How fitting that the body of PLO founder Yasir Arafat is being exhumed this week in the hopes that his death can be attributed to poisoning by the Israelis.
At a remarkably chaotic moment even for the always churning Mideast, with Syria collapsing and Egypt’s new leader seeking Pharaoh-like powers, it seems the Palestinians will do anything to review and return to the past while ignoring the reality of today and planning for tomorrow.
Israel is real. Even more than six decades after its establishment, though, the very presence of the democratic Jewish state in the midst of the Arab world continues to be an affront and grievance to the majority of its hostile neighbors. And so it is that after eight days of war during which its military leader and other top officials were killed and its most potent arsenal decimated, Hamas declares victory, preferring to deny reality than acknowledge the setback. And its cause of jihad, and the destruction of Israel, is embraced by Palestinian factions, even uniting, however temporary, Hamas and Fatah, its enemy in the West Bank.
Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in another example of denial, is off to the United Nations to seek observer status for the PA, choosing Nov. 29 to do so. It was Nov. 29, 1947 when the UN General Assembly voted for the Palestine Partition Plan, calling for two states — one Arab, one Jewish — in the contested land. The Jews were not pleased because their portion was but a fraction of what had been pledged in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. But as pragmatists, they agreed.
The Arabs, denying the Jews’ right to any legitimate presence in the region, refused.
Ironically, as AJC Executive Director David Harris notes, it is Abbas who now appeals to the same UN that called for a two-state solution 65 years ago and that only the Jews accepted. “If the Palestinian Authority today is serious about overcoming its many past rejections of a two-state deal,” he writes, “then progress can only be achieved at the negotiating table with Israel, the other party to the conflict.
“Turning instead to the UN is actually avoidance diplomacy, bypassing the party that really counts.”
Whatever the outcome at the UN, resolution of the conflict will only come with the acceptance of reality — that reality that Israel is a state and it is not going away.