Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Exchange of Letters In The Globe and Mail

[Published 16 September 2010]

From: Watching China

To: David Singer

Dear Mr. Singer;

Why should the Arabs negotiate? Why should they have approved of the giveaway of Palestine by those who didn't own it?

You can quote all the nonsense you want, but the one salient fact is that Palestine does not belong to the Jews; it belongs to the Arabs who inhabited it for the past 2,000 years.

Yes, the UK promised to give it to you, but wasn't theirs to give. And now you forcibly occupy 95% of it and are still salivating for the remaining 5%, at which time your victory will be complete.

It's THEIR land. You took it, and they want it back. End of discussion.


From: David Singer

To: Watching China

You state:

"You can quote all the nonsense you want, but the one salient fact is that Palestine does not belong to the Jews; it belongs to the Arabs who inhabited it for the past 2,000 years."

Sorry but your "salient fact" is wrong.

Palestine did not belong to Arabs - or the Jews - who lived there at the end of World War 1. It had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for the previous 400 years and before that to a string of conquerors following Rome's conquest of Eretz Yisrael - the sovereign state of the Jews - 2000 years ago.

You are confusing sovereignty with habitation.

When the British and French conquered Palestine they were perfectly entitled to allocate sovereignty of the conquered Ottoman territories as they determined and as was approved by the League of Nations. The Arabs were to get 99.999% and the Jews 0.001%

You further state:

"And now you forcibly occupy 95% of it and are still salivating for the remaining 5%, at which time your victory will be complete."

Israel is the sovereign ruler in only 17% of the Mandate. Jordan is the sovereign ruler in 77% of the Mandate - and the West Bank and Gaza makes up the remaining 6% where sovereignty still remains unallocated between Jews and Arabs. Your percentages are pure fiction.

Israel has agreed to cede its claim to more than 90% of the West Bank and Gaza which has been rejected by the PA.

If the Palestinian Arabs do not want to negotiate that is their perfect entitlement. The PLO Charter makes it clear that they regard the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate as being null and void. That is the reality and the Palestinian Arabs show no intention of being bound by international law.

They are paying - and have paid - a heavy price for taking this stance.

With 21 Arab Moslem states around the world still continuing to deny the Jews the right to have their own state in their biblical - and internationally sanctioned - homeland the prospects for a peaceful outcome seems very bleak indeed.

My letter published in Palestine Note

[Published 18 September 2010]

To: M J Rosenberg

Israel requires the PA to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish State because the PLO Constitution contains the following clause:

"The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

Perhaps if you can get them to unequivocally revoke this clause (and some other choice clauses) your argument [that Israel should not require acceptance and recognition by the PA of Israel as a Jewish State] might have merit.

And why is the only alternative to the "two-state solution" the "one state solution"?

What about dividing sovereignty of the West Bank between Israel and Jordan which would see Jordan probably getting sovereignty in about 90% of the West Bank, virtually return the West Bank territory to the status quo that existed in June 1967 and involve no Jew or Arab having to leave their current homes in the West Bank.

I bet you and King Abdullah could negotiate the new boundary in six weeks. There is already an existing peace treaty with Israel that deals with contentious issues such as water, refugees and Jerusalem.

The solution is in front of your eyes. Open them and see the possibilities.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Palestine - Netanyahu Courts Disaster Without Political Gain

[Published December 2009]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ten months suspension of residential house construction in the West Bank reached Israel’s High Court of Justice on 23 December - without any sign of the Palestinian Authority showing the slightest interest in resuming negotiations one month after the moratorium was announced on 25 November.

During the past month Jewish residents angered by the suspension have mounted large demonstrations and clashed with police and building inspectors seeking access to settlements. Tensions have been rising between Jewish and Arab neighbours.

The Yasuf mosque arson on 13 December and the murder yesterday of a 45 years old Jewish father of 7 in a terrorist ambush are grim portents of what may happen in future in the present state of indecisiveness caused by the moratorium.

Civil disobedience is set to continue which the Government has indicated will be met with firm resistance by the police and civil authorities - and if necessary by the Army - to ensure the moratorium is observed and no new residences are constructed.

Thousands of would be occupants of dwellings slated for building or halted by the moratorium in various stages of construction - not to mention builders and building suppliers - will suffer huge financial losses requiring compensation claims being made against Israel. It is impossible to quantify the damages that will be have to be paid at this time but they obviously will be substantial.

