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Latest News in Israel – 22nd May

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Greenblatt: History will judge Palestinians harshly for passing up opportunity

Greenblatt, the US Special Representative for International Negotiations, expressed his frustration Monday from the Palestinian reaction to the economic workshop in Bahrain next month, in which the administration is set to reveal the financial part of its peace plan.

“It’s difficult to understand why the Palestinian Authority would reject a workshop designed to discuss a vision with the potential to radically transform lives and put people on a path toward a brighter future,” he told The Jerusalem Post in a written answer to a question regarding the Palestinian reaction to the administration’s announcement.

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Monday that the Palestinians and their leaders were not seeking an improvement of living conditions “under the occupation.”

Earlier today, a senior PA official told the Post: “I believe we will boycott the Bahrain workshop. We haven’t received an invitation yet to attend the workshop, but [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas will take the final decision after consulting with the Palestinian leadership.”

“Palestinians deserve dignity, opportunity and a better way of life,” Greenblatt added. “Also, by encouraging Palestinians to reject the workshop, the PA is shamefully trying to block their path toward a better future. History will judge the Palestinian Authority harshly for passing up any opportunity that could give the Palestinians something so very different, and something so very positive, compared to what they have today.”

He said that the administration’s economic plan is an “ambitious but achievable” vision, which presents an alternative path with the potential to unlock a prosperous future for the Palestinian people if they choose to follow it.

“It’s an exciting road map, which includes a detailed portfolio of real projects and capacity building programs, that has the potential to unleash sustainable, private sector-driven growth – but we understand that only through peace and a solution to the final status issues can this level of growth be possible,” said Greenblatt.  (Jerusalem Post) Omri Nahmias

MKs advance bill to expand cabinet, giving Netanyahu more coalition leeway

Knesset members on Monday voted to advance controversial legislation that would expand the number of cabinet posts, in an effort to woo potential coalition partners into the government.

Casting their first legislative vote of the 21st Knesset, MKs voted 65 to 54 in favor of the bill to expand the cabinet from its current 21 members to an expected 26-28. The measure would cancel a 2014 law limiting the cabinet to 18 ministers that was temporarily amended in 2015, during coalition talks after that year’s election.

Having received government approval, the measure will now need to pass two further Knesset plenary votes before becoming law, a move the government wants to complete by the end of the week.

With time running out for him to finalize a deal to form a new government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to appeal to the five parties that, along with his own Likud, are vying for ministerial posts. Increasing the number of ministers would give Netanyahu additional collateral to court the parties he needs to give him a majority, while also satisfying the demands of his own party members, who are likely to miss out on key positions doled out to coalition partners.

MK Yair Lapid, number 2 in Blue and White, which is set to be the largest party in the opposition, blasted what he described as the wasteful spending required for the “unnecessary ministries.”

“We thought for a moment there that you were going to establish a government that would work for the good of the country, but you buried that on Sunday” with the introduction of the bill to expand the cabinet, he charged during the Knesset plenum debate of the bill on Monday afternoon.

“We can now hang a sign in front of the hospital in Afula that says, ‘We won’t be buying an MRI machine because the money had to go to an unnecessary government ministry,’” he added.

Lapid accused Likud of seeking to establish “eight unnecessary ministries,” saying “there is no need for a ‘Ministry for Intelligence Affairs’ — you just need the jobs, the drivers, the salaries.”

Defending the measure, Likud MK Ofir Akunis, the science minister in the outgoing government, accused Blue and White of being anti-democratic, noting that unlike Likud, the party did not hold primaries to determine its Knesset slate.

“None of you, who are now [pretending to be] defenders of democracy, was chosen by anyone — and you speak of democracy?”

He rejected criticism of the expansion of the cabinet, saying few governments have adhered to past caps on the number of ministers. “The only time that the [law limiting the cabinet size] was followed in full was in 1996, in the first government of Benjamin Netanyahu,” Akunis said.

MK Ze’ev Elkin of Likud accused opposition lawmakers of hypocrisy. “There were 23 ministers in a government Yesh Atid and Yair Lapid were a part of,” he said, referring to Lapid’s party, which along with Benny Gantz’s Israeli Resilience makes up Blue and White. “And there are MKs [in the opposition] who served as ministers in a government with 30 ministers.”

