After four failed experiences with Israeli-Palestinian peace-making Israelis will not be easily swayed by more unfulfilled promises, Israeli government minister Benny Begin said on Tuesday.
Begin is the son of Israel's sixth Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who signed Israel's first peace treaty with an Arab nation - Egypt - in 1979. As part of the agreement, Israel uprooted settlements and gave up the Sinai Desert to Egypt.
Coming 'Down to Earth'
Addressing foreign journalists in Jerusalem, Begin, who is a geologist by profession, quipped that he feels it is his role in peace-making to bring his fellow Israelis "down to earth."
Israel is under pressure from Washington to re-start peace negotiations with the Palestinians toward a final status agreement, which would include Israel giving up the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank to enable the creation of a Palestinian state.
But Begin said it is not accurate to draw parallels between the peace agreement his father made with Egypt and the current process with the Palestinians.
"We have to really look at reality and draw the right conclusions," Begin said. "Egypt is not the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]. Sinai is not Judea and Samaria."
Fatah's Real Goals?
Begin read article 19 of the Fatah charter, which was reaffirmed in August by a Fatah convention in Bethlehem.
"The armed revolution of the Palestinian people is a crucial element in the battle for liberation and for the elimination of the Zionist presence. The struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated," it says.
Begin said this is tied to another resolution, which says there will be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in order to protect the rights of Palestinians on the other side of the green line, i.e. Israeli Arabs.
"Now tie this together, it all says actually, the PLO plan is not a two-state solution, but a two-staged solution," Begin said. Stage one would include establishing a state in the West Bank and stage two would mean that the pressure on Israel would continue, he said.
No Peace by Piece?
The Palestinians were also asked during various negotiations that if an agreement were reached would they agree to end all claims and the Palestinians said, "no," he said.
"We are now following four experiments and all four failed," Begin said.
One was the Oslo agreement, signed in 1994 on the White House lawn. Israel traded some territory for peace and got terror instead. Then there were the negotiations in Camp David in 2000, which failed and were followed by years of violence; the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005; and the Annapolis conference in 2007, which went nowhere, he said.
"Territory for peace in the last 16 years became actually the business of territory for terror. And Israelis know it. They recognize it. They internalized it and I don't think they can be easily swayed anymore by these easy deals with promises that are not [fulfilled]," he said.
The only way Begin sees a peace deal with the Palestinians at this point is if they fundamentally change their attitude, he said.