Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday called upon the Palestinian Authority to agree to a truce and return to the bargaining table. "I call on our neighbors to return to negotiations," Sharon said. "Peace requires painful concessions by both sides [and] can be achieved only at the negotiating table." But, Sharon added, Israel will not negotiate under fire. And there will be no discussion about a "final peace deal" with the Palestinians.
For now the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues. The U.S. State Department policy lamely calls for an end to the fighting and a return to the conference table, too. But the fighting is a consequence of all the previous visits to the conference table. What is the point in renewing a process that cannot lead anywhere except back to where we are now?
The fact is that the Oslo "Peace Process" is dead. It is time for a public burial, before the corpse infects the landscape even more than it has already done.
The idea underlying the Oslo Accords was that the Israelis would give up land to the Palestinians to form a Palestinian state, and that state would then conclude an agreement for lasting peace and economic cooperation with Israel. But "land for peace" today is indistinguishable in principle from "Sudetenland for peace" in 1938. Hilter then declared the Sudetenland to be his last territorial demand in Europe, and Chamberlain believed him. When Chamberlain returned from Munich waving a slip of paper with Hitler's signature, he declared that it meant "Peace in our time." In fact, it guaranteed the outbreak of the greatest war in all human history.
By continually making concessions in the interest of peace, the appeasers only made the war, when it came, more difficult and costly. The imbecility of the democracies in dealing with Hitler was rooted in their inability to see his regime for what it was. There was no diplomatic solution to the problem presented by Hitler.
Exactly the same is true of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority today. Their aim is the extermination of the "Zionist entity." This is in the original PLO Charter, and it has never been changed, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding. Wiping Israel from the face of the earth remains their unchanging goal.
There cannot be a constructive diplomatic process between a tyranny and a democracy. The problem of Hitler could be resolved only by the destruction of Hitler. After Hitler, Germany became a peaceful, democratic regime, able to join the neighbors it had once conquered in an equal partnership in the European Union. The Palestinians whom Arafat represents are like the Germans Hitler represented. The Palestinian Authority, like the Nazis, is a gangster regime that rules its own people by terror. More Palestinians have been murdered by their own government for expressing dissent than have died in action against the Israeli Defense Forces in the Intifada. The bulk of the hundreds of millions of dollars the United States has poured into Arafat's treasury have been embezzled.
The first step in American policy must be the de-legitimizing of the Palestinian Authority, returning it to the former terrorist status of the PLO. The next step must be the establishment of a procedure by which the Palestinians, free from all intimidation like a de-Nazified Germany, may choose a new and genuinely representative government. Such a government should be capable of helping to form a Middle East Union not unlike the European Union. After all, the long-standing hostility of Arabs and Jews is no greater that that which prevailed during two world wars between Germans and French. Ancient hatreds can be overcome, but only by a political realism that sees freedom and tyranny for what they are.