It has always been the strident Israelis who continue to claim that in the Palestinians they have no partner for peace. It's a hollow cry and one clearly de-bunked in this piece from The Daily Beast.
Can fair-minded people really point to anything the Israeli government has been doing in its governing of Palestinians that undermines the chances for peace—I mean, the very peace Israel says it wants a generation from now, when presumably Palestinian society has “matured” politically and conditions have ripened?
The answer, sadly, is perhaps the most indicting data to come out in recent years, revealed this past week. Israel has stripped as many as a quarter of a million Palestinians of residency rights over the past generation—but not just any Palestinians. These are mainly the sons and daughters of West Bank and Gaza families who have gone abroad to study for more than seven years, many earning advanced degrees.
Take a moment and let this sink in. More than anything, Netanyahu is implying that peace cannot happen until there is economic and social development in Palestine, so that its leaders can reflect the more nearly liberal ideals and commercial interests that make living next to Israel a positive virtue—a nation of Salam Fayyads, so to speak.
But if this were a sincere desire on Netanyahu’s part, his government would roll out a red carpet for Western-trained Palestinian talent to return to the cities of Palestine, build businesses, homes, and nurture global networks. It would not simply want the 250,000 to come back. It would invite tens of thousands more of Palestinian entrepreneurs from Amman, where Palestinian families have over $12 billion in bank deposits and are eager to invest.
It is not simply settlers who create facts, after all. Palestinian professionals and businesspeople create facts, too. But unlike the settlers, the latter facts are a gain for peace and reciprocity. The only justification for holding back the economic development of Palestine, by starving it of its most educated and cosmopolitan people, is that you don’t really want peace at all.
What you do want is that Palestinian élites will leave, and the Palestinian state will be founded in Jordan, with the toppling of the Hashemite regime; what you want is the Land of Israel, and that Palestinians who are left will be your hewers of wood and carriers of water.
And here is the real challenge to Americans who say they are Israel’s friends, want peace, but are skeptical of a peace process. Can AIPAC, or Eric Cantor, explain why a doctor who earned her degree in Michigan, or a business consultant who graduated Wharton, should not be permitted to build Palestine, implicitly helping to figure out a reciprocal future with Israelis? Some of a quarter of a million people are waiting. It is long past time to put up or shut up.