US State Department to Israel: We Have a Bridge to Sell You (Again)


Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.

An ex-U.S. State Department official believes that he has come up with a brand-new, innovative, never-before-tried way to reach peace in the Middle East: Give more territory to the Palestinian Authority.

How many times will these guys try to sell us this bridge to nowhere? These same dangerous ideas?

The “new” scheme is to give the Gaza Strip to the P.A. This proposal comes from David Makovsky, who used to be the right-hand man to Martin Indyk, the most pro-Palestinian U.S. ambassador to Israel in history. For more than 20 years, Makovsky has been pressing Israel to give more land to the P.A. So I guess he figures, why not try again?

Writing in The Times of Israel this month, Makovsky highlighted this harebrained theory, saying that “the only way to defeat Hamas is if Israel returns the Palestinian Authority from the West Bank to Gaza.”

So why won’t those stubborn Israelis do it? Why can’t they understand that a former State Department official—now sitting in a comfortable think tank in Washington—knows what’s best for them?

Makovsky thinks that he has an explanation for Israel’s hesitation: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is “balking” at the idea of handing Gaza to the P.A., writes Makvosky, because he is “fearful that his government would collapse due to the opposition of [Minister of Finance Bezalel] Smotrich and [Minister of National Security Itamar] Ben-Gvir.”

So, according to Makovsky, it’s all just a problem of petty politics.

Well, I have an alternative theory: maybe Netanyahu doesn’t want to give Gaza to the P.A. because for the past 30 years—since the day the Oslo Accords were signed—the P.A. has sheltered terrorists, paid terrorists, sent its security forces to carry out terrorist attacks, raised its children to become terrorists, and cheered as terrorists murdered and raped 1,200 Israelis last October.

Maybe Israelis are nervous about the Makovsky Plan because they realize that giving more territory to the P.A. in the past never resulted in the peace that he and his colleagues promised them. Maybe Israelis are tired of buying the same rug again and again.

At the State Department and in his post-State Department think tank, Makovsky devoted himself to the goal of bringing about the creation of a Palestinian state more or less along the 1967 armistice lines. That would have reduced Israel to barely nine miles wide at its midsection.

Of course, Makovsky would never have to live with the consequences of his proposals. Ex-diplomats never have to deal with the consequences of their bad advice. After their diplomatic efforts flop, they return to comfortable jobs and the warmth of friendly television shows. They continue to enjoy the feeling of importance that derives from being quoted in the news and are deluged with prestigious speaking invitations.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, Israeli women and children would have to face a new P.A.-run terrorist regime in Gaza. Hamas terrorists would fire rockets at Israeli schools, and the P.A. would say that it can’t find the rocket-launchers. Terrorists would cross into Israel, murder Israelis and run back to Gaza, and the P.A. would say that it’s looking into the matter. The P.A. would provide salaries, rewards and other financial incentives to Hamas terrorists while demanding more international aid so that it can keep paying them.

How do we know that’s what would happen? Because that is exactly what happened when Israel gave the P.A. control over 40% of Judea-Samaria (and 98% of Arab residents of those areas) back in 1995. Not wanting to repeat that mistake is called learning from history.

One thing we know about David Makovsky is that he never stops trying. Every year or two, he comes up with another plan for Israel. Previously, he proposed that Israel allow 100,000 Gazan workers to enter the country every day. Imagine if the Israelis had listened to that one! More recently, he suggested that the P.A. should rename its payments to terrorists as “social welfare payments.” That would keep away the critics while ensuring that the terrorists keep getting paid.

And now we have the P.A.-in-Gaza plan. I understand why State Department types push stuff like this. But I also understand why most Israelis recognize that it’s dangerous nonsense.

David Makovsky is wrong. It’s not true that “the only way to defeat Hamas is if Israel returns the Palestinian Authority from the West Bank to Gaza.” The only way to defeat Hamas is the way Israel is doing it—with troops and tanks and planes. You know, the way wars used to be won—before the State Department types started trying to micro-manage them.

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