With just over a week before the final May 28 deadline for Netanyahu to submit a coalition to the Knesset, negotiations appear to have stalled, and no agreement has been signed with any party. Without reconciling the conflicting demands of the secularist Yisrael Beytenu and the ultra-Orthodox parties, as well as the other factions likely to join, Netanyahu will be unable to assemble a coalition of at least 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

After the 2013 elections, Yesh Atid conditioned joining the government on the passage of a law to drastically cut the number of ministers from the record 30 in the previous government to 18. Following the 2015 elections, however, the first opportunity for the new law to be implemented, Netanyahu passed a temporary amendment expanding it to 21. Now he wants the law scrapped altogether.

Members of the Blue and White party as well as other parties in the likely opposition have railed against measure, citing a price tag of up to NIS 300 million ($84 million) to fund the increased number of ministers’ offices, staff and expenses.

“You are stealing budgetary funds from the public who need them. Don’t pretend to care about cancer patients or others who need more help when you are taking the money from under their noses for yourselves,” Blue and White MK Meir Cohen said during a heated Monday morning meeting of the Knesset Arrangements Committee, pointing at the Likud MKs in the committee.

Meretz chair Tamar Zandberg during a Knesset committee debate on cancelling the 2013 law limiting the number of ministers, May 20, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“This is a corrupt deal being made in front of us all,” said Meretz chair Tamar Zandberg.

Blue and White leader Gantz went so far as to accuse Netanyahu of resorting to “political bribery” in his bid to woo coalition partners into the government.

“Can you believe we are going to talk today about increasing the number of ministers? This is simply another tool in the toolbox of political bribery. Its only aim is political gain. Anyone who accepts this is accepting a political bribe,” railed Gantz at his party’s weekly faction meeting on Monday, referring to the prime minister’s attempts to protect himself from prosecution in three corruption cases against him.

Committee chair MK Miki Zohar of Likud said, however, that the bill would in fact create more stability and even save money by “preventing another election within two years. That would cost billions!”

On Sunday, Netanyahu complained that his potential coalition partners were unyielding in their demands and obstructing any prospect for significant progress in talks. “Unfortunately, the parties are still at the top of the trees they have climbed,” the prime minister said at the opening of the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

“I hope that the way will soon be found to bring them down to the ground so that together we can establish a strong and stable government for the State of Israel, which will continue to lead the country to new heights,” he said.

If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition by May 28, the task could be assigned to a different member of the Knesset. If no member of the legislature is likely to be able to form a government, the country could then face new elections.  (The Times of Israel) Raoul Wootliff

Prominent Jewish Leaders Slam Polish PM Over Holocaust Restitution Comment

Several prominent Jewish leaders on Monday denounced as “reprehensible” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s reported comment last week that paying compensation for Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust would be a “posthumous victory” for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

“Poland was itself subjected to years of savage Nazi occupation, which makes its failure to appropriately confront the tragedy of millions of its Jewish citizens who were earmarked for annihilation by the Germans especially troubling,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder stated.

“Successive Polish governments have steadfastly refused to recognize the material losses of Polish Jewry and have essentially treated their homes and other property as the spoils of war — and individual Poles and Polish institutions have profiteered from these assets for more than seven decades.

“This unwillingness to acknowledge that the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs are entitled to a modicum of material justice is unfortunate enough, but Prime Minister Morawiecki’s contention — assuming that it was uttered as reported — that providing restitution to Jews for their stolen property would be ‘Hitler’s posthumous victory’ is alarming in the extreme,” Lauder added. “I hope that Prime Minister Morawiecki was misquoted and can provide an explanation. Otherwise the sentiments underlying his words can only be characterized as reprehensible and must be thoroughly rejected.”

“As a longtime friend of Poland and the Polish people, I call upon Prime Minister Morawiecki to either deny or retract this deeply offensive and utterly incomprehensible statement,” Lauder concluded.

B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said, “B’nai B’rith is appalled at the absolutist stance of the Polish government that it will never provide any restoration or compensation to Jews whose property was stolen during the Holocaust.”

They continued:

“Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Law and Justice party have clung to the view that because Poland was also a victim of Nazi Germany it cannot be held responsible for crimes committed against Jews. They are therefore denying rightful and long-overdue compensation to Polish Jews whose property was stolen during World War II. However, some Poles did participate in crimes against Jews, before, during and after the war.”

