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%.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Has the PLO Lost The Plot - Or Missed the Boat?

[Published January 2008]

Instead of immediately entering into negotiations with Israel - the promised outcome of the recent Annapolis meeting called by President Bush - the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has wasted the past two weeks demanding Israel totally cease all current building activities in the West Bank as a condition of those negotiations proceeding.

This delaying tactic has failed in the past and failed again this time. Jews have every right to settle in the West Bank in international law and Israel has made it clear it will not agree to totally waive that right as a pre-condition to the conduct of negotiations.

Regrettably the Arabs have never stopped making such unrealistic and politically unattainable territorial demands for the last 90 years. Had they accepted proposals made by the international community 60-70 years ago, they would have had a flourishing and thriving State today in an area of former Palestine far greater than size they are now demanding.

Many similar opportunities have presented themselves since then but have been allowed to pass - by rejection or default. Some occurred before - and some after - the founding of the PLO in 1964. One was created in 2003 with the formulation of the Roadmap proposed by America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - the Quartet - but remains unimplemented in the smallest detail.

The PLO has actually gone backwards in political influence since the Roadmap was unveiled. It has lost political control in Gaza. It lacks the authority to enforce security and root out terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza - essential conditions for the Roadmap to have any chance of success. It is now but one of many political groups vying for power amongst the Palestinian Arabs.

Yet - ironically - it continues to receive substantial international financial assistance and diplomatic support despite continuing to make the following longstanding and non negotiable territorial - and in some cases abhorrently racist - demands that it knows can never be achieved in any negotiations:

1. That Jews be denied the right to settle in any part of the West Bank - part of the ancient biblical and internationally sanctioned Jewish homeland approved by the League of Nations and the United Nations

2. That all 450000 Jews currently living in the West Bank be uprooted from their homes and businesses located there.

3. That the West Bank become a Jew free zone.

4. That the Palestinian Arabs be granted sovereignty and statehood in all of the West Bank

5. That millions of Palestinian Arabs or their descendants be given the unconditional right to go and live in Israel.

These conditions are completely unacceptable to Israel. President Bush has made it clear he supports Israel's position. The PLO knows this - yet it still pursues - and persists with - these impossible demands.

Two principal reasons underscore why these demands continue to be made:

1. They ensure that no resolution of the conflict will be possible thereby keeping alive the 43 year old PLO dream of driving all the Jews out of Palestine as the only solution.

This paranoia has been the stumbling block that has prevented the Arabs accepting any proposals over the past 70 years for the territorial division of Palestine between Jews and Arabs. The PLO agreed to amend its Charter in 1993 to reflect it had abandoned that position - yet has failed to do so to this day.

The PLO shares common ground in pursuing this goal with Islamic Jihad whose spokesman - Abu Hamza - stated in the Washington Post on 27 December:

"We will continue to bring terror and destruction and death among the Zionists until we uproot them from our land"

Hamas - the PLO's main political rival - has declared that any negotiations:
"are valueless and weightless and would not serve the national cause of our people and would undermine its higher interests" KUNA - 27 December.

For Hamas that national cause is also the destruction of Israel.

So the tactic continues for the PLO to conduct Mickey Mouse negotiations whilst chipping away at the edges to secure some territorial or other advantage either before or during those negotiations such as freezing any building or settlement activity by Israel, trying to stop completion of the security barrier and procuring prisoner releases.

2. Continuing negotiations postpone the Arab League accepting the primary responsibility for ending the refugee status of the Palestinian Arabs living outside the boundaries of former Palestine - a status directly created by the invasion of Palestine by the armies of six Arab League members in 1948 and disgracefully and inhumanely perpetuated by the Arab League ever since.

The power inherent in the PLO being a negotiating partner is no doubt exhilarating. Travelling the world capitals and being received by Heads of State makes for the good life for those lucky enough to be part of it. But any chance of gaining statehood is an impossibility whilst these unrealistic demands continue to be made.

The PLO shows no signs of making any concessions and so is destined to continue to walk the path of statelessness - whilst the territory available for any such state is further diminished by new facts created on the ground that makes the likelihood of such a state in the future a territorial impossibility.

This position has arisen because the PLO has in reality never lost the plot - to create an Arab state in the whole of former Palestine over the ashes of Israel.

