December 1, 2012
Matters are just unfolding with regard to the UN vote on Palestinian state status, and almost certainly tomorrow will bring more. Here I will provide an overview:
On Thursday, Abbas secured from the General Assembly precisely what I had written about -- the PLO delegation was voted the status of non-member observer status. There were 138 states that supported the motion, nine that opposed and 41 that abstained.
The legal consequences of this are minimal -- including with regard to the International Criminal Court (about which I'll have more to say soon).
The fallout is mostly political, as there was an inordinate readiness within the UN membership, including by some European states, to support this petition by Abbas; and this is in spite of requests from Israel that it be rejected by European states.
Abbas said the requisite things about readiness to pursue peace negotiations yet again (although he made no commitment to do so during his speech). But the speech oozed obstinacy and venom.
He said, first, that "The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation." He was riding on a high, standing at that podium, I have no doubt -- milking his position for all that it's worth, confident that the world was listening to him.
Israel is not an occupier, however, nor an aggressor, and settlements are not illegal.
Then he declared that the Palestinian Arabs will accept no less than "the independence of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital, on all the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967...and a solution for the refugee issue on the basis of Resolution 194 ["return" is implied ],
I'm going to come back to these charges and demands in a later posting, but suffice it to say that this is an absolute non-starter: There is no give in this, as there has never been give in the PLO position. These are terms that no government of Israel would ever agree to.
For the record let me point out once again that I am most certainly not endorsing negotiations for a "two-state solution," but rather analyzing these demands within the parameters of those who still persist in pushing this. Anyone who wants to see such a solution must understand, and work on the premise, that compromise will be necessary. But from the Palestinian Arab side there are only absolute demands, making the possibility of fruitful negotiations non-existent.
I wonder if even the most deeply deluded international figures, who cling still to the illusion of "two states," can fail to see the essential problem here.
Add to this the fact that many of the premises on which these demands are based are erroneous. Resolution 194, for example, does not provide for a "right of return," although the Palestinian Arabs have been claiming so for a very long time.
But it gets worse. Much worse. Abbas also said this:
"Palestine comes today to the United Nations General Assembly at a time when it is still tending to its wounds and still burying its beloved martyrs of children, women and men who have fallen victim in the latest Israeli aggression, still searching for remnants of life amid the ruins of homes destroyed by Israeli bombs on the Gaza Strip, wiping out entire families, their men, women and children murdered along with their dreams, their hopes, their future and their longing to live an ordinary life and to live freedom and peace."
Where does one begin, in addressing these evil words, this libel of Israel? Left out of this touching scenario were several highly significant facts:
- That Israel's action was defensive, in response to Hamas's rocket attacks on our civilians (which Abbas conveniently forgot to mention).
- That if there were civilians killed it was because Hamas uses them as human shields, caring not a bit if they are hit.
- That Israel does more than any other nation in the world to safeguard the lives of civilians in enemy territory. During our recent operation, we made thousands of phone calls to residents of Gaza, dropped leaflets by the tens of thousands, and otherwise made extraordinary efforts to warn innocents to leave an area before a hit was made. There were some 100 Gazans killed in the recent operation, most of them terrorists. This business of searching for remnants of life beneath rubble, and whole families wiped out is invention. Invention designed to malign Israel and present the Gazans as victims, all at the same time.
These are not the words of someone seeking to make peace. That essential fact smacks one in the face. Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to Abbas's statements as "hostile and poisonous." At the very least.
And so I return once again to my thoughts about how those international "leaders" who are promoting negotiations respond to this. Could they hear these words and remotely imagine that Abbas would sit at the table in good faith? Do they think a man who so grievously misrepresents could be trusted to stand behind any agreement made? And do they expect Israel to swallow these words and pretend all is well?
How, in his private thoughts, does Obama reconcile this with his public stance?
On Friday, after consultation with his Inner Cabinet, Netanyahu made the decision that there would be 3,000 new housing units approved for construction past the Green Line, in eastern Jerusalem and somewhere in Judea and Samaria. I do not have specifics, with one exception: The Israeli government now says we will build in area E1, between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem.
This is something that had been planned for a long time -- designed ultimately to make Ma'ale Adumim contiguous with Jerusalem -- but which was not advanced because of outside pressure. Now the government says the decision is in Israel's best interest. As I have understood it, the building projected for this area is not primarily residential but includes such facilities as a police station.
I salute this move in its entirety, with gladness and some tentative sense of relief. Although far more is needed, it is a step in the right direction -- hopefully a mark of very necessary courage and determination.
What I pray is that this decision will hold in the face of international condemnation.
Needless to say, that condemnation has started and it comes from Europeans and the US government alike. What we are doing is, depending on who is speaking, either destructive of the "peace process" or illegal. We are being called upon to reverse the decision.
We always meet with condemnation when we build past the Green Line -- which is why I want to return again to the legal and historical refutation to that condemnation.
But this time it is especially bitter to me. For there was not the same sort of condemnation of Abbas's obscene and aggressive words. No suggestion that this was not helpful to the peace process, no expression of understanding (well, of course not) that Abbas's tone had made it difficult for Israel to negotiate.
Equity, in terms of international treatment, is not something that is in the cards for the Jewish State. Although I will say that we have some staunch friends in Congress who are reacting negatively to what Abbas has done. And I do not forget the friendship Canada has accorded us.
Abbas, by the way, has now said he will come to the table -- but only with the understanding going in that settlements are illegal. Right.
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