“Blessed is he who will repay you as you have done to us. Blessed is he who takes your babies and smashes them against the rock.” Psalm 137

How likely is peace with Palestinians anytime soon? Peace is impossible. No Palestinian government in sight is strong enough to quash insurgent splinter groups, especially now that we are seeing a significant increase in grassroots terrorist activity. Hamas proved unable to prevent other terrorists from firing rockets at Israel, and enforcment of peace in the larger and more open West Bank is still less likely.

The terror won’t stop by itself. Even if the Palestinians suddenly became affluent, enough of them would remain have-nots and man the terrorist enterprise. In all primitive economies, sudden affluence causes increased economic divergence, and in Palestine economic development would prove to be just another source of grievances—and Israel is the finest outlet for Arab discontent.

Why it is that Egypt can enforce peace while Palestine cannot? Egypt is only peaceful to a degree: its Islamists overwhelmingly support the Gazan insurgents. Just like in all previous periods between wars, Egyptians fight Israel through Palestinian fellaheen rather than directly. In that sense, the peace treaty with Egypt changed nothing. Moreover, Egypt is a developed society whose inhabitants have submitted to central power for hundreds of generations. Unlike them, the Palestinians lack a culture of submission and law-obedience. In that regard, they resemble the lawless Afghanis.

Let’s therefore rephrase the question: how likely is a peace treaty with the Palestinians anytime soon? Such a treaty would depend on an agreement with Syria. Absent peace with Syria, Assad would continue his support for Palestinian terrorists, not allowing things to settle down. But Assad, sensibly enough, insists on the Palestine-first track. He cannot arrange a minimally durable peace with Israel while the Palestinian issue is boiling because Syria has too many Palestinian refugees it hopes to dispose of. Absent an Israeli-Palestinian peace, those refugees might create major trouble for Assad if he entered into a separate peace deal with Israel. Simultaneous peace with Syria and the Palestinians would be very hard for Israel to swallow: even the leftists would be shocked to lose the Golan Heights, Judea, and Jerusalem simultaneously.

There is the Saudi peace initiative, which theoretically might make the staggering Israeli concessions worthwhile. But peace with Arabs is meaningless if Iran does not sign it, and the ayatollahs are clearly disinclined. If Israel bombed their reactors, Iran would reject peace; if Israel allowed Iran to have nuclear bombs, the ayatollahs would have no reason to sign peace with the Zionists.

All conjectures are dubious because Israel is on the brink of major capitulation. Peace treaties can be prepared and pushed through the Knesset in a matter of months. Netanyahu’s government makes things more dangerous: it is for a reason that Israeli withdrawals from Sinai, Hebron, and Gaza were perpetrated by right-wing governments. Leftists cannot gain a Knesset majority for such bills because right-wing and religious parties will oppose them as a matter of principle. Just as the Americans pressed Netanyahu for withdrawal from Hebron, so they can push him for any other concessions. Like in Hebron, the Israeli leftist establishment might force things by staging some atrocities by soldiers or settlers, which would force Netanyahu to make concessions in order to whitewash Israel before the Jew-hating world opinion.

But the prospects for Israeli capitulation look refreshingly dim. There was a great need to make some sort of peace with Egypt: the wars took a heavy toll on Israeli morale, life, and economy. When reporting his negotiations with Sadat to Carter, Begin was jubilant at the prospect of no more wars. That did not justify giving away the Land of Israel, but it might still have been a significant reason. The withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, misguided as they were, solved the urgent problem of massive casualties among IDF personnel, who had become sitting-duck targets for guerrillas. No similar urgency exists in regard to Jerusalem and Judea.

As the time passes and Arab dominance of the Galilee and Negev solidifies, Palestinian leaders won’t be able to recognize them as Israeli lands. In 2008, Abbas refused Olmert’s offer, which included even the Temple Mount. Conceding any territory to Jews is seen as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Israel’s incremental concessions make matters worse: the Palestinians digest the previous concessions and demand new ones. Soon, they won’t allow Jews even Tel Aviv.

Israelis appeared to have their backs to the wall: Palestinians and Syrians pushed their demands way too far. Everyone save fringe leftists detests the idea of abandoning the Golan Heights, Lake Kineret, and Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount. Israelis are visibly angry, a common result of unreasonable pressure by a weak enemy. The war in Gaza was revealing: Israeli troops fought with real anger, enjoying full license from IDF command. Hamas has many valid points, but as Israelis see it, their major, painful concessions brought no end to terrorism. The economic crisis will exacerbate hatreds.
The peace process has overextended itself and can be easily ruined. Palestinian and Syrian expectations are so inflated that they won’t accept any deal short of the Temple Mount and Lake Kineret. Jews, accordingly, need not oppose all moves toward peace. There is no need to argue with leftists and the mainstream about abandoning Judea and Samaria to Arabs; imagine for a moment that we accept that atrocity. Enough to concentrate our anti-peace-process efforts on Jerusalem’s Old City and Kineret. By far most Israelis agree with us on these two points. If we succeed at building a vocal national consensus against the withdrawal from the pinnacle of our national conscience, the Palestinians will refuse the deal.

Preferably, they would riot mightily and give us a politically acceptable reason to expel them.