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Friday, April 17, 2009

Netanyahu hits Erekat's sore spot

Late Thursday night, I reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had thrown US Middle East envoy George Mitchell a curveball, saying that Israel would negotiate with the 'Palestinians' about a 'two-state solution' when the 'Palestinians' accepted Israel as a Jewish state. The 'Palestinains' have vehemently protested that deamnd, led by 'chief negotiator' Saeb Erekat, who apparently went ballistic on an al-Jazeera interview Friday morning (which may be on the Arabic side) as reported by Israel Radio. Erekat made two claims and I'd like to address each of those claims since they are the only substantive claims that have been made in response to a demand that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert raised as well. Other 'Palestinian' protests have simply accused Israel of 'stalling' and being 'inflexible.'

Erekat's first contention is that Israel made no demand that Egypt and Jordan recognize it as a Jewish state and that therefore it should make no such demand of the 'Palestinians.' With respect to Egypt, there are three arguments to refute this point. First, in the Israel-Egypt treaty, Article I Section 1 is a statement that the state of war between the two states will no longer exist.
The state of war between the Parties will be terminated and peace will be established between them upon the exchange of instruments of ratification of this Treaty.
This is what's called an 'end of conflict statement' in the lingo of foreign relations, and it's something that Yasser Arafat refused to give at Camp David and at Taba. There is no indication that the 'Palestinians' have changed their position. I don't care if you recognize that Israel is a Jewish state so long as you recognize that you cannot flood it with 'refugees' and that when we sign the agreement, the conflict is over. The 'Palestinians' have expressed an unwillingness to concede either of those two points, and therefore Israel is trying to force them to concede them by forcing them to recognize that Israel is a Jewish state.

Second, the land that Israel gave Egypt under the Camp David accords (and I believe it was a serious mistake to give Egypt everything they lost in the wars they initiated, but that is water under the bridge at this point) is land that was essentially a buffer between us and Egypt. So long as the Sinai is demilitarized, no Egyptian should come within several miles of an Israeli. Because it is a vast open area, if Egypt ever tried to set up massive amounts of heavy weaponry, Israel would know about it immediately. That's very different from the 'Palestinians' who will still be living in our midst, even if we (God forbid) give them all of Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of the city of Jerusalem.

Third, Egypt was a state from the start. Its President, Anwar Sadat, came to Israel seeking peace and addressed the Knesset. The Israel - Egypt treaty was an agreement between two state actors, each of whom clearly had the capacity to enforce its obligations. As cold as the peace between Egypt and Israel has become since Sadat's assassination, Egypt is still technically fulfilling its obligations under that treaty. The fact is that Egypt and Israel have not gone to war in more than 30 years.

Article 1 of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was also an end of conflict clause:
Peace is hereby established between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (the "Parties") effective from the exchange of the instruments of ratification of this Treaty.
Israel did not actually give land to Jordan. With respect to two small areas, Annex I of the treaty provides that they are "under Jordan's sovereignty with Israeli private land use rights in the land. The arrangement with respect to those areas is for 25 years and is renewed automatically unless either party gives the other one year's notice in which case the parties will enter into 'consultations.' Again, the land in question is on the border between Israel and Jordan and Jordanian rights in it do not result in Jordanians in our midst.

Finally, Jordan's King Hussein openly and unequivocally came to Israel and declared his desire to live in peace with us. He didn't sign a 'declaration of principles' one day and then go to a South African mosque and compare his agreement with us to a temporary treaty the next day. There was far more trust than there is between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' And there was no doubt about King Hussein's ability to carry out his obligations under any treaty.

Thus Erekat is wrong. In each case - Egypt and Jordan - the situation was far different than it is with the 'Palestinians.'

Erekat's second claim is that when President Truman recognized the State of Israel, he did not recognize it as a Jewish state and therefore the 'Palestinians' should not have to recognize it as a Jewish state either. Here is President Truman's letter recognizing the State of Israel:

What Erekat is apparently arguing is that Truman's having crossedout "new Jewish state" and having written in "State of Israel" means that Truman did not recognize that Israel is a Jewish state. That's nonsense for third reasons. First, the most likely scenario is that Truman was told that the State had a name when he went to sign the letter, and therefore he decided to recognize the State by its name. Second, his first paragraph says that "a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine." Well, if he wasn't recognizing that "Jewish state," what is the meaning of the second paragraph? Third, the United States never threatened to flood Israel with 'refugees,' has no contiguous borders with Israel and has never threatened to 'drive the Jews into the sea.' So once again, Erekat's comparison fails.

