Aaron David Miller wrote this on The Post’s Sunday op-ed page:
Last week’s attacks near Eilat and the Israeli response show that violence always looms; Palestinians are suffering; Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state is at risk; and American credibility is on the line. But if Israeli and Palestinian leaders wanted to solve their problem, or at least make a serious run at negotiating (with or without U.S. help), we would not be on the verge of a big blame game. The fact is, however unpleasant the status quo, keeping things as they are strikes Israelis, Palestinians and Americans as much less risky than the decisions required to change it. Until that calculation changes — driven by the prospects of real pain and gain — there are going to be a lot more dead cats in the neighborhood.
This is perfectly absurd relativism, ignoring the obvious and profound role that each party has played in the breakdown of the nonexistent peace process. Notice the contrived sentence structure to avoid identifying the perpetrators. “Violence always looms,” you see. In other word, Hamas has never given up its blood lust for killing Jews.
It grows tiresome to repeat, but the convenient amnesia of peace-processors demands that we restate certain basic facts. The Palestinians have repeatedly been offered their own state. The Palestinians, sensing an easy mark in this American administration, threw a temper tantrum, demanding a settlement freeze. The Israelis complied. The Palestinians walked out. The Palestinians have (in a New York Times op-ed by Mahmoud Abbas and elsewhere) repudiated the Oslo Accords, vilified the president and declared themselves uninterested in adhering to any of their international obligations. They have climbed into bed with Hamas, which is now on a killing spree. There is the potential for full-scale war (either now, in response to the murders of Israelis in south Israel, or later, in the form of a third intifada that could well be triggered by a U.N. declaration of statehood, a suitably heinous reward to the Fatah-Hamas partnership by one of the world’s premier anti-Israel bodies ).
So let us give up the pretense, which verges on moral idiocy, that neither side is willing to take risks for peace and everyone is to blame. Hogwash.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like his predecessors has made clear that Israel is prepared to make peace. His Bar Ilan speech, the substance of which has been repeated in many contexts since it was given in 2009, is certainly not reflective of a leader unwilling to change current conditions. Or is Miller so benighted as to imagine that if Netanyahu would stop for another 10 months (or 10 years, for that matter) building apartments in Jerusalem or moving Israelis from leaky trailers to homes in Ariel, that there would be peace?
As for President Obama, he arguably has made things worse by overpromising to the Palestinians and encouraging their worst tendencies. But even he, as incompetent as he is when it comes to Middle East policy, is not primarily to blame.
The potential for war should and must be laid at the feet of the Palestinians (aided in this specific case by the indifference and/or malice of the new Egyptian government). Relations between Egypt and Israel “reached the worst point since the Camp David peace accords” as Israeli officials asserted that the terrorists came through Egyptian-owned Sinai. (Three Egyptians died in crossfire when Israel struck back at terrorist sites.)
The Jerusalem Post reports on the potential for widening violence in the wake of the assault on innocents launched by Hamas:
Israel’s government was considering on Saturday night the possibility of escalating its military response to the continued rocket fire from Gaza.
At least one man was killed and dozens of others were wounded by the more than 80 rockets that pounded southern Israel over the weekend. . . .
The . . . options [of the Israeli Defense Forces] vary, and could include an expansion in airstrikes, similar to the first week of Operation Cast Lead, which started in December 2008 with the bombing of hundreds of targets throughout the Gaza Strip.
The government will also consider a possible ground offensive inside Gaza, including small and isolated operations.
Other possibilities could include the use of targeted assassinations against leaders of terrorist organizations based in Gaza.
Only in the morally illiterate “international community” could the United Nations be on the verge of recognizing a Palestinian state jointly run by the terrorists who have (in all but name) launched (continued to launch?) a war against Israel. Only in a European continent now suffused with anti-Israel malice could the French and English be leading the charge to bestow statehood on a terror state. And only in the mind of peace-processors who have devoted their lives to an entirely false premise — that Palestinians are prepared and able to live in peace with a Jewish state — could this all appear to deserve studied evenhandedness. Enough already.
UPDATE (4:45 p.m.): The Jerusalem Post informs us that despite reports that Hamas was seeking a cease-fire, rockets still rained down on southern Israel.