Add to this the public cost of providing additional police, building inspectors, possibly deploying large parts of the army to assist in enforcing the moratorium and the costs of prosecutions for, and demolition of, illegal building work - and you have a picture of chaos and confusion set to involve Israel’s courts and civil authorities for years to come.

That Israel is not prepared for the consequences of its moratorium was made clear by the High Court of Justice which on 23 December gave the State 30 days to let it know when a compensation claims court included in the military order freezing settlement construction would be established and begin work.

The panel of three justices, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, demanded to know
1. when the compensation claims committee would be established,
2. when it would start working,
3. what the grounds would be for applying to it,
4. how applications would be filed,
5. what the hearing procedures would be and
6. what body the settlers could turn to if they were dissatisfied with the committee’s decisions.
This decision is only going to cause greater distress and anxiety for those affected by the moratorium as a further 30 days is given to the State to provide these details whilst the moratorium continues to drift for another month with no assured response from the Palestinian Authority on the resumption of negotiations.

One must seriously question the continuation of the moratorium in the absence of any signal from the Palestinian Authority of its intention to resume negotiations.

The idea of a moratorium is not in issue. It has been done before. If it achieved its intended result of negotiations being resumed then it can be justified - even if those negotiations eventually lead to nowhere which is the most likely scenario that will occur.

Menachem Begin instituted a three months moratorium on settlement construction when he commenced negotiations with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. But the distinction then from the present moratorium is that it was given in consideration of the actual negotiations being undertaken.

This is not the case in the present moratorium where there are no such understandings or commitment.

Netanyahu’s failure to place a deadline on the continuation of the moratorium being dependent on the Palestinian Authority resuming negotiations - only encourages the Palestinan Authority to sit around and do nothing for 10 months ostensibly trying to extract a more comprehensive moratorium from Israel including a total freeze on any construction whatsoever in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile the financial and social costs to Israel arising from the moratorium soar exponentially as the time frame of the moratorium increases and civil disobedience escalates.

Any expectation of lasting political gain being obtained by Israel by announcing the moratorium is minimal.

Although American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the moratorium as “unprecedented” nevertheless US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell said on 27 November:
“The United States also disagrees with some Israeli actions in Jerusalem affecting Palestinians in areas such as housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes,”
It is precisely these Israeli actions that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has given for refusing to accept the current limited moratorium and seeking its widening to cover such actions.

The Americans can therefore hardly blame Abbas if he sits on his heels for 10 months and does nothing whilst professing to express his earnest desire to resume negotiations if Israel ceases any such evictions and demolitions during the moratorium.

Freezing all settlement construction has been urged for years by the Quartet - America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Again the Quartet cannot complain at Abbas’s demand that the moratorium be extended to all such construction - not merely residential houses.

Whilst President Obama had urged Abbas and Netanyahu to enter into negotiations without preconditions prior to the current moratorium offered by Israel, Abbas will lose little support from the Quartet - if any - as he continues to refuse to negotiate until there is a total freeze.

Netanyahu should have prevented the current state of uncertainty arising by initially putting a deadline on the resumption of negotiations and declaring that in default the moratorium would end and a resumption of unrestricted building activity in the West Bank would immediately follow.

As time drags on the folly and consequences of failing to stipulate this time constraint becomes clear for all to see. Overlooking such a small but highly significant detail is unforgivable.

The moratorium in its present form is bad news for Israel and a classic blunder that has caused and will cause significant financial and social consequences for Israel and its citizens until it is rectified.

Perhaps Netanyahu will come to his senses now that the issue has come before the Courts.

The sooner a deadline for the resumption of negotiations is announced by Israel - the sooner some clarity and certainty will be established to replace what is developing into a very tense and dangerous political void.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Palestine - Perpetuating Propaganda Prevents Peace

[Published December 2009]

Propaganda can be a very effective ploy in promoting false viewpoints and opinions and has been used by the Arabs with great success in the Israel-Arab conflict.

No more has this been evident than in their concerted and continuing efforts to mislead and confuse world opinion in relation to the location of the geographical entity once called “Palestine” and the allocation of sovereignty that has taken place within that territory between Jews and Arabs over the last 90 years.

These are not esoteric statements but have real practical consequences for any lasting solution—be it “the two state solution”, “the one state solution” or any other solution that might be proposed for ending the territorial claims by both Arabs and Jews to the territory once called “Palestine”.

Arab propaganda has created the impression that Israel is located on 78% of Palestine whilst the West Bank and Gaza comprise the remaining 22% of Palestine - thereby claiming that the Jews possess sovereignty in the major part of Palestine.

