Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Palestinians – the people who always refuse a state

The Palestinians – the people who always refuse a state

This is another guest post by frequent contributor and reader Brian Goldfarb.

Israel accepts Quartet's peace negotiations proposal. Palestinians objectAbba Eban it was who came up with two of the greatest quotes on the post-1967 Israel/Palestine situation. The first was that “I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.“ We must bear in mind that it is usually the defeated who sue for peace,  just to stop the further destruction of their territory and what’s left of their armed forces. This was not a sign of Israel’s weakness – hardly: it had just destroyed 3 Arab states’ armies and air forces in less than a week – but a sign that the last thing it wanted was to control and rule over Gaza, the West Bank (as everyone knew it then) and the Golan Heights. The Palestinians (as they weren’t yet known: that came a bit later) could have had their own state by the end of 1967, had they seriously wanted anything other the destruction of Israel. And, of course, Assad the elder could have had the Golan Heights back as well.
Eban also came up with this superb aphorism: “The Arabs never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity”. It surprises none of us that they are still doing so. In evidence, note that the headline of this Algemeiner article is “Palestine Arabs – The People Who Always Refuse a State“. Pity about the plagiarism of the Eban quote. Still, perhaps the authors (Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin) are too young to remember Eban! 
Academic (as a retired one) complaining apart, there are quite a number of delightful quotes here. For example:
There are many peoples on this planet that would do anything for their independence, sovereignty, and a state of their own if it was offered to them. Just ask the Kurds, Tibetans, Basques, and Chechens. “
Some of them, of course, are doing just that – anything (the Tibetans apart – they are Buddhists and remarkably peaceable towards others. Not that the same can be said of all the others!) Well, you know what’s coming, of course. It is, in fact, the very next paragraph, and contains no surprises, given the headline already quoted:
“Yet there is one singular group that continues to spurn offers of statehood, missing and wasting numerous opportunities, and blaming others for its “victimhood”- and then commits horrendous acts of terrorism and violence when offered almost all of what it wants. We are referring, of course, to the Palestinian Arabs – a people who, unlike the Kurds, do not have their own religion, language, or culture that’s different in essence from their Arab brethren in neighboring ‎Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The Palestinian Arabs have answered every peace offer for their own “Palestinian” state with one unequivocal word, “no,” and then initiated a wave of hatred, violence, and terrorism. The reason? Because it would also mean recognition of and co-existence with a non-Arab people, the Jews.”
Bender and Verlin then go on to make the obvious point (obvious, at least, in these columns – if not in the unhallowed halls of the BDS movement) that there is already a Palestinian state in 78% of the land set aside in the Balfour Declaration and in the original British Mandate document, and it’s called Jordan. Jordan also occupied, until 1967 of course, a further portion of this area, called, at the time, the West Bank. We need to note, as do Bender and Verlin, that 
“The offers of another Palestinian Arab state (which would be the 23rd Arab state) in the remaining western portion of the Palestine Mandate date back to the 1937 Peel Commission. That began a consistent pattern of rejected offers through to the present…The current Kerry-led negotiations also appear to be heading in that direction. Yet the Palestinian Arabs still adamantly reject the “two state solution” of an “Arab State” and “Jewish State” referenced in the 1947 UN partition resolution.” 
Of course they do: remember, they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Why should they? After all, they’ve only lost every war they’ve ever mounted to get their own state: 1947 (the Arab militias – see Benny Morris “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War”); the 1948 War of Independence (Morris, ditto); the undeclared terrorist war leading up to the 1967 War; the First and Second Intifidas; the undeclared missile wars launched by Hamas from Gaza (leading to Operation Cast Lead –  at best, only partly successful from Israel’s point of view; and the more  successful “Pillar of Cloud”, which appears to have set Hamas back on its heels, with not an Israeli boot across the border). 
So, why should the Obama/Kerry initiative be any more successful? This assumes that we are naive enough to think that (unlike Clinton, twice) they actually want it to succeed and wish to see the acknowledgement of a Jewish State by the PA. Personally, I’m sceptical, given that duo’s attitude towards negotiations with Iran over their bomb.
Tempting as it is to stop there and leave the rest of the article for you to read, I feel the need to go further. Thus, they continue with this:
So it is instructive to ask, what do the Palestinian Arabs really want? If we would only listen to what they persistently say and read their charters, we would understand: the eradication of ‎Israel through armed struggle, replacing the Jewish state with a Palestinian Arab state. Just read the charters of the Palestinian Authority, PLO, Fatah, and Hamas, and it is laid out in straightforward unambiguous terms. It really is no wonder they say “no” to a state if it also means that they have to recognize the tiny Jewish state alongside it. There are already 22 Arab states with a population of 400 million and land mass 625 times that of Israel, versus 6.2 million Jews in a sliver of land the size of New Jersey.”
We have seen a preview of what their state will be like: ‎Gaza, which has become a terrorist launching pad for tens of thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel since Israel left…It is a failed entity ruled by the corrupt, genocidal, terrorist entity Hamas, which steadfastly refuses to recognize Israel.”
In summary, “Israel ‎‎has no reliable “peace partner” in the Western sense”. So, even if Kerry and Obama are pursuing the “peace process” in good faith, the outcome is unlikely to be one that “two-staters” will welcome, land swaps or no land swaps, agreement on Jerusalem or no agreement on Jerusalem.
Bender and Verlin have more to say (much of it depressing to those of us who wish for a final settlement, satisfactory to Israel and Israelis (even I am getting to the stage of caring less whether it would be satisfactory to Palestinians, just that it would stop them attacking Israel and Israelis), and I urge you to read it for yourselves. They make the mistake of failing to include Hezbollah in their list of those who say “no” to everything: a serious error, as Hezbollah are sitting balefully on much of Israel’s border with Lebanon.
You might also care to note that they have “form” in these matters: Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin are co-President and co-Vice President, respectively, of the Zionist Organization of America- Greater Philadelphia District. They are the authors of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z (Pavilion Press, 2012). Verlin is the author of Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine (Pavilion Press, 2011)
Seem good guys to me!