The post-Annapolis negotiations will ultimately be dubbed as "the negotiations to nowhere" resulting in the demise of the PLO as Israel's negotiating partner. Once again the PLO will have missed the boat - probably the last boat it can ever hope to catch before it sinks into political oblivion.

His Beatitude's Attitude Leaves Bush With No Latitude

[Published December 2007]

President Bush must be aghast at the call for the rejection of Israel as the Jewish State made by the top Roman Catholic clergyman in Israel - His Beatitude Michel Sabbah Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. His statement mirrors similar views recently expressed by Mahmoud Abbas - Chairman of the PLO and President of the Palestinian Authority and Saeb Erekat - chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The spread of this Jewish-rejectionist disease has now permeated the highest places of political and intellectual thought amongst the Palestinian Arabs.

Such statements sound the death knell for the continuation of the post -Annapolis negotiations unless they are withdrawn and repudiated as soon as possible. The deafening silence that has followed His Beatitude’s comments indicates this is unlikely to occur.

His Beatitude’s outburst could also herald an early release from obligations to pay $7.4 billion to the Palestinian Authority pledged by donor countries at their recent meeting in Paris -even before they have had the opportunity to get out their cheque books to make a down payment.

So far President Bush has remained surprisingly silent on His Beatitude’s comments. Israel too seems tongue tied at what to do about His Beatitude’s sudden rush of blood. His Beatitude has managed to totally undermine what was being sold as a successful outcome of the meetings in Annapolis and Paris - intensive negotiations on core issues between Israel and the PLO over the next twelve months ending in the creation of a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan as envisioned in President Bush‘s Road Map.

Israel needs to invoke and demand that President Bush now honour his written commitment to Israel on 23 May 2003 in the face of this unequivocal Palestinian rejection of Israel’s Jewishness.

When President Bush released his Road Map on 30 April 2003, Israel provided the President with 14 reservations it had before it could accept the plan as a basis for negotiation.

Reservation 6 made by Israel to President Bush stated:

“In connection to both the introductory statements and the final settlement,declared references must be made to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.”

On 23 May 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made the following statement from the White House:

“The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace. The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap.

The United States shares the view of the Government of Israel that these are real concerns, and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the roadmap to fulfil the President’s vision of June 24, 2002.”

On 25 May 2003, the Israeli Cabinet met and by a majority resolved:

“Based on the 23 May 2003 statement of the United States Government, in which the United States committed to fully and seriously address Israel's comments to the Roadmap during the implementation phase, the Prime Minister announced on 23 May 2003 that Israel has agreed to accept the steps set out in the Roadmap.

The Government of Israel affirms the Prime Minister's announcement, and resolves that all of Israel's comments, as addressed in the Administration's statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Roadmap.”

Nothing could be clearer or more unambiguous. Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State is a fundamental condition in any negotiations being undertaken by Israel with the PLO under the Road Map - and President Bush has accepted Israel‘s position on this issue.

President Bush must demand that Mahmoud Abbas affirm in writing that Israel will be recognised as the Jewish State in the post-Annapolis negotiations. This is the only way President Bush can “fully and seriously address” this “real concern” now that it has been thrust into the spotlight by the remarks of Abbas, Erekat and His Beatitude. Sweeping these comments under the carpet is not an option.

President Bush and his partners - the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -need to end the humiliation they have all undergone for the last four years in their efforts to get the Road Map up and running - let alone implemented in even the smallest detail.

Their failure has been due in no small measure to the PLO’s original sin - its failure to amend the provisions of the PLO Charter and remove all offending and racist clauses that do not recognise the right of Israel to exist as the Jewish State. The mind set calling for the destruction of the Jewish State has never been really faced and exorcised - even by such an eminent person as His Beatitude.

President Bush must urgently flush out the bona fides and sincerity of the PLO to negotiate with Israel in realising the President’s vision. There is no point in allowing the negotiations to continue if these intemperate and highly offensive remarks are not unconditionally repudiated.

Better for President Bush to call it a day now rather than proceeding aimlessly along a path that you know with absolute certainty can only end up in failure because the PLO will never make the unconditional commitment to recognise Israel as the Jewish State. The President can only end up a certain loser.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice aptly summed up the situation at her December 21 press conference:

“there are a lot easier ways to build a legacy than to try to solve the Palestinian-Israeli issue.”

President Bush will soon be visiting the Holyland. Perhaps that is the time for him to declare that Israel is the Jewish State and anyone negotiating with Israel on his Road Map must accept that fundamental fact.

