There are certain facts of life that are immutable no matter how we might wish otherwise. The first of which is that we are all going to die. No matter how we might try to minimize or avoid it altogether we also must pay taxes of one form or another. Oh, and the Palestinians will always say no to Israel.
No one is surprised that the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas has said no to Israel yet again in the latest futile effort by the Obama Administration to oversee a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). No one, that is, except the Obama Administration.
As Charles Krauthammer observed of Abbas, whose four-year term expired more than five years ago, “Abbas doesn’t have the legitimacy. With half of Palestine (namely Gaza) controlled by his rejectionist mortal enemy Hamas, he doesn’t have the authority.”
But even if Abbas did have the legitimacy and the authority to say yes to Israel, he wouldn’t say it any more than his predecessor the late Yasser Arafat would have. During my days in Canada, I would have bitter arguments with my fellow NDP activists about Israel and the Palestinians. They would invariably insist that Arafat and the PLO were “the sole legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.” Frankly, it doesn’t matter what party represents the interests of the Palestinians — Fatah, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad. All of them are the party of no.
It is true that Arafat and the PLO/Fatah entered into a partnership with Israel through the Oslo Accords. Both Arafat and Abbas have had ample opportunity to say yes to Israel under the most generous of terms but have spent the past two decades stringing Israel and three different White Houses along. If the Palestinians really wanted a state Arafat could have said yes in 2000 and 2001 and Abbas could have said yes 2008 and in 2014. And yet PA remains Israel’s partner in peace. Some partner, some peace. Of course, if either of those leaders had said yes they would have signed their own death warrant. Neither of them aspired to be the next Anwar Sadat.
Indeed, we could even go back to 1947 although there were no Palestinians as such. Yet let us remember that the UN Partition Plan established both a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jews said yes, the Arabs said no, and nothing has changed in nearly seven decades since.
In fact, so far as the Palestinians (and indeed much of the Arab/Muslim world) are concerned, the creation of the Jewish state is referred to as “Naqba,” which in English means “disaster,” and Naqba Day is commemorated every May 15, which is the day after the anniversary of Israel’s independence. So long as Palestinians consider the creation of Israel to be a disaster, what makes anyone think they would be willing to live side by side and in harmony with a Jewish country?
From the time a Palestinian awakes in the morning to the time that he falls asleep at night, he is inundated with a litany of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred whether through his schools, media, religious and cultural institutions. Before Palestinian children are taught to read and write, they are taught math. Only instead of being taught that 2+2=4, they are taught to “agree to one rule, which cannot be added to, subtracted from, or calculated: that Palestine cannot be divided.” If Palestinian children are taught that Palestine is indivisible, they will tell Israel no at every turn. As long as Palestinians name their soccer teams, schools and streets after suicide bombers they will say no to Israel. If Palestinian officials go on state run television to say that Allah will gather all Israelis so they can be killed, well, this means no too.
Of course none of this will deter the Obama Administration. All they care about is getting an agreement so they can tell the world that they brought about peace between Israelis and Palestinians when they collect their Nobel Peace Prize. But there will be no such agreement. It takes two to say yes.