[Published 9 December 2015]
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has concluded that completing successful negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on the allocation of territorial sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), Gaza and East Jerusalem is a mission impossible to achieve.
Addressing the Saban Forum on 6 December – Netanyahu made his position clear and unequivocal:
“I have said and I continue to say it, that ultimately the only workable solution is not a unitary state, but a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. That’s the solution. But the Palestinians have to recognize the Jewish state and they persistently refuse to do so. They refuse to recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundary. That was and remains the core of the conflict. Not this or that gesture or the absence of this or that gesture, but the inability or unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to make the leap.”
Whilst the issue of a “demilitarized Palestinian State” is one possibly capable of being further negotiated – the issue of recognizing the Jewish State is definitely not.
Recognition of the right of Jewish self-determination in Palestine - whilst simultaneously recognizing the right of Arab self-determination in Syria, Lebanon and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) - has always been an issue with the Arabs - since these decisions were first made at the San Remo Conference in April 1920 establishing the Mandates for Palestine, Mesopotamia and Syria and Lebanon.
These decisions delivered to the Arabs 99.99% of the lands won from the defeated Ottoman Empire in World War 1 whilst setting aside the remaining 0.01% for the Jews.
95 years of bloody conflict between Jews and Arabs has ensued since then because the Arabs wanted – and still want - 100% of the Ottoman Empire pie and have never been prepared to settle for 99.99%.
Netanyahu points out where the Arab world now finds itself in 2015 because of such Arab irredentism:
“And what we see is the old order established after the Ottoman Empire collapsing and militant Islam, either of the Shiites, Shiite hue led by Iran, or the Sunni hue, led by ISIS, rushing in to fill the void.”
The PLO has never accepted the San Remo carve up of the Ottoman Empire between Jews and Arabs – as its current Charter declares:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.”
The PLO’s rejection of the right of Jews to have one State whilst the Arabs presently have 22 States is also virulently expressed in the PLO Charter:
“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.”
The PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has no intention of changing this racist and utterly offensive position – as Netanyahu points out:
“You got a hint of that the other day when Abu Mazen spoke about the “occupation of Palestinian lands for the last 67 years”. Did you hear that? Occupation of Palestinian lands? For the last 67 years?
Sixty-seven years ago was 1948. That’s when the State of Israel was established. Does Abu Mazen mean that Tel Aviv is occupied Palestinian territory? Or Haifa? Or Beer Sheba?”
The demise of the PLO as Israel’s negotiating partner is long overdue.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry must urgently move to fill this negotiating void by replacing the PLO with Israel’s Arab partners in two long-standing signed peace agreements - Jordan and Egypt.
The Jewish-Arab conflict can still be peacefully resolved with the right partners sitting at the negotiating table.