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 compensation for 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 video shows 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.
Though 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.