7 Questions to Supporters of a Palestinian State

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An earlier version of this article appeared in the “Times of Israel”

1/  The current furore over the Gaza war and concerted efforts in favor of a Palestinian state are reminders of a core aspiration of international law and a foundational purpose of the UN: to prevent wars between states and to support the national self-determination of peoples.  A recent joint statement by the governments of Ireland, Spain, Slovenia and Malta drew these aspirations together regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

We are agreed that the only way to achieve a lasting peace and stability in the region is through implementation of a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security.

2/   Unfortunately for this view, life is not so simple and clear.  Crucial questions are left  unaddressed and unanswered.  Nor were they dealt with in presentations to the Advisory-Opinion sessions of the International Court of Justice.   For example:

 Question # 1

How can regional peace, security and international law be served by establishing a state that intends to destroy another state?

 Question # 2

How can a Palestinian state intent on Israel’s destruction produce a successful Two-State Solution?

3/   These questions turn on the issue of Palestinian intention: is it really the case that they seek Israel’s destruction?  This is not difficult to answer.  Even a cursory  examination of the Palestinian National Charter (1968) confirms the pervasiveness of this aim.  Reinforced every day by the main PA newspaper Al-Hayat al Jadida, the idea of eliminating Israel dominates PA ideology, unites its various parts and saturates the speeches of its leaders.  Consequently, the PA:

  1. Refuses to accept a two-state solution as an end to the conflict.
  2. Claims all Israel – from the river-to-the sea, the ‘48 territories, the interior. 
  3. Propounds the theory that Jews are not a ‘people’ but a religious community only with no independent national rights.
  4. Asserts the bizarre notion that Jews have no religious or historical connection to the region.
  5. Devotes zero efforts with its citizens to promote a peaceful win-win solution.
  6. Devotes tremendous efforts, resources and funds to incite and reward attacks on Israeli Jews. 

4/  Further, western politicians visiting the ‘West Bank’ will have noticed enormous numbers of posters, banners, maps, wall-plaques, murals, monuments and other such material depicting ‘Palestine’.  But did they see a single one with Israel and ‘Palestine’ side-by-side in peace?  Did they see any sign or statement that expressed any sentiment other than hatred and hostility to Israel and open calls for its destruction?  In fact, is it even possible to safely express support for acceptance of Israel and to publicly organize and demonstrate in support of that view In Palestinian governed areas?

5/  In reality, there is no Palestinian body with any political weight, with any social weight, with any economic weight, with any numerical weight, with any religious weight, or with any military weight, that sees the conflict differently.  The annual Naqba commemoration still mourns the Arab failure to destroy Israel in 1948-9.  Yet the notion that Palestinians seek the destruction of Israel seems incredible to many in the ‘west’.  But it remains the rock against which all peace attempts crash.   

6/   This is because no matter what is said to politicians visiting Ramallah, or at international forums, every Palestinian faction sees the whole of Israel as OPT and none pursue a two-state solution to end the conflict.  In their view, the ‘occupationis not and never was confined to the West Bank.  In fact, the conflict preceded the ‘occupation’, the settlements and the creation of Israel.

7/   Much is made of the PA recognition of Israel diplomatically.  Israel obviously exists as a fact-of-life, and no-one denies it.  Yet the PA refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish nation-state with a right to exist.  Therefore, insofar as it considers Israel a state it is not accepted as Jewish, and insofar as it is Jewish it is not accepted as a state.  Instead it is dismissed as the Zionist Entity to be destroyed as described in the Palestinian National Charter.  

8/  This is why, both before and after the creation of Israel, a succession of opportunities for an Arab/Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state were ALL rejected by the Arabs-Palestinians.  The reason is unambiguous: the denial that Jews are a ‘people’ means that the concept of two-states for two peoples is alien to the Palestinian view which accepts only one ‘people’ – themselves.  As a result, they seek an end to the Jewish state and not an accommodation with it. 

Conflicting Concepts of the Two-State Solution     

9/  To avoid a common but dangerous confusion on the latter point, two conflicting concepts of the two-state solution need to be distinguished.  Two-State Solution ‘A’ is where Jewish rights of self-determination are accepted as a basis for a historical compromise where the two national movements agree to a territorial solution based on mutual acceptance.    This version has never been ‘on-offer’.