“Poland’s post-war Communist regime nationalized much of the property stolen from Jews. Morawiecki says any restitution to Jews must be paid by Berlin. Last year in the shadow of a Polish law that would have criminalized talk of Poland’s complicity in the Holocaust, we noted that Poland must acknowledge a history of antisemitism that preceded the Holocaust and persists to this day.”

Earlier this month, hundreds of far-rightists marched in Warsaw to protest against a US law on the restitution of Jewish property seized during or after World War II, an issue increasingly featuring in campaigns for upcoming Polish elections.

Carrying placards with slogans including, “Poland has no obligations,” and, “Holocaust hyenas,” demonstrators marched from the prime minister’s office to the US embassy in central Warsaw.

Poland was home to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities before it was almost entirely wiped out by Nazi German occupiers who set up death camps such as Auschwitz on Polish soil. Thousands of Jews were also killed by native Poles during the war.

Former owners and their descendants have been campaigning since the fall of communism in 1989 to be compensated for lost property, which was seized by Poland’s authoritarian rulers, but successive Polish administrations have lacked the money or determination to resolve the issue.

The nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government — led by Morawiecki — has said that as a victim in World War II Poland should not be saddled with any financial obligations. (The Algemeiner) Staff

Pollard slams Israeli Government for not bringing him home

Former Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard has expressed deep frustration over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not doing enough to enable him to move to Israel.

“To be disappointed, you have to expect more,” Pollard said in an impromptu interview in a New York restaurant broadcast Tuesday on Channel 12. “My expectation level is so low that I am not surprised. The government’s indifference to get us [he and his wife, Esther] home would be crushing if I didn’t know that our faith in Hashem and love of the land is so strong that it will eventually see us home.”

Asked if Netanyahu had done enough, Pollard said there were numerous occasions when the prime minister could have raised his fate with US President Donald Trump but chose different priorities.

“There always seems to be something else,” he said, singling out moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, breaking the Iran deal, and recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights.

“To make it a priority would mean the government cared enough to say it’s time for me to come home in a forthright manner, and this hasn’t been done,” he said. “There is concern as to what this suggests about its commitment to security. If you don’t care about someone like myself, who spent 30 years in prison on behalf of the Land and people of Israel, then how much concern can you actually show or exhibit or feel towards anybody in the country, from our soldiers to our civilians?”

Pollard concluded by saying that the people of Israel need to know he was still “fighting to get home, and with God’s help we will get home.”

Netanyahu’s office responded that Israel remains committed to the Pollard issue, and that the prime minister has raised it many times and will continue to raise it.

Pollard was paroled on November 20, 2015, after having served 30 years of his 45-year life sentence in prison for passing classified information to an ally. He is on parole for the final 15 years, during which he not only cannot come to Israel, but must remain in his New York apartment from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He wears a tracking device at all times, and any computer he uses must be monitored by government software.  (Jerusalem Post) Gil Hoffman

Israeli rescue teams dig for remains after Holocaust mass grave found at Belarus site

A delegation from an Israeli coalition of rescue organizations, ZAKA, was participating in the search and identification of bodies in a mass grave identified in a building site over a former Jewish ghetto in the city of Brest on the Belarus border with Poland.

The grave was expected to yield above of 1,100 bodies, most of whom were shot in the head and many of them women and children.

“The sights are shocking to every Jewish heart,” ZAKA Executive Director Rabbi Tzvi Hasid said in a statement.

Over 1,000 bodies found in Belarus mass Holocaust grave

The World Jewish Congress earlier called for Belarus to stop construction on this site, and in others like it throughout the country.

“We expect that municipalities across Belarus will use the same judgement before allowing construction in every region in the country where the mass executions of Jewish population took place,” a statement by the organization’s CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said in March. (i24 News) Staff

Remains of Second Temple-era Jews reburied after their West Bank tombs damaged

The remains of hundreds of Second Temple-era Jews who were buried in the Jericho area were re-interred on Tuesday in the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim after they were found scattered outside tombs damaged by Palestinian agricultural work in the area.

The remains were found near the Hasmonean Palace in Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities, after their tombs were said to have been looted.

According to the pro-settlement activist group Regavim, the tombs were “looted by Arab grave-robbers.”

The bones were reinterred at the Kfar Adumim cemetery in a funeral attended by hundreds that was organized by archaeologists from the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration and by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council.

