An underlying issue in the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what is the fundamental issue at stake. It is underlying because there is an assumption in the western intelligentsia that there is a parcel of land that two sides want and that the conflict is about how to allocate it. Following this logic, Israel maintains some degree of control over all of the land, at a minimum entry in and out, while the Palestinians do not. Therefore, by this reasoning, Israel's actions of relinquishing control or not show Israel's willingness to compromise, whereas the Palestinians, who have no such control to relinquish, are incapable of actions by which to judge them, and thus can only be judged by their words.
A frequent subject of Israeli hasbara is to emphasize Israel's adherence to the Law of War standards. However, if the Palestinian grievance is only their lack of a state and Israel could obviate the use of force, whether adhering to the Law of War in doing so or not, by just fulfilling that reasonable grievance, we will never gain international sympathy. In order to help Israel's international standing, we must attack the "just want a state" narrative. We need to convince people that the real issue underlying the conflict is that the Zionists abrogated the Pact of Umar (Pact) and that the Palestinian national movement (PNM) will accept nothing less than the removal of all Jews who refuse to abide by the Pact. Note, I am not saying that we need to just say that the issue is Palestinian rejectionism, we need to convince others that that is so, a larger task.
A start in doing so would be to pose the question of what would the PNM do if all they wanted was a state of their own and what would they do if they wanted an end to Jewish self-determination? Proponents of the just want a state doctrine would say that PNM declarations in western languages that they recognize Israel is all that is needed to show that they do not seek an end to Jewish self-determination. However, all that is needed to induce those declarations is a strategic decision to court support from those for whom ending Jewish self-determination is unacceptable. As such, declarations in western languages are compatible with both hypotheses and thus evidence for neither.
On the other hand, as Einat Wilf frequently states, peoples who just want a state, when presented with an opportunity, will say "yes." They will do so no matter how short the offer is of what they want, with the example of the Yishuv accepting the Peel Commission recommendation. As such, the PNM's refusal of the offers made so far contradicts the notion that they "just want a state." However, if the goal of ending Jewish self-determination, then they will not do anything that would undermine western support for eradicating self-determining Jews, without giving them the ability to do so without western support. The presence of any Palestinian state recognized by Israel, unless augmented by a right of return, would create exactly that situation. Lo and behold, they are conforming to that.
On a separate line of evidence, I have written before that our condition for making a deal should be a consistently reinforced declaration that:
- The Jews are a people
- The Jewish people are deeply connected to the land of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular
- There is no place for the Pact of Umar in today's world