The Two Sources of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Stand for Israel  |  July 8, 2019

Conservative Palestinian Muslim women walk past a mural painting of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief Mahmud Abbas in Gaza City 21 Decmber 2004. Abbas marked the end of 40 days of mourning over Arafat's death with lavish praise for the "eternal" Yasser Arafat, vowing the Palestinian patriarch would one day be buried in his beloved Jerusalem. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

When those of us who stand for Israel lament the lack of peace in the Holy Land, much of the blame can be placed on the enemy’s leadership. Writing at JNS, Matan Peleg defines the two main areas that Palestinian leadership continues to impede any chance of peace — their financial incentives and their ongoing push for a philosophy of resistance:

Many Western observers were surprised by the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to participate in the U.S.-sponsored economic conference in Bahrain last month, as well as the subsequent arrests of those who participated. However, their response should come as no surprise.

Bahrain was merely the latest manifestation of the ongoing theme of Arab rejectionism. This rejectionism, together with the financial gain of those profiting from it, represent the two fundamental sources of the Middle East conflict.

Only by understanding these two underlying sources of the conflict can one fully understand the P.A.’s modus operandi.

Mukawama is the Arabic word for “resistance,” but it’s also used to describe opposition or rejection. A stubborn refusal. In other words, an attitude and posture of “just say no.” Mukawama underlies and defines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and continues to shape it to this very day.

While this resistance started long ago, in fact from the earliest days of the Zionist movement, it was first formally manifested in 1937 when the Arab High Committee unanimously rejected the Peel Commission, which had recommended partitioning the Land of Israel between Jews and Arabs. Ten years later, Arabs maintained the same approach and rejected the U.N. Partition Plan, which subsequently led to Israel’s War of Independence.

In 1967, after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, the Arabs responded to Israel’s overture of peace by issuing the “three no’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.

The Oslo Accords in the 1990s might have been a “yes” on paper, but in reality were a big “no” that resulted in dozens of terrorist attacks killing more than a thousand Israelis.

Again in 2000, the Palestinian Arabs led by Yasser Arafat said “no” at the Camp David Summit. Then-U.S. President Bill Clinton even blamed Arafat for the summit’s failure. At the Annapolis Conference in 2007, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas once again rejected an offer for peace.

Most recently, it is mukawama that caused the P.A. to reject the Bahrain conference in advance…

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