10/  In its place is Two-State Solution ‘B’ in which Palestinian denial of Jewish national rights is perpetuated and a Palestinian state hostile to the existence of a Jewish state is established alongside the Zionist Entity.  This is the exact opposite of a peaceful two-state solution or regional peace and security. 

11/   There is a strong tendency among ‘western’ advocates of the two-state solution to see their own aspirations for a peaceful solution as so self-evidently reasonable and equitable that it is unnecessary to examine actual Palestinian intentions or take into account Israeli fears.  In their view, the recognition of a Palestinian state is both morally and legally justified and this essentially settles the issue.  Further elaboration is seen as a diversion from what they consider a simple matter of principle.

12/   As a result, in a stunning disregard for causes and consequences, they see only the formal fairness of the two-state solution and not the fatal unfairness of the Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state.  Dazzled by the ‘justice’ of their recognition of a Palestinian state, they completely miss that the driving force of the conflict is the Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state and their intention to destroy it.  

13/   Further, this view betrays a total lack of awareness or interest in the distinction between Two-State Solution A and B.   This is compounded by two common but erroneous assumptions:

  • The conflict is essentially a territorial dispute and not an existential battle.
  • The Palestinians will accept a West Bank-based state as an end to the conflict.

14/  Instead, by looking at Palestinian claims since Israel captured the West Bank from Jordanian occupation in the 6-Day War of 1967, we find that:

  1. From 1964 to 1968 they claimed all Israel but not the West Bank.  In fact, they specifically disclaimed the West Bank (see article 24 of the 1964 Palestinian National Charter).
  2. From 1968 they claimed all of Israel and the West Bank (see the 1968 Palestinian National Charter).

15/   Therefore, the standard assumption of advocates of the two-state solution, that the Palestinians will now be satisfied with a West Bank-based state, needs to be tested. To carry the weight of a successful two-state solution, it needs to be demonstrated that the Palestinians have indeed accepted the presence of the Jewish state and that the above analysis of destructive Palestinian intentions is out-of-date.  

16/  If this were the case, the situation would be radically transformed from a winner-takes-all conflict to a win-win dispute.  Therefore, evidence of such transformation needs to be unambiguous and reliable.   Sadly, no evidence at all has been presented at the ICJ Advisory Opinion sessions or by those who support a  Palestinian state.  Therefore, they need to be pressed with the following question:

Question # 3

What unambiguous, strong and reliable evidence demonstrates that the Palestinians no longer seek the destruction of Israel and are willing to accept a West Bank-based state as an end to the conflict?  

17/  Without such evidence, Israeli nervousness at the prospect of two-state solution B is not difficult to understand.  All serious political or legal proposals are mindful of consequences and need to answer the question: what next?  Instead, promoters of a Palestinian state appear to believe that because justice is served by the establishment of a Palestinian state, the conflict will end.    

18/   By contrast, Israel’s answer to the ‘what next’ question is that a type-B Palestinian state has zero prospects of producing a peaceful two-state solution.  This is because a type-B state is bound to use its new status and territorial base to escalate efforts to destroy Israel.  Hamas in Gaza is the perfect example.  In Israel this provokes alarm, excitable language and combative attitudes.  Many are shocked by such outbursts – but not so shocked by the Palestinian aim of destroying the Jewish state.  

19/   Further, the Palestinian’s own rejection of sovereign claims over the West Bank at the time of its capture by Israel poses a different problem.  Without a subsequent mutual agreement on borders or a legally binding ruling, in what legal sense can the West Bank be categorized as sovereign Palestinian territory?  Or is this really a non-legal political preference by advocates of a Palestinian state?   Therefore:

Question # 4

What is the legal explanation for the claim that the West Bank became sovereign Palestinian territory following the 6-Day War of 1967?

The ONLY way to a peaceful resolution of the conflict 

20/ The aim of destroying Israel via a type-B state makes a type-A territorial compromise IMPOSSIBLE.  It inevitably generates Israeli measures to protect itself and its own legal rights to the territory (Palestinian Mandate, uti possidetis juris, