Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Palestine - Carr's Lakemba Mosque Declaration - Policy On The Run

[Published 18 August 2013]

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr’s announcement in the heat of an election campaign that Labor Party policy does not recognize the legal right of Jews to live in the West Bank - seems to have been hastily clobbered together without any serious discussion or consideration by the Labor Party.

Speaking at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney on 8 August at celebrations marking the end of Ramadan - Carr reportedly stated:
“I’ve been to Ramallah, I’ve spoken to the Palestinian leadership, and we support their aspirations to have a Palestinian state in the context of a Middle East of peace. And that means respect for the right of Israel to exist. But we want that Palestinian state to exist, in the context of a peace in the Middle East, and that’s why we say, unequivocally, all settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position, of Kevin Rudd, the position of the Federal Labor Government, and we don’t make apologies for it.”

Carr’s shock announcement has brought forth sharp criticism from peak Jewish organisations in Australia including the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) - as well as a blistering attack by Opposition Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Ms Bishop has released correspondence disclosing that Senator Carr did not seek any advice from the International Law Office within the Attorney General’s Department - relying instead only on legal advice supplied by his own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - before committing Prime Minister Rudd and the Labor Party to the policy enunciated at the Lakemba Mosque.

DFAT legal advice had only looked at the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and their applicability in the West Bank. It had failed to consider the relevance and applicability of article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter which preserves the right of Jews to live in the West Bank conferred on them by the Mandate.

If you only consider half the law - you can only provide the Minister with half an answer that can turn out to be totally unreliable - as has happened in this case.

DFAT, Senator Carr, Prime Minister Rudd and the Labor Party were obviously unaware of a letter signed on 22 July by more than 1000 prominent international lawyers and politicians addressed to Baroness Catherine Ashton - High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission (EC).

In their letter the signatories asserted that Jews are legally entitled to live in the West Bank and questioned the relevance and the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The signatories stated:
“The long-held view of the EU as to the illegality of Israel’s settlements is a misreading of the relevant provisions of international law, and specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is neither relevant to the unique circumstances of Israel’s status in the area, nor was it ever applicable, or intended to apply to Israel’s circumstances in Judea and Samaria (The West Bank - ed)”

Senator Carr needs to explain how he could “unequivocally ” commit the Labor Party to a policy based on the Fourth Geneva Convention when its applicability had been thrown into grave doubt by the Ashton letter - and especially as no binding legal decision exists that supports the DFAT advice given to Carr.

But the signatories went even further in making it very clear that Jews had the legal right to live in the West Bank:
“The legality of Israel’s presence in the area stems from the historic, indigenous and legal rights of the Jewish people to settle in the area, as granted in valid and binding international legal instruments recognized and accepted by the international community. These rights cannot be denied or placed in question. This includes the 1922 San Remo Declaration unanimously adopted by the League of Nations, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel (including the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem) as well as close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed internationally in the League of Nations Mandate Instrument, and accorded continued validity, up to the present day, by Article 80 of the UN Charter which reaffirmed the validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). “

Who in DFAT provided Senator Carr with legal advice that failed to even consider these highly relevant international legal instruments?

Both Senator Carr and Mr Rudd have so far failed to disclose when the Labor Party adopted this contentious and controversial policy before it was announced at the Lakemba mosque.

Whilst Senator Carr makes no apologies for this policy - the Labor Party has clearly not made its decision after carefully considering all the relevant international law dealing with the issue.

Repeating the mantra that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal in international law may bring the Labor Party crucial votes - especially in tightly held Labor marginal seats where large Moslem populations reside.

But this policy could also prove electorally damaging if it was made on the run without any detailed policy formulation to enable it to stand up to the intense scrutiny that every piece of policy announced by any party must inevitably be subjected to from the media, the voters and affected interest groups.

The Lakemba Mosque Declaration smacks of political opportunism thrust onto an unwitting and unprepared Labor Party on the steps of the mosque.

Senator Carr and Mr Rudd now need to answer four questions well before voting day:
1. On what date was the Lakemba Mosque Declaration adopted as Labor Party policy?

2. Who were the persons present when such policy was adopted?

3. What international law was relied on to enable the Labor Party to “say unequivocally” that Jews had no legal right to live in the West Bank?

4. Is the Labor Party prepared to review its policy in view of the flawed advice given to it by DFAT?
The ECAJ, ZFA, AIJAC, the Opposition and the media should all be demanding those answers.

