America is asking Israel to negotiate with a terrorist state
By Michael Goodwin
July 13, 2014 | 12:19am
Even before the shooting stops between Israel and Palestinian terrorists, the one guarantee is that Israel will get most of the blame. Already the demands from the United Nations that Israel show “restraint” are as predictable as Palestinian rockets.
The tiny Jewish state is under fierce attack, with millions of its citizens spending long hours in bomb shelters. Yet any response beyond a mere tit-for-tat is labeled disproportionate, putting Israel in the impossible position of being damned if it does and doomed if it doesn’t.
Of course, it must strike back hard, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears resolved that the Hamas that started this war will not be the same Hamas when it is over. How and when we get there remains unknown, but one thing we do know is how we got where we are.
Reader Andrew Stern lays out the past in clear terms. He writes:
“According to Israel’s ambassador to the US, Hamas has fired 8,000 rockets since the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Aside from the occasional one fired at a police station or military post, virtually all have been fired randomly at civilians. In addition to being acts of war, each is also a war crime.
“The media has failed to note that unlike the West Bank, Gaza is NOT occupied. It is free of all Israeli military presence. The media also failed to mention that Hamas is not just a terror group. Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza — one of the first ones in the entire Arab world.
“So Hamas is the government which the civilians in Gaza — with rocket bases behind and under their homes and their children’s schools — chose overwhelmingly to govern them, and to fire 8,000 rockets at Israel on their behalf. This is the choice they made — AFTER Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza.
“So much for the notion that the Israeli occupation is the root of instability in the region.”
In addition to justifying a firm Israeli response, that history also illustrates why Netanyahu resists American pressure to keep making territorial concessions in the hope of peace. The idea of a Palestinian state has always rested on the promise of “two states living side-by-side in peace and security.”
Over decades, versions of that promise were tied to a formula that had Israel trade some of the land it seized in wars with other Arabs in exchange for peace.
The formula more or less worked with Egypt and Jordan. Gaza proves its fallacy, or at least its limits.
The reality is that Gaza, an unoccupied Palestinian state with its own elected government, is a terrorist state.
It does not want to live in peace with Israel, no matter the borders. It refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist within any borders.
That is the central fact fueling the conflict, and yet President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry continue to insist that Israel negotiate with a so-called unity government that includes Hamas and the West Bank leaders of Fatah. But as Israelis put it, how do you negotiate with someone whose single aim is to kill you?
Very, very carefully, that’s how. And you certainly don’t give up land that will make it easier for your enemy to attack you.
The demand that Israel negotiate with Hamas is especially rich coming from Obama. He refuses even to negotiate with Republicans, whom he seems to regard as terrorists because they don’t agree with him. Israel, unfortunately, has to deal with the real thing.
Still, the Israeli public remains remarkably willing to accept Palestinian independence. What it refuses to accept is that it must give up more land, and then have only a limited right of self-defense when that land becomes a launching pad for attacks. That makes additional disengagement from the West Bank unlikely.
That is where we are. Until the Palestinians accept Israel, there can be no lasting peace.
Israelis know that, and it’s time America’s leaders accept it, too.