By Schmoel Yitzhak
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, just visited Israel. This was her umpteenth attempt to jump-start Arab-Israeli peace talks which have remained cemented to the Starting Line since, well, forever.
While Ms. Ashton’s intentions may very well be sincere, current Middle East realities suggest that the English lady is on the same wavelength as Alice In Wonderland.
Why is Lady Catherine kidding herself and her counterparts in Germany, France, Italy, et. al. about the possibilities of a negotiated Israel-Arab settlement?
When will both European and American negotiators understand the futility of their efforts, noble though they may be?
The answer comes down to a two-letter common denominator that quickly and easily explains the permanent obstacle to a negotiated peace.
It’s the Arab (“Palestinian”) eternal password: N-O!
“No,” in one form or another has been the Arab position from 1948 to the present whenever a serious attempt at reconciliation is available.
It was negative in 2007 at the Annapolis Conference just as it was seven years earlier at Camp David and a year after that during the Taba Summit or the 2003 Road Map For Peace.
The redundant “No” was sounded loud and clear when a peace treaty was available in 1967 after the Six Day War and again in 1973 following yet another Arab attempt to push the Jews into the Mediterranean far beyond their collective neck lines.
Sometimes Arab rejections are obvious and other times they take on the form of a charade, artfully designed to lull Israelis into a false sense that pacifism works.
This was apparent when unauthorized representatives of the Jewish State convened -- and connived -- at Oslo in 1993. In the end they presented Yassir Arafat with a collection of major concessions that boggled the minds of objective observers.
In truth those territorial gifts amounted to handing the “Palestinians” virtually everything short of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. (Yes, Virginia, there was a Santa Claus and he had come to Norway.)
Ah, but the geographic presents were not enough. The Arab response amounted to, “Thanks but no thanks and, instead, we’ll give you Jews an intifada.”
Which they most certainly did.
Such abject refusals when offered Israeli concessions and cooperation have regularly surfaced through the decades and in all areas of life. Believe it or not, one of those includes management of water supplies.
As Yochanan Visser and Sharon Shaked noted in The Jerusalem Post,
“The Palestinian Authority has been sabotaging the two-state solution,” state Visser and Shaked, “by preventing the development of an independent water infrastructure for the future Palestinian state.
“When in November 2009, the Palestinian Water Committee complained about a lack of funds, the Israeli government offered to finance water projects for Palestinian communities. The PA has yet to respond to this offer.”
For the past three years Israel has beseeched the PA to restore joint water surveillance to battle water theft; and the Arab reply was -- you heard it before and will hear it again -- “No!”
Frankly, I admire Catherine Ashton’s persistence -- despite its futility -- but it would be worthwhile for the English negotiator to fully understand Arab resistance to peace; everywhere; even in the world of H2O.
Visser-Shaked: “The stubborn refusal to work with Israel on mutual interests like improvement of the water infrastructure, and the way the PA subsequently uses that lack of improvement to demonize Israel, prove that the PA is not interested in a two-state solution, or peace.”