A front page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv from 14 September discloses that Foreign Minister Lieberman has decided to re-evaluate the nineteen-year-old Oslo Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. According to Lieberman: “There is no sense in keeping Abu Mazen’s rotten regime on artificial breathing.”
So the Foreign Minister ordered the Foreign Ministry management to examine an alternate model for relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority against the background of the problems in reaching a permanent settlement.
Lieberman harshly attacked the PA Chairman. “There is a basic mistake in dealing with Abu Mazen and his regime. The Palestinians blame Israel for everything just like all the corrupt regimes in the Arab world do all the time. Abu Mazen is not adapted to impose order in the PA. He and his regime are living on borrowed time. He lost all his credit with the Palestinian people.”
Is Foreign Minister Lieberman’s proposal to find an alternate model for relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority feasible? There is no question that something is indeed rotten in the Palestinian Authority. It stopped adhering to the principle of bilateral negotiations three years ago. Instead of engaging in bilateral negotiations with Israel as it did in the 1990s, the PA adopted a unilateral track to achieving statehood recognition through the UN. Since embarking on their UN initiative, the PA has closed the door on bilateral negotiations. The PA’s hostility to Israel takes other more explicit forms, such as gross incitement against Israel in their media. The school books and maps in the Palestinian Authority education system erase Israel’s existence and replace it with the state of Palestine. The Palestinian Authority routinely names summer camps and city squares after terrorist murderers.
Oslo was supposed to be a vehicle for negotiating two states for two peoples. But today the Palestinian Authority’s underlying policy is the elimination of Israel. Their refusal to back down on their demand for the Palestinian refugee right of return, for example, is prime evidence of their deeply imbedded hostility to the existence of the Jewish state. They even refuse to recognize that Israel is the Jewish State.
One also needs to bear in mind that while the Israeli government may want to change its relationship with the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Authority surely seeks to maintain the status quo. The European Union, the Quartet, the US, the Arab world, provide the Palestinian Authority with huge transfusions of financial and political support. FM Lieberman may call this support “artificial breathing” for a sick body. But this is the reality with the PA. It may be sick but it refuses to die – or change.
Nonetheless, there are three options related to changing Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians – the status quo ante, the Jordanian option, and the Eight State Solution.
The status quo ante is the situation that existed before Oslo in 1993. The civil administration oversaw administration of the needs of life for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. Of course Gaza is out of the picture since the Hamas terror gang took over the territory there. So if there is a return to the status quo before 1993, the civil administration will only be occupied with the West Bank Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority would be abolished and Palestinian statehood or any self-determination at all would be an old story, not a realistic prospect by any means. Israel lived with this status quo from 1967 to 1993 – 26 years. The process was interrupted in the late 1980s by the first intifada.
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