What do Palestinians want from Israel?

DECEMBER 25 — The United Nations decision last week to renounce President Donald Trump’s move on Jerusalem was, if nothing else, predictable (despite Trump’s threats to cut off international aid to dissenting counties, see note 1).

The late Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once commented about the United Nations General Assembly that, “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”

Eban saw with painful clarity the pattern of UN voting on any decision which puts Israel in a bad light.

What got me was the irony of a resolution in which it is declared that Jerusalem, the Holy City, “is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant UN resolutions.”

It doesn’t, however, take a history scholar to confirm the fact that it is the Palestinians who have firmly refused to negotiate with Israel on land-for-peace solutions.

The Palestinians have been offered numerous deals (and even statehood) since the crisis began more than eight decades ago but have rejected them all:

  1. 1937 Peel Commission 2-state solution — Palestinians say No
  2. 1947 UN Partition Plan — Palestinians say No, start a war
  3. 1967 6-Day War — Israel won the war but was willing to trade the land for peace; the Palestinians said No
  4. 2000 Camp David — Israeli PM Ehud Barak gave Yasser Arafat an offer even Israelis were shocked but Arafat walked away w/out a counterproposal
  5. 2008 — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejects latest offer from Israeli PM Ehud Olmert

But back to Jerusalem.

The Israeli capture of East Jerusalem happened in 1967 in a war of self-defence against about half a dozen Arab nations bent on wiping Israel off the map.

Moshe Dayan, the Israeli general largely responsible for victory in the 6-Day War, was said to have been waiting for a call from King Hussein of Jordan (see note 2) to discuss an exchange of land for peace – but the call never came.

On June 19, 1967 (nine days after the war concluded), Israel offered Egypt and Syria both the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in exchange for peace — but the two Arab nations rejected it.

To repeat: The Arab nations sought to destroy Israel, Israel won, Israel offered peace, the Arabs said No. Let that sink in.

Another little-known fact is that immediately after Israel’s triumph, Israel agreed to comply with Resolution 242 of the United Nations Security Council which was the first resolution in history which required a nation to return territories captured in a defensive war.

It is crucial that 242 does not demand that Israel return all territories captured because it acknowledges that some territories are necessary for Israel to safeguard her boundaries.

Furthermore, the 1967 resolution declares that Israel must be granted, “the right to live in peace, secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

But how did the Arabs respond to Resolution 242?

At the Khartoum Resolution of September 1967, the Arab nations adopted the three Nos’ statement, “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

The Palestinians, in turn, responded by revising the Palestinian Charter whose Article 19 declares the establishment of Israel as illegal.

Let’s repeat this again: The Arabs started a war to exterminate Israel, Israel won, Israel offered peace and accepted UN Resolution 242, but the Arabs refused peace and, instead, declared Israel illegal (in direct violation of 242).

This is why it’s interesting to ask people who condemn Israel every other minute: What kind of proposal do you think Israel should offer the Palestinians? Or, what do the Palestinians really want?

FYI, in 2000 at the Camp David summit in the States, Israeli PM Ehud Barak shocked everyone by offering the Palestinians practically the sky.

Barak’s offer included a state with its capital in Jerusalem (note 3), control over the Temple Mount, a return of almost 95 per cent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and US$30 billion in a compensation package for the 1948 refugees. But Arafat walked away without offering a counter-proposal.

From my conversations with people who support Palestine, the answers usually remain non-specific. It would appear the only precise “demand” which would satisfy their notions of justice would be for Israel to give back ALL the land to the Palestinians.

In other words, the only solution on the table would be for Israel to cease existing as a state in Palestine.

Again, this answer is doubly bizarre not only for the sheer lack of realism but also for its 100 per cent consistency with the Hamas covenants and Palestinian charters.

Conclusion: The Palestinians do not want peace with Israel. They want Israel gone. If that, indeed, is the only outcome the Palestinians will accept, then is it any surprise they are in their present condition?

Note 1: Our use of words reflect our deep biases. If Trump threatens to cut off aid money to countries who vote against him, we call it “blackmail;” if Hamas continually fires rockets against Israeli citizens unless Israel submit to their demands, we call it “resistance.”

Note 2: Many people remain glib to the fact that Israel did NOT capture territory from “the Palestinians” in 1967; she captured territory from Egypt (Gaza Strip) and Jordan (the West Bank, which includes East Jerusalem). But how come it was Jordan and not “Palestine” which was holding the West Bank in 1967? Because Jordan grabbed the Palestinian portion of the 1947 UN Partition Plan during the 1948 war in which Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon (with help from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Libya) tried to ─ all together now ─ wipe Israel off the face of the map.

Note 3: In light of Trump’s Jerusalem declaration recently, the significance of this portion of Barak’s offer is hard to overstate: The Palestinians could have had East Jerusalem as their capital in 2000, but Arafat refused. Think about that.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.