|Israel Resource Review
||24th January, 2007
Is a Palestinian state the Panacea for Peace?
Within many quarters of the N. American community, which in the main prides itself on being moderate, there is still that hope: Maybe, if PA President Mahmoud Abbas can be strengthened, he can take on Hamas and act on his moderation. Then there can be negotiations for a Palestinian state, and that much elusive peace will be closer.
It is good to be hopeful, but this is a hope built only on air.
Within many quarters of the N. American community, which in the main is politically correct, as well, there is also the notion that Israel has some unmet obligation towards the Palestinian Arabs, and that eventually we must give them a state, because it is simply the right thing to do.
This notion, I would suggest, is founded on some very mistaken ideas about the history of the region and about Israel's obligations and constraints.
Here in Israel, successive governments have tried -- ad nauseam -- to work towards giving the Palestinians a state. It is time to let go, and to acknowledge that this is not merely a failed plan, it is also a dangerous one, inimical to the true interests of Israel.
Within the N. American Jewish community, it is time for a soul searching on this matter, with a readiness to confront the facts and what they tell us. Those facts, examined below, contradict many commonly held assumptions:
The Palestinian Authority is terrorist.
This means not only Hamas, but also Fatah -- the party of Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). While they have different styles, and Fatah pretends to be more moderate, in fact they have the same goal the destruction of Israel. The Fatah constitution calls for this; their plan is to weaken Israel in stages.
Since becoming president of the PA in January 2005, Abbas has consistently indicated that he has no intention of taking on Hamas. It is not that he is incapable of doing it his forces far outnumber Hamas forces but that he does not want to. His theme, from the beginning, has been "brotherhood and unity." He invited Hamas into the political process; he invited Hamas into the PLO.
In late June 2006, Abbas, on behalf of Fatah, signed a "Prisoners' Document" that struck an agreement with Hamas and is supposed to be used as the basis for a unity government and for negotiations with Israel. This document:
· Does not talk about final cessation of hostilities
· Promotes "right of return" for 4.2 million "refugees"
· Sanctions terrorism which it calls "the right of resistance by all means" even within Green Line Israel
· Does not recognize Israel's right to exist
On January 11, 2007, Mahmoud Abbas gave a major talk in Ramallah, commemorating the first attack by Fatah on Israel 42 years ago. He said:
"Our rifles, all our rifles are aimed at the Occupation."
That means at Israel. And remember, all of Israel even within the Green Line is considered part of the "occupation." At the same time he made it clear that Hamas was acceptable:
"No one [here] is a criminal. All our people are as one hand to free our land . . . No one [Palestinian] is outside our society."
Here, then, is the unvarnished reality. Abbas will not take on Hamas, even if he is given "sufficient" support and motivation. He will not form a unity government that is genuinely moderate. And he will not become genuinely peaceful.
A Palestinian state would be a terrorist state.
In 2006, 187 suicide bombings were thwarted by Israeli security forces. On January 8, 2007, a high ranking IDF officer explained:
"We succeeded in lowering the level of terrorism . . . This was made possible by our continued presence and the non-stop operations that we carry out inside the [Palestinian] cities . . . "
Were there to be a Palestinian state, Israeli security forces would be blocked, and there would no longer be good intelligence and non-stop operations. Death of innocent Israelis would follow.
Forming a Palestinian state means requiring Israel to withdraw to untenable lines.
The 1949 armistice lines were never intended to be Israel's final borders. Yet the notion has been floated that these lines commonly called The Green Line represent Israel's "true" borders, the borders to which Israel should withdraw in a peace accord.
Abba Eban called the Green Line "The Auschwitz Borders." By this he meant that Jews caught within those lines would be at risk of destruction.
Yet these are the lines that the Palestinians are demanding as their right; they say they will not accept less.
(The claim is being made that UN Resolution 242, after the '67 war, demanded return to those lines. This is demonstrably false.)
If all of Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) or even large portions of it were surrendered,
Israel would be deprived of necessary strategic depth. Enemy forces entering Israel from the east would be able to reach population centers on the Mediterranean shore at the west of Israel in no time flat. What is more, high land to the east that would no longer be in Israeli control would provide excellent vantage points for shooting at Jewish communities and the airport below.
Even assuming (a huge assumption) that the Palestinians would not attack, there is still risk of attack from forces farther east. Suppose Jordan's monarchy falls and is supplanted by a terrorist regime. Suppose terrorists move across Jordan from Iraq.
For more information see
The "demographic threat" is a myth.