Anne adds:
Brian, thank you for your cogent summarisation of this excellent, if depressing, article.

A golden oldie, as relevant today as ever
I would add a further article on a similar subject which goes to show the lengths that the Palestinians will go in order to avoid agreeing to a state of their own if it does not entail the destruction of Israel. Khaled Abu Toameh in the Gatestone Institute writes that Mahmoud Abbas has come under criticism from his own people for not agreeing to flood Israel with millions of refugees – which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish, democratic or free country. Not that I actually believe that Abbas has had a change of heart. He was simply doing that “Taqiyya” (aka lying) thing – saying one thing in English or Hebrew for the willing and useful idiots of the West, and another thing entirely in Arabic for domestic consumption.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is facing criticism from Palestinian refugees for saying that he does not want to “flood” Israel with millions of refugees.
Abbas made his statement during a meeting in his Ramallah office earlier this week with dozens of Israeli students – the first direct encounter of its kind between the Palestinian Authority president and Israeli youths.
[...]
Abbas’s controversial remarks about the “right of return” highlight the difficulties facing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his efforts to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian reactions to Abbas’s remarks show that the issue of the refugees remains a sensitive and explosive one that could torpedo any agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Abbas told the Israeli students that the claim that he was seeking to “flood” Israel with five million refugees was nonsense.
“There is propaganda saying that Abu Mazen [Abbas] wants the return of five million refugees to destroy the state of Israel,” he said. “This is not true at all. All what we said was: Let’s place the issue of the refugees on the table because it’s a sensitive case which needs to be solved in order to end the conflict and so that the refugees would be satisfied with a peace agreement. But we are not seeking to drown Israel with millions in order to change its demography. This is nonsense.”
[...]
Dr. Esam Udwan, an expert on refugee affairs, was quoted as saying that “Abbas’s statements have caused damage to Palestinian rights.” Accusing Abbas of providing Israel with concessions in return for nothing, Udwan said, “These remarks reflect Abbas’s conviction that the issue of the refugees is ineffective and they have no right to return because this would mean drowning Israel. This is completely unacceptable. Who said that there are only five million refugees? The real number is eight million. Abbas mentioned the five million who are registered with UNRWA and benefit from its services. But there are millions of others who do not receive services from UNRWA and are not registered with it. This does not mean that they should be denied the right of return.”
I love the way Palestinian maths work. I would love to hear how the 1/2 million or so refugees from 1948 grew to 5 million within 60 years and then jumped another 3 million within a further 5 years.
Ali Huwaidi, another expert on refugee affairs, also lashed out at Abbas: “Regardless of Abbas’s statements, the right of return is guaranteed, individually and collectively, through UN resolutions. The refugees will not give up their right no matter where they are living today. Abbas is worried about flooding Israel with five million refugees while Israel has brought one million people from the former Soviet Union and no one complained about this. Our refugees will not accept any alternative to their right to return to their homeland and we do not care what Abbas’s position is.”
Many Palestinians said that Abbas was not authorized to make any concessions or speak on behalf of the refugees.
With that mindset, together with all the examples shown in Brian’s post above, can anyone foresee a Palestinian state any time in the future at all?
You won’t catch me crying about the lack of a Palestinian state. I happen to think it would be a dreadful idea, an existential threat on Israel’s very doorstep, a literal stone’s throw and missile shot from our commercial, industrial, civilian and historical heartland.  But this constant refusal and rejectionism on the part of the Palestinians means that the state of war in which Israel finds itself will continue indefinitely, with no hope of any peaceful resolution. It also means that israel will find itself under constant international pressure to “do something, anything” to satisfy the insatiable beast that is Palestinian rejectionism.