Senator Carr’s controversial Lakemba Mosque Declaration has clearly upset many voters - who find it abhorrent that the Labor Party should unapologetically espouse a policy that denies Jews have the legal right to live in their biblical, historic and legally sanctioned homeland.

Policy on the run is certainly a recipe for electoral disaster.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Palestine - Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

[Published 7 July 2013]

Jordan’s Minister of Culture Barakat Awajan recently received Palestinian Minister of Culture Anwar Abu Aisha in Amman and reportedly took the opportunity to highlight these fundamental facts:
“Jordan and Palestine are joined by one culture and connected by blood, geography and sacred ties.”

As the wreckage of the two-state solution continues to pile up - Awajan was reminding the PLO that alternatives exist to the creation of a second Arab State in former Palestine - in addition to Jordan.

Lest one think this most recent Jordanian affirmation of common identity and heritage is not shared by the Palestinians - a similar statement was expressed by the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat to Der Spiegel in 1986:
“Jordanians and Palestinians are indeed one people. No one can divide us. We have the same fate.”

Arafat and Ajawan are only two of many Palestinian and Jordanian power brokers who have made similar statements in the intervening years.

Their shared common identity has developed as a result of personal and business relationships formed by them whilst living on either side of the Jordan River in an area that had been under Ottoman rule for 400 years - until it became a single territorial unit in 1920 within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted pursuant to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

This territorial entity remained unified until 1946 when 78% of that territory was granted its independence by Great Britain to become known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan - whilst the remaining 22% remained under Great Britain’s control as Mandatory until handed back to the United Nations in May 1948 with the goal of the Jewish Home unachieved.

The Arab populations on both sides of the River were reunited again in 1948 following Transjordan’s invasion and occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1948 War of Independence - when all Jews living there were forcibly expelled.

On 1 December 1948 the Palestinian National Conference in Jericho decided to place the West Bank under the sovereignty of Transjordan - which in 1949 then changed its name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

On 11 April 1950 elections were held for a new Jordanian Parliament in which the West Bank Arabs were equally represented

On 24 April 1950 the Parliament unanimously passed the following resolution
“In the expression of the people’s faith in the efforts spent by His Majesty, Abdullah, toward attainment of natural aspirations, and basing itself on the right of self-determination and on the existing de facto position between Jordan and Palestine and their national, natural and geographic unity and their common interests and living space, Parliament, which represents both sides of the Jordan, resolves this day and declares:

First, its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State, which is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Husain, on a basis of constitutional representative government and equality of the rights and duties of all citizens….”

Identical citizenship rights were conferred on the population of this newly created entity.

This territorial union was to continue uninterrupted until Jordan’s loss of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Jordanian citizenship however continued to be enjoyed by West Bank Arab residents until 31 July 1988 - when Jordan’s King Hussein announced the severance of all administrative and legal ties with the West Bank.

In the past 18 months - as the Oslo peace process has started to disintegrate - increasing talk of a confederation between Jordan and the PLO has surfaced.

On 17 June Middle East Monitor reported:
With regards to the Palestinian issue, the king said that Jordan will continue to support the Palestinian people until they achieve their full rights and establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Talk of a confederation is, he suggested, “premature and out of context”, as it would need the state to be established before it could even be discussed.

Events in Egypt and Syria indicate that the King does not have the luxury of time to see if the explosive issue of Palestinian statehood can be resolved between Israel and the PLO - which is as far away as ever since it was first proposed twenty years ago.

Jordan - 70% of whose population or descendants was born in western Palestine - now needs to consider restoring Jordanian citizenship to their West Bank Arab kinsfolk as existed between 1950-1988.

95% of the West Bank Arab population live in Areas A and B under the total administrative control of the PLO.

Reaffirming and restoring the common kinship of blood, geography and sacred ties between Jordanians and Palestinians by bestowing Jordanian citizenship rights on those coming under the PLO umbrella could be achieved reasonably quickly in talks with the PLO.

