Economist is to be more genuine and truthful about the obstacles to peace in the Middle East, and focus on the real causes of instability, terrorism, and war in the region and beyond: the radical Islamist state of Iran, and the spread of the intolerant and jihadist brand of Islam: Wahabbism.
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