For 60 years Israel has triumphed against adversity and survived the continued onslaught of violence and hatred from its Arab neighbors. Yet now it is threatened by a basic refusal to learn from the past and an unwillingness to adapt to today's realities.
Israel is in trouble. First, Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party have failed to deliver on promises to Israel, to the West or to the Palestinian people, and so are perhaps not the best interlocutors for ongoing peace talks. Second, the aging framework of the peace process has not produced any sustained positive results.
What have Abbas and Fatah accomplished? Since its inception in 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been ruled by Fatah, first under Yasser Arafat and now under Abbas. Abbas, the number two person in the PLO under Arafat, was a co-founder of the Fatah terrorist organization. Thus, he is partly responsible for decades of atrocities against innocent civilians, including the murder of 500 Israelis between 2000 and 2007. The Fatah movement's constitutional charter, similar to Hamas's founding document, still has 10 articles that call for Israel's destruction, approve use of terrorism against the country, oppose any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and label Zionism as racism. Resolutions in both the U.S. House and Senate are now urging Abbas to rescind these articles.
If actions speak louder than words, then the PA leadership has also failed to deliver on any of its signed commitments under all the various, and still binding, peace agreements. Abbas has yet to make real and sustained efforts to end terrorism, jail terrorists or confiscate their illegal weapons.
More troubling, Abbas has done nothing about ending the incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Americans that daily spews forth from PA institutions directly under his administrative and financial control: the PA's media, mosques, schools and youth camps. This 24/7 incitement has fomented an ideology of hate and a culture of violence, the focus of which is Israel, Jews in general, and the United States.
This failure has radicalized the Palestinian populace, as demonstrated by the disturbing news images of Palestinians rejoicing on 9/11 and the habitual practice, often also caught on video, of Palestinians celebrating wildly every time a terrorist attack successfully kills Israeli civilians. Indeed, The New York Times reported on March 19th that the latest opinion polling data from the West Bank indicates that an overwhelming majority [84 percent] of Palestinians supported the attack on March 6 at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, that 64 percent supported "the shooting of rockets on Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip and that [75 percent are] for the end of the peace negotiations."
To Western journalists, Abbas speaks in moderate tones; however, to Arabic-speaking Muslim journalists he speaks more radically. In a February 28, 2008, interview in the Jordanian daily al-Dustur, for example, Abbas said: "At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can't succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different." Abbas also bragged of his terrorist credentials: "We had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hezbollah, who trained in our military camps."
Until the Palestinians embrace a morally compelling leader who rejects violence someone who does not belong to a terrorist organization like the PLO, Fatah or Hamas, there will be little peace for the "peace process" to actually process.
This situation has not stopped the United States from trying. The conceptual genesis of the peace process can be found in the "Rogers Plan" of December 9, 1969. Secretary of State William Rogers announced that, to maintain impartiality and fairness, the U.S. approach would be "to encourage the Arabs to accept a permanent peace based on a binding agreement and to urge the Israelis to withdraw from occupied territory."
Politicians come and go, but the Department of State is eternal, and so the basics of the Rogers approach have permeated all subsequent administrations, from those of Nixon and Carter to George W. Bush. Instead of Bush's June 24, 2002, vision—which called for the development of a viable, legitimate, moderate and responsible Palestinian leadership uncompromised by terror as a precondition for discussing Palestinian statehood—we have the "Road Map" plan, which, as adapted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the Annapolis summit, is a tired re-working of Rogers" 1969 ideas.
This "peace process" has been tested daily for decades by the misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance of the Palestinian Authority. The issues of international acceptance and legitimacy are no nearer to resolution than before, and the threats of violent Arab anti-Semitism and radical jihadism are greater than ever. Thanks to the peace process we now have a terrorist mini-state called Gaza right on Israel's border that attacks Israel daily, using Syrian and Iranian arms. We also have the peace process to thank for creating a chronically failing Palestinian Authority that, at terrific financial and human expense, is now little more than an unstable nexus of chaos, terror and hopelessness.
Yes, Israel is in trouble.