More than anything else, unconditional support of the PLO has undermined any realistic conclusion to the Arab-Israeli conflict. President Trump is breaking from failed traditions.
The Trump administration’s recent decision to close the PLO’s Washington office adds further fuel to critics who argue that the current US President undermines Middle East peace prospects through his lack of diplomatic experience. They don’t stop to consider that perhaps there is more here than meets the eye.
With his solid business background, President Trump knows that free lunches are addictive and counterproductive. In this regard, international politics works in a similar fashion to the world of business. More than anything else, unconditional support of the PLO has undermined any realistic conclusion to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
After supporting Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War in 1990, the PLO was morally and financially broke. The end of the Cold War dramatically reduced the value of Communist-sponsored proxies like the PLO. In one stroke, they lost their former Moscow patron and substantial income from Gulf Arab states that were outraged with PLO’s support of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
In 1993, the PLO was brought back from the cold with the Oslo Peace Accord with Israel. Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accord, the PLO is empowered, while Arab-Israeli peace is further away than ever.
In theory, the accords were based on the principle of reciprocity, backed up with checks and balances. In return for self-rule and international recognition that included opening of “embassies” worldwide, the PLO was expected to promote peace and coexistence with the Jewish state.
The PLO though, never intended to honor its commitment in the first place. While smilingly talking peace in English on CNN, PLO leader Arafat reassured his supporters in Arabic that Oslo was nothing other than a Trojan horse in the continued war against Israel’s existence.
The Israeli left and the international community largely turned a blind eye to PLO’s systematic violations of the peace accords. A quarter of a century after Oslo, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority – established on territory relinquished by Israel in accordance with the agreements – continue promoting hatred of Jews and Israel. In flagrant violation of the agreement, the PLO supports and glorifies terrorism against Israel. Ramallah names squares after terrorists and rewards terrorism by annually dishing out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to terrorists and their families.
As far as the PLO is concerned, the Oslo Accord was a candy store that asked to be robbed at will. Over time, the PLO has become addictively accustomed to free lunches. Ramallah quickly got used to getting everything it demanded while giving nothing in return.
While the international community continues to pressure Israel for further unilateral concessions, PLO’s anti-Semitic incitement and terror-support are largely ignored by the international community. Ironically, the same international players who officially declared Arab-Israeli peace a priority, undermine genuine peace by rewarding the Ramallah regime with endless free lunches.
The PLO’s addictiveness to free lunches peaked during the Obama administration. They got everything they demanded and even suspended the charade of peace talks with Israeli officials. Instead, Abbas demanded that the international community pressure Israel to unilaterally give everything Ramallah wants, including destroying the Jewish state by flooding it with millions of hostile and foreign-born Arab “refugees”.
By ending the destructive practice of free lunches to the PLO, the Trump administration increases the chances of peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors. By recognizing Israel’s capital Jerusalem and ending its support for the UNWRA “refugees”, Trump is forcing the Arabs to get real and end their fantasy of destroying Israel.
Furthermore, Trump is infusing sorely needed business practices into Middle Eastern diplomacy: reciprocity. Unlike Clinton and Obama’s unconditional support of the PLO, Trump has not hesitated to punish Ramallah for its aggression and opposition to peace with Israel.
The PLO’s leadership is now entering a new reality it has not known for the past 25 years. In the past, the PLO knew that its extremist policies were cost-free and without any political risks. By closing PLO’s Washington office and making US aid to Ramallah conditional on its behavior, President Trump is gradually transforming the paradigm, moving the Oslo Accord from a war process into a potential genuine peace process that punishes opposition to peace.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst. He lives in Israel.