It’s Almost Like They Don’t Want Peace or Prosperity

This week, the Trump administration is holding its “Peace to Prosperity” conference, which seeks to pursue the strategy of empowering economic growth in the Palestinian territories as a key plank to establishing peace. This is a plausible strategy: the evidence of history is that wealthy nations generally avoid conflict with each other. “Make money, not war”, as the Peace Research Institute Oslo puts it.

Despite the hysterics of the anti-Trump media and foreign policy mavens who shrieked that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would alienate Arab states, the conference is being held in Bahrain, and attended by seven Arab states. There’s only one notable absence.

Sunni Arab states are lending legitimacy to the Trump administration’s plan, making it all the more notable that the Palestinian Authority itself refuses to participate.

Why on earth would the Palestinian Authority refuse to participate in a conference designed to bring peace and prosperity to their region? What do they really want?

This isn’t the first time the Palestinians have said no. At a summit brokered by Bill Clinton in 2000, ­Israel offered them full statehood on territory that included roughly 92 per cent of the West Bank and all of Gaza, along with a capital in Jerusalem. The PA rejected that offer, leading Israel to up it to 97 per cent of the West Bank in 2001. Again, the answer was no. An even further-reaching offer in 2008 was rejected out of hand. And when Barack Obama pressured Israel into a 10-month settlement freeze in 2009 to renew negotiations, the Palestinians refused to come to the table.

After so many rejections, one might conclude that the PA’s leaders simply aren’t interested in peace.

This is, after all, the same leadership who use ceasefires and foreign aid not to build hospitals and schools, but to build tunnels to smuggle rockets to fire at its neighbour.

Had they accepted any of the peace offers, they would have immediately received the rarest of all geopolitical prizes: a new country­, with full international recognition. To be sure, in each proposal they found something not quite to their liking. But the Palestinians are perhaps the only national ­independence movement in the modern era that has ever rejecte­d a genuine offer of internationally recognised statehood, even if it falls short of all the territ­ory the movement had sought.

Palestinians had a chance at a two-state solution right at the very beginning, but rejected it out of hand in favour of war.

Israel itself…jumped at a 1947 UN proposal­ for a Jewish state, even though it was non-contiguous and excluded Jerusalem and much of its present territory. The Arab states rejected the proposal, which would have also created a parallel Arab country. India and Pakistan didn’t reject independence ­because major territorial claims were left unaddressed. Ireland ­accepted independence without the island’s six northern counties…

The Palestinians can comfortably turn down once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because almost all Palestinians already live under Palestinian government…statehood and a resolution to the conflict is not what the Palestinians truly seek. This is what economists call a “revealed preference”: to know what consume­rs truly want, look at what they choose. The Palestinians have repeatedly chosen the status quo over sovereignty.


The status quo apparently suits the Palestinian Authority because they get all the trappings of sovereignty without being asked to shoulder the burdens of responsibility. They also get to pose as the poor, oppressed victim. Which, not coincidentally, allows ‘progressive’ movements such as BDS and left-wing politicians to hide their anti-Semitism behind a pose of ‘compassion’.