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the "peace process" needs a paradigm shift

Reader comment on item: Next Steps in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
in response to reader comment: Two state solution - the response

Submitted by Ted Belman (Canada), May 28, 2007 at 15:58

By Ted Belman (written May '06)

On a sunny day in June '02, President G W Bush, on the lawn of the Whitehouse, delivered his "Palestine vision" speech.

"I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence."

Of course this wasn't the first foray by the US administration into the Israel/Arab conflict in search of a solution. For the purpose of this analysis, I want to start with the Madrid Conference. Itzhak Shamir the Prime Minister of Israel was dragged, kicking a screaming, to this conference by the Bush Sr administration.

"In the aftermath of the Gulf War, the Bush administration embarked on an extensive effort to achieve a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Washington had doubtless promised its Arab coalition partners that it would address the issue once the war with Iraq was over.". [..] [1]

So, in effect, the US was proceeding to pressure Israel on behalf of the Arabs. Why was this necessary given the fact that that the US had just rescued Kuwait and S. Arabia from Sadaam's clutches? It suggests that the US was just continuing a policy of ingratiating itself with the Arab potentates, at Israel's expense, in order to secure oil licenses and control. This policy was in existence even before the Israel declared its independence.

"Israel's refusal to heed U.S. requests to freeze the settlements [at that time] embroiled the two countries in a bitter dispute that finally drove President Bush to take a step that no U.S. president before him had taken: He linked U.S. financial aid to Israel to Israel's willingness to curb the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The policy that Bush adopted was not new- -- every U.S. administration since 1967 had expressed its opposition to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories -- but Bush was the first to enforce that policy."[1]

Rather than take such a US policy for granted one must question why the US was against the settlement of the territories in the first place. After all, the right of Jews to settle in all of the land mandated to Britain was the declared policy of Great Britain as articulated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. These lands included all the land west of the Jordan River and Jordan itself.

This right was then legalized by the creation of the Palestinian Mandate by the League of Nations in 1922. In fact, by virtue of this mandate, Great Britain had the duty to preserve this right of the Jews and to enable such settlement to take place. Throughout the Mandate, the British breached this mandate by restricting settlement by Jews.

In 1947, the successor to the League of Nations, the United Nations, recommended the division of these lands, contrary to the Mandate, and sanctioned the creation of two states (Partition Plan). Pursuant to this plan both the Arabs and the Jews had the right to declare a state on its side of the partition line. Only Israel availed itself of this right and it legally came into existence in May of 1948. The Arabs on the other hand rejected it and attacked Israel. The resulting war ended in an Armistice Agreement which delineated an armistice line otherwise known as the "Green Line". Israel ended up in possession of more land then the Partition Line allowed them.

In '67 Israel was once again forced to go to war to defend itself. As a result, it acquired possession of all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. UNSC Resolution 242 was thereafter passed to chart a path to peace.

Eugene V. Rostow states:

Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" is achieved.

Therefore the occupation is legal. It was sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

The British UN Ambassador at the time, Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution to the Council, has stated that:

It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them.

The United States' UN Ambassador at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, has stated that:

The notable omissions - which were not accidental - in regard to withdrawal are the words "the" or "all" and the "June 5, 1967 lines" ... the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. [This would encompass] less than a complete withdrawal less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel's prior frontiers had proved to be notably Insecure.

Arab countries unanimously rejected this resolution at the Khartoum Conference where they agreed to "no recognition, no negotiation and no peace" with Israel.

What is important to note is that neither the Partition Plan, nor the Armistice Agreement, nor Resolution 242 removed the right of the Jews to settle in all of the lands and that right still exists today.

Accordingly, the settlements are legal no matter how much the UN, the Arabs or the US declares them "illegal". President Reagan backed off this labeling and simply called them an "obstacle to peace". For that matter some people, even in the State Department, also consider the existence of Israel to be an "obstacle to peace" and call for its destruction, secretly or otherwise.

American pressure on Israel to begin an internationally supervised peace process was relentless in the early nineties notwithstanding that the relations between Israelis and Arabs in the territories were excellent. The "Palestinians" in the territories had the highest standard of living, the best schooling and best health care compared to Arabs in any Arab country.

