Where and Who are the Palestinian Leaders Who Can Make Peace?

WSJ Opinion

The Dream Palace of the Arab

The fantasy of a Palestinian state will always have an edge on the reality of Israel.

By Bret Stephens – The Wall Street Journal – Print Publication January 6, 2015


Because, as the late Fouad Ajami knew so well, the pleasures of dreaming are better than the labors of building, just as the rhetoric of justice, patrimony and right is so much more stirring than the fine print and petty indignities of compromise. Mr. Abbas consistently refuses a Palestinian state because such a state is infinitely more trivial than a Palestinian struggle. Becoming is better than being. So long as “Palestine” is in the process of becoming, it matters. Once it exists, it all but doesn’t. How many times will some future president of an established Palestinian state get to visit the White House?

This explains why a Palestinian state—a reasonably peaceful and prosperous one, at any rate—is deeply in Israel’s interest. And why no Palestinian leader will ever accept such a state on any terms. After the endless stream of Palestinian rejections—from the 1947 U.N. partition plan to the “Three No’s” of the 1967 Khartoum Resolution to Arafat’s refusal to make a deal at Camp David in 2000, one begins to sense a pattern. Palestine can never hope to compete with Israel except in the sense that the fantasy of Palestine will always have an edge on the reality of Israel.

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