Palestinians surrendering is a pipe dream


There is an American initiative these days working to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by declaring a winner and a loser. It declares that Israel is the victor and the Palestinians are the defeated.

The proposed policy, dreamed up by the so-called Israel Victory Project, calls for an end to the “continuously futile ‘peace process’ that has led countless world leaders to believe that peace could be achieved by compromise and mediations. The project introduces a new policy for a peaceful solution: The Palestinians ‘lose’ by giving up their century-long rejection of the Jewish state, and Israel ‘wins’ by truly succeeding in its 150-year quest for a sovereign homeland.”

There are plenty of these right-wing groups in Israel and the US whose support for Israel is as fanatical as is their hatred of the Palestinians. But the Israel Victory Project should be taken seriously. Earlier this year, a caucus was set up in the Knesset and in the US Congress by the Middle East Forum which formulated the project. The lawmakers will hold meetings in New York City and Washington where they will meet with their counterparts in the congressional caucus, as well as with Christian leaders, heads of pro-Israel groups and Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

It is reportedly the first time that congressional and Knesset caucuses are working together on the conflict. This development is extremely concerning, for the project seeks to change the narrative of the peace process by promoting a policy that declares Israeli victory and Palestinian defeat.

In effect, the Victory Project is saying that since the diplomatic track has gone nowhere, Israel should use its leverage to compel Palestinian officials to face up to reality, as Israel sees it. This reality relates to what constitutes victory, something which would supposedly be left to the Israelis to decide, but it would pretty much be an acceptance of the entire Israeli agenda: the settlements, no right to return and a unified Jerusalem under Israeli control that serves as its capital.

This initiative has no hope of moving forward. If its mission is encouraging Israeli and American policy makers to approach the negotiating table with a perspective that Israelis are victors in this conflict with the Palestinians, then it will not succeed.

This approach is a drastic departure from the mainstream model for achieving peace, and the group has its work cut out for it to convince the international community to get on board. Its members should not hold their breath. That Palestinians must admit defeat is wishful thinking. Fifty years of occupation did not do the trick. Forty years of settlement expansion, two major wars in Gaza, and the suppression of at least two popular uprisings have not “defeated” the Palestinians. To decide for Palestinians that they have been defeated would simply provoke even more Palestinian resistance.

For at least two decades, the Palestinian side has wanted a just deal so as to end the occupation and establish a state of their own. Any objective view as to why they have reached a dead end would attribute the lion’s share of responsibility to the Israeli side with its practice of putting forward demands that it knows in advance that the Palestinian will reject because Israel’s demands for “peace” are the permanent subjugation of the Palestinian people.

Most disturbing of all is this image conjured up by the Victory Project that Israel has been the gentle occupier and caring oppressor for these past 70 years.

This plan to coerce the Palestinians into acknowledging that they have lost their nearly 70-year battle with Israel is geopolitical fantasy, an idea so absurd that it should never be allowed to gain political traction.