There are good and valid reasons why the 'Palestinians' specifically should have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state before Israel 'negotiates' with them over giving them a state of their own. None of the claims made by Saeb Erekat opposing that proposition holds water.

The real reasons that Erekat and his friends don't want to recognize Israel as a Jewish state are that they want to perpetuate the conflict between Israel and the 'Palestinians,' because they want to flood what remains of the Jewish state after a 'two-state solution' with 'Palestinian refugees' and because they wish not to establish a 'Palestinian state,' but to destroy the Jewish one. It's high time that the World recognize the meaning of the 'Palestinians' words.


At 7:30 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - exactly. The real holdup is the Palestinians do not really want a two-state solution. They do not want to grant Israel the recognition she got from Egypt and Jordan. While they claim to talk about two states for two peoples, they reject the notion of ANY Jewish State in their midst. The real issue isn't borders, settlements or territory. The real issue is Israel's very right to exist. And until the Palestinians formally acknowledge that, two state talks will go nowhere. Period.

What they really want is for the West to make it easier for them to destroy Israel and no Israeli government will ever consent to such an arrangement. Saeb Erakat doesn't really get why Israel is so adamant. Because the Palestinians refuse to face up to the fact they themselves through their own extremism, are blocking the very future they supposedly want for themselves.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

To state the obvious...

please tell me where it is written that the Palestinian Arabs get veto rights over Israel's national character, borders, or immigration policies.

Also, please show me where UNSC 242 -- which completely embodies the terms and conditions for ending the conflict between Israel and the Arab countries -- stipulates a Palestinian state.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Kranky, the Oslo Accords don't mention a Palestinian State either. The Road Map does of course but it is performance-based. And since "moderate" PA President Mahmoud Abbas' office just rejected Israel's demand as creating a "new obstacle" to peace talks, it is clear who is trying to derail a two-state solution. Hint: it ain't Israel.

UNSC Resolution 242 says a lot things but one of them ain't the right to continue the conflict in perpetuity as the Palestinians want. They can either have peace with a state and that includes secure borders, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and recognition of Israel as a Jewish State as the price they have to pay for really ending the conflict. Or they can wind up again with nothing.

My guess is as good as yours that they will probably wind up getting no state at all. Even a leftist like Uri Dromi, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords has admitted as much. Israelis across the political divide are sick and tired of Palestinian extremism and that's the reason the two state solution is fast losing ground in Israel.

But don't look for the Palestinians to have the maturity to acknowledge they are the one who are killing any chance of their ever having a state - if they really wanted one in the first place, they would have met Israel half-way a long time ago.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Oops, I meant you FinanceDoc. My apologies.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Matt said...

They can't take the country by force, so they will try to take it with demographics.

It is a devious tactic which is not easily understood by many Americans, who are obsessed with the "virtues" of multiculturalism, and have no reguard for the necesity of a national identity.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Matt, Natan Scharansky has written about the need for national identity as intrinsic to democratic citizenship. Its a notion that's waned in much of the West and as we've seen its not in favor either with the State Department. But Israel has the right to define its national identity and it is not dependent for its existence on Palestinian recognition. But if the Palestinians want to pursue a two-state solution, it must on the basis that Israel's existence is not just a fact but it is legitimate and undisputed. The reason for this is to terminate all grounds for continuation of the conflict after a peace agreement is signed. Since the Palestinians don't want to terminate the conflict even after attaining statehood, it comes as no surprise they reject acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State. Its not peace they want.

Incidentally, Scharansky has been recommended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the next Jewish Agency Chairman.

At 11:10 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

I think the intriguing aspect of that document is that it appears to me, at least, that the two sets of handwriting, that of the insertion of the State of Israel and the president's signature appear to be different. As the historical record asserts, as I recall, the name of the state simply was not know when the memo was composed but became known shortly thereafter and Truman had the text altered accordingly.


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