For a long time there was thought to be a demographic time-bomb that gave Israel no choice: As the Palestinians Arabs in Judea-Samaria, with higher birthrate, were sure to outnumber the Jews in due course, Israel must divest herself of Judea-Samaria in order to retain the Jewish character of the state.
Turns out, however, that this concern was based on fallacious data. A team of Israeli and American researchers, who first presented their findings in early 2005, were able to demonstrate at least a million person gap between the number of Palestinians thought to be in PA areas and the number that truly exists. (See http://www.pademographics.com/).
This statistical gap occurred for a variety of reasons: Numbers were based on Palestinian Bureau of Statistics projections from a 1997 census, and not on actual population surveys done since then. The numbers in the original census were inflated because Palestinians living abroad were counted; the inflated numbers were compounded exponentially as projections were made. The Bureau had projected a growth rate of 4% to 5% a year through births and immigration. In fact, that percentage was never realized. A check of Palestinian Health Ministry records showed a lower birth rate than had been expected; and a check of exit/entry data showed a higher rate of emigration than immigration.
Those who have projected that Jews will become a minority in Israel are simply wrong. Jews have maintained a solid 60% majority in Judea-Samaria. Inside the Green Line, Jews comprise 80% of the population. The new data indicate that these percentages will persist.
The Palestinian Arabs have no automatic "entitlement" to their own state.
The attitude that the Palestinians are "entitled" to a state has been promoted for more than 13 years, so that many decent people have internalized this. It is a concept much in error.
When the historical record is examined, it becomes obvious that opportunities for the Palestinians to have a state have been rejected most notably with the UN partition plan of 1947 and offers made in 2000, first at Camp David in the summer, then in Washington DC in December, and finally at Taba in early 2001.
These offers were rejected by the Palestinians because having a state is not their first priority, weakening and attacking Israel is.
Since 1994, when the Palestinian Authority was created as a temporary entity that was supposed to lead to a state, there has been NO focused effort made to build a civil society and a governmental infrastructure; nor has there been a serious attempt to attain self-sufficiency through the development of industry and small businesses. The Palestinians have been the most heavily endowed by international assistance of any people in the world. But instead of building roads and improving schools, they have turned much of the money they have received towards preparations for war.
Textbooks produced by the PA and used in their schools do not recognize Israel; they prepare the students to venerate "jihad" rather than make peace. (Those interested might want to read the report on this released by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.)
The Palestinian Authority is lacking a true civil society with respect for law and order. Violence is rampant: Gunmen have shot inside PA legislative offices when they were angry about laws passed; groups at odds kill and kidnap each other; death, rather than life, is openly venerated. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, large greenhouses were left behind, available for use by Palestinians in order to develop agricultural industry. Palestinians then proceeded to destroy some of these greenhouses: venting anger at Israel was more important to them than developing their own industry.
It is the height of folly a very dangerous folly to imagine that if the Palestinians were given a state they would be motivated to suddenly morph into responsible citizens of the world, prepared to make positive contributions.
Palestine Arab claims of deep and distinctive roots in the land are baseless.
That they are a separate people with a long and distinct history in Palestine is a myth that has been carefully promulgated by modern-day Palestinian Arabs to give validity to their claim to the land.
For close to 2,000 years, Palestine was no more than an appendage to various empires. Ruled from outside, it was not well defined and (with the exception of a Jewish remnant) was not peopled by one distinct group connected to that particular area of land. Rather, different peoples came and went in association with the conquerors. As many were migrants or shepherds, Arabs often moved from one area to another; certainly they came into Palestine, but they also moved out into broader Arabia or north to Syria. It was all of a piece: nothing marked the Arab in Palestine from the Arab in Syria or Arabia. Into the early decades of the 20th century, Arabs in Palestine identified simply as part of the Arab people, or as part of Greater Syria.
The Palestinian Arabs are self-defined as a distinct people only relatively recently. It was for political reasons that they began to identify specifically with Palestine. In culture and language they do not differ substantially from other Arab peoples of surrounding areas.
While certainly there are some Palestinian Arabs whose family history in the land dates back many generations, this is not true of the population as a whole. There is documentation for the fact that Arabs moved into Palestine with the advent of Jewish settlers in the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century they were seeking work where the Jewish development was taking place. There is evidence, as well, of Arab migration into the area from elsewhere even more recently.
Israel is not an "occupier".
The term "occupation" is utilized routinely, first and foremost by the Palestinians, who are masters at generating spin. It is also used by those in the international community and Israel who favor establishment of a Palestinian state. "Occupation" is a morally loaded term implying that Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian areas is imperative.
But "occupation" is a term that is used improperly in this context.
