A thoughtful take by Jonathan Tobin in Haaretz following the announcement by minister of social equality, Gila Gamliel, that Israel would be seeking $250 billion compensationfor Jewish refugees driven from Arab countries: the Palestinians could strengthen their negotiating position if they agreed that both sides should be compensated. However, maximalist demands have not hitherto dented support for the Palestinians; and this videoshows that the issue is land, not money.
Whatever failings one might attribute to Israeli
decision-makers, Palestinians Arabs have been cursed by shortsighted
leaders over the last century. They have not only been allergic to
compromises that might have given them a state long ago, but all too
often remained trapped by rhetoric that treated their Jewish antagonists as lacking any legitimate claims.
Palestinians may regard Israel’s bringing up compensation claims for
Jews as irrelevant to the peace process, it actually provides them with
an opportunity. This is exactly the moment when they might score some
points in international forums by actually embracing them.
It’s true that the
eight countries named by Israel as liable for up to a quarter of
trillion dollars in lost property have no intention of paying
dispossessed Jews a single cent.
But why should the
Palestinians, who have spent the last 70 years being used and abused by
the Arab and Muslim world, care about that? That’s especially true now
since many Sunni Arab governments have embraced Israel as a tacit ally
against Iran, and are no longer willing to pay anything more than
minimal lip service to the Palestinian cause.
If instead of
ignoring the Jewish claims as a ploy by the Netanyahu government to
cause the world to think less about Palestinian refugees, if the Palestinian Authority were to say they agreed that both sides should be compensated, it would strengthen their current shaky negotiating position.
At the very least it
would make their continuing demands for a “right of return” for their
refugees – a term that is synonymous with the elimination of Israel as a
Jewish state – seem less intransigent, and make it easier for European
countries to pressure Israel about conditions in Gaza.