In fact Israel is only 16% of historic Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza is 6% of historic Palestine and Jordan is 78% of historic Palestine - which substantiates that it is in fact the Arabs that possess sovereignty in the major part of Palestine.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as recently as 4 November 2009 Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator with Israel still continued to promote this canard against the Jews stating:
“We have accepted and recognized Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine and accepted to have our state on the remaining 22 percent of the land. Now, it seems to me that Mr. Netanyahu wants to partition this 22 percent. If this is the case, this is a non-starter.”
Ms Amanpour accepted Mr Erekat’s response without demur. She obviously believed what he was telling her - and so did the hundreds of thousands of viewers watching the interview.

This statement was repeated as fact not once - but twice - by well known Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar on 21 December when he wrote the following in an article in Haaretz:
“Without receiving anything from Israel in return, the Palestinian National Security Council declared a state [in 1988] on territory captured in the Six-Day War - 22 percent of Mandatory Palestine”
and was repeated later in the same article:
“In the eyes of the world in general, not to mention the Arab world, this 22 percent is not up for negotiation.”
These statements are utter nonsense, factually misleading and hinder - rather than assist - in efforts to find a negotiated settlement for the following reasons:
1. They fail to take into account that a sovereign Arab state already exists in 78% of Palestine and that any negotiations on the allocation of sovereignty in the remaining 6% of Palestine - without the inclusion of Jordan - are destined to fail.
2. The world has recognized by the passing of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 that Israel will not be required to withdraw from the entire West Bank and Gaza but only to “secure and recognized borders.”
3. America has indicated that circumstances on the ground - namely the presence of 500000 Jews living in territory captured by Israel in 1967 - make it impossible for 100% of the West Bank and Gaza to become sovereign Arab territory.
4. The declaration of statehood by the PLO in 1988 was meaningless since the PLO never had and until this day has not achieved effective control over the area claimed by it.
Mr Eldar - not content with supporting Mr Erekat’s propaganda on the false geographical location of Palestine - also in the same article promotes another piece of choice propaganda uttered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as recently as 15 December 2009 when he stated:
“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,”

Mr Eldar’s article is itself titled ” Talk about 1967 borders, not settlement blocs.”

In the body of the article he makes mention of this fact once again when writing:
” Until we [ Israel] reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 borders…"
However the references to “1967 borders” by both President Abbas and Mr Eldar are factually incorrect and misleading.

There were no “1967 borders” between Jordan and Israel or Egypt and Israel in 1967. They were only armistice lines that had been fixed in 1949 after the Jews had repelled six Arab armies that had invaded the fledgling Jewish State of Israel the day after it announced its independence on 14 May 1948.

It was not until 1979 that Israel’s border with Egypt was settled in negotiations. It was not until 1994 that Israel’s border with Jordan was demarcated in negotiations.

Specifically the 1994 Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel stipulated that the defined and agreed boundary between their respective states:
“ the permanent, secure and recognised international boundary between Israel and Jordan, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.”
The permanent boundary in the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt is
“..the recognized international boundary between Egypt and the former mandated territory of Palestine…without prejudice to the issue of the status of the Gaza Strip.”
The status of both the West Bank and Gaza are therefore still undetermined and have to be decided between the current negotiating parties—Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Both maintain claims to exercise sovereignty in these areas in which at present neither has sovereignty.

Abbas’s demand that he be granted sovereignty in 100% of the territory is a demand and nothing more.

Describing the armistice lines as “borders” has become an integral part of propaganda used by the Arabs to suggest that the West Bank and Gaza are and have always been under Arab sovereignty. This is wrong and needs to be corrected whenever the term “1967 borders” is used. The Arabs have no monopoly or entitlement to any part of the West Bank or Gaza until their claim and Israel’s claim have been negotiated and settled.

The terms appearing in Mr Eldar’s article in Haaretz to describe the 1967 armistice lines as “1967 borders” and the West Bank and Gaza as being “22% of mandatory Palestine” are very concerning and does the paper’s editor no credit.

Accuracy in reporting should be a primary goal of one of Israel’s major newspapers. Adopting the incorrect language of your enemies is shameful and misleads its readers into adopting views based on false facts.

I cannot believe that Mr Eldar is not fully aware of the true facts concerning these two fundamental issues that must materially impact on the conduct of negotiations designed to end the Israel-Arab conflict.

