It is being widely discussed nowadays how the UAE-Israel supposed “peace” deal is a sidelining of Palestinians, a deal meant primarily to curry favor with USA and Israel for security and economic purposes. The supposed token of “suspending” the planned annexation is dubious and Netanyahu has clearly stated that it in no way means a rolling back of the plan to do so. Palestinians reject it for using them as a mere fig leaf.
But how was it with earlier peace agreements that were supposed to somehow advance the Palestinian cause? Egyptian President Anwar Sadat spoke at the Israeli Knesset in 1977, ahead of the 1978 peace treaty:
“I have not come here for a separate agreement between Egypt and Israel. This is not part of the policy of Egypt. The problem is not that of Egypt and Israel. Any separate peace between Egypt and Israel, or between any Arab confrontation State and Israel, will not bring permanent peace based on justice in the entire region. Rather, even if peace between all the confrontation States and Israel were achieved, in the absence of a just solution to the Palestinian problem, never will there be that durable and just peace upon which the entire world insists today.”
Words of thunder. The result was still a “separate peace”.
In December of that year, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made a speech to the Knesset declaring a supposed “Autonomy plan” for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the wake of the suggested peace. “Autonomy” has essentially always been the model that Israel, at best, intended for Palestinians. While the international community would call it a prospective Palestinian “state”, this was never the actual model Israel would permit.
Begin’s speech demonstrated the contradiction of “peace” with this model. He promised:
“With the establishment of peace we shall propose the introduction of an administrative autonomy for the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip… The administration of the military rule in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip will be abolished.”
Yet there was a problem. Palestinians were like Nazis:
“We do not even dream of the possibility—if we are given the chalice to withdraw our military forces from Judea, Samaria and Gaza–of abandoning those areas to the control of the murderous organization that is called the PLO. . . . This is history’s meanest murder organization. except for the armed Nazi organizations.”
“[L]et it be known that whoever desires an agreement with us should please accept our announcement that the IDF will be deployed in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. And there will also be other security arrangements, so that we can give to all the residents, Jews and Arabs alike, in Eretz Yisrael a secure life that is to say, security for all… We have a right and a demand for sovereignty over these areas of Eretz Yisrael. This is our land and it belongs to the Jewish nation rightfully. We desire an agreement and peace.”
Begin knew that there was a contradiction:
“We know that there are at least two other demands for sovereignty over these areas. If there is a mutual desire to reach an agreement and to promote peace-what is the way?”
Begin proposed to leave the Palestinian autonomy issue “open”. The “Arabs” should suffice with “administrative autonomy” at best, and the Jews of “Eretz Yisrael,” that is, including settlers on occupied territory, would have “genuine security”. To wit:
“Should these contradictory demands remain, and should there be no answer to the collision course between them, an agreement between the parties would be impossible. And for this reason, in order to facilitate an agreement and make peace, there is only one possible way. One way and no other: to agree to decide that the question of sovereignty remain open and to deal with people, with nations. That is to say, administrative autonomy for the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael; and for the Jews of Eretz Yisrael-genuine security. This is the fairness that is inherent in the content of the proposal. And in that spirit the proposal was also accepted abroad…”
This is the Jim Crow model that Israel was to work with from then on. Whenever you thought “2 state solution” Israel was saying “Autonomy”.
In 1994, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty. The treaty annulled any claims that Jordan had to the West Bank, which it had taken over in 1948 and administered until 1967. The text of the agreement said that “[a]ny treatment of this line shall be without prejudice to the status of the territory.” The history of that is a bit complex. In late 1947 and 1948, the Jewish Agency made a secret agreement with King Abdullah. Avi Shlaim: “In return for Abdullah’s promise not to enter the area assigned by the UN to the Jewish state, the Jewish Agency agreed to the annexation by Transjordan of most of the area earmarked for the Arab state.” During the 1948 war this became more complex, nonetheless Shlaim summarizes: “[T]he picture that emerges is not the familiar one of Israel standing alone against the combined might of the entire Arab world but rather one of a remarkable convergence between the interests of Israel and those of Transjordan against the other members of the Arab coalition, and especially against the Palestinians.” Come 1967, Israel took over that territory. In the 1994 peace agreement Jordan thus stated that it made no claims for the West Bank, and declared that the border went along the East bank of the Jordan river. Since this was an agreement between Jordan and Israel, giving up the claim to the West Bank could be interpreted as Jordan implicitly declaring it Israeli territory, but the wording of “without prejudice” suggested that it was open to it being agreed as Palestinian territory by agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
These were the Oslo years, and the idea from the Israeli standpoint was again that “autonomy” (not a state). Shimon Peres, who was Foreign Minister at the time, was vehemently opposed to a Palestinian state, although making gestures suggesting that he was for it. Former Labor minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in his book “Scars of War, Wounds of Peace” that “as late as 1997 – that is four years into the Oslo process, when, as chairman of the Labour Party’s Foreign Affairs Committee I proposed for the first time that the party endorse the idea of a Palestinian state – it was Shimon Peres who most vehemently opposed the idea”.
It is interesting that King Hussein of Jordan, who was an immensely popular man in Israel at the time (he was invited to speak at Rabin’s funeral in 1995), was expected to express a preference for either Peres or Netanyahu, for the 1996 elections. Hussein at first remained neutral, yet admitted in meetings with Israelis his preference for Netanyahu, saying that he “would not repeat his mistake.”
Former head of Mossad Efraim Halevy notes in his book “Man in the Shadows” that King Hussein was “regretting the accession of Shimon Peres, whom he deeply mistrusted… For Hussein, the reelection of a Likud prime minister was a welcome change, given the alternative”.
But Netanyahu was alas not much better than Peres. As we now know, the Oslo Interim Agreement eventually led nowhere, just to endless occupation. In a secret tape from 2001 (revealed in 2016), Netanyahu bragged to a settler family about how he gave the Oslo accords an “interpretation” that would allow him to stop the “racing to the 1967 lines”. “How did we do it? Defined Military zones, I said, are security zones. From my point of view, the Jordan Valley is a defined military zone, right?”. This is also where he said “I know what America is, America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in the way”.
So when Barack Obama made the mistake of saying there must be two states along the 1967 lines — back in 2011, after vetoing an anti-settlements resolution in the UN Security Council — Netanyahu and the Israel lobby organizations undermined him, with Netanyahu lecturing Obama in the Oval Office about how Israel could never accept such borders. And Obama had to take it.
And the rest of it is supposed “generous offers” from the Israelis, like that of Ehud Barak in 2000, those which Israel apologists such as Alan Dershowitz like to brag about, saying how the Palestinians don’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
A Palestinian state has always had to remain fiction for Zionists. It was never ever really something that any Israeli government was willing to accept.
That is why every “peace deal” that Israel can accept with anyone, is always about sidelining Palestinian statehood – even with the Palestinians themselves. Every peace deal with another Arab state will include some token in recognition of Palestinian rights, but it will never lead to a fulfillment of those rights.
So in the recent deal with the UAE, this time a “peace” between two states who are not at war and who never contested territory, the supposed token for the Palestinians was that the planned annexation of nearly a third of the West Bank would be postponed. The Palestinians were not in doubt that this meant nothing in actual fact – the occupation would continue; Netanyahu promised that the annexation is still on the table (and we should believe him, also since facts on the ground are de facto annexation with no end in sight); and the whole thing was done behind their backs, further legitimizing the sense that they are mere pawns and fig-leafs in larger imperialist designs.