July 18, 2018 | ° F

Palestine PM not ready to hold peace talks

An interesting scene unfolded in New York a few days ago. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon were in a United Nations Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee meeting when Fayyad unexpectedly stormed out. Fayyad is highly intelligent — he earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin — so his actions were not simply spur of the moment, they were calculated. What caused him to leave the meeting and cancel a subsequent press conference? Fayyad left because Ayalon supported two states for two peoples — one Jewish state, one Palestinian state. The policy of two states for two peoples is the preferred policy of the United States, the European Union and the majority of the world. Fayyad's actions were noteworthy because they implicitly showed that Fayyad has no interest in recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish country. Ayalon, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, said, "What I say is that if the Palestinians are not willing to talk about two states for two peoples, let alone a Jewish state for Israel, then there's nothing to talk about. And also, I said if the Palestinians mean, at the end of the process, to have one Palestinian state and one bi-national state, this will not happen." The disagreement is more than semantics — it is a defining issue in any peace talks. Will Israel remain a Jewish state, or will it absorb the Palestinian population and succumb to the mathematical certainty of a Palestinian majority? The latter undermines Israel's core as a Jewish state.

The obvious question is, of course, whether Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state. The answer, of course, is yes.

The affirmative response does not imply that everything Israel has done or will do is correct. It means that the state of Israel has a basic right to exist as it currently does. Politicians are to resolve questions regarding territorial disputes, but Israel's right to exist is fundamental and should be defended by everyone.

Jews have always felt religious, cultural and historic attachment to the land of Israel. Jewish political attachment to the land of Israel was re-established in the late 19th century, after Jews had been exiled for approximately 2,000 years. Those early Zionists were not, contrary to Palestinian rhetoric, imperialist forces. They were beleaguered idealists who came to the land of their ancestors. They sought safe-haven from pogroms, not new land to colonize. The vast majority of 19th and 20th century Zionists settlers had no desire for armed conflict with the Arabs, let alone the weapons necessary to fight. Zionists formed their own governments, established playhouses and resurrected the Hebrew language from the musty tombs of antiquity.

The United Nations voted in favor of Resolution 181 on Nov. 29, 1947, which ended the British Mandate in Palestine and created an independent Jewish state. The United States, Great Britain, Egypt, Jordan, India and many other nations and governments, including the Palestinian Authority, have since recognized Israel.

Israel is willing to make concessions, as it has done in the past. Israel will always be a Jewish state, and no Israeli government will concede that. It is most curious that Fayyad seems to be rejecting a policy that Yasser Arafat affirmed. If Fayyad cannot bring himself to support two states for two peoples, then it is clear that he is not truly ready to negotiate.

Noah Glyn, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is a fellow with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Noah Glyn

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