They say the Lord moves in strange ways. Has He sent a faux man of God to help a devout Christian finally understand and realise the futility and hopelessness of his well intended but totally misconceived vision to bring peace to the Jews and Arabs?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Paris Produces Palestine Funding Frenzy

[Published December 2007]

Ninety Nations meeting in Paris this week fell over themselves in the rush to pledge US$7.4 billion dollars over the next three years - US$1.8 billion more than anticipated - in a desperate attempt to salvage their greatest failure in international diplomacy - the creation of a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan.

The international community has been propagating this idea for the last 70 years - in an area far larger than is now envisioned - only to see its proposals continuously rebuffed and rejected by Arab interlocutors.

It is an idea that could have worked when first proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937 and by the United Nations in 1947. Few Jews lived in the designated area at those times and the concept represented the best solution to resolving competing Jewish and Arab claims to sovereignty in Palestine.

It was still feasible and could have happened at any time between 1948-1967 when a simple declaration of independence made with the stroke of a pen would have guaranteed international political and financial support. - but the Arabs would not have a bar of it.

The idea was dealt a death blow when Jordan lost the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip in the Six Day War in 1967 and the Arab League and the PLO refused international urgings between 1967-1993 to recognise Israel and negotiate with it for the creation of such a State.

Since the Arabs finally agreed to do so in 1993 and the Oslo Peace Process was launched by President Clinton, the international community has put up tens of billions of dollars trying to make it happen. However the money - and the concept - have both gone down the drain in spectacular style.

The reasons are there for all to see - if they open their eyes. An idea that could have worked between 1937 -1967 has long been superseded by subsequent political events and facts established on the ground that make it impossible to meet the current and non-negotiable Arab demands that 450000 Jews leave their homes and that millions of Arabs be allowed to live in Israel.

The 90 Paris Pledgers appear to be in a state of complete denial in understanding that these fundamental deal breakers have guaranteed the consignment of their concept to the history books and that giving it more air - even for 12 months - is embarking on a very expensive journey to nowhere.

Their rush to put up this new money has been made despite the Arab populations of the West Bank and Gaza being hopelessly split and divided as a result of a violent and deadly power struggle between Hamas and the PLO. In their wisdom these donors have decided that Gazan Arabs will see very little from their latest outpouring of international largesse in Paris.

In humanitarian and political terms the selective granting of this massive injection of international aid to one segment of a divided community is only going to perpetuate - rather than end - the crisis in Gaza and the West Bank and make the attainment of statehood there an absolute impossibility.

The reason for this decision was foreshadowed and articulated by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

"It is the policies of Hamas that have led to its own isolation and by implication Gaza as well“
[Jerusalem Post - 16 December]

Hamas’ attitude to PLO Chairman Abbas and unelected prime Minister Fayyad pocketing the rich Paris pickings for the West Bank Arabs only, was made very clear by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum:

"We completely reject politicised money tied to American and Western agendas, which is a direct interference in internal Palestinian affairs. (Abbas) is cosying up to the Zionist enemy and the American project (in the region) in exchange for millions of dollars to strengthen his security forces for his own personal interests." [AFP, 17 December ]

The international community will soon realise that their latest decision to financially support the PLO power clique at the expense of Hamas is the worst decision they could have possibly taken.

Rather than using those billions of dollars to build the foundations of a State, this money will soon disappear in an orgy of weapons procurement, corruption and influence peddling that will ensure the widening of the West Bank - Gaza divide in a way that will make the current situation look like a minor backyard scrap between two disgruntled neighbours

It is just another kiss of death to the international community’s pursuit of its outdated and now completely unworkable proposal.

Condoleezza Rice showed that the penny has not yet dropped when she solemnly declared in Paris:

"This is the most promising opportunity to seek peace that we have had in nearly seven years. And we need to seize it. The continued and unwavering support of the international community is absolutely vital. That is why we are here today, and not a moment too soon."
[IHT - 17 December]

The continued and unwavering support of the international community for the last 70 years has proved a total waste of time, effort and money - and has helped perpetuate a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of Arabs and Jews and traumatised the lives of millions of others.

Creating two separate States for one Arab population living in the territorial boundaries of former Palestine always was an artificial invention that had no basis in history, geography or demography. It was a fiction contrived by the international community at a particular time to solve a particular problem.