In 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed to great fanfare on the Whitehouse lawn. As a prelude and condition precedent to these accords, Arafat, as Chairman of the PLO, the sole representative of the Palestinian people, signed this letter,

Mr. Prime Minister, Rabin

The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits itself...to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators...the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.


Arafat failed to honor any of these undertakings. I would point out that nowhere in these Accords, were the settlements or the occupation, declared illegal or did Israel agree to cease settlement activity.

But that didn't stop the US from insisting on more and more concessions and acts of good will by Israel to further the process along. Israel complied but to no avail.

In 2000, at Camp David, Prime Minister Barak, made what most considered a very generous offer to Arafat only to have Arafat walk out ending the talks. Thereafter, the US attempted to breathe life into the process by sending Sen. Mitchell, George Tenent, General Zinni and Anthony Ward to make reports and assist in the matter. In all cases additional demands were made on Israel to go beyond the terms of Oslo rather then on Arafat to honor the existing terms or else. There was never an "or else".

Rather then pursue peace, Arafat pursued war resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries. During the war, the US continually pressured Israel not to react or to restrain itself. The US didn't allow Israel to destroy the PA or the failed Oslo Accords and remained wedded to a failed process.

Instead, the State Department began diplomatic negotiations to offer a better deal, once again, to Arafat notwithstanding that he had no attention of abandoning terror and incitement. We began to hear that the Palestinians must be offered "hope". This was a euphemism for a Palestinian State.

In February 2002, Thomas Friedman introduced the Saudi Peace Plan to the world with these words,

"After I laid out this idea, the crown prince [Abdullah] looked at me with mock astonishment and said, "Have you broken into my desk?" "No," I said, wondering what he was talking about. "The reason I ask is that this is exactly the idea I had in mind — full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, in accord with U.N. resolutions, including in Jerusalem, for full normalization of relations," he said. 'I have drafted a speech along those lines. My thinking was to deliver it before the Arab summit and try to mobilize the entire Arab world behind it. The speech is written, and it is in my desk. But I changed my mind about delivering it when Sharon took the violence, and the oppression, to an unprecedented level.'"

How quaint? .Not only are words, cheap, but the written version has never seen the light of day. This plan when approved by the Arab League included the "right of return". This "right" has no foundation in international law or practice and is being advanced by Arabs as a means to destroy Israel.

So when President Bush stepped on the lawn of the White House to declare his vision of a Palestinian state it mattered little that Arafat had unleashed a series of devastating suicide bomb attacks in the previous six months and that the offer of a state in fact rewarded such atrocities. The message clearly delivered to the Palestinians throughout the "peace process" was that no matter what you do, no matter that you fail to honor your commitments; you will be rewarded with a state. Perhaps the message included, the more violence you employ, the more you will get. What kind of a policy is that?

At the same time, the US was planning the invasion of Iraq. Part of this planning involved the attempt to build as large a "coalition of the willing" as possible. As it turned out, this coalition included Britain and Saudi Arabia. They demanded US pressure Israel to cede to Arab demands for the creation of a Palestinian state. That is not to say that they wanted a Palestinian state side by side with Israel. The ultimate goal is a Palestinian state instead of Israel.

On March 20th, 2003, the US invaded Iraq. Ten days later, before the dust settled, the Roadmap was released. One cannot deny the linkage.

I forcefully recommended that Israel Reject the Roadmap and later traced the genesis of the Roadmap in Perfecting the Unifying Theory . The Roadmap set out the steps to be taken leading to the creation of a Palestinian state that was viable and contiguous. It made reference to the Saudi Peace Plan that required a return to the "green line" and recognition of the "right of return". This reference served to undermine the principles set out in Resolution 242 that stipulated secure borders and partial withdrawal but did not reference the "right of return". When Israel demanded that reference to the Saudi Plan be dropped, Secretary Powell adamantly refused.

Notwithstanding that the Roadmap was backed by the Quartet (UN, EU, US, and Russia) and by the Arab League, and was accepted by the PA, the PA failed to take even a baby step along its path. In breach of their commitments, the Palestinians continued to use incitement and terror to advance their cause. Notwithstanding, the US continued to demand goodwill gestures from Israel.

