Businessman angers fellow Palestinians by talking peace with Jews

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

A prominent Palestinian Arab billionaire has earned the scorn of the Palestinian Authority for the heinous crime of talking peace with Jews who make their homes and conduct business in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank").

Last month, Munib al-Masri, a Palestinian tycoon and former minister in the Palestinian Authority, led a private effort to get Israelis back on board with the Saudi-authored Arab League Peace Initiative first introduced in 2002.

Israelis viewed the proposal with suspicion because it called for the nearly unconditional surrender of all Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem, while Palestinians were unhappy that the plan stated any solution to the claimed "refugee crisis" must be agreed upon by Israel. The Palestinian Authority continues to insist that Israel open its borders to millions of "Palestinian refugees."

And so, the initiative died before ever really being negotiated. But al-Masri believes it is the only realistic starting point for a lasting peace deal, and has started meeting with influential Israelis to convince them of his position.

One of those Israelis is supermarket mogul Rami Levy. The two men met at one of Levy's stores early last month. The only problem - that store is located in Judea, on land the Palestinian Authority claims as its own. What's more, many of Levy's stores are located in the so-called "Jewish settlements."

The Rami Levy supermarket chain has been a point of great frustration for the Palestinian Authority's Boycott National Committee. With several locations in Judea and Samaria, Rami Levy is just as popular with local Palestinian Arabs as it is with Israeli Jews. Furthermore, Levy has made a point of hiring from among the Palestinian population, turning his stores into examples of grassroots economic cooperation and co-existence.

All of that means the Boycott National Committee simply hates Rami Levy, and in a statement published on Palestinian radio it blasted al-Masri for legitimizing what it called "occupation, ethnic cleansing, and racism."

The ongoing saga again demonstrates two realities that Middle East peace brokers refuse to acknowledge:

  1. The Palestinian Authority is actively poisoning its people against true peaceful coexistence with Israel's Jews, making the prospect of a genuine, long-lasting peace nothing more than a pipe dream;

  2. Most Jews and Arabs on the ground are perfectly capable of living side-by-side and hashing out their differences, or at least, they used to be prior to the involvement of the international community and its imposing of Yasser Arafat's PLO on the situation.

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