Occupation occurs only when one sovereign state moves into a region of another sovereign state. This is not the case here. Judea-Samaria was not part of any sovereign state. Certainly it was not part of a Palestinian Arab state, as such a state has never existed.
Judea-Samaria is, at most, "disputed territory," meaning there is more than one party claiming it. Israel's claim is as strong, if not stronger, than the Palestinian Arab claim. The land technically remains part of the Mandate for Palestine, as this status has never been superseded. When Britain declared intention to relinquish the Mandate in 1947, a partition of the land was proposed. That proposal, as it was put forth by the UN General Assembly, carried no weight in international law. In any event, the Arabs rejected it.
When the Arab League attacked Israel in 1948, following her independence, Jordan gained control of Judea-Samaria. In 1967, Israel acquired control in the course of fighting yet another war; the fact that it was a defensive war strengthens Israel's claim. International law says Israel may administer this territory with some specific rules for doing so until such time as the jurisdiction of the land is determined via negotiations. Nothing in international law or in agreements struck renders the settlements in Judea-Samaria illegal.
There are those who say that the Israeli occupation is not of the land, but of the Palestinian Arab people, who are being deprived of their rights. In response to this, it is worth noting that in accordance with understandings of the Oslo agreements, Israel withdrew from Palestinian population centers and permitted local Palestinian administration.
It was because of security concerns that Israel found it necessary to move back into these areas in 2002: Thus there are now "non-stop operations
inside the cities" operations that prevented 187 suicide attacks in 2006 alone. For the Palestinians to complain about this is reminiscent of the apocryphal man who killed his parents and then threw himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan. The Palestinians themselves are responsible for the situation in which they find themselves: it is a function of their refusal to eradicate a terrorist infrastructure that threatens Israeli lives. It is time that the international community acknowledged this. Israel must remain in place.
Israel will not be depriving Palestinian Arabs of civil rights by retaining the land.
Inside of Israel, thoughtful and serious persons are addressing the issue of Palestinian Arab civil rights, and a number of scenarios are being discussed. Once it is understood that it is possible to legitimately attend to those civil rights outside of the paradigm of a Palestinian state, several potential solutions, and combinations of solutions, arise.
If Israel extends civil administration to Judea-Samaria, the Arab residents might be accorded full citizenship. Or they might be provided with residency cards similar to what Arabs in Jerusalem now possess. This status permits voting in local elections and confers a variety of governmental benefits such as health care and pension, and equal protection within the national justice system; it is much coveted. (Such a solution would conform to what is in place in many areas of the western world; not everywhere is it the case that all long-term residents are fully enfranchised. In Canada, there is a category of "landed immigrant" that does not permit voting; in Washington DC, residents are not enfranchised in national elections.) Or there might be yet another resolution to the issue.
When considering this matter, it is important to differentiate between a national right and individual human rights. Those promoting a state are focused on a national right, and, as it turns out, it is non-existent. That is, the Palestinian people, as a people, does not have a "right" to a state. The irony is that those concerned with the human rights of individual Palestinian Arabs are able to perceive that these rights might be far better addressed within the State of Israel than within a Palestinian state. Daily, Palestinians within areas under PA jurisdiction suffer abuse of their basic rights right to protection under a system of law and order, right to free speech and free press, right to earn a living, and even right to life. To consign them to continued existence within such a system is not necessarily to work on their behalf.
Jews in Israel have rights in the land.
This seems a truism. But this basic fact is being ignored by hosts of Jews, inside and outside of Israel, who are so eager to do right on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs that they are hesitant to advance the Jewish agenda, or have forgotten that a legitimate Jewish agenda also exists.
Now is the time to address and protect these Jewish rights, unabashedly and without apology.
Judea-Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, has an ancient Jewish history. It is part of the heritage of the Jewish people to a degree that supersedes the Jewish connection to Israel within the Green Line. This fact is broadly obscured today for two reasons.
There is the misleading PR that emanates from the Palestinian Authority (PLO) propaganda machine PR that seeks to deny the Jewish connection to the land. There is as well the residual effect of the 19 years from 1948 to 1967 during which Jordan controlled the region and made it Judenrein: All Jews were banished and areas that had been traditionally Jewish were suddenly exclusively Arab. This is the reason, for example, that eastern Jerusalem is sometimes referred to as "Arab Jerusalem." The fact is that from the late 1800s, Jews comprised the majority of the population of Jerusalem (which means, in good part, what is now called "east" Jerusalem). In eastern Jerusalem are located the Temple Mount, the very heart of ancient Jewish religious experience, and the Kotel. Palestinians now claim there was no Temple on the Mount and that the Kotel is Muslim.