Two years later, with the US mired in Iraq and the PA as intransigent as ever, Ariel Sharon decided to act unilaterally. He introduced his Disengagement Plan for Gaza and attempted to get President Bush to commit the US to supporting Israel's claim to keep the large settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria. The best he could get was a letter from President Bush saying,

"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population's centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,…"

The same letter stressed the need for a negotiated settlement and a two state solution.

The events that followed the disengagement, confirmed the worst fears of disengagement's opponents, namely, that Gaza would descend into chaos and become a base for terrorists of all stripes including al Qaeda. Arms and terrorists flowed in unabated. This didn't stop Secretary Rice from forcing Israel to enter the Rafah Agreement. I commented at that time that The Rafah Agreement is against the law, common sense and prudence.

David Hornik in his article Folly in Gaza:The Sequel, reported,

"Since the disengagement, 35 Gazan export trucks have gone through it daily. Under the agreement, this will increase to 150 by the end of this year, and at least 400 by the end of 2006. But the agreement also stipulates that bus convoys, by December 15, and truck convoys, by a month later, will pass through Karni to the West Bank.

"The result is easy to see," former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, noting that "Kassam rockets and mortars will be transported through Judea and Samaria to be launched at Israel. . . . The biggest danger is that the Palestinians would be able to transfer the Strella [anti-aircraft] missiles, which are already in Gaza, to the area overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport and threaten planes landing and taking off."

Aside from the obvious danger this represented, it also represented an enormous erosion of Israel's sovereignty, particularly because it was imposed on Israel. There is a message here that is very frightening. If Israel couldn't resist this, what can she resist?

Two months later, Israel wanted to prevent Hamas, a terrorist organization from running for election to the Palestinian Council. Once again, Rice overruled Israel and demanded otherwise.

Notwithstanding the conditions for statehood stipulated by President Bush in his vision speech above and the PA's failure to meet its obligations undertaken in Oslo and the Roadmap, the US goes forward with the "peace process" regardless. No matter.

Today, Hamas is in power and fires rockets by the hundreds down on Israel and gives support to suicide bombers. Kadimah is in power in Israel and they are proposing significant "unilateral" withdrawal. called "convergence".

Such a withdrawal has been made necessary by US policy of pressuring Israel and will need US support. The cost of such withdrawal and the uprooting of 80,000 Israelis in the process has been estimated at $25 billion USD. Israel cannot afford it. This is the equivalent of a US expenditure of $1,250 Billion USD.

The problem is also that these 80,000 Israelis are to be resettled in the settlement blocks which the Arabs will never accept. For that matter neither will the US. So the Roadmap has reached a dead end. Besides, the US should be against further withdrawal in light of the rise of the Islamist front and the ongoing war in Iraq and the looming war against Iran..

All the king's horses and all the king's men can't put this process back together again. That's because it didn't have a chance to begin with. The US must make a paradigm shift.

A review of US policy is long overdue.

The Arabs always rejected the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine prior to its creation and subsequent to it. They have been at war with the Jews continuously for over eighty five years. Egypt and Jordan are notable exceptions but they both still represent a potential threat to Israel should their governments fall to the Islamic Brotherhood.

The PLO and the PA agreed to recognize Israel and renounce violence and endorse a peace process. Yet rather then prepare the Palestinians for peaceful coexistence, they indoctrinated their people through their schools, mosques and media to hate and kill Jew and to deny the legitimacy of Israel. Under these circumstances how can anyone believe in the peace process? Yet the US ignores what they say and what they do in the blind pursuit of an unworkable and unwanted solution. Why?

Furthermore the terrorist forces in the territories (Fatah and Hamas) and in Lebanon (Hezbollah) are controlled by Syria and Iran and readily accept their orders. These countries don't want a settlement of the conflict and instead want the war against Israel to continue. They want Israel and the US out of the Middle East.

