The rise of the forces of jihadist Islam in Egypt places the US and other Western powers in an uncomfortable position. The US is the guarantor of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. That treaty is based on the proposition of land for peace. Israel gave Egypt the Sinai in 1982 and in exchange it received a peace treaty with Egypt. Now that the Islamists are poised to take power, the treaty is effectively null and void.
The question naturally arises: Will the US act in accordance with its role as guarantor of the peace and demand that the new Egyptian government give Sinai back to Israel? Because if the Obama administration or whatever administration is in power when Egypt abrogates the treaty does not issue such a demand, and stand behind it, and if the EU does not support the demand, the entire concept of land-for-peace will be exposed as a hoax.
Indeed the land-for-peace formula will be exposed as a twofold fiction. First, it is based on the false proposition that the peace process is a two-way street. Israel gives land, the Arabs give peace. But the inevitable death of the Egyptian-Israeli peace accord under an Egyptian jihadist regime makes clear that the land-for-peace formula is a one-way street. Israeli land giveaways are permanent. Arab commitments to peace can be revoked at any time.
Then there are the supposedly iron-clad US and European security guarantees that accompany signed treaties. All the American and European promises to Israel - that they will stand by the Jewish state when it takes risks for peace - will be exposed as worthless lies. As we are already seeing today, no one will stand up for Israel's rights. No one will insist that the Egyptians honor their bargain.
As it has become more apparent that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties will hold an absolute majority in Egypt's democratically elected parliament, Western governments and media outlets have insistently argued that these anti-Western, and anti-Jewish, movements have become moderate and pragmatic. Leading the charge to make the case has been the Obama administration. Its senior officials have eagerly embraced the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Qaradawi is reportedly mediating negotiations between the US and the Taliban.
Qaradawi, an Egyptian who has been based in Qatar since 1961, when he was forced to flee Egypt due to his jihadist politics, made a triumphant return to his native land last February following the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak. Speaking to a crowd of an estimated two million people in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Qaradawi led them in a chant calling for them to invade Jerusalem.
Over the years, Qaradawi has issued numerous religious ruling permitting, indeed requiring, the massacre of Jews. In 2009, he called for the Muslim world to complete Hitler's goal of eradicating the Jewish people.
As for the US, in 2003, Qaradawi issued a religious ruling calling for the killing of US forces in Iraq.
BOTH THE Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are happy to cater to the propaganda needs of Western journalists and politicians and pretend that they are willing to continue to uphold the peace treaty with Israel. But even as they make conditional statements to eager Americans and Europeans, they consistently tell their own people that they seek the destruction of Israel and the abrogation of the peace deal between Egypt and Israel.
As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs' Jonathan D. Halevi documented last week in a report on Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist positions on the future of the peace between Egypt and Israel, while speaking to Westerners in general terms about their willingness to respect the treaty, both groups place numerous conditions on their willingness to maintain it. These conditions make clear that there is no way that they will continue to respect the peace treaty. Indeed, they will use any excuse to justify its abrogation and blame it on Israel. And they will do so at the earliest available opportunity.
It is possible, and perhaps likely, that the US will cut off military aid to Egypt in the wake of Cairo's abrogation of the peace treaty. But it is impossible to imagine that the Obama administration will abide by the US's commitment as the guarantor of the deal and demand that Egypt return Sinai to Israel. Indeed, it is only slightly more likely that a Republican administration would fulfill the US's commitment as guarantor of the peace and demand the return of Sinai to Israel after Egypt's democratically elected Islamist regime finds an excuse to abrogate the peace treaty.
It is important to keep this sorry state of affairs in mind when we assess the prospects for a land-for-peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This week, following months of intense pressure from the US and the EU, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met face to face for the first time in 16 months. According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who hosted the meeting, the Palestinians submitted their proposal on security and border issues to Israel. The sides are supposed to meet again next week and Israel is expected to present its proposals on these issues.
There are several reasons that these talks are doomed to failure. The most important reason they will fail is that even if they lead to an agreement, no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is sustainable. Assuming for a moment that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas goes against everything he has said for the past three years and signs a peace deal with Israel in which he promises Israel peace in exchange for Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, this agreement will have little impact on the Palestinians' view of Israel. Abbas today represents no one. His term of office ended three years ago. Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006.
