Few Israelis Believe a Palestinian State Would Be a Peaceful Neighbor

(Wall Street Journal) Yossi Klein Halevi - The Middle East of the early 1990s seemed a place of promise: An American-led coalition had defeated Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, while the Soviet Union, sponsor of Arab radical regimes and the Palestinian cause, had vanished. Palestinian leaders seemed ready to negotiate an agreement with Israel, and a majority of Israelis, especially after the first intifada, were ready to try. In today's disintegrating Middle East, by contrast, Israelis question the viability of a Palestinian state. Which Arab state, Israelis ask, will be a likely model for Palestine: Syria? Iraq? Libya? Few Israelis believe that a Palestinian state would be a peaceful neighbor. In part that's because the Palestinian national movement - in both its supposedly moderate nationalist wing and its radical Islamist branch - continues to deny the very legitimacy of Israel. The Palestinian media repeat an almost daily message: The Jews are not a real people, they have no roots in this land and their entire history is a lie, from biblical Israel to the Holocaust. The current wave of stabbings has been lauded not only by the Islamist Hamas but by the Palestinian Authority. The result is profound disillusionment with the peace process across the Israeli political spectrum. A majority regards a Palestinian state as an existential threat. They know that it would place Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport, the country's main link with the world, in easy range of rocket attacks. Israelis sense that they have exhausted their political options toward the Palestinians and have essentially embraced the status quo as the least terrifying option. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

2016-03-01 00:00:00

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