If Mr Eldar is innocently parroting the falsehoods of Mr Erekat and President Abbas then he really shouldn’t be writing op-eds on current issues involving Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Haaretz needs to raise its game or risk losing a substantial part of its readership and its journalistic integrity as well.

Palestine - Abbas Aborts Any Two State Solution

[Published December 2009]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has now made it abundantly clear that he does not intend to enter into further negotiations with Israel to create a new Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt - by insisting on conditions for resuming negotiations with Israel that prejudge fundamental issues that were supposed to be only settled in negotiations.

Speaking before the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Committee in Ramallah on 15 December Abbas said:
“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,”
In demanding that the 1967 “borders” - they are in fact only armistice lines - be recognized as the “borders” of the Palestinian state before negotiations are resumed - Abbas has repudiated one of the key issues that was to be decided by negotiations.

His demand is both peremptory and racist - amounting effectively to an ultimatum that Israel agree to 500000 Jews being evicted from their present homes and businesses in the West Bank prior to the Palestinian Authority even agreeing to resume negotiations on the future of the West Bank’s Jewish population.

Abbas has now reached the end of the road of no return in making the irrational demands he has.

In welcoming Israel’s 10 months moratorium on residential building activity in the West Bank as “unprecedented” in an effort to induce Abbas to resume negotiations with Israel - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had declared on 25 November:
“We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish State with secure and recognized borders.”
The Secretary of State’s expressed belief that Abbas would agree to land swaps has now been comprehensively and publicly rejected by Abbas in his latest statement.

Abbas’s statement also amounts to a rejection of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which do not require that Israel withdraw from all the land it occupied following the Six Day War in 1967.

There seems to be a general ignorance about the status in international law of the West Bank and Gaza which are at present not under the recognized sovereignty of any State.

In international law the West Bank and Gaza are the only remaining areas of the Mandate for Palestine still unallocated between Jews and Arabs pursuant to the 1922 League of Nations Mandate whose provisions still apply today by virtue of Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

Both Jews and Arabs claim the West Bank and Gaza - which are “no man’s land “ in common parlance.

Although all Jews living in Gaza evacuated their homes there in 2005 no formal abandonment of Jewish claims to sovereignty in Gaza has yet been conceded by Israel.

Both Jews and Arabs maintain claims to sovereignty in the West Bank that can only be peacefully resolved by negotiations between them.

The Palestinian Authority has now made it plainly clear that it is not prepared to enter into further negotiations with Israel to settle their respective claims to sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza by stipulating the Palestinian Authority be granted sovereignty in 100% and not one square metre less as a pre-condition to resuming negotiations.

Israel now needs to find an Arab negotiating partner or partners that will not demand such a pre-condition. Until that happens the unsatisfactory status quo will continue - which clearly is in no one’s interest.

In response to Abbas’s latest demands Mark Regev the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on 17 December 2009:
“Up until now, he (Abbas) was talking about a settlement freeze. Now he is adding (a return to) 1967 borders. It’s like we have to accept the outcome of negotiations before negotiations start. We are concerned that they are trying to avoid negotiations.

The reason we haven’t been negotiating is the Palestinians have been placing new preconditions on talks.”
Israel needs to go much further than Regev has articulated.

Any hope that Abbas will withdraw or modify his latest conditions for resuming negotiations is fatuous.

Israel initially erred in not conditioning its 10 months building moratorium on the Palestinian Authority agreeing to resume negotiations with Israel within a fixed period of time after the date when the moratorium was first announced on 25 November 2009.

In theory the Palestinian Authority was given up to 10 months to decide whether to negotiate any further with Israel - during which time no further houses would be commenced in the West Bank even if the Palestinian Authority made no decision to negotiate during that time.

This moratorium has already caused much personal distress, confusion and financial loss as well as large demonstrations in Israel and on the West Bank protesting the moratorium. Continuing the moratorium in view of Abbas’s latest demands will not advance the peace process one iota.

There is at this point of time no possible hope whatsoever in negotiations being resumed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In view of Abbas’s latest statement Israel should now make it very clear that:
* Abbas’s conditions for resuming negotiations with Israel are completely unacceptable
* If Abbas does not resume negotiations with Israel by 20 January 2010 without the preconditions stipulated by Abbas then Israel will cancel the 10 months moratorium and resume building houses in the West Bank in accordance with the rights vested in the Jewish people by the Mandate for Palestine and the United Nations Charter.
The time for playing diplomatic word games is surely over.

