Previously Published in The Times of Israel
Peace is unattainable.
I hate to begin with such a sharp and depressing assertion. However, this is the truth. This is the bitter reality.
In order to resolve the complex and tense Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there needs to be two accepting parties. Additionally, there must be leaders, united under the same aspiration of peace and reconciliation. Sadly, one of these leaders has chosen the violent alternative; advancing an agenda of hatred and hostility. His name is Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority.
When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stood behind the main podium at the UN this past Wednesday, the words he sternly uttered were not directed at the plethora of delegates packed into the General Assembly Hall. His words were spoken with the intention of inciting his own people, and aimed to perpetuate hate towards the State of Israel.
When President Abbas proclaimed to the world that the Palestinians will “no longer continue to be bound” by the Oslo Accords (a series of peace agreements), he sent a message to his people, most of which were gathered in Ramallah, the Palestinian capitol, to watch the speech. He sent a message of hate and intolerance that echoed throughout the streets of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank. A message that told the Palestinian people that they should no longer honor this peace agreement. A message of abhorrence towards Israel.
This message has resulted in absolute hell.
The Jerusalem Post writes, “across the West Bank on Monday, a day after two Israelis were murdered in a stabbing terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City and three days after two Israeli parents were killed in a shooting attack on their vehicle in Samaria.” These heinous acts were two among thirty six terror attacks on Israeli people in the days following Abbas’s speech.
Palestinian terrorists have claimed the lives of babies, children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents. While there are extremist Israeli settlers, who are always in the wrong, the amount of incidents initiated by the Palestinians significantly outnumbers those caused by Israelis. Documented attacks during which Palestinians hurl bricks and rocks at Israeli vehicles, people, and soldiers in the streets have become all too familiar in Israel.
The effect of Abbas’s speech has not only affected the peace process, it has hurt everyday Israeli civilians. Families in Jerusalem and in the West Bank fear for their lives on a daily basis. Children who walk to school need military protection in order to ensure their safety. Additionally, Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, are met with rock throwers, hostile words, and vibrant shouts of “Allahu Akbar” as a means of intimidation.
Abbas’s speech was a catalyst to already growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
His speech at the United Nations was not the only time President Abbas used his voice to promote barbarity against Israeli people. In a television interview with Palestinian Authority TV, Abbas exclaimed, “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… We will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem. … We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”
Abbas is practically endorsing the use of suicide attacks against Israelis. The language he uses is scarily comparable to the language used by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during the Second Intifada, a wave of terror attacks that took the lives of 1,035 Israelis. These words have translated into irreversible actions; actions that have claimed the lives countless innocent people.
Thus, we must each answer these important questions:
How can peace be achieved if one leader calls for violence against the other side? How can peace be achieved if one leader is motivated by the aspiration of the destruction of other side? How can peace be achieved if one leader time-and-time again commits actions that obstruct the path of peace?
The simple answer is; it can’t.
This complex conflict requires two leaders to come together, amidst their differences, and listen to one another. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it perfectly in his UN address several years ago, “I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand — the hand of Israel — in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand.”
Alas, Abbas has yet to grasp this hand.
I recognize that many Palestinians have a genuine desire for peace, and their goals are noble and legitimate. However, you cannot blame Israel for these problems. You cannot blame Israel for the absence of peace, or the lack of progress towards negotiation.
Palestinians, your problem is not Israel. Your problem is Mahmoud Abbas.