It would signify further progress to match the signing of an agreement in March by King Abdullah and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas reaffirming Jordan’s custodianship of the Holy Places in Jerusalem

In the immortal words of Johnny Mercer:
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

Pandemonium or progress are the stark choices now confronting the PLO and Jordan.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Palestine - Kerry Confronts Ghosts In State Of Confusion

[Published 17 February 2014]

The semantic circus that first created a people known as the “Palestinians” in 1964 - who now claim an entitlement to their own independent State in ” the occupied Palestinian Territories” - reached absurd heights with the following bizarre news item this week:
“The Israeli authorities have blocked 70 patients from Gaza from entering Israel to receive medical treatment because their transfer documents were marked “State of Palestine,” officials told AFP on Wednesday

Until recently, official stationery has used the term “Palestinian territories.”

But the logo was changed in mid-December, a year after the Palestinians won recognition as a UN observer state, despite fierce Israeli opposition.”

This “War of the Letterheads” adds a new dimension to the conflict between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

The “State of Palestine” was admitted as a member State of UNESCO on 31 October 2011 by a vote of 107/14 and as a non-observer State at the United Nations (UN) on 29 November 2012 by a vote of 138/9.

Those States voting in favour ignored the legal requirements of article 1 of the Montevideo Convention 1933 which declares:
“The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
(a) a permanent population;
(b) a defined territory;
(c) government; and
(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states”

Those States dissenting or abstaining took the view that any State of Palestine to be created for the first time ever in recorded history could only arise as a result of negotiations conducted under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 2003 Bush Roadmap and the 2007 Annapolis conference between the designated parties - Israel and the Palestinian Authority - (“the agreed negotiating framework”)

John V Whitbeck - an international lawyer and advisor to the Palestinian team negotiating with Israel - had flagged the likelihood of this latest War of the Letterheads in an article written in the Cyprus Mail on 13 January 2013.

Whitbeck revealed that the Palestinian Authority “had been absorbed and replaced by the “State of Palestine” in a decree issued by Mahmoud Abbas on 3 January 2013 and signed by him acting in his capacities as president of the State of Palestine and chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO.

Whitbeck’s confirmation of the demise of the “Palestinian Authority” with the newly declared “State of Palestine” should surely have signalled the end of further negotiations under the agreed negotiating framework - specifically designed to achieve the birth of that very State.

How could further negotiations on creating the State of Palestine be necessary once that State had been declared by the party demanding its creation?

To make sure the message was fully understood - Whitbeck stated unequivocally:
“The Trojan horse called the “Palestinian Authority” in accordance with the Oslo interim agreements and the “Palestinian National Authority” by Palestinians, having served its purpose by introducing the institutions of the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine, has now ceased to exist.”

Whitbeck left no room for doubt:
“In his correspondence, Yasser Arafat used to list all three of his titles under his signature - president of the State of Palestine, chairman of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and president of the Palestinian National Authority (in that order of precedence). It is both legally and politically noteworthy that, in signing this decree, Mahmoud Abbas has listed only the first two titles… There is no further need for a Palestinian leader to be three-headed or three-hatted.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry and the US State Department apparently missed - or deliberately ignored - the demise of the Palestinian Authority.

A meeting held by Kerry on 4 January 2014 is headlined on the State Department web site:
“Remarks with lead negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas”

Kerry obviously believes he has been involved in negotiations under the agreed negotiating framework with a Palestinian Authority President, a Palestinian Authority negotiator and a Palestinian Authority - that clearly no longer exist.

The War of the Letterheads should serve as a clear signal to Kerry that he is negotiating with ghosts - not a legally constituted and accountable entity under the agreed negotiating framework.

Kerry - in preparing his own eagerly awaited framework agreement - needs to take notice of this fundamental change wrought by Abbas - who no longer wears a hat or name tag designated “Palestinian Authority”.

If Abbas is to be believed - there are now three existing states in former Palestine - Israel, Jordan and Palestine - who need to define their final borders and resolve any other contentious issues they might want to raise.

Erekat himself added another semantic whopper recently with this classic statement:
“I am the son of Jericho. I am 10,000 years old … I am the proud son of the Netufians and the Canaanites. I’ve been there for 5,500 years before Joshua Bin Nun came and burned my hometown Jericho. I’m not going to change my narrative,”

Yet under the PLO charter:
“Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

Shock horror - Erekat and all other descendants of the non-Arab Netufians and Canaanites aren’t “Palestinians”.

Kerry needs to sort out this confusing claptrap if he wants to make any headway in resolving a conflict that keeps being continually punctuated by Arab fiction on Arab fiction.

Palestine - Jordan Not Jumping For Joy

[Published 10 February 2014]

Jordan is becoming increasingly unhappy at the role US Secretary of State John Kerry might be planning for it in his eagerly anticipated framework agreement designed to end the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict.

