Those who blame Israel for the perennial impasse in peace negotiations, including the Palestinians themselves, are fond of portraying the desperate plight of the Palestinians under the supposedly oppressive occupation. One would think that a desperate person or a desperate people would seek to improve their lot by any means possible, and would be eager for the chance for peace and freedom. That is evidently not the case for the Palestinians.
Despite their supposed desperation, the Palestinian Arabs are curiously consistent in imposing impossible conditions for peace, conditions that amount to unconditional surrender for Israel. Palestinians and their supporters appear to be unconcerned about the contradiction. One condition that has stood for years is the so called "right of return," a stipulation which would flood Israel with refugees of the Israeli War of Independence, their descendants, and many who falsely claimed refugee status. This would turn Israel into an Arab country and deny the right of self-determination to the Jewish people. "Right of Return" is dubiously touted as a right anchored in international law. Surely, it cannot take precedence over the right to self determination, which is Jus Cogens (see Palestinian Right of Return in International Law).
Insisting that the refugees must "return" to land that they never saw as a condition for peace is about like saying, "We'll make peace when pigs can fly." The rate of population increase of the Palestinian refugees is prodigious. If Israel absorbed a 100,000 refugees every year forever, there would nonetheless be more and more Palestinian refugees each year. At the end of a thousand years, the Palestinian refugee problem would be worse than it is now, unless some other countries agree to absorb them and to end their refugee status.
As the "Right of Return" fraud is gradually recognized for what it is, a new one has taken its place. Palestinians have devised a new impossible condition for peace: Israel must return precisely to the borders of the 1949 armistice lines, which it pleases the Palestinians to call 1967 borders. Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei has threatened that if Israel does not acquiesce in 1967 borders, the Palestinians will demand a binational state:
"The Palestinian leadership has been working on establishing a Palestinian state within the '67 borders," Qureia said.
"If Israel continues to oppose making this a reality, then the Palestinian demand for the Palestinian people and its leadership [would be] one state, a binational state," he added at the meeting held in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
The "1967 borders" were negotiated as armistice lines with Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Along the frontier with Jordan, they reflected no justice or demographic realities. They reflected the achievements of the Trans-Jordan Legion, made possible by arms and officers supplied by the British, in order to further their imperialist designs in the Middle East. No Arab country, and no Palestinian Arab group ever recognized or honored these borders while they existed. These borders, in the version of the Palestinian authority, put East Jerusalem in "Palestinian" territory. But officially, Jerusalem was to have been internationalized. As that was never implemented, owing to Arab and British opposition, Jerusalem is a subject for negotiation. It is unimaginable that Israel would agree to surrender all national rights to the old city of Jerusalem and environs. The Palestinian claim to Jerusalem seems to be based on the fact that no Jews lived there before 1967. Evidently, the Palestinians think the world has a short memory, and it might be so. The Jewish community of Jerusalem, which had lived there for hundreds of years, was forcibly "ethnically cleansed" from Jerusalem by a series of racist pogroms, culminating in the removal of the remaining Jewish population when the Jewish quarter was conquered by the British officered Trans-Jordan Legion in the Israel War of Independence (see The Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem).
The insistence on a one state solution is not new. It was the "solution" offered by that great progressive, the Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin El Husseini and his followers. As part of the life of coexistence contemplated by the Mufti, it is claimed that he planned to build an extermination camp for Jews near Nablus. After World War II, he told the British that the solution for the Jews of Palestine should be the same one adopted in Europe. It is interesting that this solution is now the favorite of many "right thinking" liberals like Tony Klug. Klug also makes the interesting admission that the two state solution was never considered to be a final step in the resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict. This admission reinforces the assertion of those Zionist opponents of the peace process who insist that the entire peace process is a trick to destroy Israel according to a staged plan. Perhaps Klug himself, an Oxford adviser on Middle East affairs, has no problems with wiping out Jewish nationhood.
Those who seriously consider this solution or threaten Israel with a one state solution if she does not accept Palestinian terms, are either trying to force Israel to accept humiliating and impossible conditions under the threat of extinction, or they are extremely naive. For there is no way that a serious person could imagine that at any time in the foreseeable future Jews could live safely in a state dominated by Palestinian Arabs. Surely, that is the only sort of state that Mr. Qureia and his followers contemplate, since they have already declared that they are unwilling to accept Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. It is not likely that, like normal citizens, they would be willing, for example, to serve in an Israeli army that fights enemy Arab countries, or to participate in all the duties of citizens in a state.
Ironically, the pro-Arab advocates of a one-state solution may find a welcome among Zionist extremists, who likewise advocate a single state. In their version of the single state, however, it is the Palestinian Arabs who would be perpetual underdogs. Each set of extremists imagines a "utopia" that would be a nightmare for the other side, and proposes it as a "peace" solution.
The "1967 border" ultimatum, like the "Right of Return" ultimatum, is just a flimsy pretext for refusing to agree to reasonable and livable terms for peace. It seems that a large portion of the Palestinian population and leadership do not, cannot and will not accept the existence of Israel. That is what the conflict was always about. The various "conditions" that are advanced by the supposedly desperate Palestinians are really nothing more than pretexts to prevent peace.
The real attitude toward Israel in most of the Middle East is probably expressed over and over in every day conversation and in editorials and articles that are not about the peace process. Then, nobody is paying attention to the problem of what attitude will sound most convincing to Europeans or Americans, and the truth slips out. For example, consider this revelation in a Gulf News editorial about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish:
He himself was a victim of Israeli occupation, having fled Palestine in 1948, only to return a year later and live the life of struggle.
Throughout the Arab world, including the Palestinian territories, even in the "moderate" Arab states of the Gulf, the "Israeli occupation" usually has only one meaning: it refers to the entire state of Israel. Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Afula and Beersheba are considered to be occupied every bit as much as Nablus or Jenin or Ramallah. The insistence on one state solutions and fictitious and impossible "binational states" is just another way of saying that the entire territory of the state of Israel is "occupied Palestine." Of course, until that attitude changes, there is no realistic hope of peace. Those who threaten Israel with one state solutions unless impossible conditions are met are enemies of peace and act against the real best interests of the Palestinian people.
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