[Published 4 September 2017]
A lot of bloodshed, pain and suffering sustained by both Jews and Arabs over the last 28 years could have been avoided had the United Nations heeded the 1989 Balfour Declaration presented by the 4th Lord Balfour at the 4th international conference of the Jordan is Palestine Committee held in Jerusalem in November 1989.
The 1989 Declaration stated:
“The world should be fully aware of what was British Palestine; the misleading propaganda issued from oil-wealthy Arab states must be countered; Palestine has already been divided into two countries – Jewish Israel and Arab Jordan; the present governments of Israel and Jordan should be fully supported and upheld; and a third state as suggested by the PLO would upset the political and economic situation in the whole area”
The demand by the PLO to establish that third state – in addition to Jordan and Israel – in the territory comprised in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine – remains unrealised in 2017.
President Trump at this point of time still seems wedded to this proposed three state solution - eventually formulated by President Bush in his 2003 Roadmap - and endorsed by the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
The Bush Roadmap was also accepted unconditionally by the PLO and with 14 reservations by Israel.
Bush - overwhelmingly supported by the Congress – made the following written commitment to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 to secure Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the West Bank:
“… the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the roadmap, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.”
The PLO has failed over the last 13 years to comply with these obligations.
Yet Trump still apparently appears willing to allow PLO Chief Mahmoud Abbas to stride on the world stage as he simultaneously refuses to unconditionally return to negotiations with Israel on the Bush Roadmap – stalled since April 2014.
However Amnesty International’s latest report presents an appalling overview of life under the PLO which could herald a rapid Trump-about face:
“The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip both continued to restrict freedom of expression, including by arresting and detaining critics and political opponents. They also restricted the right to peaceful assembly and used excessive force to disperse some protests. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained rife in both Gaza and the West Bank. Unfair trials of civilians before military courts continued in Gaza; detainees were held without charge or trial in the West Bank. Women and girls faced discrimination and violence. Courts in Gaza continued to hand down death sentences and Hamas carried out executions; no death sentences were imposed or executions carried out in the West Bank.”Elections – the first since 2007 – are urgently needed to test whether the PLO should continue to dominate the lives of the West Bank Arab population and to prevent all hell breaking loose as the negotiating void continues.
The 1989 Balfour Declaration beckons if the above measures do not break the current stalemate.