Will There Ever Be a Palestinian Sadat?

I want to make peace with a Palestinian state that would end the conflict, I am not willing to accept a Palestinian state that continues it. I am prepared to accept a Palestinian state beside the State of Israel, but I will not accept a Palestinian state instead of the State of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Address to the Knesset, May 16, 2011

Now, more than ever, Palestinians need their version of the late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat.

Palestinians need a leader who can tell them the truth and prepare them to forge a real and lasting peace:  that they have to recognize the reality of the Jewish state of Israel; and that like Israel, they too will have to make tough compromises.  Sadly, this leadership continues to be missing.

Here’s what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Monday: 

“My friends, the root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. The root of the conflict is, and always has been, their refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel. You must have noticed that yesterday’s events did not occur on June 5, the anniversary of the Six Day War. They occurred on May 15, the day the State of Israel was established. The Palestinians regard this day, the foundation of the State of Israel, their nakba, their catastrophe. But their catastrophe was that they did not have a leadership that was willing to reach a true historic compromise between the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.

Regrettably, since then until this day, they have not had a leadership that is prepared to recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. That has not happened yet.”

Netanyahu, who has publicly and repeatedly endorsed a two-state solution, added the following about the peace process with the Palestinians:

“I also believe that most people are also united in regard to my viewpoints on the issue that seems to be in dispute, the political process with the Palestinians. The citizens of Israel are much more united than is commonly believed, and much more united than the political parties that are supposed to represent them here in this house. There are consensuses regarding the basic issues:

First, about my demand that the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

Second, about my view, which is shared by many here, that the agreement between us must end the conflict and end the demands from the State of Israel.

Third, that the problem of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved outside of Israel and not within its borders.

Fourth, that a Palestinian state only be established under a peace treaty that will not compromise the safety of Israel. I believe there is agreement on this, and I stress that this state must be demilitarized, with practical security arrangements, including long term IDF presence along the Jordan River.

Fifth, we agree that we must maintain the settlement blocs. Many of us agree that the settlement blocs must remain inside the borders of the State of Israel.

Sixth, that Jerusalem remain the united and sovereign capital of the State of Israel.

These are the principles that guide my path, our path.”

Unfortunately, there’s no one to negotiate with, because the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, even during the time of Israel’s 10-month settlement freeze in 2010.

Instead of preparing his people for peace, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas contributed an Op-Ed in The New York Times this week that reinforced the “stuck-in-the-sand” mentality.

Here’s the reaction from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs:

“The JCPA responded with dismay to President Mahmoud Abbas’ op-ed in today’s New York Times. Rather than proposing the pursuit of peace through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, President Abbas wrote an op-ed full of historical revisionism and a self-selected version of what has occurred in the Middle East. He failed to mention that it was Palestinian and Arab leaders that rejected the 1947 partition plan, and it was also five Arab armies which attacked the just-born Jewish State in 1948, seeking Israel’s destruction. This article will not move the parties to peace but rather will harden divisions.

It is time for President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel, without preconditions. Today’s op-ed, Abbas’ support of those coming across the border Sunday to attack Israel’s existence, and Fatah’s recent merger with Hamas – a terrorist organization calling for Israel’s destruction – make it hard to believe that Palestine, as Abbas stated, “ intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law.” We wish President Abbas had seized this platform in the New York Times to outline his commitment to peace and dialogue with Israel, rather than justifying his divisive unilateral proposals.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu added his concerns:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today said in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas’s article in the New York Times that, “This is a gross distortion of well-known and -documented historical facts. It was the Palestinians who rejected the partition plan for two states while the Jewish leadership accepted it. It was the armies of Arab countries – assisted by Palestinian forces – that attacked the Jewish state in order to destroy it. None of this is mentioned in the article. Moreover, one could conclude from the article that the Palestinian leadership views the establishment of a Palestinian state as a means to continue the conflict with Israel instead of ending it.”

For more information:

AJC Responds to Shocking Abbas Op-Ed in New York Times

ADL Letter to The New York Times

Was Mahmoud Abbas’s Family Expelled From Palestine?

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