A week ago, on September 21, Joe Biden, in his capacity as president of the US, delivered an address to the General Assembly of the UN.
In the course of his speech, he referred to a negotiated “peace between the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and the Palestinian people,” which, he said, the US believes is “the best way to ensure Israel’s security and prosperity for the future and give the Palestinians the state which — to which they are entitled…” (Emphasis added)
Let us leave aside for a moment the horrendously mistaken idea that a Palestinian state would be the best way to ensure Israel’s security and consider the notion that the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians are “entitled” to a state.
This pernicious political fantasy has been so thoroughly inculcated into political thinking in most western capitals that it is almost axiomatic. What follows from this is the assumption that, while the time for negotiating that state may still be in the future, it will arrive, must arrive, because the Palestinian Arabs have a “right” to it. That is very different from simply saying it might be considered as a way to solve a knotty problem. The underlying assumption here is that Israel is just going to have to agree at some point, and the notion is never permitted to die away.
This myth is not buttressed by solid logic, or by historical or legal facts. It just floats out there, and people believe it. Of course, the Palestinian Arabs eagerly provide assistance by inventing those historical “facts.” To hear them tell it, they were in the land before there were any Jews here. They deny the existence of the Jewish Temples, which, in fact, were built before there was Islam, never mind “Palestinian Arabs.”
One of my favorite archeological discoveries is the uncovering of a mikvah (a Jewish ritual bath) underneath the Al-Aksa mosque, making it quite clear who was here first.
For anyone seeking to counter this notion of “entitlement,” I think two approaches are helpful. One is to reinforce the point that there is no solid history for “Palestinian Arabs.” Before the founding of Israel, the Jews in the land were known as “Palestinians.” Arabs, such as were here then – their numbers increased as the Jews developed the land and provided opportunities for employment – identified as part of the Arab nation or as Southern Syrians.
The application of the term “Palestinian” to refer to Arabs came into common usage with the founding of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1964. It was established by Egyptians with the goal of delegitimizing Jewish presence on the land. (Most people don’t know that Yasser Arafat, “leader” of the Palestinian Arabs, was Egyptian.)
The PLO charter in 1964 laid claim to the land held by the Jews – that is, Israel within the Green Line, or 1949 Armistice lines. The charter specifically noted that there was no claim against Egypt, which held Gaza, or Jordan, which held Judea & Samaria (aka “the West Bank”) and eastern Jerusalem. After 1967, when Israel had gained control of Gaza and Judea & Samaria, the PLO changed the charter to lay claim to these areas.
Finally, we might ask how this “Palestinian people” has distinguished itself since the founding of the PLO, or, if you will, since Oslo and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994. How are they unique as a people? What have they contributed towards the betterment of the world, with regard to culture, science or diplomacy? How have they demonstrated that their state would be successful and not as thoroughly mired in corruption, repression of human rights and violence as the Palestinian Authority is now?
There are roughly 20 UNRWA “refugee” camps in areas of Judea & Samaria controlled by the Palestinian Authority. This is an anomaly of major proportions. How could there be “Palestinian Arab refugees” in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority? Why are these people not simply embraced under the umbrella of the PA? The answer is all-telling: The people in the camps came from areas that are now Israel and, we are told, they will be “refugees” until they go back to Israel.
This situation is indicative of a political construct designed to damage Israel, and has less than nothing to do with a concept of “Palestinian peoplehood.”
Entitlement? No, just a myth that the world has bought.
A mere day later, on September 22, Yair Lapid, in his capacity as interim prime minister of Israel, also addressed the UN General Assembly.
He spoke well, in that his English is excellent and his delivery first-class (as well it should be because of his professional history as a TV journalist and talk show host).
And he said some things that were on-the-mark, for example, regarding Iran:
“The only way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, is to put a credible military threat on the table…it needs to be made clear to Iran, that if it advances its nuclear program, the world will not respond with words, but with military force.”
But then, as had been widely predicted, he endorsed that “two-state solution.” Sigh. Or perhaps, damn!
“Israel’s economic and military strength allows us to protect ourselves but it also allows us something else: To strive for peace with the entire Arab world. And with our closest neighbors – the Palestinians.
“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.”
In the course of touting this perspective, he said, “Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two state solution. I am one of them.”
But this is an unfortunate misrepresentation of the facts. It’s not even a “small majority.” It’s a minority of Israelis. There is fierce opposition to it in many quarters, and it’s important to call him out on this.
How he imagines permitting a sovereign Palestinian Arab state within the borders of Mandate Palestine would be the “right thing” for Israel’s security defies imagination.
He could not have picked a worse time for his proposal, as violence in Judea & Samaria is on the rise – with a good deal of it coming from al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigade, which is the military wing of Fatah, the mainstay of the Palestinian Authority.
Add to this information about a new terrorist group called The Lion’s Den, which is acting against the IDF in Judea & Samaria and is suspected of affiliation with the Brigade.
While increasingly, the Palestinian Authority, in competition with Hamas, is reluctant to cooperate with Israel on security matters.
Of course Lapid attempted to cover himself:
“We have only one condition: That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being, and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times.”
But has the Palestinian Authority ever demonstrated a readiness to become peaceful? Is there the remotest reason to believe it would genuinely move in that direction?
Apparently Lapid has never familiarized himself with the Palestinian National charter. It says that the founding of Israel was entirely illegal and that the “Palestinian people,” “expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine.”HH
So why did Lapid do this? It was because this was his “day in the sun,” so to speak, and provided him with an international platform for promoting his left-wing perspective. And because elections are coming here in Israel in a month, and he is seeking to attract the votes of those who do think as he does.
My own guess (and there were polls taken after he spoke that seemed to confirm this) is that he did Netanyahu a favor – motivating voters not taken with a “two-state solution” to vote to the right.
Lapid would argue that he did no harm by raising the issue because of his proviso that the Palestinian State would need to be peaceful. But this is not the case, for what he has done is to bring the issue forward. It makes Israel increasingly vulnerable to international pressure, from Biden and his cohorts, regarding “gestures” we might make to help the process along.
The failure of Yair Lapid and those who think like him is an inability to grasp the significance of ideology.
This failure is a significant one.
Lapid had made it clear that now was not the time to begin negotiations. But that did not prevent Mahmoud Abbas of the PA, who spoke at the UNGA on September 23, from taking advantage of the situation. Abbas, who has absolutely no intention of negotiating with Israel and knows full well that this is not going to happen, was not about to miss an opportunity to squeeze Israel:
“But the real test to the seriousness and credibility to this [“two state”] stance… is for the Israeli government to go back to the negotiation table immediately.”
He called on Israel to cease all unilateral actions such as settlement building, demolition of homes, evictions and “killings.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.