A No-lose Proposal for Israel’s Public Diplomacy

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1/   As Brad Pitt’s character in the movie ‘The Counselor’ observed, you don’t know someone until you know what they want.  Sadly, ignoring this insight has become a mass-movement in the ‘international community’.  As a result, alongside the current challenges facing Israel, an accumulation of wider pressures are mounting which threaten to become a perfect storm.  One example is the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

2/   In February, the International Court of Justice began its ‘investigations’ into Israel and the ‘West Bank’.  The overwhelming number of initial statements from states were hostile to Israel.  Among several hostile European states were Spain, Ireland and Slovenia.  With the addition of Malta, these countries have since announced (22 March 2024) their intention to recognize a Palestinian state.      

3/   Their joint statement said: 

We are agreed that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region is through implementation of a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security.

4/    Exactly the same claims have been made with increased pace and severity by Guterres, Borrell, Biden, and Cameron.   Likewise, in November last year, the EU and Arab states agreed that a two-state solution was the answer to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  

The risks of non-action

5/   It is uncertain how long the deliberations of the ICJ will take, but they will probably last many months (or even years).  Thus far, Israel has no plans to contribute to its proceedings.   But this non-response contains its own difficulties. 

6/   If Israel fails to generate a sustained and focused campaign against these maneuvers, it risks vacating the arena of public diplomacy to its enemies.  This will only encourage them.  It will also leave international friends and allies of Israel without leadership or support.  As a result, Israel can look forward to a long-lasting hate-fest of unhindered anti-Israel sentiments.  Therefore, what should Israel do to counter all this?    

7/   On the face of it, assuming the joint statement of the four European states to be the pinnacle of their collective understanding, it seems that Israeli hasbara/PR  has entirely failed to reach them.  They do, however, propose two ambitious aims:

  • lasting peace and stability in the region,
  • a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security.

Why both aspirations will collapse

8/  Apart from the total lack of explanation of how either aim can be achieved, the fatal problem that destroys both aspirations is completely missed.  The problem is that what the Palestinians endlessly say they want is totally at odds with the fine aspirations as expressed by Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, Malta, and the EU and UN. 

9/   Even a cursory examination of the Palestinian the Palestinian National Charter or the daily newspaper of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Al-Hayat al-Jadida demonstrates that the PA: 

  • refuses to accept a two-state solution as an end to the conflict,
  • adheres to the Palestinian National Charter which aims to conquer all Israel,
  • claims the whole territory from the river to the seathe ‘48 territories’
  • devotes zero efforts with its citizens to promote a peaceful solution,
  • devotes tremendous efforts, resources, energy and funds to incite attacks on Israel and the murder of Jews.

10/  Therefore, Israel needs to bring to the forefront of public diplomacy these issues which are usually hidden from the international public.   A useful method to place them before the international public is to publicly pose a series of questions to those states that support a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.    

11/   The primary question for them to answer is this: 

  • How can an eliminationist Palestinian state possibly produce a successful two-state solution and regional peace and stability?  

12/     The question puts them on the defensive by requiring an explanation.  Its purpose is not only to raise intellectual doubts about the feasibility of their approach, but for the policy to be rescinded.  Until now, these states have not been asked or required to answer such a basic and obvious question.    As a result, their statements  entirely escape scrutiny or challenge.  In practice, they could easily be forgotten if they weren’t so dangerous.

13/    This is because a Palestinian state is bound to use its territory as a base to intensify efforts to implement the long-term aim of eliminating the Jewish state.   As a result, instead of solving the conflict it will lead to its escalation.  Inevitably, this will destroy regional peace and security  – all because the real aspirations of the Palestinans are not taken seriously.  Gaza under Hamas is a perfect example. 

Misunderstanding the Palestinians

14/   An appealing feature of the two-state solution has been its apparent simplicity and moral clarity in favor of the ‘downtrodden and oppressed’.  This has helped it appear justified, obvious and unavoidable.  In essence, the concept is that two rival national groups claim the same territory.  This provides the logical, moral and practical basis for a win-win solution to the conflict by dividing the area into a state for Palestinians and a state for Jews. 

15/   This perspective assumes that the Palestinians really will be satisfied with a state based on the West Bank.  Yet the unwavering Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state allows no space for win-win compromises.  As a result, the simplicity, ostensible justice and attainability of the two-state solution are fatally compromised by the winner-takes-all nature of the Palestinian position.  

16/   This introduces a question that those who advocate a two-state solution believe can be avoided:  who wins this all-or-nothing battle?    It also explains why the conflict existed well before the ‘occupation’ of the West Bank in 1967 and prior to the creation of Israel.  It also explains why all previous opportunities for a Palestinian state have been rejected – not by Israel, but by the Palestinians.

17/   Further, if a concerted effort to impose a Palestinian state on Israel were successful, the Palestinians would have no need to negotiate with Israel.  Nor would they abandon the Palestinian National Charter and the aim of destroying Israel.  This makes it quite certain that such a Palestinian state will produce neither a peaceful solution nor regional peace and stability.

The ONLY path to a peaceful resolution

18/   The driving force of the conflict is the Palestinian claim to all the territory of Israel and their rejection of the right of self-determination for any people other than themselves.  Therefore, it is inescapable that the ONLY path to a peaceful resolution of the conflict is for the Palestinians to jettison the Palestinian National Charter and abandon their disastrous aim of destroying Israel.   

19/   If Jewish national rights were to be accepted at last by the Palestinians, the conditions would be present at last for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  Therefore, the issue boils down to how this can be achieved.  Israel need this to become public knowledge – and this requires a second primary question:

  • What actions are undertaken by Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, and all the others, to persuade or pressurize the Palestinians to jettison the Palestinian National Charter and abandon its aim of destroying Israel?   

20/    Similarly, the UN, EU and others proceed as if the Palestinian aspiration to remove Israel from the map didn’t exist.  They act as if the Palestinians are seeking peaceful coexistence with Israel.  Therefore, the same question should be posed to the UN and the EU:    

  • What measures are the UN and EU taking to convince or coerce the Palestinians to discard the Palestinian National Charter, end their intention to  destroy Israel and actively work towards mutual rights of self-determination as a basis for an end to the conflict?

How Can Israel’s Public Diplomacy Meet this Challenge?

21/  Faced with this prospect: 

  • Can there be any doubt that without a prolonged, clear, consistent and insistent campaign that focuses on these primary questions, Israel’s interest cannot become international public knowledge?
  • Can there be any doubt that without this international public knowledge it will be impossible to prevent Israel’s interests from being overridden in international diplomacy?  

22/   Therefore, to achieve this, will anything less than the utilization of all Prime Minister to Prime Minister meetings, all head of state to head of state meetings, all international ministerial and ambassadorial meetings with the primary questions be sufficient?   Is anything less than the constant reference to these questions on every occasion, in every forum, in every article and every interview with the foreign media adequate?       

23/   Of course, it may be the case that Palestinian rejectionism is so firmly entrenched that even the best campaign within the international community will fail to shake them from it.  In this case, their international support will be damaged.   Simultaneously, the support for Israel’s right to exist in peace without constant threats will be enhanced.  Therefore, for Israel this approach is a no-lose proposition.  

24/  As a result, the immediate key question is this:  Is Israel’s public diplomacy up to this task?   

Published in the Times of Israel, 25 March 2024.
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