Where is 'Palestine'?

Obama is misleading the world.

Ted Belman,

Ted Belman
Ted Belman

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the subject of the conflict between Arabs and Jews. He had this to say: "I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace
He referred to "Palestine" as if it were a state already.
between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world."

What is noteworthy here is that he referred to "Palestine" as if it were a state already. Is that not pre-judging the outcome? He also wants there to be peace with the "Arab world", which means more pressure on Israel to cave in to the demands of Syria.

    Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts on both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.

Obama appears to be signing on to Binyamin Netanyahu's ideas regarding building the economy as a means to peace. But to my mind, by rejecting the "legitimacy of the settlements" he is declaring war on Israel.

The settlements are legitimate and legal. By taking such a position with no, or spurious, legal reasoning, Obama is no better than Judge Goldstone, who held that Israel was guilty of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. Nether the position of Obama nor that of Goldstone have any legitimacy. They are imposing on Israel an interpretation of law which favours the outcome they desire. Once again, Obama has prejudged the outcome of negotiations. If the settlements are illegal, as he says, then Israel must agree to withdraw from all lands east of the Green Line. He made no distinction with respect to Jerusalem. Yet, the US has long maintained the position that no one should do anything to prejudge the outcome.

Most presidents have shied away from saying that the settlements were illegal and contented themselves with declaring them "obstacles to peace". This, also, is a debatable issue.

    The time has come - the time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security - a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. (Applause.)

Obama is misleading the world in saying that negotiations should start "without preconditions" when he doesn't mean it. The negotiations will be fraught with preconditions. He names a few - such as that "Palestine" must be "independent", "viable" and "contiguous" - but there are others, such as the need to "end the occupation that began in 1967.″ This implies full withdrawal, rather than partial withdrawal as provided for in UN Resolution 242. Then there is the matter of whether the negotiations are starting fresh, which would be without preconditions, or whether the negotiations must pick up where they left off. Obama has been pressing for the latter.

    As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.

    To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private.

On the contrary, when is he going to say privately what he says publicly? Once again he wants to be "honest" with us.

    The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. (Applause.) And - and nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security. (Applause.)

Now here is the bottom line: What are "the legitimate rights of the Palestinians"?

There is no legitimate Arab "right of return". There is only a right to receive compensation for the property owned by them and left behind when they evacuated. The Jewish refugees have a similar right regarding property they left behind in Arab countries when they were expelled or fled.

The land lying east of the armistice line, which the Arabs refer to as the West Bank and the Jews refer to as Judea and Samaria, can in no way be Palestinian land as claimed. The Palestinians never had sovereignty over it. Having lived there or even owned small parcels of land there never confers sovereignty. There is absolutely no way they can establish a "legitimate right" to these lands. According to international law, the Jews were given these
Obama is supporting the Palestinians to strengthen their negotiating position.
lands as their national homeland, over which they had political rights. These rights have never been forfeited.

Jerusalem is a Jewish concept, not an Islamic one. Jerusalem, as a city, means nothing to Islam. Jerusalem means everything to Judaism. It is at the core. I have no idea why anyone would consider that the Arabs have legitimate rights over Jerusalem, but I am sure that Obama includes a share of Jerusalem as a legitimate Palestinian right.

"Legitimate rights" are important in a court of law. They have no place in negotiations. Negotiations are essentially a power play, whether between management and labour in labour disputes, or between countries in negotiating treaties. Obama is supporting the Palestinians to strengthen their negotiating position. He is attempting to influence the outcome while at the same time he says that no one should do anything to prejudge the outcome.

It amounts to an imposed solution. Obama leaves little to be negotiated. He has predetermined all. Has he not publicly embraced the Saudi Plan?

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