Activists who keep watch over believed Jewish archaeological sites in the area discovered the destroyed tombs, which had apparently been partly demolished by Palestinian tractor drivers attempting to clear an area for planting several weeks ago.

Local farmers reportedly told the activists that “the sarcophagi from which the bones were removed had recently ‘disappeared,’” Regavim said in a statement Tuesday.

Residents of local Israeli villages, military officials and an assortment of right-wing public figures took part in the funeral.

Local leaders and activists lashed what they called Palestinian “trampling” of archaeological sites linked to millennia of Jewish history in the West Bank.

Regavim director Meir Deutsch called the burial “an act of true grace, not only toward the remains of our ancestors but to our heritage and our history, which are being brutally trampled by the Palestinian Authority – in Jericho and in thousands of other archaeological sites throughout Judea and Samaria, the land of the Bible and the cradle of Jewish culture,” according to quotes from the funeral released by Regavim.

Mateh Binyamin Council head Yisrael Gantz also spoke at the re-interment, lashing the believed destroyers of the tombs as “greedy, callous thieves who have no respect for human dignity [and] laid their hands on the remains of our ancestors.’”

He promised to erect a “proper memorial stone” at the site within days. (the Times of Israel) Staff

Why Palestinians Oppose Economic Prosperity

by Bassam Tawil               The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/14236/palestinians-oppose-economic-prosperity

To advance his goal, Ashraf Jabari recently announced the establishment of a new party that calls for focusing on economic prosperity for Palestinians. The Reform and Development Party seeks to solve the economic problems of the Palestinians, particularly high unemployment, he said. “We have an army of university graduates who are unemployed. We’ve reached a situation where a young [Palestinian] man holding a Master’s degree in law has to work as a street vendor because he can’t find work.”

Instead of giving Jabari a chance to carry out his initiative, Palestinians have waged a massive smear campaign against him, with many denouncing him as a “traitor” and “collaborator” with Israel and Jews. Some Palestinians have even gone as far as calling for his arrest or execution.

The upcoming peace plan, according to various reports, talks about giving the Palestinians billions of dollars and raising money for them from wealthy Arab countries. Yet, as Jabari’s case makes clear, the Palestinians are less invested in gaining economic stability than they are in hating Israel.

For Palestinians, the financial aid is a cynical attempt to lure them away from their struggle against Israel — and no Palestinian leader has the stomach to face the threats that Jabari is currently confronting. So, far from any “deal of the century,” the Palestinian leaders long ago struck a dirty deal of their own: they put their stock in Israel-hatred rather than in their own people.

In most normal societies, a businessman who seeks to improve the living conditions of his people by boosting the economy and creating job opportunities for the unemployed — including a host of jobless university graduates — is treated with respect. The Palestinians, however, do not seem to belong to those societies.

Ashraf Jabari is a 45-year-old businessman from the West Bank city of Hebron. A member of a large Palestinian clan in the city, Jabari believes in economic cooperation and peaceful coexistence with his Jewish neighbors, including settlers living in the West Bank.

Earlier this year, Jabari and some of his Jewish friends launched a new economic initiative to advance joint entrepreneurship between Israelis and Palestinians there.

“We are working on taking down borders, and both Israelis and Palestinians need to take part in this,” Jabari explained. “We need to breach this wall. We must first create good links and good relationships not just in the West Bank, but all over Israel so we can achieve our desired goal.”

To advance his goal, Jabari recently announced the establishment of a new party that calls for focusing on economic prosperity for Palestinians:

The Reform and Development Party, he said, seeks to solve the economic problems of the Palestinians, including high unemployment. “We have an army of university graduates who are unemployed,” he said. “We’ve reached a situation where a young [Palestinian] man holding a Master’s degree in law has to work as a street vendor because he can’t find work.”

One would expect a message like that to be welcomed by Palestinians. Here is a man who is talking about helping his people put food on their tables. Here is a man who is saying: “Let’s put aside our political differences and focus on ways of achieving economic stability for our people.”

Instead of giving Jabari a chance to carry out his initiative, Palestinians have waged a massive smear campaign against him, with many denouncing him as a “traitor” and “collaborator” with Israel and Jews. Some Palestinians have even gone as far as calling for his arrest or execution.

The campaign against the Palestinian businessman reached its peak on May 13, after he hosted at his home several Jews for the Ramadan break-the-fast meal, Iftar. It is not unusual for Muslims to host non-Muslims for the Iftar meal. In this instance, however, Jabari seems to have invited the “wrong” guests: Jews.

