Ted BelmanThe author is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.
UNSC Res 242 passed in the wake of Israel’s great victory required negotiations to determine secure borders . The Oslo Accords also required negotiations. Israel believfed she held all the aces. After all, the Palestinian Arabs wanted a state and would compromise their demands to get it.. Little did she realize that the international community would keep bolstering the Palestinian Arabs both with financial support and diplomatic support so that they could remain intransigent? In the absence of necessity, the Palestinian Arabs had no need to compromise. And little did she realize at the time that the Palestinian Arabs didn’t want a state but wanted to destroy Israel.
In all negotiations, whether in business deals or in labour disputes, necessity dictates who gives in. Therefore, the intrusion by the international community into negotiations assured that no agreement would be reached.
“Negotiations” implies and requires freedom to accept or reject offers. Israel has no obligation to accept offers or diktats she does not like.
But that is in a fair world.
The international community wants to dictate the broad outlines of the deal leaving negotiations for the fine details only. This they have no right to do so.
Take the controversy over E-1 for instance. Israel would like to build there and keep E-1 and adjacent Maale Adumin. But for 30 years or so the US administrations has, through great pressure, prevented her from doing so.
To put this in perspective, Maale Adamin is a community of 40,000 Jews situate within 5 miles of Jerusalem; 5 miles!! There is no reason, legal or contractual that says she can’t build there. So what is the problem?
The US administration doesn’t want her to because it will be a death blow to the peace process or so the U.S. says. And so does the E.U. and the U.N. According to them, this would be so because it would sever Ramallah to the north from Bethlehem to the south making a two state solution not doable or at least not acceptable to the Palestinian Arabs.
Israel has no obligation to place Palestinian Arab wants above her own and has no obligation to make peace on Palestinian Arab terms or the US’s terms for that matter. Israel’s construction there would not be a deal breaker because there is no deal to break. Israel will not divide Jerusalem, will not uproot settlements, will not disengage from the territories they leave, as she did in Gaza, and will not accept the return of any Palestinian refugees; all of which are implacable demands of the Palestinians. But the biggest demand of the Palestinians is that Israel cease to exist. In fact, the Charters of Hamas, the Fatah and PLO are explicit on this.
The international community, lead by Pres Obama, wants a compromise; Israel must accept borders based on the ’67 armistice lines with swaps and divide Jerusalem and the Palestinians must … do nothing. I say this because I can’t think of one US demand from the Palestinians But this in effect gives the Palestinians 100 % of the territories in dispute. Hardly an honest broker. There is no way Israelis would accept such a solution so it is a non-starter just as was Obama’s demand that Israel permanently cease construction east of the ’67 lines. Positions such as these are what set back the peace process..
Jonathan Tobin writing in Commentary declared that Israel’s Building No Obstacle to Peace:
”Even if the E1 area is developed, there will be no obstacle to peace talks that could produce a Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank except for the major settlement blocs that no one expects Israel to give up. Nor would the Palestinian state be blighted by this project since highways and tunnels could easily be constructed to allow access between Arab areas to the north and the south of Jerusalem. Indeed, Jewish housing in the disputed areas is no more of an obstacle to peace than the far greater Arab housing boom in other parts of Jerusalem.”
Of equal importance:
“Though you wouldn’t know if from listening to the UN debate or even to most spokespersons for the Jewish state over the last forty years, the argument about the West Bank is not solely about pitting rights of Palestinians against Israel’s security needs. The West Bank is, after all, part of the area designated by the League of Nations for Jewish settlement under the Mandate of Palestine. It is also the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland to which Jews have historical, legal and religious ties that cannot be erased by a century of Arab hatred.”
From Israel’s point of view, she has much more to lose by ceding E1 to the Palestinians, then vice versa. E1 is the gateway to the Israel/ Jordan border and to Maale Adumin. As such for security reasons it must remain Israeli territory.
As for the European Governments that voted for or abstained from the UNGA resolution granting recognition of a Palestinian Arab state, they have lost all credibility and respect and disbarred themselves from offering Israel advice or admonition. By doing so, they have aided and abetted a fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords which provides that no party shall take unilateral steps which change the status of the territories. It should be noted that the accords in no way restrict Israel’s right to build on the territories.
Israel’s detractors argue that the settlement construction is an obstacle to peace or illegal pursuant to the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) . It is far from certain that the FGC applies and even if it does, that it prohibits such construction, In any event the Palestine Mandate gave Jews the right to close settlement of the land. The Israelis are fully with their rights to settle the land.
These lands are not ”Palestinian lands”. At best they are Israeli lands and at worst they are disputed lands. They never were Palestinian lands.
Res 242 passed by the Security Council gave a right to Israel to remain in the lands until they had an agreement for secure and recognized borders. The resolution clearly did not require Israel to withdraw from all the territories which at the time included the Judea and Samaria (Westbank), Sinai, Gaza and the Golan Heights. To date Israel has withdrawn from close to 90% of the territories and could argue that she has fulfilled her obligation to withdraw from territories. Yet the world led by Pres Obama insists that Israel withdraw from 100% of the remaining territories and so do the Palestinian Arabs. The area of E-1 is less than 0.0025% Judea and Samaria.
Israel has no obligation to make peace or to give the Palestinian Arabs what they are demanding but not entitled to. If the Palestinians want a state they should compromise.
Were Israel to stop construction east of the ’67 lines, the Palestinian Arabs would have no need to make a deal. They could wait living on the avails of propaganda til doomsday. Israel’s best shot at bringing the Palestinian Arabs to the negotiating table, is to build furiously. Thus time would not be on the Palestinian Arab side. The longer they wait to compromise, the more they would lose. And the West should not give them false hope.