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, June 30, 2009

Condoleezza's Contortions Can't Create Palestine

[Published April 2008]

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed her amazement at the scope of the concessions Israel has agreed to make to the Palestinian Authority in a 35 page booklet given to her by Israel’s Defence Minister - Ehud Barak - during her latest visit to Israel this week.

Her back flip in praising Israel for once certainly did not go unnoticed.

Twisting and turning in another direction she also took the opportunity to stress the importance of a final agreement in helping end the debate over “what belongs in Israel and what belongs in Palestine.”

She still fails to comprehend however that no amount of concessions Israel makes will be acceptable to the Palestinian Authority which requires that every square meter of the West Bank and Gaza belong in “Palestine”.

This is not going to occur as Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made crystal clear to Ms Rice when he told her this week that he would continue to allow construction in West Bank settlement blocs and east Jerusalem.

To underline the importance of his message , Mr Olmert told his political party Kadima the same thing as his following remarks were reported by the Jerusalem Post:

“It is not true that we are building in violation of our obligations,” Olmert said at a meeting of the Kadima faction in the Knesset. “We are not building new settlements, everyone must understand this,” said Olmert, who underscored that Betar Illit “is not a new settlement.” Olmert emphasized that building had not been frozen in Jerusalem neighborhoods that are located across the Green Line, and that building in Jerusalem would continue. Any reports to the contrary were false, he said.

“We don’t hide our views on Jerusalem and major settlement blocs, we are being honest about everything throughout the negotiations,” said Olmert.

To term Betar Illit a “settlement” is an understatement. It is Israel’s fastest growing city boasting a population of 35000 religious Jews - estimated to increase to 100000 by the year 2010.

Any thought that the population of this city - located just 5 kilometres from Jerusalem - and many others like it such as Maale Adumim, Efrat, Ramot and Ariel will be included in “Palestine” is pure fantasy and make believe. Any idea that their populations can be forcibly transferred is as racist as suggesting that Israeli Arabs be transferred to “Palestine”.

President Bush has recognised this reality and has already made it clear in written commitments to Israel that these Israeli cities and other Israeli settled areas in the West Bank will belong to Israel in any final agreement.

Condoleezza Rice appears to be studiously ignoring her President’s stated position as she once more took the opportunity on this latest visit to utter her well rehearsed and oft repeated mantra:

“Settlement activity should stop - expansion should stop,”

Such statements may earn her brownie points with the Palestinian Authority but they are an obstacle and a hindrance to any final status agreement ever being reached. They only serve to create false expectations in the Palestinian Authority to continue demanding that every square meter of the West Bank be ceded by Israel.

If Ms Rice’s goal is the creation of a 23rd Arab State between Israel and Jordan by December 2008, then the first hurdle she must jump is to get the Palestinian Authority to acknowledge that “Palestine” will not include a sizeable portion of the West Bank - that Jews - who had lived there for thousands of years before being finally driven out in 1948 but who had returned once again in 1967 - will remain a permanent population in some part of the West Bank that will belong to Israel.

The second hurdle she has to straddle is getting the Palestinian Authority to recognise that it has no legal right to exclusively claim the whole or any part of the West Bank as its sovereign territory. There is another claimant - Israel - that has a far better claim under the League of Nations Mandate and the United Nations Charter.

The West Bank is the Wild West of the Middle East - “no man’s land” in the truest sense of that phrase -until sovereignty has been finally allocated between those who seek to make a claim to it.

If there is to be any final status agreement she needs to spend her time telling the Palestinian Authority that the West Bank will have to be divided between it and Israel. She needs to assert that if this position is not accepted by the Palestinian Authority, then Jordan may well be called upon to step in to effect that partition with Israel as the only means of ending a deadlock that would inevitably see President Bush’s Road Map crashing into oblivion when he leaves the office of President of the United States.

Easing restrictions on the daily lives of the Arab residents of the West Bank will not bring the Palestinian Authority to moderate its demand for the whole of the West Bank. Only the President of the United States or his Secretary of State can ram home the utterly hopeless nature of continuing with that claim. Until they do the Road Map is destined to end up in the shredder - like so many other plans that preceded it over the last 70 years.

No amount of ducking and weaving by Ms Rice can put off her confronting these hurdles any longer. There are many more to be negotiated by Ms Rice before she even gets close to the finishing line.

However if she can’t make it over these first two she should not even be trying to run the race.

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