Thursday, August 9, 2012

No logical solution

No logical solution

Palestinian side closed door on bilateral negotiations when it launched UN statehood initiative

Yonatan Silverman

Two logical frameworks govern world politics. Every country has an imperative for self preservation. Every country also has an imperative to maintain sound and fruitful relations with other countries.

The Zionist Movement and the State of Israel began life on the basis of logic. On one hand there was the imperative of Jewish survival. Anti-Jewish pogroms in Eastern Europe caused Jews there to seek refuge in Palestine. Then, after the Zionist Movement was established it obtained logical recognition from Great Britain in the form of the Balfour Declaration.

In the aftermath of World War I, the San Remo Conference decided on April 24, 1920 to assign the Mandate for Palestine under the League of Nations to Britain. The terms of the Mandate were confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, and it came into operation in September 1923.

Among other things, the San Remo Agreement includes the following statements:

The Council of the League of Nations:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”

“…Recognition has thereby been given…”

The census of 1922 listed 83,790 Jews in Palestine. The census of 1931 listed 174,606. The Anglo-American report of 1946 listed 608,000 Jews in Palestine. According to the Israel Statistical Abstract, there were 716,000 Jews recorded in November 1948 and 758,000 recorded at the end of the year. It is not possible to ascertain the actual number of Jews present at the birth of the state, but the number given is generally 650,000.

The Anglo-American report of 1945 listed about 1,222,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs in Palestine and 15,000 "others."

Israel’s population in 2012 is 7,881,000, of which 1,623,000 are Arabs.

The Zionist Jews who settled in Palestine before 1948 had to contend with various logical fronts in order to survive and make the country flourish. In particular they had to contend with the constant illogical threat of Arab violence. Even though all evidence points to economic and other benefits accruing to the Arabs in Palestine from Jewish settlement, before 1948, the Arabs only wanted to halt Jewish immigration and Jewish settlement altogether.

There were bloody Arab anti Jewish riots in 1920, 1921, 1929 and a protracted Arab revolt in Palestine between 1936-1939.

Sealed against positive influences 
Finally, when the British abandoned the Palestine mandate, the UN decided to partition Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. But while the Jews in Palestine accepted partition, the Arabs violently rejected the proposal. The absence of Arab good will to achieve coexistence with the Jewish population of Palestine is something which no one can observe lightly. It emanates directly from hatred towards Jews, which has only intensified over the years unfortunately.

In his exceptional article on Islamic Judeophobia, Middle East scholar Robert Wistrich goes to great lengths to analyze hatred towards Jews in the world today.

Among other things, he notes that “the antagonism not only lies far deeper and goes well beyond the issue of 'settlements'. Indeed, it extends to the entire Jewish national project, to Israel’s very existence in the Middle East and to the rejection of what Saddam Hussein has repeatedly called the 'criminal Zionist entity'. We need to recognize that a culture of hatred has arisen which has become an end in itself, rather than a form of politics by other means.”

Since the 1960s Israel has had to cope with a rash of Palestinian terrorism. For many years the PLO conveyed the impression that its goals were political and democratic. But this was a big illusion. The motivations of the PLO from the beginning were anti-Jewish and underlined by a desire to eliminate Israel and its Jewish population. These anti-Jewish longings are more powerful today than ever. And they are supported by the barbaric terrorism of such radical Islamic terror gangs as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The 1993 Oslo Accords with the PLO and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority seemed to offer a logical process to settle differences between the sides and achieve peace and coexistence. But in the final analysis the Oslo Accords were also a big illusion. Even though there were bilateral negotiations for many years and issues were resolved in agreements, when offered an opportunity to end the conflict and obtain all the principle Palestinian desires in terms of land and self-determination, Arafat dug himself into a big hole and started the second intifada.

Then in 2009 the Palestinian Authority closed the door on bilateral negotiations altogether. Instead they opted to try to unilaterally obtain UN statehood recognition for Palestine. This effort has been a complete failure but it has not caused the Palestinians to return to bilateral negotiations.

Among other things, the Palestinians have raised two conditions to resume bilateral negotiations – Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines as a permanent border and a complete halt to building in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Both conditions are unacceptable to Israel, which will not be lured into negotiations on that basis.

So there has been an Israeli Palestinian stalemate for three years. The Quartet tried to jumpstart high level talks between the sides in Jordan, but this effort quickly miscarried. Although the Palestinians routinely charge Israel of blocking negotiations - this is ridiculous. It was obviously the Palestinian side that closed the door on bilateral negotiations when it launched the UN statehood initiative. The complete failure of this initiative has not motivated them to turn back to bilateral negotiations.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian side isn’t governed by logical political thinking. They do not do what they need to do for the sake of self preservation. They do not do what needs to be done to achieve sound fruitful relations with their closest neighbor, Israel. And there is no evidence that their lack of logic will change in the foreseeable future – which leads to the unfortunate conclusion that indeed there is no logical solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is essentially a protracted political stalemate and hermetically sealed against positive influences from outside that might conceivably smash the deadlock.,7340,L-4265363,00.html