There is no Chance for Peace / Jonathan D.Halevi

The speech by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly and his submitting the application for recognition of Palestine ended another chapter in the history of the Oslo Accords. Abbas hammered the final nail in the coffin of the Israeli premise that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be settled on the basis of a land for peace formula.

The political formula presented by Abbas reiterates the principle of “justice” for the Palestinians as the basis for a political settlement. The principle of “compromise” does not exist in the Palestinian dictionary, and the purpose of negotiations is to realize the Palestinian “justice” and the space for “compromise” is only found in the Palestinians’ willingness to agree to implement the Palestinian “right” in stages.

Mahmoud Abbas. (Screen Shot: YouTube)

Abbas’ vision of peace, which is based on the Palestinian “justice”, is fully faithful to the political legacy of his predecessor Yasser Arafat and is not significantly different from the views of the Hamas movement. The Palestinian consensus is considered “unacceptable under any circumstances” and leaves no space for maneuvering and compromising of their basic positions, and especially Jerusalem and the demand for the return of Palestinians refugees (the “right of return”).

The UN move is meant to dismantle Israel from all its political assets in negotiations and to promote a process that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state without the Palestinians having to give up even one of their basic claims. A withdrawal to the 1967 borders does not seal the gates of the conflict, but is an enhancement to the continued struggle over the demand for the return of five million Palestinians to their homes and property within the State of Israel, that is the evacuation of Jewish residents of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and many other communities in order to absorb the Palestinians.

The political plan adopted by the PLO under Arafat in 1974 recognized the limitations of the armed struggle and accepted the principle of a phased solution to the realization of all the rights of the Palestinians, including the return of the refugees. Arafat’s concept of the “peace of the brave”, which underpinned the Oslo Accords, actually exercised the stages plan. The meaning of “courage”, according to Arafat, was quite different that the “peace of the brave” of his Israeli partner in the Oslo Accords, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Arafat intended to address the enormous difficulty involved in rejecting the obtainment of the Palestinian rights within the stages plan, while Rabin saw in the “peace of the brave” mutual concessions on basic positions to ensure co-existence and lasting peace.

The UN General Assembly brought Abbas out of the closest. No longer another weak and characterless leader darkened by the historic shadow of Arafat, but a proactive leader who is not afraid to lead an independent and defiant political move in the international arena. Abbas, Abu Mazen, would not have become “Abu Ali” if not for the “Arab Spring” revolutions that created a new political equation that is detrimental to Israel. The Palestinians (and also Hamas in this context) see the picture of the new situation in the Middle East as an historic opportunity that has been opened to them, and this is particularly true of Turkey’s rise as a regional power that is hostile to Israel and the dramatic change in Egyptian policy towards Israel after the ousting of Mubarak.

The Middle East is no longer behaving as in the past. It is gradually releasing itself from the American and western hegemony and is gradually recreating an Islamic Arab front that is threatening Israel. The PA is adapting to the new circumstances and is working on the political front based on the premise that Israel is in a strategic political distress and its leeway is very limited. Israel, in the eyes of the Palestinians, has already accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state in most areas of Judea and Samaria and it cannot under the existing political circumstances annex these territories or maintain the status quo over time.

For Israel, the moment of truth is approaching. The political process no longer has margins that allow for political maneuvers and interim agreements. The significant issues are at hand, and especially Jerusalem and the refugees. The problem is that any final status on the basis of compromise is not possible. The PA and the PLO under Abbas do not represent all the Palestinians and cannot commit to an agreement that will also apply to the Gaza Strip and will include the Palestinians in dispersion. Hamas and the dispersed Palestinian leadership question the very legitimacy of Abbas’ government and oppose any political process, including the recognition at the United Nations, since it does not include unequivocal support of the “right of return” of refugees.

In addition, in the new reality in the Middle East there is no incentive for Abbas to be flexible in negotiations with Israel, out of the assumption that he will have broad Arab backing if punitive measures are taken against the PA, and using the power of the Arab masses he could effectively threaten Western interests in the region.

The Israeli dilemma is a tough one and it concerns the question of its very existence as a Jewish state. Consent to the demands of the Palestinians means voluntary suicide, and the status quo will inevitably lead to a binational state. The leaders face the possibility of continuing to behave in “crisis management” mode and hoping for regional developments that will bring with them policy opportunities, or following a path of a unilateral initiative which is focused on realignment for defensible borders, while examining the option to allow the opening of the border between the Palestinian Authority/State and Jordan.

Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi is a senior researcher and member of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (

personal permission to publish

Abu Mazen wants a Palestinian State without Peace

The paln is to continue the struggle against the Jewish state and put an end to the Jewish state by demonization and de- lgitimation, using the refugees problem.

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