Barry Rubin of the Gloria Center can be disarmingly direct when it comes to stating obvious truths.
A recent blogpost of his was entitled The Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Everything You Need to Understand Why It Continues
Rubin’s simple analysis shows us why peace talks are ultimately pointless, why Palestinians can afford to make demands and no concessions, why the Palestinians have all the time in the world: the time it takes to destroy Israel.
This simple point, that the Palestinian leadership has never accepted Israel, has always believed that the land from the river to the sea will be the Palestinian state, and still spouts these beliefs backed by a virulently anti-Semitic media which demonises Jews and teaches that Jews have no historic connection to the land, is at the root of the conflict and why it can never be resolved by the current Palestinian leadership.
Any Palestinian state with recognised borders would effectively end the legitimacy of their claim to the rest of mandate Palestine. They cannot have a state on the West Bank and Gaza because that would be an acceptance of Israel’s legitimacy.
As Rubin says:
… the Palestinian leadership is not, and has never been, eager for any compromise resolution. Instead, its top priority has been total victory, possession of the entire land, with Israel’s disappearing from the map. If this seems to be an overstatement, it is because Palestinian politics and society are quite different from, say, that of the United States.
Rubin tells us that whereas in English the Palestinian leadership tells us it wants peace, in Arabic it propagates a never-ending stream of anti-Israeli invective which demonstrates its irredentism.
The PA leadership is a victim of its own rhetoric and narrative:
For the Palestinian Authority and its governing party, Fatah, the goal is the transformation of all of the land into a Palestinian, Arab and Muslim state. For Hamas, it is the transformation of all of the land into an Islamist Palestinian state that is also Arab.
Does every Palestinian believe this? Not at all. But to function and succeed in politics, it is almost impossible to reject such a goal. When individuals do come out with moderate statements—as happened when on October 13, Yasser Abed Rabbo’s stated that the Palestinian Authority might accept Israel as a Jewish state—they are quickly shouted down, threatened. and they back down.
Any hint at compromise is political suicide and could lead to mortal consequences. How can such a leadership make peace or even begin to discuss peace. The whole process is a charade to screw more concessions from Israel, apply political pressure via the United States and isolate Israel internationally.
Rubin enumerates factors which prevent compromise and moderation. These include political and religious ideology, a culture of intimidation of dissident voices, and an ingrained belief that no Palestinian leader has the right to relinquish sacred cows such as the so-called Right of Return and East Jerusalem.
Put in these terms it appears that there is no point in peace talks as one side is only interested in the eventual annihilation of the other.
This is why I have a profound belief that only a grass roots Palestinian peace movement built on mutual benefits with Israelis can change the Palestinian culture to a point where peace is possible. This can only come about with increased co-operation between the two sides in education and culture, joint economic and environmental projects.