Arab Human Rights Abuses Uncovered In Explosive Report

[Published December 2009]

“A man spends his first years learning how to speak and the Arab regimes teach him silence for the rest of his life” Algerian writer Ahlem Mosteghanemi, “Memory in the Flesh”

The above quote forms the backdrop to an explosive report titled “Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform” released this week by the Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) on the state of human rights in the Arab World for 2009.

Given the Report’s contents and the existence of CIHRS as a non government organization since 1993 - one wonders how it has managed to survive to continue its valuable work openly in Egypt exposing human rights abuses in the Arab World.

Perhaps the reason can be found in the associations CIHRS has built up over the years with other human rights organizations around the world that has now enabled it to produce this second comprehensive annual report in which it notes the worsening of human rights in the Arab world since 2008.

The CHIRS web site describes these associations as follows:
“CIHRS enjoys consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC, and observer status in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CIHRS is also a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). CIHRS is registered in Egypt, France and Geneva, has its main offices in Cairo, an office in Geneva for its work at UN human rights mechanisms and an institutional presence in Paris. CIHRS was awarded the French Republic Award for Human Rights in December 2007.“

The Report notes that in the Arab world in 2009
“Human rights defenders and advocates of democratic reforms were targeted for various threats and acts of repression.”

The Report cites Syria as the worst offender, describes Tunisia as a “Police State” and includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan as sanctioning state authorized acts of repression against human rights defenders. It lists a large number of specific individual cases and actions taken in these countries to support its claims.

The report is particularly revealing about three of the six Arab countries that currently sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) - Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia - a body that spends most of its time and discussions on condemning human rights abuses committed by Israel.

Saudi Arabia is exposed as having no independent media and according to the Report
“... it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of internet websites are blocked. Some Saudi bloggers were subjected to arbitrary arrest, and one Saudi citizen was sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes on charges of publicly proclaiming a sin, following statements he made on a program carried by a Lebanese satellite channel…

… remains dangerous for human rights defenders and advocates of reform. Authorities refuse to grant legal status to the few human rights organizations that exist in the Kingdom and many reformers have been detained for long periods of time without trial and tortured. An Islamist reform activist was sentenced to a prison term for opposing government policies, and several rights defenders were banned from travel.

… a great many people detained in connection with terrorism cases were subjected to physical and psychological torture, including cuffing, beatings, sleep deprivations, and the denial of family visits. Some people detained for their advocacy of political reform were also tortured.”

Bahrain - according to the Report:
“… continued to block political, news, and advocacy websites, as well as online forums. In a space of just three months in early 2009, more than 70 websites were blocked, among them online newspaper sites. Lawsuits were filed against journalists on charges ranging from slandering officials to undermining the judicial authority to harming national unity…

…Torture remains a routine practice in Bahrain, used especially against activists in social and political movements seeking an end to the institutionalized discrimination against Shiites; several human rights defenders were also tortured.”

Egypt has been in a state of emergency for the last 28 years and according to the Report:
“The greatest infringements of freedom of expression in Egypt were seen in the broad attacks launched by the security apparatus on bloggers and internet activists, dozens of whom were placed under administrative detention, abducted, or temporarily taken to undisclosed locations, usually State Security police headquarters; some have been detained for more than two years without charge or trial….

… continued to top the list of countries in which torture is routinely and systematically practiced. In 2009 Egyptian authorities used torture not only against those accused of political crimes or terrorism, but also against adherents of minority religions such as Shiites as well as suspects of criminal offences. Indeed, the threat of torture hangs over anyone who steps foot in a police station, whether to give a statement or file an assault charge, or pursuant to a summons by an officer, who might discipline or abuse citizens on behalf of influential persons.”

The Report comments as follows on the consequences of the split governance by Hamas in Gaza and by Fateh in the West Bank :
“Under the cover of the war in Gaza, Hamas embarked on several repressive measures targeting Fateh members, figures who oppose Hamas’ rule, and suspected collaborators with Israel, and it is suspected that dozens of people were killed, either shot to death or as a result of torture. Hamas personnel also broke the legs and arms of dozens of other people to compel them to stay in their homes. Also, some government employees in Gaza were replaced with Hamas loyalists.

In the West Bank, under the authority of Fatah, hundreds of Hamas sympathizers remain in detention; it is thought that at least two of the detainees have died as a result of torture. The West Bank authorities fired civil servants and teachers suspected of Hamas sympathies, while the salaries of thousands of employees of the Palestinian authority inside the Gaza Strip were suspended. Licensing for associations and companies in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip is now preceded by a security check,and those organizations that have affiliations with the “wrong” party are refused Licenses.”