And Hamas's leaders - like their counterparts in the Muslim Brotherhood - make no bones about their intention to destroy Israel. Two weeks ago at a speech in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh proclaimed, "We say today explicitly so it cannot be explained otherwise, that the armed resistance and the armed struggle are the path and the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and for the expulsion of the invaders and usurpers [Israel]... We won't relinquish one inch of the land of Palestine."
In his visit with his Muslim Brotherhood counterpart, Mohammad Badie, in Cairo this week Haniyeh said, "The Islamic resistance movement of Hamas by definition is a jihadist movement by the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian on the surface, Islamic at its core, and its goal is liberation."
WITH HAMAS'S Brotherhood colleagues taking power from Cairo to Casablanca, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which supposedly peaceseeking Fatah will win Palestinian elections. It is in recognition of this fact that Abbas has signed a series of unity agreements with Hamas since May.
So the best case scenario for a peace deal with the Palestinians is that Abbas will sign a deal that Israel will implement by withdrawing from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and expelling up to a half a million Israeli citizens from their homes. Hamas will then take power and abrogate the treaty, just as its brethren in Cairo are planning to do with their country's peace treaty.
This leads us to the question of what the diplomatic forces from the US, the EU, and the UN who have worked so hard to get the present negotiations started are really after. What are they trying to achieve by pressuring Israel to negotiate a deal that they know will not be respected by the Palestinians?
In the case of some of the parties involved it is fairly obvious that they want to weaken Israel. Take the UN for example. In 2005, Israel withdrew all of its military forces and civilians from Gaza. Rather than reward Israel for giving up land with peace, the Palestinians transformed Gaza into a launching pad for missile attacks against Israel. And in June 2007, Hamas took over the territory.
Despite the fact that Israel is wholly absent from Gaza, and indeed is being attacked from Gaza, no one has called for the Palestinians to give the territory back to Israel. The UN doesn't even recognize that Israel left.
Last September, the UN published yet another report labeling Israel as the occupier of Gaza. And in accordance with this fiction, the UN - along with the EU and the US - continues to hold Israel responsible for Gaza's welfare.
Ironically, Hamas itself denies that Gaza is under Israeli occupation. In an interview with the Ma'an news agency on Tuesday, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar openly admitted that Gaza is not under occupation. Speaking of Fatah's plan to launch massive demonstrations against Israel, Zahar said, "Against whom could we demonstrate in the Gaza Strip? When Gaza was occupied, that model was applicable."
Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Fatah can all freely tell the truth about Israel and their commitment to its destruction without fear of any repercussions. They know that the Western powers will not listen to them. They know that they will never have to pay a price for their actions. Indeed, they know they will be rewarded for them.
Since the inauguration of the land-for-peace process between Israel and the PLO 19 years ago, the Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated their bad faith. Israeli land giveaways have consistently been met with increased Palestinian terrorism. Since 1996, US- and European- trained Palestinian security forces have repeatedly used their guns to kill Israelis. Since 1994, the PA has made it standard practice to enlist terrorists in its US- and European-funded and trained security forces.
The US and Europe have continued to train and arm them despite their bad faith. Despite their continued commitment to Israel's destruction and involvement in terrorism, the US and the EU have continued to demand that Israel fork over more territory. At no point have either the US or the EU seriously considered ending their support for the Palestinians or the demonstrably fictitious land-for-peace formula.
As Israel bows now to still more US and EU pressure and conducts land-for-peace talks with Fatah, our leadership may be seduced by the faint praise they receive from the likes of The Washington Post or even from the Obama administration. But this praise should not turn their heads.
To understand its feckless emptiness, all they need to do is direct their attention to what happened this week in Cairo, as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists secured their absolute control over Egypt's parliament. Specifically, our leaders should note the absence of any voices demanding that Egypt respect the peace treaty with Israel or return Sinai.
The time has come for Israel to admit the truth. Land-for-peace is a confidence game and we are the mark.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.