According to this account of a story in the Arab newspaper Al Quds, the Trump administration intends to offer a deal to the Palestinian delegation which is due to arrive imminently in Washington. Stop paying salaries to the families of terrorist prisoners and those terrorists killed in their attacks on Israel, the Americans will say, and in return President Trump will shelve his proposal to move the US Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
If this is true, the sting of this apparent proposal is not just that ditching the long-overdue embassy move is being reprehensibly dangled as bait to get Mahmoud Abbas to move towards a deal. It suggests a fundamental failure by President Trump to understand the most basic point about the Middle East conflict.
Trump, as we all know, is a deal maker. He appears to believe he can pull off the mother of all deals to end the Israel/Arab impasse.
If he does think that, he is fundamentally, fatally and inescapably wrong – because the premise is utterly misguided.
This is because you cannot do a deal – any deal – with someone who has an unconscionable and non-negotiable agenda. A deal means that both parties to a dispute give and take. But if the side with the non-negotiable agenda is offered a deal, it will do all the taking but give nothing at all – while the other side does all the giving, and gets in return only a doubling-down of the unconscionable aim on which no compromise is possible.
The Palestinians’ aim is is the destruction of Israel. They make this plain in everything they say and do. It’s why all their flags and insignia show Israel as a state of Palestine. It’s why they have responded to every offer of a Palestine state by ratcheting up their campaign of mass murder of Israeli Jews. It’s why they reward the families of those who murder Israelis, name squares and public places after them and indoctrinate Arab children to hate Jews and destroy Israel.
This is a non-negotiable agenda, just as the agenda of Isis or al Qaeda is non-negotiable. The US doesn’t try to negotiate with Isis or al Qaeda. It tries instead to destroy them because it understands that any attempt to compromise with those bent upon extermination is to incentivise barbarism. Why then does it think it can negotiate a deal with those bent upon the extermination of Israel?
What President Trump should be saying instead to Mahmoud Abbas and his people is that the US demands they stop waging this war of extermination, stop inculcating in their children hatred of the Jews and the goal of murdering Israelis and taking their land away from them, and stop paying terrorists’ families and glorifying mass murder. Trump should be telling them that, until and unless they do this, they will receive absolutely nothing from the US: no money, no diplomatic recognition, no concessions of any kind. Instead they will be treated as pariahs.
Because there can be no concessions whatever to an absolute evil. The intention to exterminate the State of Israel is just such an evil. And that is the agenda of the Palestinian leadership, and has been so for the best part of a century.
Anyone who still doesn’t understand this basic fact understands nothing about the Arab war against Israel. By offering the Palestinians this reported concession, Trump is offering them a reward for stopping rewarding mass murder. This is not only morally vacuous, but shows that for all his emotional support of Israel Trump does not understand the most basic fact about this conflict.
Nor presumably does his son-in-law and trusted adviser Jared Kushner. Although he is an orthodox Jew, as a former Democrat voter he presumably subscribes to the group-think prevalent in such circles that airbrushes the Palestinians’ real aim out of the picture altogether as incompatible with the liberal fantasy that this is a dispute over land boundaries between two peoples with genuine but incompatible claims to that land and is thus capable of a negotiated solution. It is not such a dispute. It is instead a century-old attempt to drive out the Jews from their own historic home.
This fantasy, however, is widespread in the west and has informed its approach to the Arab/Israel dispute for many decades. In this persistent attempt to negotiate with the non-negotiable and thus reward the unconscionable, it is the single most important reason why the Arab war against Israel continues without end.
A “deal” in these circumstances cannot be a deal at all. It would be a further signal of surrender.