Recalling Abba Eban

Israel’s late Foreign Minister famously quipped that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Now, it looks like there will be sea changes in Egypt and perhaps the Middle East. For the past thirty years, Israel has enjoyed peace with its southern neighbor, the largest & most powerful Arab country, a peace made possible largely by Anwar Sadat’s vision, American dollars, and America’s security umbrella.

Thus Israel’s peace for the past thirty years has been a tremendous opportunity to make peace with the Palestinians. An opportunity to reach some compromise with them. The extent of the compromises that the Palestinians were willing to make have been made public by Al Jazeera in the so-called Palestinian Papers. Essentially the Palestinians would have settled for a symbolic solution to the Right of Return; they would have given up parts of East Jerusalem; they would have accepted some of the large Israeli settlements; etc. etc.

So, I wonder what Mr. Eban would make of all this. How many opportunities for peace have the Israelis missed over the past thirty years?

If Egypt swings away from its peace with Israel, no one will regret more than the Israelis themselves that they missed such an extended opportunity to defuse the conflict by coming to terms with the Palestinians.