As soon as photos of the Ramadan meal appeared in various media outlets, many angry Palestinians took to social media to voice their strong condemnation of Jabari.

In the face of the widespread protests and resentment, Jabari’s clan was forced publicly to denounce and disown him. “Ashraf Jabari is a criminal, and he doesn’t enter the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories,” said Arif Rubin Jabari, a leader of the clan. “Our family already disowned this fraud back in 2002. He doesn’t represent anyone from our clan or Hebron.”

The clan leader further claimed that Israel was “using Jabari to carry out its suspicious schemes against Palestinians.” He called on Palestinian Authority officials to “study Israel’s attempt to give prominence to Jabari by presenting him as an alternative to the current Palestinian leadership.”

The clan’s public denunciation of Jabari, however, has failed to placate many Palestinians, who are now calling for severely punishing the him for his words and deeds.

The Palestinian news website Wattan, based in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians, called for bringing Jabari to trial for treason. “The [Palestinian] security services must act immediately to arrest him,” Wattan said in an article published on its website.

“According to Article 135 of the Revolutionary Penal Code of the PLO (1979), the punishment for treason is prison with hard labor. The law states that anyone who offers accommodation, food or clothes to an enemy soldier or a spy or helps him escape, should be punished. Dozens of spies have already been punished in accordance with this law. Article 140 of the same law stipulates the death sentence for anyone who serves as an informant for the enemy. Indeed, many spies have been executed.”

Judging from the reactions of the Palestinians, they are angry with Jabari mainly for two reasons: engaging in “normalization” with Israelis and promoting the idea of “economic peace.” The Palestinians’ “anti-normalization” movement is strongly opposed to any form of relations with Israel — including sports and cultural events. Now, it seems that they are even opposed to seeing Palestinians and Jews eating together.

Jabari offended many Palestinians because he dared to invite his Jewish friends to the Ramadan meal at his home.

Moreover, his talk about “economic prosperity” for Palestinians has turned him into a public enemy. How dare the man discuss seeking ways to improve the living conditions of his people and create jobs for the unemployed?

In the eyes of many Palestinians, the struggle against Israel should be paramount, even if they have to eat and drink that struggle instead of the food they could buy through engaging in economic initiatives such as those proposed by Jabari.

Had Jabari joined Hamas or Islamic Jihad, or one of the anti-Israel organizations in the West Bank, he would have been idolized. Had he called for boycotting Israel rather than working — and eating — with them, he would have been lauded among his people and his clan.

In light of the uproar sparked by the Palestinian businessman’s actions and statements, it is safe to assume that his new party will never succeed in winning the hearts and minds of Palestinians. It’s also hard to see how any of the economic enterprises he’s talking about will ever materialize.

The unprecedented campaign of hate and intimidation against Jabari comes weeks before the US administration rolls out its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century.”

The upcoming peace plan, according to various reports, talks about giving the Palestinians billions of dollars and raising money for them from wealthy Arab countries. Yet, as Jabari’s case makes clear, the Palestinians are less invested in gaining economic stability than they are in hating Israel

For Palestinians, the financial aid is a cynical attempt to lure them away from their struggle against Israel — and no Palestinian leader has the stomach to face the threats that Jabari is currently confronting. So, far from any “deal of the century,” the Palestinian leaders long ago struck a dirty deal of their own: they put their stock in Israel-hatred rather than in their own people.

Why the Palestinian Authority Won’t Collapse

by Efraim Inbar                      The Jerusalem Post/ Middle East Forum

https://www.meforum.org/58429/pa-economy-wont-collapse

The Palestinian Authority is refusing to accept any funds transferred from Israel because Israel has begun deducting the value of stipends the PA pays to terrorists and their families, commonly known as “pay for slay.”

The PA’s refusal has added to its chronic budget crisis. International financial support to the PA has declined in recent years, and the Palestinian economy has deteriorated accordingly. As a result, the PA is now telling the world it faces economic collapse.

The Palestinian strategy is clear. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to scare Israel and the world community into believing the relative stability in the West Bank will come to an end, leading to chaos and terror. The PA leadership is emulating Hamas’s behavior by threatening that a humanitarian disaster will ensue unless more financial aid is rendered. Hamas has been playing this same game for years in Gaza. Israel and other international actors (the United States is a sober exception) seem to fall repeatedly for these Palestinians schemes.

