[Published 10 October 2011]
France’s President - Nicolas Sarkozy - has made a mistake of historic proportions - possibly dashing any hope of the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs coming to fruition - after he told the French magazine Le Canard Enchaîne:
“It is silly to talk about a Jewish state,”
President Sarkozy made this comment while referring to the Israeli demand that the Palestinian Arabs recognize Israel as the Jewish state in any peace agreement.
He compounded this act of gross political ineptness by continuing:
“It would be like saying that this table is Catholic. There are two million Arabs in Israel.”
On the figures alone - President Sarkozy is demonstrably wrong.
Latest statistics show the Arab population of Israel is 1,610,000 (20.5%). The President also fails to mention that the Jewish population numbers 5,874,300 (75.3%) and there are 323000 not identified as Jews or Arabs (4.2%).
Tables cannot be offended - but people certainly can.
President Sarkozy’s statement is extremely offensive to the overwhelming majority of Jews wherever they live - but no doubt will be met with resounding applause by Jew-haters world wide.
His statement will offend those tens of millions of Christians who support the right of the Jewish people to establish their own independent state in their ancient ancestral and legally recognized homeland.
President Sarkozy in this one brief comment has abandoned French foreign policy pursued over the last 90 years - whilst also rejecting international law principles formulated during that period - which France was instrumental in establishing.
In so doing, President Sarkozy has caused great damage to France’s reputation and honor,
It was France - together with Britain, - that laid down the legal framework for the Jewish people’s right of return to Palestine pursuant to the Treaty of Sevres signed on 10 August 1920 - which allocated 99.999% of the captured Ottoman Empire to the Arabs and provided for the remaining 0.001% be set aside as a national home for the Jewish people.
Article 95 of the Treaty specifically provided:
“The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory to be selected by the said Powers. The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
France endorsed this decision together with all other 50 other countries in the League of Nations by unanimously approving the creation of the Mandate for Palestine in 1922 - which recognized:
“the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”
France signed the UN Charter on 26 June 1945 and subsequently ratified its coming into operation on 24 October 1945.
The Charter contains article 80 - which preserved the rights vested in the Jewish people under the Mandate - to ensure they did not disappear with the pending demise of the League of Nations - which finally occurred on 12 April 1946..
France was among the 33 countries that voted in favor of the UN Partition Plan on 29 November 1947 calling for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State.
President Sarkozy is apparently unsympathetic to Israel’s demand to be recognized as the Jewish State - despite the fact that Article 20 of the Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization denies the Jews any such right in the following dismissive and highly offensive terms:
“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 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.”
The Chairman of the PLO - Mahmoud Abbas - is a frequent visitor to Paris and is received with full honors by President Sarkozy who can now only be seen to be openly endorsing this despicable and racist viewpoint - which Chairman Abbas resolutely refuses to change.
Hamas is as equally strident in wanting to destroy the Jewish State.
How can a peace agreement between Jews and Arabs be successfully concluded whilst such attitudes are maintained by the PLO and Hamas? What effect will President Sarkozy’s viewpoint have in encouraging the PLO and Hamas to maintain their rejectionist stances? Should President Sarkozy not be urging the Palestinian Arabs to accede to Israel’s request if they ever hope to attain their own independent State?
President Sarkozy needs to read and digest what David Ben-Gurion told the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine on 7 July 1947:
“What is the meaning of a Jewish State? As I told you before, a Jewish State does not mean one has to be a Jew. It means merely a State-where the Jews are in the majority, otherwise all the citizens have the same status. If the State were called by the name “Palestine,” - I said if, - then all would be Palestinian citizens. If the State would be given, another name - I think it would be given another name, because Palestine is neither a Jewish nor an Arab name. As far as the Arabs are concerned, and we have the evidence of the Arab historian, Hitti, that there was no such a thing as “Palestine” at all: Palestine is not an Arab name. Palestine is also not a Jewish name. When the Greeks were our enemies, in order not to annoy the Jews, they gave different names to the streets. So, maybe the name of Palestine will be changed. But whatever the name of the country, every citizen of the country will be a citizen. This is what we mean. This is what we have to mean. We cannot conceive that in a State where we are not in a minority, where we have the main responsibilities as the majority of the country, there should be the slightest discrimination between a Jew and a non-Jew.”
Until President Sarkozy unequivocally retracts his comment and embraces Ben-Gurion’s statement - he will surely be tarred with uttering one of the most damaging comments ever made by a head of state on the Jewish-Arab conflict - effectively prolonging the dispute rather than helping to resolve it.