by Mitchall Bard
(JNS) — Many critics of Israel have joined Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in denouncing Israel because courts have determined that a group of Palestinian families are illegally living in homes owned by Jews in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. Rather than accept a compromise offered by the Supreme Court that would have allowed them to stay in their homes, the families turned it down and now face eviction (As of Nov. 10, one of the families that did not appeal the eviction order reached a deal with the property owners that will allow them to remain in their homes for at least 10 years as long as they pay rent). This is a microcosm of the entire conflict as the Palestinians prefer no loaf to any part of a loaf.
In brief, Jordan sequestered “enemy property” owned by Jews in Sheikh Jarrah after the 1948 War of Independence. Jordan never gave the Palestinians title to the land it seized. When Israel captured the area in 1967, the government released the sequestered properties. In 1972, the Israeli Supreme Court validated the Jewish claims to owning the property they had been forced to abandon, but ruled that Arab families living in homes on those lands could not be evicted if they agreed to pay rent to the owners.
In 1993, the owners sought to evict the tenants for failure to pay rent, but it was not until 2001 that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court agreed with them. The Supreme Court, however, sought a compromise to allow the Arabs to stay and suggested they could enjoy the status of protected tenants, retain the right to try to prove ownership of the properties, and stay in their homes if they agreed to pay rent that amounted to about $62.50 per month.
The Palestinians rejected the offer, preferring eviction to remaining in their homes — much like the tens of thousands of Palestinians who preferred to flee their homes in 1948 in hopes that the Arab armies would drive out the Jews, rather than becoming Israeli citizens.
Not surprisingly, the Palestinian leadership endorsed the families’ decision. The Palestinian Legislative Council issued a press release that said “the Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Committee in the Legislative Council affirmed that the people of all of Palestine, from its sea to its river, and its armed resistance stand behind the people of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.” It also said, “Al-Quds and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, like all of Palestine, are a purely Islamic endowment and sanctuary in which the Jews have no historical, religious or cultural right” (emphasis added).
Read those emphasized words again. Where do you see the opportunity for a two-state solution?
If you look at the Palestinians’ views, they are as recalcitrant as they were nearly a century ago. To this day, the Palestinians do not accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in what they consider Palestine.
The Palestinians refused to compromise in 1937, 1939, 1947, 1979, 1993, 2000, 2008 and 2020. That’s eight opportunities they missed to achieve independence. Need further proof “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”?
As early as the 1950s, Israel offered to accept as many as 100,000 Palestinian refugees in exchange for peace, but it wasn’t worth it because the Palestinians still expected Israel would be destroyed. Today, the Palestinians imagine 5.9 million “refugees” have an unconditional “right of return.”
After Israel withdrew from 40 percent of the West Bank, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the supposedly right-wing opponent of any compromise — agreed to withdraw from an additional 13 percent of the West Bank in return for a Palestinian promise to outlaw and combat terrorist organizations, prohibit illegal weapons, stop weapon smuggling, and prevent incitement of violence and terrorism. Israel withdrew from 2 percent of “Area C” and transferred 7 percent of “Area B” to full Palestinian control but Netanyahu said there would be no further withdrawals until the P.A. satisfied its commitments. The Palestinians reneged on their promises and lost the opportunity to expand the territory of the P.A.
In addition to offering to withdraw from nearly all the West Bank, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was prepared to allow the Palestinians to have the capital they say they want in eastern Jerusalem. One reason PLO leader Yasser Arafat rejected the offer was because it would have meant ending the conflict with Israel.
How many people are even aware that except for a brief meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel since 2008? They wouldn’t even accept the initiative of the friendly Obama administration.
Palestinians maintain that Arabs have the right to live in Israel but deny the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian state that is Judenrein is far worse than an apartheid state. None of the two-staters or supporters of the Palestinians care, but Jews are supposed to support their ambition.
Palestinians complain about settlements, but did they really expect Israel to prevent Jews from moving to parts of their homeland while they plotted Israel’s disappearance?
Consider that when they rejected autonomy in 1979, there were fewer than 10,000 Jews in the territories. When their terror attacks destroyed the 1993 Oslo Accords, there were about 150,000. There were 200,000 when Arafat rejected the Clinton Parameters in 2000 and about 275,000 when Abbas walked away from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008. In the years since then, the Jewish population has increased to 475,000, not counting the 200,000 Jews living in Jerusalem that the Palestinians also consider settlers.
Do the Palestinians, their supporters and two-staters seriously believe those Jews are going to disappear or that any Israeli government will force them out of their homes as part of an agreement that, like Oslo, won’t be worth the paper it’s written on?
The Arab states couldn’t force the Jews into the sea, and now, they are more interested in peace with Israel than helping the Palestinians who they view as ungrateful and obdurate. Do the Palestinians think the E.U. or the U.N. can force Israel to capitulate to their demands? Do they listen to the insignificant members of “The Squad” repeating their propaganda and expect the United States to abandon its ally?
The Palestinians created fantasyland long before Walt Disney.
Two state advocates refuse to acknowledge not only this history but the present, which is not just reflected by the Sheikh Jarrah case but also by the broader Palestinian rejection of compromise. According to recent polls, for example, 66 percent support annulling the Oslo Accords, 54 percent oppose returning to negotiations, 54 percent believe a return to an armed intifada is the best way to achieve their goals and, by a 62 to 36 percent margin, oppose a two-state solution (and support has been steadily declining).
The Sheikh Jarrah residents’ intransigence may lead to their homelessness just as their fellow Palestinians’ obstinance has guaranteed their statelessness.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”