June 26, 2019

The Biggest Misconception in Israeli Politics

“Campaigns are traditionally filled with promises, as parties pledge many things to voters who are then left to determine what they believe to be true, or even realistic.

There is one promise being made by some parties that I can confidently declare as unrealistic.

During my first year as a member of Knesset, I was invited to meet with “moderate” Palestinian leaders.

These were not actual peace negotiations, but a gathering held away from Israel for a few days in a relaxed, comfortable setting, to give new Knesset members and Palestinian ministers the chance to get to know one another and speak openly and candidly.

I learned a lot from these meetings, and after learning about the living conditions their leaders don’t seek to change, felt bad for the innocent Palestinians who suffer from inadequate basic services and lack hope for a better life.

But the most important lesson I learned came on the last day. I approached the man often referred to as “the most moderate” Palestinian leader. I asked him to please tell me the bottom line.

What would it take for the Palestinians to come to a final-status agreement with Israel?

He first made me promise that I would never quote him by name, which I agreed to, and then he answered:
“We would require that Israel withdraw from the 1967 lines – completely. No major settlement blocs for Israel, and of course, dividing Jerusalem. We would require a right of return for at least 100,000 Palestinians. And we would require all Palestinian prisoners to be freed from Israeli jails.”

I was stunned.”

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