There are two questions that remain unanswered - when will the international community stop pursuing this fiction and when will they turn off the money tap trying to make it happen?

Solutions - other than another Arab State - are possible and achievable. Pursuing those solutions - and throwing money at them in amounts similar to the Paris pledges - have a far better chance of success than the continued promotion of a 70 years old concept that has well passed its 1967 expiry date.

Surely the time is fast approaching for these donors to cut their losses and simply say “enough is enough”.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Liberating the Palestine Liberation Organization

[Published December 2007]

For better or for worse Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) are the parties that will - for the next 12 months - be negotiating the resolution of sovereignty in the West Bank with a view to ultimately creating a new independent Arab State between Israel and Jordan. These identical parties have been negotiating on the same issue for the last 14 years without the slightest sign of success.

One major reason has been the inability of the PLO to seriously change its mindset and specifically revoke or amend the offending provisions of the PLO Covenant that call for the destruction of Israel and that prevent the creation of this new State as envisioned by Oslo, former President Bill Clinton, President George Bush and his Quartet partners - Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

On 9 September 1993, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat had made that written commitment to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin as the quid pro quo for the Oslo negotiating process to commence between Israel and the PLO and for the historic handshake between them on the White House lawns just four days later.

A long and tortuous process by Israel and America then followed to ensure Arafat’s total compliance with that commitment. On 14 December 1998 President Clinton stated:

“I thank you for your rejection—fully, finally and forever—of the passages in the Palestinian Charter calling for the destruction of Israel. For they were the ideological underpinnings of a struggle renounced at Oslo. By revoking them once and for all, you have sent, I say again, a powerful message not to the government, but to the people of Israel. You will touch people on the street there. You will reach their hearts there.”

Yet despite this declaration not one article of the Covenant has been revised or revoked to this very day nor has that message touched the Palestinian Arabs or reached their hearts.

The Chairman of the Palestine National Council charged with making those changes - Salim Za’anoun - stated on 3 February 2001, in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper, that the Covenant remained unchanged and was still in force [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida as translated by MEMRI]

A look at just three of the thirty three Articles in the PLO Covenant shows why it is essential that every Article be reviewed and altered if any meaningful negotiations can possibly be undertaken post Annapolis.

Article 1

"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.”

This article ignores any Jewish rights in Palestine. Why not amend it to read as follows:

“ Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people and of the Jewish people,and the Arab Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

Article 2:

“Palestine with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit”

This article absolutely prohibits President Bush’s two state solution and could be changed as follows:

“Palestine comprises the land contained within the boundaries that existed during the British Mandate from 1920-1948 and has now ceased to comprise an indivisible territorial unit. For purposes of clarification Palestine includes the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which comprised part of the British Mandate until 1946.”

Article 15:

“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism being a divine religion is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own: they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”

This article ignores the binding effect of international law and is racist, discriminatory and offensive in the extreme. It needs to be redrawn to perhaps read as follows:

“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed legal and binding. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are compatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism is both a divine religion and an independent nationality. Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they can like Palestinian Arabs be citizens of the states to which they otherwise belong”

How can successful negotiations be concluded whilst this current unclear and confusing mindset confronts the PLO and Israeli negotiators? How have these provisions been specifically rejected by the PLO ?

The PLO needs to immediately face these demons and excise them unequivocally and indisputably from its thinking if the ongoing negotiations are to have any prospect of success.

This is not a question of semantic pettiness or nit picking. It goes to the very bona fides of Israel’s negotiating partner and the sincerity and seriousness with which it intends to conduct these negotiations.

Perhaps the first indication of this troubling mindset - and the effect it can have on the negotiations - was the following remarkable statement recently made by the PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat :

"One of the more pressing problems is the Zionist regime's insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state... Israel could call itself whatever it wanted, but the PA would never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity." [ Jerusalem Post, 14 November 2007]

Sweeping this - and similar recent statements by leading Arab spokesmen - under the carpet will only guarantee the failure of future negotiations. They will be difficult and complex enough - without such institutionalised mind blocks to reconciliation and recognition that had supposedly been dead and buried with President Clinton‘s declaration on 14 December 1998.

The PLO needs to liberate itself first before it can hope to liberate any land. Failure to do so over the last 14 years has seen its continuing decline in influence. It is now time to get serious and stop playing games.