When the mayor of the town of Efrat, a Jewish town about 12 miles from Jerusalem, invited Palestinians from surrounding villages to his home to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, it was a gesture of goodwill, an opportunity for the two groups to discuss differences in a safe environment, and perhaps to take a small step toward peace. The gathering itself went well. But when the Palestinian guests headed home, four were arrested – by Palestinian security forces. Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary:
Some 30 Palestinians came to Oded Revivi’s home in Efrat. As the Post feature showed, Palestinians aired their concerns about Israeli security measures and Israelis talked about the wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks. The effort to better relations stemmed in part from a recent event in which a Jewish driver had killed a Palestinian child in a traffic accident. That had led to a decision by the Israeli authorities to create speed bumps on the road where the tragedy occurred.
Afterward, a Palestinian Authority official said the sukkah visit was “under investigation” and that visiting Jews in settlements is “completely unacceptable.” As far as the PA is concerned, the residents of Efrat and the more than half a million other Jews who live in either Jerusalem or the West Bank must pack up and get out.
The four Palestinians were later released. But the unfortunate incident in Efrat is just another example of Israel’s goodwill gestures being met with intransigence by Palestinian leadership. Until Palestinian leadership shows a genuine desire for peace, all the negotiations in the world won’t amount to anything.