The Jordan Times reported on 28 January:
“Figures representing professional unions and political parties are planning to hold a national conference to “protect Jordan and Palestine and repulse Kerry’s peace plan”. And a number of lawmakers signed a memorandum to convene a special Lower House session to discuss Kerry’s controversial proposals.

Jordan’s main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a communiqué last week warning of an impending plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause, which, it said, threatens both Jordanians and Palestinians.

It said that the current regional situation will encourage the US and Israel to impose their conditions on the Palestinians and put pressure on Jordan.

One Islamist leader, Salem Al Falahat, told a local news website that while detailed information on Kerry’s proposals is scarce, it is clear that current negotiations will not serve the interests of Palestinians or Jordanians.”

Jordan’s central role in bringing Kerry’s push for peace to fruition arises from the following facts:

1. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Charter claims that “Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.”
2. Jordan and Israel are the two successor States to the British Mandate—Jordan exercising sovereignty in 78% of the territory covered by the Mandate - and Israel in a further 17%.
3. Stuck between them is the West Bank—4% of the Mandate territory—which was:
(i) conquered and occupied by Transjordan in 1948 after having being called “Judea and Samaria” from biblical times until United Nations Resolution 181 (II) in 1947
(ii) then renamed “the West Bank” after being unified with Transjordan in 1950 to create a new territorial entity renamed “Jordan”
(iii)lost to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
“West Bank” Arabs became “Jordanians” with Jordanian citizenship and passports between 1950 and 1988.

Abu Iyad—deputy chief and head of intelligence for the PLO - ranking second after Yasser Arafat in Fatah - the major faction within the PLO—told the Kuwaiti News Agency on 15 December 1989:
“You cannot make a distinction between a Jordanian and a Palestinian. It is true that we encourage unity between Arab peoples, but the relationship between Jordan and Palestine in particular is clearly distinctive; all those who tried in the past and are still trying to create divisions between the Jordanian and Palestinian people have failed. We indeed constitute one people…When the Palestinian state and unity is established…the Jordanian will be a Palestinian and the Palestinian a Jordanian”

Jordan’s Prince Hassan Bin Talal - an uncle of Jordan’s current King Abdullah II—succinctly summed up Jordan’s pivotal position in 1982:
“Small as Jordan is, our country is politically, socially, economically, militarily and historically inseparable from the Palestinian issue.”

Small as Jordan might be — Israel is much smaller - fitting into Jordan almost five times.

Jordan’s land mass could help resolve two thorny issues by:
1. Making land grants to the PLO to compensate it for land retained by Israel in the West Bank
2. Assisting in resettling Palestinian Arab refugees from other Arab countries.
Kerry’s predecessor — Condoleezza Rice - had envisaged Jordan’s involvement in the long running negotiations — as the following extract from the WikiLeaks Palestine Papers makes clear:
“... negotiators tried to resolve disagreements by offering in earnest what, to some, might sound like outlandish suggestions. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the source of one such proposal during a meeting on July 30, 2008 at the State Department. Rice kicked off the session by asking for a progress report on the points of agreement between the parties. After a quick update from Qurei and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the latter said that some major decisions had not been reached as far as how a future state of Palestine would look. “We need to know how it is going to work,” she said, “The Airport and Seaport.”

Addressing the Palestinians, Rice then dropped this bombshell: “[Y]our airspace is so small - put it in Jordan.” The Palestinian negotiators appeared shocked at the suggestion that they use a sovereign country’s airspace as their own. Just under Rice’s comment, the Palestinian note taker wrote in brackets: “Discussion on whether this is a joke or a real option. Tzipi Livni and Condoleezza Rice clearly think it is realistic as an option.”

Jordan’s likely inclusion in Kerry’s framework agreement has been raised by US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Lebanon’s Daily Star:
“... the only goal of the final status agreement is to bring peace and prosperity to not only the Israeli and the Palestinian people, but to the region,” adding that “throughout every point in the process the United States has been engaged in consultations with the government of Jordan.”

“Seeking to allay parliamentary fears, Judeh told lawmakers that Jordan, which shares the longest Arab border of 335 kilometers with Israel and the West Bank, had the right to “accept or reject” any point in the negotiations that does not bode well with its interests.”

Kerry appears to understand that Jordan — an integral part of the Jewish-Arab conflict since 1920 - is the lynch pin to achieving any solution.

