Mar. 14, 2018
“National Security Leaders” Adopt the Palestinian Narrative – Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
On March 2, seventeen “National Security Leaders” published an ad in the New York Times about Israel-Palestinian peace and U.S. policy that offers a fairly radical departure from what has been U.S. policy for decades. The statement is radical in embracing the Palestinian view that only Israel is to blame for the failure of peace negotiations.
Nowhere does it note that for nine years running now, the PLO has refused to come to the table and negotiate. If, as it states, Abbas is committed to the path of negotiations, why did he not take it – especially in the years when Secretary of State Kerry was energetically trying to make that happen.
As Martin Indyk, who was part of the American team under Obama, noted: while PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas “checked out of the negotiations,” Israeli prime minister Netanyahu “moved into the zone of a possible agreement.”
I suggest the signers travel in the Arab world, where the main topic is Iran. There they will find, as I have, that the sense of emerging calamity because Israel and the PLO have not made peace is missing.
No one is demanding vast conferences or is seeking to exclude the U.S. They will find no sense that America’s relationship with Israel requires that the “International Community” push us aside and take over, nor any belief that America is to blame for “prolonging” the Palestinians’ problems.
Their statement, like so many of its intellectual predecessors, infantilizes the Palestinians: they are victims and little else. But the past suggests, to me at least, that only when Palestinians take responsibility for their politics, their civic culture, their society, and their future can peace really be possible.
The writer, a senior fellow at the CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009.