One significant element which has remained a constant in all facets of the drive to reach peace; either the general recognition and peace between the Arab nations with Israel, or the more specific recognition and peace between the Palestinians and Israel, is that the links in this chain are forged upon Israeli concessions and rarely if ever Arab or Palestinian concessions. This has become such an accepted norm that nobody even bothers to mention this in the discussions and discourse, let alone actually question why this is so. Well, perhaps it is time to take a slightly deeper inspection of this phenomenon along with a few other misconceptions.
The first item which most people are unaware is that the Oslo Accords signed on September 13, 1993, by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was an agreement between the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) and the nation of Israel, there was no Palestinian Authority yet established. All subsequent negotiations, agreements and other interactions were to be held between the PLO and Israel, not the Palestinian Authority and Israel. These Oslo Accords spelled out a five year period in which the two sides were to negotiate the “permanent status issues” leading to Palestinian autonomy. These parts of the negotiations were to begin no later than the third year of the negotiations. The Oslo Accords were to lead to a final agreement by the end of the five year period and held no powers past that five year period. If one were to be technical, the Oslo Accords are really on life support being extended through the two sides and the rest of the world choosing to continue as if the Oslo Accords were open ended and were to continue indefinitely until they attained their intended mission. Truth be told, the Oslo Accords died and were no longer applicable as of September 14, 1998, meaning they have been dead for over a decade. This necessitated the Oslo II agreement was signed in 1995 which divided the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) into areas A, B and C and divided up the civilian and security responsibility of each.
The main points of the Oslo Accords are defined in a Declaration of Principles (DoP). These were to govern the process by which power and responsibilities were to be transferred in stages by Israel to the Palestinians via the PLO as the negotiations reached certain agreements though the DoP does not set any preconditions or prejudgments upon the final arrangements concerning Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements and borders. Such determinations are even forbidden from being included within any interim arrangements which may be set on the path to the final agreement. It is also stipulated in the DoP that Israel retains all responsibility for all foreign interactions, security, defense of borders and Israel’s position on Jerusalem was to remain unchanged as the ancient and eternal capital of the Jewish people. Israel retained the responsible for security along the international borders and the crossing points into Egypt and Jordan. Many of these points came under assault with intent to modify them and force Israeli concessions and relenting on the rights which had been reserved by the Oslo Accords exclusively to the Israeli side.
Obviously, the Oslo Accords have run their course over three times their intended length and have somehow generated the Palestinian Authority which has, for all intended purposes, replaced the PLO in the negotiations with Israel. Another item from the original Oslo Accords was the insistence that the PLO submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist. In return, Rabin gave a letter to Arafat confirming Israeli recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and authorized the beginning of negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process. To this day the PLO Charter has yet to be amended and retains the denial of Israel’s right to exist. There have been show votes stating intent to follow up with a committee to rewrite these sections of the Palestinian Charter made when the Palestinian National Council had observers witnessing their procedures but no committee was ever formed nor were any changes ever proposed, let alone made.
Since the beginning of the Oslo Accords there have been almost countless times where the negotiations have broken down, most often when a final solution seemed so close a moderator could almost taste it. This scenario became a theme which was repeated at Camp David, in Taba, in Paris and in such plans as Oslo Accords I, Oslo Accords II, the Hebron Protocol, Wye River Memorandum, Camp David 2000 Summit, the Roadmap to Peace, and numerous less famous intermediate meetings, intents and related futile measures. One of the recurring reasons for each failure was Yasser Arafat making additional demands during the final negotiation which he was fully aware would never be agreed to by the Israeli negotiators. Often the demand made was for the repatriation of over four million Palestinian Arab refugees within Israel proper and not the Palestinian areas, the division of Jerusalem to be used by both countries as their capital, full ceding of the Temple Mount, Old City and the areas including the Kotel (Western Wall and plaza) to Palestinian control, release of all prisoners held by Israel including terrorists convicted of murder, or some combination of these and other thrown in simply because he could. When the Israelis predictably balked at the sudden demands at the eleventh hour, Yasser Arafat would denounce the Israelis as intransigent and would walk out in obvious state of agitation. This is what leads to the near constant series of demands being placed upon the Israelis and not the Palestinian side.
