Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yaalon Gives Up, Blames Palestinians

Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon's piece today on the Middle East Channel rehashes the traditional Israeli narrative that the lack of Middle East peace is the Palestinians' fault. Peace is not possible, he woefully explains, because the Palestinians reject peace, compromise, and Israel's right to exist. Yaalon reminds the reader that "Israel remains committed to the cause of peace," and generously peppers his prose with "sadly" and "unfortunately" to demonstrate the sincerity of his position.

I need not reiterate, for the thousandth time, why Yaalon's piece will fall on the deaf ears of a Washington policy community which is frustrated by the intransigence of Israel on settlements, and its willingness to compromise the US-Israel relationship. For supporters of Israel and its security, there ought to be a deeper concern with this article.

In writing this piece, Yaalon has handed over the reigns of Israeli policy to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. If the current Israel administration cannot make peace because of the Palestinians, the Palestinians are being allowed to shape the fate of Israel, meaning that Netanyahu, Yaalon, and their colleagues have become truly ineffective. Peace is an Israeli strategic interest. If Yaalon's article is describing how Palestinians determine whether Israel achieves this interest, he is describing the complete failure of the current Israeli administration to provide for that which its citizens require and deserve. To be sure, the points he makes about Palestinian intransigence are valid ones. But Israel didn't throw its hands up in defeat when it was invaded by six countries simultaneously in 1948. It didn't throw its hands up in defeat when it was invaded on Yom Kippur. To give up because the Palestinians play hard ball would be inconsistent with Israel's past of proactive, fierce defense of its interests. Israel prides itself on never letting others determine its future. Yaalon's article is inviting them to do exactly that.

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