Mr. Ariekat's Partial Remembrance

The Wall Street Journal

David Harris

June 13, 2012

To read Maen Rashid Areikat's "The Time for a Palestinian State Is Now" (op-ed, June 8) is to be transported into a world of make-believe. Mr. Areikat notes that "Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip fell under Israel's occupation." That's true, but it's far from the whole truth.

There was no Palestinian state before 1967. The West Bank was in Jordanian hands and Gaza was under Egyptian military rule, and for two decades neither country made any move to establish an independent Palestinian state. The war itself began with a blockade of Israeli shipping in the Red Sea and bloodcurdling threats by Egyptian and Syrian leaders to annihilate Israel. When Israel emerged victorious and proposed the swap of newly acquired territory for peace, the Arab League and Mr. Areikat's PLO categorically refused.

In his version of more recent history, Palestinians single-mindedly promote literacy, build institutions and pursue peace, while Israel does everything possible to prevent peace. Really? No mention of Palestinian terrorism, nor of incitement, nor of Hamas and its rule of Gaza, nor that no universities existed in the West Bank until Israel opened them after the 1967 war. And, of course, no mention of the determined efforts of successive Israeli prime ministers to achieve a two-state agreement, only to be rebuffed, first by Yasser Arafat, then Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel has recognized the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood as a result of negotiations. Have the Palestinians similarly accepted the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in Israel as an outcome of a deal? When the answer to that long-standing question finally becomes "yes," peace won't just be possible, but inevitable.

David Harris
Executive Director
American Jewish Committee
New York
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