End the hostile propaganda. Purge the government and security forces of those affiliated with terrorists. Crack down on terrorists. Suppress incitement in the media. Dissolve hostile militant organizations. Remove hostile propaganda from the education system. Fire those on the Most Wanted list from the government and security services. Accept foreign assistance in discovering and combating terrorists. Prosecute terrorists. Arrest the most wanted terrorists. Stop the flow of illegal arms and explosives. Clarify the hostile statements of government officials. Set a timetable for executing those demands.
The list sounds like Israeli demands to the Palestinian Authority. Wrong. That’s the Austria-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia, which opened the First World War.

Austria’s demands were sensible and extremely moderate. A Serbian killed an Austrian prince—an extremely hostile act which, though formally short of casus belli, qualified as such in the context of Serbian militancy toward Austria-Hungary. Israel likewise invaded Lebanon after the Palestinians attempted the assassination of Shlomo Argov. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was not a criminal act by a lone radical or a fringe group, but part of the large-scale plot by Serbian military.

Serbia was a secessionist territory of Austria-Hungary. Serbia was seething with political radicals and terrorists. Serbia’s government was almost non-existent, and the power belonged to the security forces, which supported the terrorists. Serbian radicals were pan-Slavic nationalists, just like the Palestinians are pan-Arab nationalists.

Just like Palestine, Serbia replied to the ultimatum with weasel words of acceptance. It accepted the ultimatum with minor clarifications which made the reply empty of meaning. Austria immediately sent a dispatch to European governments pointing out Serbia’s trick, but Serbia had already scored a huge PR victory by convincing the common Europeans of its goodwill. Just as with Arab declarations of peaceful intent, outsiders ignored the all-important small print.

Even after its ultimatum was de facto rejected, Austria-Hungary looked for a limited war, a punishing raid against Sarajevo. That proved to be wishful thinking, just like the Israeli plans for ending the Lebanon invasion at the Litani River. Russia’s meddling ensured total war. Russia fought on behalf of Serbia just like half a century later it fought on Egypt’s side. Muslim countries push the Palestinians to fight Israel like the Russians pushed the Serbs.

WWI was fought for no good reason, over nothing but only to satisfy aspirations of nationalist grandeur and divert public attention from domestic problems. Germany didn’t expect to annex or even long occupy France, Russia hoped to gain very little by attacking Austria-Hungary, Serbia didn’t imagine it would score a victory against Austria, and Britain had only a remote interest in humbling Germany. WWI is often erroneously attributed to a web of diplomatic triggers and alliances. Nations, however, routinely ignore unwelcome obligations. Europe plunged into the war because everyone expected it to be short. The prospect of limited war is provocative.

WWI was about words. About joint statements. European treaties, worthless per se, became important declarations of nationalism. Europeans elevated treaties into policies, and fought over them. Where statements are important, words become dangerous. The wording of the Austrian ultimatum, the Serbian response, and the weasel words of the Austria-German treaty became casus belli.

The Europeans had no real grievances which would justify a major war. Nor do the Jews and Arabs. In situations of latent hostility, joint statements can lead to wars. The Annapolis statement ignites hopes with unrealistic promises. Unfulfilled hopes ignite societies.

Such as the Palestinian society.