It is true that a certain level of economic prosperity in the PA is conducive to stability. Hungry neighbors always pose trouble. Unfortunately, poverty is often cynically employed by authoritarian regimes such as Hamas and the PA as a foreign policy tool to gain attention and financial aid. In fact, the Palestinian leadership needs a certain number of hungry subjects as a precondition for continuous international support. And Palestinian leaders are far less susceptible to economic difficulty than responsible leaders are. Palestinian elites eat well in any case.

Abbas will soon be facing the “deal of the century” proposed by an American administration that is very critical of Palestinian policies. Washington has reduced its financial support for the PA and eliminated all aid to UNWRA.

In response, the Palestinians have announced their rejection of any plan coming from the Trump administration. One way to reject the American peace proposal and yet not be blamed for its failure is to engineer an economic crisis that diverts attention from continuous Palestinian intransigence regarding any and every attempt at peacemaking.

Fortunately for the PA, the economic crisis can always be attributed to Israel, which serves as a constant and historic villain in the Palestinian narrative. Attention to Palestinian economic ineptitude and corruption can also be diverted by blaming the high-handed Israelis. And finally, Israel’s insistence on not financing terrorist activities can mobilize some much-needed political support at home for the unpopular Abbas. All polls show a gradual loss of legitimacy for Abbas among Palestinians.

Fears of an imminent collapse of the PA – long a darling of the international community – also serve to force the Palestinian issue back to the top of the world’s agenda. For a while the world has been busy with other more burning issues, such as Iran. Indeed, the Iranian threat has lowered the interest of most Arab states in the Palestinian issue, as well, and brought them closer to the Israeli position – which basically considers the Palestinians a strategic nuisance. The conclusion reached by many Arab and other actors is that in the absence of a Palestinian leadership ready to make difficult decisions, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can, at best, be managed for the medium term.

It should be noted that Israel is doing more than its share to bolster the Palestinian economy – providing jobs to Palestinians in the Israeli work market; supplying water, electricity and health services to Palestinians; and keeping Hamas from overthrowing Abbas’s PA. Moreover, it is active in raising funds internationally for the PA.

And thus, nobody should cave to Palestinian blackmail. While it is best for all concerned to ensure a decent standard of living for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, it is highly unlikely that the PA will economically collapse. After all, the PA is a very good business for the kleptocratic leaders of the regime in Ramallah. Marked by corruption and nepotism, the PA is source of significant income for Abbas and his coterie. This gang will not kill the goose that lays golden eggs. As dysfunctional as the Palestinian national movement has become, it has excelled in perpetuating the pork barrel born in Oslo.

Palestinians Need to Get Real about Israel – Walter Russell Mead (Wall Street Journal)

Diplomatically, economically, militarily, Israel has never been stronger than it is today. By contrast, neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority can find a viable policy either to defeat the Israelis or to make peace with them.

One result – as I saw on a recent visit – is that Palestinians, especially young people, are increasingly giving up on having a state of their own. Yet in meetings with senior Palestinian Authority officials and political observers, it was clear that this is more a cry of despair than a serious political program. The Palestinians are no more able to impose a one-state solution on the Israelis than they are able to colonize the moon.

A well-connected Palestinian I spoke to in Ramallah explained that the one-state option is popular among younger Palestinians in part because they think the Israeli state is better-governed than the West Bank under the PA – with better administration, less corruption and more responsiveness to public opinion. They would like some of that good governance for themselves.

If true, this is a sign that at least some Palestinians are beginning to think in more realistic terms. If the Palestinians were ready to promote reconciliation and close economic links with the Jewish state, there is no limit to the prosperity that the Palestinians could achieve. There are also concessions to Palestinian aspirations that no Israeli leader will make under threat, but that many would accept in conditions of true peace.

Palestinians today need a Konrad Adenauer: a leader who can accept military defeat and painful territorial losses while building a prosperous future through reconciliation with the victors. A new generation, instead of following its elders down the rabbit hole of eternally futile resistance, could instead work toward competent governance, and ultimately reconciliation and renewal.

Like the Arab states threatened by Iran, some Palestinians may be slowly beginning to realize that everything that makes Israel a formidable foe can also make it a valuable friend.

The writer is Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College.