Daniel Goldschmidt – Will Recent Peaceful Moves by Israel Achieve a Peaceful Solution?
Recently Israel met with the Palestinian Authority to discuss steps that the Israeli cabinet approved to improve economic ties and relieve restrictions on the Palestinians. These include expanded hours of key crossings, including Allenby operating around the clock, and improved infrastructure.
The Israeli cabinet also approved establishing an industrial zone northwest of Hebron. The plan further includes easing the enforcement of construction restrictions in Israeli controlled areas of the West Bank known as Area C when they border on Palestinian population centers in PA-controlled areas A and B. It was announced recently that 14,000 homes for Palestinians are to be built in Qalqilya, which is immediately next to central highway 6 adjoining the central region, close to Tel Aviv.
Under the Oslo Accord it was agreed that this area would be strictly Israeli. Areas A and B, which under Oslo are to be Palestinian, depend on Israel for their utilities such as water and electricity, and all international trade from this area is exported thru Haifa.
As of May 11, 2016 there were approximately 120,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel under much better working conditions than those employed in the Palestinian Authority where they lived. Furthermore, they were paid twice what Palestinian employers pay, and exactly what Israeli’s are paid for the same job.
With all of Israel’s interest in improving the living conditions and daily life of the Palestinians one would expect that peace would be closer, but historically the opposite is true. Recently the current US administration has pushed Israel to transfer parts of area C to the Palestinian Authority, as previously mentioned, that under the Oslo agreement were to be Israeli, as a goodwill gesture to restart the peace process.
Unfortunately, this tactic has always been unsuccessful. The experience of the past has shown clearly despite any concessions or attempts to improve the status of the Palestinian community that it has always sent the wrong message. In fact, the Palestinians read these efforts as signs of weakness and retreat, and conclude that pressure works – so why not keep pressuring.
The past 24 years are full of examples of how the Palestinians react to Israel concessions and goodwill. The Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993 came five years after the first Intifada and was seen by Palestinians as a first step toward total capitulation.
Shortly after Oslo, Israel was asked again to conciliate the Palestinians. This time hundreds of prisoners, many who had murdered Jews and even Arabs were released from Israeli prisons to further a peace process. Instead of viewing this as a goodwill gesture it was viewed as a “victory” for terrorism and violence.
In 2005 Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, destroying 21 Jewish settlements and expelling over 8,000 Jews from their homes. The Palestinians though considered this not a move for Peace, since the withdrawal came after five years of a Second Intifada in which the Palestinians waged a massive campaign of suicide bombings and missile attacks, killing 1,137 Israelis, and led to two wars. For Palestinians, Israel once again was retreating in the face of continuing bloodshed.
Here is what is being said by the Palestinians today when we are being pressured for concessions again by the US and the West to make peace: “Today Israel runs away from the West Bank and makes good will moves, tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Ashdod, and Tel Aviv, and from there to the sea and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel.”