The most frustrating thing about the conflict in the Middle East to many people is that if you look at it unemotionally, it seems relatively easy to solve. Israel goes back to the 67 borders, the Palestinians drop the right of return, they split Jerusalem in ‘, Israel pulls the settlements back or trades the land they are on for other land, the Palestinians stop the terrorism, the surrounding states sign peace treaties with Israel, you knock out a few more minor details and there you have it. Israel is safe and secure, the Palestinians have their state, and everyone’s happy right? People don’t understand why Arafat and Sharon can’t just sit down at a table with a US negotiator, hammer out a truce like that, and then sit back and wait for their Nobel Peace Prizes to come in.
But there are two large obstacles to peace. First and foremost among them is Yassir Arafat. Arafat’s goal is not and never has been a Palestinian nation co-existing in harmony with Israel. To Arafat, the peace process is a means of putting his people in a better position to annihilate Israel down the road. That’s why his state controlled media incites the population to ‘martyr’ themselves, children are taught about the ‘glory’ of suicide bombing in school, and the occupied territories have become friendly territory for numerous terrorist groups, some directly controlled by Arafat and some not.
Unfortunately, Arafat built his suicide-bombing machine far too well. The reality now is that his people have bought into the idea of suicide bombing, terrorism, and driving the Israelis into the sea to such an extent that Arafat no longer has control over them. Before the last intifada began, Arafat could have gotten the Palestinian State he claims to want and could have handled any unrest that would have developed over the details of the deal. But for whatever reason, perhaps because he feared the terrorist groups in his territory or wanted a better offer, Arafat chose not to take the bargain. Since then things have gotten so out of hand that there would be a civil war if Arafat cut a deal with Israel. Would Arafat win? Maybe, maybe not. Most of his own people would be against him and the terrorist groups that opposed peace would be heavily aided by the surrounding states. A true statesman would cut a deal with Israel and would risk fighting afterwards because it would be the best thing for his people. But Arafat is a terrorist who became a dictator, not a statesman.
Of course, Arafat alone isn’t to blame. The surrounding states also bear part of the responsibility. While the average person in the Middle East might want peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the dictators and Islamo-Fascists who rule in the Middle East do not. That’s because Israel is a useful scapegoat for many of the leaders in the Middle East. The more these regimes keep their government-controlled press focused on Israel, the fewer hard questions the denizens of their nations are likely to ask. Questions like why don’t we have elections? Why are we so poor? Why don’t we have decent schools? What happens when the oil money we’re so dependent on goes away? It also keeps the radical terrorist groups in the Middle East aimed at Israel instead of at the tyrants who rule the Arab nations.
Like Arafat, their goal is not to see Israel and a Palestinian state co-existing in peace. Their short-term goal is to see Israel pushed back to it’s difficult to defend 1967 borders with a terrorist run Palestinian State in it’s midst. Then one day in the future, after Israel has been bled by more terrorist attacks, they hope the surrounding Arab states will be strong enough to use the Palestinian nation as a staging ground for their 5th attempt at wiping Israel off the map..
That’s why these regimes are doing everything they possibly can to incite and encourage the Palestinians to sacrifice themselves against the Israelis. They give money and weapons to Arafat’s regime to support the Intifada, they pay cash to the families of suicide bombers, and their government-controlled newspapers relentlessly spur the Palestinians on as they assure them of the righteousness of their cause. Meanwhile, those same ‘righteous’ Palestinians are treated like a disease throughout the Middle East. Kuwait expelled 250k Palestinians after the Gulf War while Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan are born, live, and die in squalid refugee camps. That’s the reason why the Palestinians are so desperate to get the ‘right of return.’ It’s because the rest of the Middle East has made clear that they’re not welcome to go anywhere else. This is why the ‘peace process’ never seems to get anywhere.
Whether we send Andrew Zinni, Colin Powell, or George Bush himself to negotiate, it’s not going to work. We can try the Tenet plan, the Mitchell plan, or the Saudi Peace plan, or any other plan you can think of and it’s not going to make a difference. If Arafat and the nations surrounding Israel truly do not want peace, it will all be for naught. When you look at it from that perspective you’ll understand why the Israelis and Palestinians are never going to be able to ‘negotiate’ their way to peace under the current circumstances.