Jordan is not jumping for joy at the prospect.

Palestine: Collective Amnesia Spells Collective Disaster

[Published 3 February 2014]

US Secretary of State John Kerry has missed his own deadline of 31 January by not releasing his eagerly anticipated framework agreement designed to help end the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict. It will now be released by 21 February according to US Envoy Martin Indyk.

Whilst speculation is rife as to its contents - it appears certain that there will be one crucial omission—that any Palestinian State created must be democratic — which could doom any further negotiations.

A democratic Palestinian state finds its genesis in the 2003 Bush Roadmap—the foundation which underpins the current negotiations. The Roadmap stated:
“A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved ... through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established,

“A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.”

The full text of the Roadmap was presented to Palestinian and Israeli leaders by the Quartet mediators - the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia—indicating strong international support for a democratic Palestinian State as the end game to success.

By 27 November 2007—when negotiations under the Bush Road Map were non-existent—President Bush assembled the following star-studded list in Annapolis representing their designated countries and organisations to announce that negotiations were set to commence in December:

1. Israel: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
2. Palestinian Authority: President Mahmud Abbas

3. United States: President George W. Bush
4. EU Commission Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy: Benita Ferrero-Waldner
5. EU High Rep High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary General of the Council of the European: Union Javier Solana
6. EU President (Portugal) Minister of State and of Foreign Affairs: Luis Amado
7. Russia: Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey V. Lavrov
8. UNSYG: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
9. Quartet Representative Middle East Envoy: Tony Blair

10. Algeria Minister of State for Foreign Affairs: Mourad Medelci
11. Bahrain: Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
12. Egypt: Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit
13 .Jordan: Minister of Foreign Affairs Salaheddin Al-Bashir
14. Lebanon: Minister of Culture Tarek Mitri
15. Morocco: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Taieb Fassi Fihri
16. Qatar: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdulla Al-Mahmoud
17. Saudi Arabia: Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud Al-Faisal
18. Sudan: Ambassador John Ukec
19. Syria: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fayssal Mekdad
20. Tunisia: Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelwahab Abdallah
21. Yemen: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Expatriate Affairs Abu Bakr al-Qirbi
22. Arab League SYG: Secretary General Amre Moussa

G-8, P-5:
23. Canada Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier
24. China: Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi
25. France: Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Bernard Kouchner
26. Germany: Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier
27. Italy: Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D’Alema
28. Japan: Special Envoy for the Middle East Tatsuo Arima
29. United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs David Miliband

30. Austria: Minister of Foreign Affairs Ursula Plassnik
31. Brazil: Minister of State for External Relations Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim
32. Denmark: Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moeller
33. Greece: Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis
34. India: Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Shri Kapil Sibal
35. Indonesia: Minister of Foreign Affairs Noer Hassan Wirajuda
36. Malaysia: Minister of Foreign Affairs Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar
37. Mauritania: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mohamed Saleck Ould Mohamed Lemine
38. Mexico: Under Secretary Lourdes Aranda
39. Netherlands: Minister for European Affairs Frans Timmermans
40. Norway: Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store
41: OIC Secretary General Ekemelddin Ihsanoglu
42. Oman: Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdulla
43. Pakistan: Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan
44. Poland: Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski
45. Senegal: Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheikh Tidiane Gadio
46. Slovenia: Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel
47. South Africa: Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
48. Spain: Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos
49. Sweden: Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt
50. Turkey: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief EU Negotiator Ali Babacan
51. United Arab Emirates: Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahayan
52: Vatican (Holy See): Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Special Envoy Pietro Parolin

53. IMF: Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
54: World Bank: President Robert Zoellick

They all heard President Bush state the following:
“We meet to lay the foundation for the establishment of a new nation—a democratic Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and security…

... Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is key to realizing their own aspirations—and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state…

No democratic State — no solution.

By 19 May 2011 Bush’s successor - President Obama - had started to vacillate:
“The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”
If Obama and the Annapolis participants have conveniently forgotten that creating a “democratic Palestinian State” is fundamental to the conflict being ended — Ithen they only have themselves to blame for the chaos and violence that will surely follow should Israel refuse to negotiate within a Kerry framework agreement that omits any reference to a democratic Palestinian State.

