As a first step in the new initiative to facilitate the divorce between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the U.S. Administration and Bahrain announced that they would host an economic workshop entitled “Peace to Prosperity” in the Bahraini capital of Manama on June 25 and 26, 2019.
This is to bring together governments, global institutions, business leaders, to share idea, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for economic investments and initiatives to make a peace agreement possible.
“Peace to Prosperity” more accurately described as prosperity for peace, plans to construct an ambitious framework for a prosperous future for Palestinian Arabs. If implemented, it will have the potential to open up a whole new future to them.
Sadly, expectedly, the Palestinian Authority have pre-empted this initiative by rejecting the notion of any peace with Israel. After decades of complaints, they have, yet again, showed their unwillingness to compromise on their political and theocratic dogmas that have held back peace and a better future for their people.
As the cliché goes, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Mismanagement, poverty, waste, rampant corruption, and a pursuit of anti-Semitic violence and terror by the dual Palestinian governing kleptocracies have left their people destitute.
Channeling money into building terror infrastructures and rewarding murderers with their “Pay to Slay” policy takes preference over normalization and peace with Israel.
This is a serious violation of international law, as well as United Nations declarations calling for states and regimes to refrain from financing terror activities.
Given the dire economic situations in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas one would assume that logic would dictate a more receptive approach to a permanent global solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. But this is not the case, on the Palestinian side.
The Palestinian leadership decided to boycott the Bahrain summit. Instead, they lapsed back into their usual rejectionist narrative and insults against those who are gathering in an attempt to help them to a brighter future.
Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator, said, “We do not mandate anyone to negotiate on our behalf. Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation…”
What did he think this economic conference was setting out to do? Hand him the whole of Israel on a plate?
In another show of utter negativity, Palestinian official, Nabil Sha’ath, said, “The Manama meeting is one phase in a larger effort to undermine Palestinian rights and normalize Israeli violations, while promoting Israel-Arab normalization.”
It is normalization with Israel that has always been at the heart of Palestinian rejectionism for a century, See my video “100 Years of Palestinian History.” It is what is keeping them as a thorn in the Middle East that is frustrating not only to Israel but to their once friendly Arab neighbors.
This attitude belatedly raises serious concerns about the ability and capability of the Palestinian leadership to deliver any hope for peace, and to raise the prospects of their people to a better future.
All past agreements demand of the Palestinians to commit to a peaceful resolution to the conflict allowing all outstanding issues to be resolved through negotiations. This is something that the split Palestinian political divide have stubbornly refused to do for decades. Neither the PLO-Fatah led PA not Hamas-Islamic Jihad are speaking to each other, and both sides of that divide hate the notion of living in peace alongside the Jewish State.
This truth can clearly be seen in the September 1993 letter in which Yasser Arafat agreed that “upon signed the Declaration of Principles, the PLO encourages and calls upon the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to take part in steps leading to the normalization of life, rejecting violence and terrorism, contributing to peace and stability and participating actively in shaping reconstruction, economic development and cooperation.”
Arafat signed that the Palestinians would recognize Israel’s “legitimate and political rights, and is committed to strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historical reconciliation through the agreed political process.”
Instead of progressing peace with Israel, Arafat called the Oslo Accord document, signed on the White House lawn in front of an international gathering, his Treaty of Hudaibiya, referring to the truce deceptively signed by Mohammad with the Banu Quraish Jewish tribe of Mecca in a moment of weakness as he prepared to return and exterminate them.
The Oslo Accord has been torn up daily by the murderous actions, the deceptive diplomacy and the self-proclaimed refusals to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state from both Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.
There was a clear obligation on the part of the Palestinian leadership, both in Ramallah and in Gaza, to commit to the peace process for the sake of the development and prosperity of their own people as much as for the security of Israelis. At the end of the day, it will be the Palestinian Arabs that would benefit and gain economically more than Israelis who, despite the ongoing conflict, have built a remarkable advanced nation in such a short time and against all odds.
By boycotting the Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Conference the Palestinian leadership have once again hit out against Israel, the United States, and insulted their Arab neighbors.
Worse of all, they have, again, badly let down their own people.
As Ambassador Alan Baker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs wrote, “It is a sad reflection on a misguided and irresponsible leadership that prefers conflict, incitement, and hostility, rather than the hope for peace and economic improvement for the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinians still see themselves as the spearhead of the Arab war against the Jews. You can see this in their founding charters and hear it on a daily basis in their public incitement against “the Jews and their filthy feet” and the holy imperative not to spare “one drop of blood” in cleansing Palestine of the Jews, a Palestine “from the river to the sea.” This, from the Palestinian Authority, our designated “peace partner” with their “Kill a Jew” reward system, and from their mortal enemy, Hamas.
While appreciating the Trump initiative, no peace is remotely possible with such an implacable enemy.
This was summed up neatly by Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s Middle East envoy, who tweeted, “The PA is calling for demonstrations against the Bahrain workshop. Tells you everything you need to know about their priorities and intentions. Their leadership is happy with the status quo and would rather Palestinians suffer than at least explore a different path to a better future.”
Israel’s foremost diplomat, Abba Eban, once famously said, back in 1973, that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. By turning off both the United States and their willing Arab neighbors, this is likely to be the last opportunity for the Palestinian Authority to deliver a better future for their people.
By rejecting Bahrain, they are leading themselves, their people, and the region into a darker, more uncertain, place.
Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies and the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’