[Published 21 September 2012]
Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney has made a valuable contribution to the public debate in exposing the utter folly of those who continue to still believe in the possibility of the creation of a second Arab state in former Palestine – in addition to Jordan - for the first time ever in recorded history.
Nineteen years of intensive efforts to bring this new Arab state to fruition have seen very little in tangible returns despite the most influential negotiating team ever assembled in history – the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States – having been involved for the last nine years.
After two substantive offers by Israel to cede its claim to more than 90% of the West Bank in 2000/2001 and 2008 in favour of the Palestinian Authority - and after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 – the resumption of further negotiations without preconditions remains deadlocked.
If those negotiations are ever resumed - the likelihood of any concluded agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is very remote – unless the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and agrees to any newly created state of Palestine being demilitarised.
Mr Romney seems to have concluded that such Israeli demands will never be accepted – asserting:
“… the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. Now why do I say that?
Some might say, well, just let the Palestinians have the West Bank and have security, and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. I don’t have a map here to look up geography, but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. It’s, what, the border would be seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank. Nine miles. The challenge is, the other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point or Jordan. And of course, the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, and what they did into Gaza. Which is the Iranians would want to bring missiles, that armament, into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel, of course, would have to say, “That can’t happen. We’ve got to keep Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank.” Well, that means that, who, the Israelis are going to patrol the border between Jordan, Syria and this new Palestinian nation? Well, the Palestinians would say, “No way. We’re an independent country. You can’t guard our border with other Arab nations.”
And then how about the airport. How about flying into this Palestinian nation? Are we going to allow military aircraft to come in? And weaponry to come in? And if not, who’s going to keep it from coming in? Well, the Israelis. Well, the Palestinians are going to say, “We’re not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us what to land at our airport.”
These problems — they’re very hard to solve. And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes. Committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel. And these thorny issues. And I say, there’s just no way. So what you do is you move things along the best way you can, you hope for some degree of stability. But you recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem. We live with that in China and Taiwan. We have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it imminently."
Commonsense is the hallmark of Mr Romney’s reasoning – something that is lacking in those that are so blind that they cannot and do not want to see.
Negotiations under the Oslo Accords were founded on – and have foundered on – the Arab failure to reject a series of Arab fictions and falsehoods appearing in the 1964 Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Chief among them are claims that:
1. Only Arab – not non-Arab - residents of former Palestine are entitled to statehoodIn endorsing these fictions and falsehoods by themselves failing to recognize the State of Israel for the last 64 years - the Arab world – with the exception of Egypt and Jordan - has ensured that any hope of Oslo leading to the creation of a 22nd Arab state located in former Palestine will ever occur.
2. Palestine within the boundaries it had during the British Mandate is an indivisible territorial unit and an indivisible part of the Arab homeland
3. The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything based on them are null and void
4. The establishment of the State of Israel is illegal, regardless of the passage of time
5. 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.
Mr Romney still hopes against hope that something will happen to resolve this 130 years old seemingly intractable dispute between Arabs and Jews.
Perhaps the first step in the right direction would be an earnest attempt to try and restore -as far as is now possible - the territorial status quo existing prior to the creation of the PLO Charter in 1964 – when Jordan then occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem - and Egypt occupied Gaza..
That would result in the dispute between Jews and Arabs being realistically seen for what it is – a border dispute between Israel, Jordan and Egypt to resolve the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza – the last remaining areas of former Palestine where sovereignty remains undetermined between Arabs and Jews.
Replacing fiction and falsehood with historic, geographic and demographic facts is the ball that Mr Romney needs to pick up and kick downfield - should he become America’s next President.
Come to think of it – President Obama should do exactly the same thing if he is returned to the White House for another four years.
Recognizing reality and rejecting Arab revanchism is certainly the only way to now score a goal.