International treachery and duplicity would surely have triumphed over international diplomacy.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Palestine - Sharon's Legacy Haunts Obama And Kerry

[Published 27 January 2013]

President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry have a lot on their minds as they grapple with conflicts and political issues involving countries like Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan - which no doubt must be causing massive overloading of their respective memory banks.

Yet this would be a lame excuse for them forgetting about - or seeking to minimize - the existence and crucial importance of the letters exchanged on 14 April 2004 between President Bush and Israel’s then Prime Minister - Ariel Sharon - who died recently after languishing in a coma for seven years

These letters enabled courageous and highly dangerous decisions being taken by Sharon to kick start President Bush’s stalled 2003 Road Map - whose goal had been to end the Jewish-Arab conflict by 2005.

President Bush’s letter provided the catalyst - and the political justification - for Israel unilaterally evacuating the entire Jewish population of 8000 from Gaza and withdrawing Israel’s army totally from there - without any preconditions or undertakings being sought from the Palestinian Authority.

The Presidential letter set out the framework that Bush would support in negotiations between Israel and the PLO - conditions that Obama cannot possibly now discard as Kerry finalizes his own framework agreement.

President Bush’s letter clearly - and unambiguously - assured Sharon that;
1. The borders of any Palestinian Arab State would not encompass the entire West Bank despite successive Arab leaders having demanded this outcome for the previous 37 years,

2. Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank would be incorporated into the borders of Israel

3. The Arabs would have to forego their demand to be given the right to allow millions of Arabs to emigrate to Israel and

4. Israel’s existence as a Jewish State would be non-negotiable

Bush’s commitments to Sharon were approved - almost unanimously - by both the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

It didn’t take too long however for these Congress-endorsed commitments to be downplayed by Bush and his advisors.

In an editorial - published on 14 May 2008 - former Jerusalem Post editor - David Horovitz - revealed the extent of the American resistance to remaining bound by President Bush’s 2004 letter following a meeting with Bush in the White House with a group of Israeli journalists:
“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, has been known to minimise the significance of this four-year-old letter. Just last week, for instance, she told reporters that the 2004 letter “talked about realities at that time. And there are realities for both sides….

Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has also given briefings to the effect that Israel had tried to overstate the importance of a rather vague letter, which was issued at a time when Sharon was seeking to bolster support for the pullout from Gaza.

And in answering my question, Bush did not at first even realise that I was referring to the 2004 letter. Hadley, who was also in the Oval Office, had to prompt him. “Okay, the letters,” the president then said, remembering.”

This was far worse and more sinister than mere memory loss. An attempt was being made - as early as 2008 - to renege on America’s clear and unequivocal commitments given to Israel as the price for Israel’s total evacuation of Gaza.

Israel had already paid a high price relying on Bush’s Congress-endorsed letter.

Gaza had become a de facto terrorist State - with Hamas firmly entrenched as the governing authority.

Israel had - since its evacuation of Gaza in 2005 - been subjected to a sustained barrage of rockets and mortars fired indiscriminately into Israeli population centres from Gaza by a bewildering variety of terrorist groups and sub-groups who would have had no chance of operating so freely from Gaza if the Israeli Army had remained there.

Israel’s Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - who succeeded Sharon - had neither forgotten nor overlooked the critical significance of President Bush’s letter when agreeing to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

At the international conference held in Annapolis in November 2007 to announce a breakthrough in the resumption of those negotiations - Olmert told Bush and the world leaders gathered there that:
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

The subsequent failure of those negotiations can be directly attributed to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to countenance the Bush commitments made to Sharon.

As Obama gets ready to approve Kerry’s framework agreement - he and Kerry need to have their memory banks updated to remind them of the importance of honouring Bush’s commitments.

Any attempt by Obama and Kerry to resile from or circumvent Bush’s Congress-endorsed commitments to Sharon will torpedo any prospects for success in the current negotiations - leaving Obama and Kerry with no one but themselves to blame for bringing the current negotiations to an ignominious end.

The idea that any American President would not consider himself bound by the written commitments of a former President - as endorsed by Congress - would undermine America’s very democratic foundations.

Disavowing the Bush commitments would prejudice the integrity of American diplomacy world wide - ensuring any political decisions by the current administration would not be worth the paper they are written on.

Sharon has left behind a bitter pill - which Obama and Kerry must reluctantly swallow.