Few of the 22 members of the Arab League are spared criticism in the Report which should be required reading for anyone interested in seeing some balance restored in any deliberations regarding the numerous and ongoing conflicts in the region.

No doubt this Report will not even rate any serious review or investigation by the UNHCR.

Whilst the Arab man in the street is prevented from expressing his opinion freely and without fear - the Arab world shall continue to present the monolithic Arab view of those few repressive regimes who rule to the detriment of the rest of the populations they rule over.

Such is the state of denial that the world currently finds itself in where the Arab world is concerned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Washington Bumbles As Two State Option Crumbles

[Published December 2009]

Israel’s 10 months suspension of some building activities in the West Bank has yet to induce the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with Israel on the creation of a new Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

In welcoming Israel’s moratorium United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared on 25 November:
“We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish State with secure and recognized borders.”

Regrettably Ms Clinton seems to have got the Palestinian goal wrong but the Israeli goal correct.

The Palestinian Authority is not interested in land swaps. It wants all 500000 Jews kicked out of their homes in the West Bank and is not prepared to concede its claim to sovereignty in one square metre of territory in the West Bank.

Land swaps had been proposed by Israel in 2008 and rejected by the Palestinian Authority. They were offered as a creative way of Israel retaining sovereignty of West Bank settlements created since 1967 on what is still “no man’s land” in international law - land included in the former League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in which sovereignty still remains unallocated between Jews and Arabs.

Israel’s withdrawal from 100% of the West Bank has been an unchanging Arab demand since 1967.

US Middle East Special Envoy George Mitchell in a press briefing given the same day following Ms Clinton’s announcement seemed to back away from his boss’s remarks omitting any mention of “agreed swaps” when he said:
“As we and others have said many times, the way to move forward is to enter negotiations without preconditions and reach agreements on the two-state solution: a Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state."

Mr Mitchell - in so doing - was correctly putting the Palestinian position contradicting what the Secretary of State had said earlier that day.

Land swaps are not on the Palestinian agenda although agreement to such a proposal could dramatically help towards the successful conclusion of any negotiations.

Ms Clinton in correctly pointing out the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized boundaries - raised one of the most contentious issues requiring Arab acceptance.

Mr Mitchell however questioned the Secretary of State’s remark when in an answer to a question a few minutes later he stated:
“Well, as I said, we believe that the best way forward is to re-launch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed. We will encourage both sides to continue to take steps that will lead to that result and enable us to begin negotiations in a way that affords what I believe to be a reasonable and good prospect of achieving what the Palestinians want and what we want; that is, a two-state solution with an independent and a viable and a contiguous Palestinian state, and a state of Israel living with secure and recognized borders with security for all of its people. And we are going to continue to pursue that objective.”

Specifically omitted from Mr Mitchell’s answer was that one critical word used by the Secretary of State - “Jewish”.

Recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people has been consistently rejected by the Palestinian Authority for the last 16 years and there has not been the slightest indication of any change of heart in that position.

Indeed it would be reasonable to expect that anyone in a position of leadership in the Palestinian Authority would be signing his own death warrant were he to make that concession since it completely negates the provisions of the PLO Covenant and the Charter of Hamas which both call for the dismantling of the Jewish State.

I do not believe that Mr Mitchell’s omission of the word “Jewish” was the result of oversight. It was deliberate and follows the pattern of conduct he has followed before as he tailors his comments before audiences depending on whether he is speaking to Jews or Arabs.

It is notable that he also said this is “what the Palestinians want and what we want”.

It certainly is what the Palestinians want. From the American perspective it does not appear to be what the Americans want judged by the remarks of the Secretary of State just hours before.

Whilst America speaks with two tongues any influence it may have in procuring successful negotiations to be concluded will prove a fruitless exercise.

Perhaps the Americans think that ambivalence and ambiguity is the best strategy to follow to keep both parties guessing what its final position will be in supporting either of the parties in the achievement of their respective goals.

It is clear however that the parties are as far apart as ever in resolving their cardinal differences and that America still appears unclear as to what the goals of each of the parties to the conflict are.

Until the Palestinian Authority disabuses itself of the notion that
1. Israel will withdraw from 100% of the West Bank
2. Israel will evict 500000 Jews who live in the West Bank
3. Israel will give up its claim to be recognized by the Palestinian Authority as the national homeland of the Jews

then the efforts of the Americans “to re-launch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed.” will be a total waste of time and effort.