The obvious surface reason that the vast majority of the demands have been placed at the feet of the Israelis has been that the majority of demands have been made by the Palestinians. The Israeli demands have remained fairly consistent and included the peace treaty signify the end of all claims and violence; borders which allow Israel to be defendable; full settlement of refuges within the new Palestine with a possibility for a very limited number within Israel; universal access for all religions to holy sites; and more recently Israel has added Palestinian State must be demilitarized and recognize Israel as the Jewish State. Meanwhile, the Palestinian negotiators have steadily incorporated their wildest extreme dream positions on permanent status issues as their preconditions upon which they demand Israel meet before the two sides enter into negotiations. This has even gone beyond anything ever sought by the Palestinians, even when speaking to their own people with the one exception being the eradication of Israel and the Jews living within, an ideal solution often spoken about in Arabic while never breached when speaking in English, but have shifted even further after President Obama pressed Israel for further concessions beyond anything ever previously demanded. The main pair which President Obama first spoke and have now mysteriously become standard demands by the Palestinian leadership are a total building freeze on all lands beyond the Green Line or contested by Israel and the Palestinians and acceptance of the 1949 Armistice Lines (also referred to as the 1967 Lines or the Green Line) as the starting borders with negotiated exchanges of land for land in setting final borders, after all, the Palestinians could not demand anything less severe than the demands made by the President of the United States.
The powers of individual European governments, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, numerous Arab and Muslim countries, and anybody else adding their two-cents worth have almost universally placed the onus of making concessions in order to restart the Palestinian-Israeli final status negotiations on the Israelis. Such demands have included combinations of removal of roadblocks, removal of checkpoints, building freeze in the West Bank, remitting control of more lands over to the Palestinian governance, releasing terrorists and prisoners early, and anything which could be qualified as confidence building measures. The reason these demands are virtually always aimed towards the Israelis has a logical and easily explained reasoning, the Palestinians have never met even the initial requirements which they had promised to execute when they signed the original Oslo Accords. The most obvious of these has been the removal of the call for the eradication of all of Israel and building their Palestinian dream state on all the lands from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea. On the other hand, Israel has made numerous concessions over the years including but not limited to a ten month building freeze in Judea and Samaria, removal of numerous roadblocks and/or checkpoints, release of prisoners, turning lands over to complete Palestinian control such as almost all of Hevron, and even the complete evacuation of every Jewish resident and IDF troop from the Gaza Strip turning it over to the Palestinians along with following this with continued humanitarian aid of food and medical supplies, fuel, and other critical aid in order to avoid hardships upon the Palestinian people of Gaza. Israel has proven that they are willing to be flexible and bending to extremes in order to facilitate peace. The Palestinians have made it evidently clear they are unwilling to make even the slightest concession and have declared, in Arabic of course, that even should they ever reach and sign a peace agreement with the Israelis, they still will reserve their “right” to continued violence and terrorism until they have liberated all of Palestine from the River to the Sea. The Palestinians consider current negotiations which have been held over the last ten to fifteen years as simply having been negotiations intended to defeat the Zionists in stages. The Palestinians are willing to accept a state along the 1967 Lines, followed by another state which incorporates the Negev under the Bedouins, and an additional Arab state in the Galilee Valley on and on until Israel has been erased, even Tel Aviv then unifying all of these states under the Palestine flag. The entire world is fully aware of all of this and realizes Israel honestly and truly desires a lasting, permanent, and real peace while the Palestinians will only accept the replacement of the Zionist state with a Palestinian Arab Muslim state. The Palestinian leadership has expressed their intent to form a true Islamic state with Sharia Law and all that implies. The many different entities which have made demands of Israel to facilitate and aid the Palestinians in acquiring the initial requirements for stage one and after this has been accomplished they will also be likely to support each step on the way to erasing Israel with as much vigor as they currently spend on Israel. And these wonderful people who wish only to pursue “Peace” will work diligently to eradicate the side willing to make concessions as to try and force the Palestinian side to make any concession has proven too difficult, and if there is anything these vultures for peace desire is the easy path, and all the better if the path leaves these vultures a dead body to peck apart and feed upon in the end.
Beyond the Cusp