Hassan Tahsin
Arab News (Opinion)
December 15, 2009 - 1:00am

PEACE with Palestinians has never been on the agenda of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Nevertheless, he speaks about peace. In his view peace has only one meaning — the total surrender of Palestinians to Israel. In his opinion, all the Palestinians presently living in the occupied territories are terrorists because they demand freedom from Israel; they want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their independent state; they don’t want their children to die of malnutrition; they don’t want to be humiliated by Israeli soldiers or thrown arbitrarily out of their homes and farms. In short, they are against Israel’s occupation of their land and they resist Tel Aviv’s move to subjugate them. These are some of the reasons Netanyahu labels every Palestinian a terrorist.

A close look at Israel’s actions and policies over the past decades testifies to the fact that Israel has never wanted peace. It is, in fact, averse to peace. What I understand from my studies on Israel is that Israel’s fear about peaceful coexistence with Arabs springs from the fact that peace will go against the Zionist ambition to establish a Greater Israel with the Nile and Euphrates as its borders. Any peace with the Arabs, who are presently living in territories within the borders of Israel, will only stand in the way of achieving the Zionist dream.

There cannot be any other reason why all Israeli leaders have been deliberately missing real opportunities for peace during the past six decades.

Israel missed a very good opportunity for peaceful coexistence with Palestinians in 1948 when it forcibly converted Palestinian territories into a Jewish state.

Israel missed another opportunity for peace when it annexed Palestinian territories contravening the United Nation’s resolution on the partition of Palestine.

Another excellent opportunity was missed when Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty after the war between them in 1973.

Israel’s lukewarm approach to peace was evident in the Madrid conference and Oslo talks and all other internationally sponsored peace negotiations.

Israel again wasted a golden opportunity for peace with Palestinians when it made peace with Jordan and normalized relations with several other Arab countries directly or indirectly. Another opportunity was lost after they reached an agreement with Palestinians in the Egyptian town of Taba in 2001.

Israel is currently talking of peace, apparently to deflate the increasing international dismay over its repressive policies in East Jerusalem. Its mantra of peace is only a media gimmick while in reality it has only hardened its stand and is striving to block any future peace with Palestinians. It has beefed up its construction activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank resulting in the establishment of new Jewish settlements. Israel finds it very convenient to ignore the American demand to freeze settlement expansions.

Netanyahu’s stand on peace, unlike his usual evasive style, was quite clear when he said recently that he was ready to offer concessions for the sake of peace but it would have a price.

“Israel will not give concessions when it comes to the rights of Jewish people and it will insist on keeping Jerusalem undivided. We will never allow the establishment of a terrorist state on the West Bank,” he said.

This means Israel will never agree to a Palestinian state because it views all Palestinians as terrorists.

Instead of bringing round the Israeli government to a reasonable position, the administration of US President Barack Obama, on which the Arabs had pinned high hopes, demanded that Arab countries should make more concessions and establish closer ties with Israel.

However, the Arab countries refused to comply with the demand made by Obama, telling him in unequivocal terms that Arabs had made many concessions to the Jewish state in the past but that Tel Aviv’s response had been frustrating.

The Obama administration, I am afraid, wants the Palestinians to follow the so-called “road map” for peace without making its conditions binding on Israel.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017