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Palestinian-Israeli conflict is complex

“Today I’m announcing my intention, with the establishment of the next government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea,” – Prime Minister Netanyahu 
What a mess. Now, Israel’s PM is wanting to annex part of the West Bank, insuring more Palestinian resistance and intransience. That’s 100 percent the wrong direction, but it is occurring due to historical lack of Palestinian leadership, the key factor that’s been missing for 70 years, as shown below.
Further, the envoy responsible for Trump’s elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, Jason Greenblatt, has resigned. In that he was completely unqualified (he was Trump’s real estate lawyer) and ineffective, this is not a big loss. 
He and Jared Kushner simply rolled out a scenario for the economic revival of Gaza and the West Bank with the political side yet to come. Of course, economic development is needed, but that’s not at all what the Palestinian leadership was looking for. The cart was put before the horse. For anyone with any knowledge of the Middle East, which neither of them has, the outcome was very predictable. Economic incentives alone were, and will continue to be, insufficient to obtain Palestinian participation. 
Phase 2 of the plan that he and Kushner were supposed to devise never became a reality. The process will be back to square one when and if phase 2 is ever revealed, given Netanyahu’s latest statement. However, the underlying problem is and has always been the unwillingness of Palestinian leadership, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, to acknowledge Israel as what it has always been, a Jewish state. 
Israel was established as a refuge for Jews after the Holocaust, period. Moreover, Israel isn’t totally composed of “invading” lily white Europeans, a Palestinian propaganda point. In reality, dark skinned Israelis, with family roots in Arab and African nations which oppressed them, now comprise the majority of Israel’s population (Tucker-Roberts, 5-12-08). 
The Palestinians have traditionally avoided negotiating a final settlement, regardless of terms. Per polling by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), the majority do not believe in a two-state solution. Their leadership’s grand scheme has always been to permit many millions of Palestinians around the world to return to Israel (rather than Gaza/West Bank), creating a de facto majority Palestinian state, thus negating the very reason for the creation of Israel as a safe haven for Jews worldwide. As a practical matter, no Israeli government, left or right, will or should ever agree with that radical course of action.
When a left of center Israeli government was in power, the Clinton administration attempted to broker a peace agreement. Prime Minister Barak’s government agreed to a peace proposal that clearly favored the Palestinians versus the Israelis according to most observers.
Palestinians got almost everything they asked for.
That proposed settlement included: 
• Creation of an independent Palestinian state consisting of 92 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza strip; 
• Palestinian control of East Jerusalem with the exception of Jewish religious sites and neighborhoods; 
• Admittance of 100,000 Palestinian refugees into Israel itself and 
• $30 billion compensation fund for other Palestinians. 
Yet, Arafat indignantly rejected that proposal with no counter. Not only did he reject it, but he called for an intifada (a domestic war) against the Israelis. As a result, his popularity with the Palestinian masses actually improved considerably, a lesson for future Palestinian leaders.
A majority (57 percent) of Israelis surveyed thought that Barak had conceded too much to Palestinian demands. As a result, General Sharon, a hard liner similar to Netanyahu, defeated moderate Prime Minister Barak in elections, a lesson for future Israeli leaders. 
If the Palestinians were unwilling to accept this very favorable deal, what will they accept short of a majority Palestinian state? With the current leadership, the answer is nothing other than total capitulation by the Israelis on the “right to return” issue, and that is why there has been no progress towards peace, regardless of the status of Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, the current excuses for not negotiating. The Palestinian leadership must be willing to tell “the street” that an unlimited Palestinian “right of return” is unreasonable.
After the 2020 election, the dust from the Trump administration will have settled.  Then, with truly qualified Middle Eastern experts in place to facilitate the process, we can get back to the never-ending peace negotiations. 
Hopefully, the Palestinian leadership will also eventually change, and a more realistic group will take their place. And, then Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition will fall apart, and we can have a real, equitable peace plan enacted.

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.




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