Had the US not tried to curry favor with the oil potentates by forcing Israel to yield through peace processes, Israel would have continued the peaceful coexistence with the Arabs in the territories that existed at the time of the Gulf War. Instead, every time the US forced Israel into a "peace process", the Arabs were fortified in their belief that they could destroy Israel. After all the US wanted oil so badly, it would help them to ultimately bring this about. In effect, the US is fighting the Arab battles for them. Why should the Arabs compromise. Talk about being over an oil barrel.

While the American people love Israel and consider it an ally, the State Department and the administration curry favor with the Arabs using Israel as the sacrificial lamb. Furthermore in pursuit of the same goal they allow the Saudis to operate with impunity in the US to spread Islamist and Arab propaganda. They have been allowed to finance our universities, invest in our media, infiltrate our prisons and infiltrate our mosques.

There are two forces at work here. Firstly, the US is so heavily indebted to the Saudis for financing its debt and so dependant on it for its oil supply that it is no longer independent and calling the shots. Secondly, many Americans are benefiting financially from the Saudi relationship and work to continue it. They include the oil companies, ex- Presidents, the diplomats and the money managers. What's to be done?

Obviously energy self sufficiency is the most important imperative. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are taking this imperative seriously. This must change as a matter of urgency.

In the past the US favored a political two state solution. Such a policy has brought war, not peace. In August of '04, the then Shabak Security Chief, Avi Dichter, reported in Haaretz,

"Over the last four years, Dichter said, Israel has suffered 11,356 casualties, compared to 4,319 terror-related casualties between November 1947, when the United Nations voted to establish Israel, and 2000."

Translated into American terms, this is the equivalent of a mind-boggling 500,000 casualties. The US should abandon such a policy and opt for a military solution to the terror. Daniel Pipes argues for "utter defeat".

The military solution would be to allow Israel to seriously defeat the terrorist forces in the territories and to destroy the PA. Any terrorists not killed must be expelled. After all, the US is conducting a "war on terror" are they not? Let the Israelis do the same.

After that, assist the Israelis in pursuing a humanitarian solution.

The humanitarian solution would address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians rather then their political needs. This is exactly what Israel was doing prior to interference by the US.

Israel would then be responsible for enforcing the rule of law, providing for a free media and reforming the educational system. In the process she would be enabling the building blocks of democracy to be developed. It would take a generation at least to detoxify the Palestinians.

Secondly, UNRWA, must be reformed as Daniel Pipes points out in his Aug '03 article The Refugee Curse - UNRWA. Its mandate is to perpetuate the problem and not to solve it. This must change.

The Jerusalem Summit 2004 sets out three major requirements as part of such a solution,

"a) The dissolution of UNRWA – which will end the discriminatory treatment towards the Palestinians with regard to their status as refugees;

(b) The termination of ethnic discrimination against Palestinians living in the Arab world - which will end the discriminatory treatment towards the Palestinians with regard to their status as residents;

(c) Generous relocation grants to Palestinians living in Israeli administered territories on an individual basis and not via any official Palestinian organization"

In March '06, a new demographic study entitled "Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza: The Million Person Gap," was presented to Congress by Bennet Zimmerman. Israel National News reports,

"According to Zimmerman, the current official population for the West Bank and Gaza, which is listed as 3,279,141, is a highly inflated figure that does not reflect the demographic reality, which he estimates at 1.4 million in the West Bank and 1 million in Gaza, totaling 2.4 million. "The U.S. and Europeans have for years accepted entirely exaggerated data. Now Congress has some very tough questions to ask, including how its own State Department and the CIA could have been duped and what do to regarding future aid," stated Zimmerman."

If Israel were to annex all of the West Bank, and provide "generous relocation grants" to most Palestinians and citizenship to some over time, the problem would work itself out. Let us assume that 1.4 million Arabs represent 250,000 families. Thus the estimated $25 billion USD for Kadima's convergence plan would be redirected if needed to give $100,000 to each Palestinian family as emigration assistance. Obviously a far smaller sum would be sufficient. Furthermore, these emigrants would be a boon to any poor Arab country that agreed to accept them due to the money they would bring.

There is an alternative by Robert S. Barnes, details such a proposal. There are many other alternatives including Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan?

The US would be well advised to end the "peace process" and support the humanitarian solution.

[1] From A History of the Modern Middle East. 2nd edition


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