Congress will be there to make sure they do.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Palestine - History And Geography Can Unblock Deadlock

[Published 20 January 2014]

It is a pity the US State Department chose to focus this week on the private remarks of Israel’s Minister of Defence labelling US Secretary of State John Kerry as being delusional and messianic - rather than concentrating on PLO Chairman Abbas’s very public remarks in the Jerusalem Post that go to the heart of the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict:
“Israel’s problem is that the Palestinians know more than the Israelis about history and geography. We talk about what we know”

Is Abbas correct in his contention or has he become a victim of his own propaganda?

The answer depends on how one views Abbas’s following statement to the United Nations on 26 September 2013:
“However, as representatives of the Palestinian people, we have long been aware of our responsibilities towards our people and had the necessary courage to accept a two-State solution: Palestine and Israel on the borders of 4 June 1967, establishing a Palestinian State on 22% of the land of historic Palestine.”

Are the West Bank and Gaza in fact 22% of historic Palestine or do they comprise only 5% of historic Palestine?

The answer to that question first involves an answer to this question:
“Is Jordan 78% of historic Palestine - as the PLO Charter claims - or is Israel 78% of historic Palestine - as Abbas suggested at the United Nations?
Resolution of the conflict will stand a far greater chance of success - and be more enduring - if Jews and Arabs can first reach a consensus in answering this fundamental question.

That is a challenge that should excite Kerry as he seeks to find a way through the complexities of a conflict whose solution has eluded so many eminent people, organisations and Committees before him - including those appointed by both the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Agreement that Jordan comprises 78% of historic Palestine would greatly enlarge the territorial field within which the Jewish-Arab conflict can be resolved - making the conflict much easier to settle.

Jordan’s inclusion could materially advance the prospects for the creation of a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan - the subject of the current negotiations - or open up other alternative solutions to end the conflict if they fail - which seems destined to happen.

Kerry needs to urgently determine if there is any consensus between Israel, the PLO and the Arab League on the history and geography of “Palestine”.

History books and atlases can be used to resolve any disagreements - supported by eminent historians and geographers well qualified to express their opinions.

To achieve this end result Kerry could instruct his State Department to prepare a questionnaire for Israel, the PLO and the Arab League to complete by a specified date.

To ensure the process is fair and transparent - Kerry could recommend a panel be constituted comprising Kerry as Chairman and six history and geography experts - three appointed by Israel and three by the PLO and the Arab League - with Kerry holding a casting vote should the experts be equally divided.

The questionnaire could possibly include these questions:
1. When was “Palestine” first so named and by whom?
2. Was the name of “Palestine” prior to its change “Eretz Yisrael”?
3. When was “Eretz Yisrael” so named and by whom?
4. Is Israel 78% of “Palestine” or only 17% of “Palestine”?
5. Is Jordan 78% of “Palestine” or does it form no part of “Palestine”?
6. Is the “West Bank” 22% of “Palestine” or 4% of “Palestine”?
7. When was the “West Bank” first so named and by whom?
8. Was the name of the “West Bank” prior to its change “Judea and Samaria”?
9. When was “Judea and Samaria” so named and by whom?
10. When was “Jordan” first so named and by whom?
11. When were “Palestine’s borders” first defined and where were they located?
12. Did the Mandate for Palestine include what is today called Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza?
13. Were the West Bank and Transjordan unified into a single territorial unit between 1950-1967?
14. Where was the border between Israel and Jordan immediately prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Six Day War?
15. What date did the Arab residents of the West Bank become Jordanian citizens and on what date was their Jordanian citizenship terminated?
16. What settlements were established by Jews in the West Bank prior to 1948?
17. Who was the last sovereign power to legally occupy the West Bank and for what period did such oction last?
18. On what date and in what part of Palestine were the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine relating to the reconstitution of the Jewish national Home in Palestine postponed or withheld?

The questionnaire would seek to flesh out the extent to which Jewish and Arab historic and geographic narratives coincide - with the objective of eventually reaching a joint consensus in answering the questions posed.

The questionnaire should be answered by Israel, the PLO and the Arab League before Kerry presents Israel and the PLO with his proposed framework agreement for peace.

If the parties cannot first agree on the territory within which the Jewish-Arab conflict is to be resolved - how can meaningful and serious discussions on Kerry’s framework agreement even be contemplated or commenced?

Kerry needs to focus on this issue - rather than concerning himself with negative comments affecting him personally.

Abbas’s claimed knowledge of history and geography needs to be tested.

The result could be Kerry’s key to ending the current deadlock and resolving the conflict.