Yet another peace process?

By Dow Marmur

Jerusalem (Jan 21, 2018) – Is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process dead? That’s the current view, made official by the chairman of the Palestinian Authority and unofficially assumed around the world. The culprit is said to be Donald Trump because he declared that the United States sees Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and may even move its embassy there. The accepted view around the world, however, is that Jerusalem doesn’t belong only to Israel but perhaps to the whole world and definitely as much to the Palestinians as to the Israelis.

However, there’re rumours that a different peace proposal is secretly underway, this time supported by both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. What it’ll look like isn’t known, so speculations abound. Some suggest that the Palestinian state will now include Gaza and parts of the West Bank. The Jewish settlements will remain where they are, probably now part of the State of Israel. The capital of Palestine may be in a suburb of Jerusalem.

Of course, this may be idle speculation fuelled by Israeli wishful thinking. It’s almost unthinkable that the Palestinians would accept it. The recent rant-like speech by Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Authority’s aging and failing chairman, may be his way of telling those who may be hatching the new plan that they’re labouring in vain. Though he himself isn’t likely to be around, his entourage is prepared to wait for the time when Trump is no longer president and a more amenable successor, probably a Democrat, will be more realistic and thus qualify as an honest broker.

There’s much to suggest that neither side really wants peace but prefers to dream about being in charge of both sides of the so-called Green Line

If nothing comes of this rumoured plan, the king of Jordan will have every reason to be relieved, because the kind of state spoken of here is bound to have its eyes on his kingdom, the population of which is largely Palestinian. Hopes of creating a Palestinian state in Jordan have been around for a long time, especially harboured by Israelis who insist that Judea and Samaria (as they prefer to call the West Bank) are part of the Land of Israel and, therefore, should be part of the State of Israel.

But others need not be alarmed either. There’s much to suggest that neither side really wants peace but prefers to dream about being in charge of both sides of the so-called Green Line, i.e. that which is now the State of Israel and that which is totally or in part under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Knowing that the so-called two-state solution is something of a pipe dream, each side may prefer the totalitarian mythology to a reality based on compromise.

The visit of U.S. Vice-President Pence that starts tonight should perhaps be seen in this context. The Palestinian Authority has already declared him a persona non grata in the territory. The members of the Arab parties in Israel’s Knesset (that Pence is to address) have already declared that they’ll walk out in protest. Many ordinary Israelis are likely to be skeptical of both Pence and his detractors, even if some of their party leaders urge them to receive the vice-president with warmth and enthusiasm.

Perhaps even many – most? – ordinary Palestinians prefer the current situation, despite periodic raids by Israeli soldiers in search of suspected terrorists, to a Palestinian regime which is bound to lead to bloody internal conflicts even more lethal than the Israeli occupation.

And perhaps everything written above, based on unsubstantiated rumours and on wishful thinking, is nonsense that readers would do well to ignore.

Rabbi Dow Marmur is Rabbi Emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He lives in Jerusalem.

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