By Bridget Johnson
May 7, 2017
President Trump is intent on achieving the Middle East peace deal that President Obama sorely wanted as the linchpin of his legacy, and warmly welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House with praise for his new peace partner.
But the realities that have prevented an agreement include roadblocks that even the best boardroom negotiator won’t be able to deal-make away.
And though Mr. Trump said he’ll “do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement” and declared a such a pact “maybe not as difficult as people have thought,” Israel should not be pressured to take the plunge if the security risks remain as they are now.
Yes, those risks are many despite Mr. Abbas‘smooth talk at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where he proclaimed “a new opportunity, a new horizon.” He publicly heaped praise on Mr. Trump for his “leadership,” “determination,” “courageous stewardship,” “wisdom” and “great negotiating ability,” and the “Art of the Deal” negotiator gobbled up the adulation.
At a press conference alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Mr. Trump declared “the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility” and asked the prime minister to “hold back on settlements for a little bit,” while the Palestinians “have to get rid of some of that hate.” With Mr. Abbas, Mr. Trump said, “Hopefully, there won’t be such hatred for very long.”
Here’s how that hate manifests, and why it’s not so easy to sing kumbaya. Just before the Trump-Abbas sit-down, Hamas released an ostensibly softer version of their principles document with the same Jihadi fine print stressing their duty to seize all of Israel. “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” the terror group said before suggesting openness to an initial 1967 borders agreement to pique the gullible giddiness of those who crave an agreement at any cost.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal then appealed to Mr. Trump to seize the “historic opportunity to pressure Israel,” telling CNN that the president has a “greater threshold for boldness” than his predecessors.
Hamas, of course, controls Gaza and is a terrorist organization with nefarious ties and a mission to destroy Israel, regardless of the new PR campaign. If a peace deal is forged with only Mr. Abbas‘Fatah party, then you’ve only dealt with the West Bank and Hamas will not abide by the security agreements. If you manage to bring Hamas in on the deal, then you’ve automatically created a state that is a state sponsor of terrorism. As difficult as people have thought, and more.
Not that Mr. Abbas exactly has his hands clean in the terror market: Can a peace deal be forged with a government paying monthly stipends to the families of terrorists? Can a territory hospitable to Hezbollah, al Qaeda and ISIS ever be a partner in providing the kind of security needed to ensure the safety of Israelis and the Jewish state’s existence? No wonder Mr. Abbas did enough of a song-and-dance that Mr. Trump praised him as being a faithful fellow foe of ISIS.
Israel says recognition of the Jewish state is a must-have in any peace deal.
The Palestinians have made clear this is a no-go. If Israel gives in on this demand over its very definition, then the Palestinian jihad wins a battle that will reverberate through and give empowerment to the global terrorist community. Even a limited victory will further empower those who insist all of Israel is theirs for the taking.
Learn from Gaza: If you give Jihadism an inch, be prepared for terrorists to take a mile. No matter what good will leads up to any future partition, the rockets can start flying the day after the pullout. And a truly workable deal needs to be backed up with international support: with the United Nations still unabashedly anti-Israel, who would enforce Palestinian violations of a peace pact?
It’s also foolish to believe that jihad doctrines, kids’ shows or school textbooks in the territories will stop calling for the destruction of what’s left of the Jewish state if the Palestinians win 1967 borders. Thus, the painful round of face palms when Mr. Abbas assured Trump that Palestinians “are raising our youth on a culture of peace.”
The time is not now until the Palestinian Authority has leaders who want peace instead of what their textbooks preach, who combat violence instead of rewarding terrorists, who are willing to change the culture of never-ending jihad and refuse to welcome terror groups who vow “al-Aqsa, we are coming.”
Mr. Abbas, whose Fatah party lauded the killer who stabbed to death 13-year-old Israeli-American citizen Hallel-Yaffa Ariel last year as she slept and whose government cuts a monthly check to the killer’s family, is not that leader.
Hopefully the president sees through his sweet talk before Khaled Mashal gets the next White House invitation between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte.
• Bridget Johnson is a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and D.C. bureau chief for PJ Media.