Within Judea-Samaria there is the ancient city of Hebron with the Tombs of the Patriarchs dating back to Abraham. There is Rachel's Tomb, Shilo, where the Tabernacle rested, and much more. Archeological evidence for the Jewish presence abounds.
Charges are made that modern Israelis are no more than European colonists. The answer to this is that Jews are not upstart newcomers to the land of Israel, but are returning to their ancient homeland. The proof of early Jewish presence in the land lies in good part in Judea-Samaria/Jerusalem. For the Jewish people to now voluntarily relinquish this heritage would be a tragedy of immeasurable dimensions.
The modern Jewish case for the land rests with the British Mandate for Palestine, which is recognized in international law: The League of Nations in 1922 charged Britain with establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The original Mandate encompassed what is today Jordan, but that land east of the Jordan River, constituting some 70% of the Mandate, was separated out by Britain for a Hashemite kingdom. What remained was Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean for a Jewish homeland. Under the terms of the Mandate, Britain was instructed to "encourage close settlement by Jews on the land." "The land" being referred to most clearly encompassed Judea-Samaria. This is something not to be forgotten today as Jewish rights are under siege. We're talking about Jewish land.
© Arlene Kushner 2007
Arlene Kushner has authored Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, and recently issued a monograph report for the Center for Near East Policy Research, "The Myth of a 'Moderate' Fatah," which can be accessed at
Arlene Kushner's website is www.arlenefromisrael.info
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Offer to European task force to run Judea and Samaria
A freshman member of the Israeli Knesset Parliament, Prof. Shlomo Breznitz of the Kadima Party, a close associate of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has offered a plan that would hand over the administration of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to a European task force until the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan would involve destroying most of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as Jewish communities were destroyed in the Katif sector of Gaza and in the Northern Samarian area of Samaria in a matter of less than two weeks during August, 2005.
MK Breznitz, 70, a professor of psychology who specializes in situations of stress, couches his plan in terms of friendly terms such as "realignment" and "settler relocation" in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that will not be demolished, even though there is a freeze on all new housing in all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
The Olmert couple often spends their vacations with the Breznitzes, and the prime minister often consults him.
"The only way to get out of the impasse is to transfer the territories, for a limited time, to an international mandate, that will run them until the establishment of a Palestinian state," said Breznitz, whose plan was presented Wednesday at the Herzliya Conference on security matters held each year in Israel.
Breznitz's proposal refers to international involvement like that which led to stability being restored in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the European task force is in place.
According to Breznitz's proposal, this step, which he calls an "international greenhouse," would be led by the European community, not the US, which because of its involvement in Iraq, "has lost its status as an honest broker in the view of the Palestinians and the Arab states."
He proposes that Israel gradually leave most areas of Judea and Samaria, and that most of the settlements be evacuated based on the format that was proposed on the eve of elections in the realignment plan, and some of which would be relocated to settlement blocs. The Israeli army would be replaced by a European task force and would number tens of thousands of soldiers.
The proposal calls for the presence of a European task force in the territories that is not limited in time, and it would end its role only after its goals were met. He stressed that this is not a solution that would be forced on the Palestinians and that its implementation would be dependent on their consent, and noted, "I have reason to believe, and I don't want to expand on this, that the Palestinians will support the proposal. Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from European countries who were shown the proposal also believe that without international help it will not be possible to resolve the conflict."
Background: The European task force
On December 1st, 2003, this reporter interviewed European Parliamentarian MP Graham Watson, who made a presentation concerning the future role of the European Task Force in the Middle East at the Geneva Initiative Conference in Geneva. This was a gathering that was organized by Israeli opposition leader Yossi Beilin, the former Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs who also conceptualized Israel's unilateral surrender of territories during the Oslo process between 1993 and 1995, and in Israel's withdrawal in the year 2000 from Southern Lebanon.
MP Watson presented the concept of the European Task Force, relying on the Bosnian model. MP Watson explained that the European Task Force saw its role as the exclusive protector of the Palestinian Arab entity, and that any and all Israeli presence beyond the 1967 lines would be viewed by the European Task Force as illegal and criminal in nature. MP Watson was adamant that no Israeli incursion into Palestinian areas patrolled by the European Task Force would be tolerated, and a European Task Force would play an active role in the dismantlement of Jewish communities established by Israel since 1967 -- including Jerusalem. MP Watson mentioned the Bosnian experience, where troops of the European Task Force had dismantled and relocated people who had been living in homes and communities for more than forty years. This relocation was done by force.
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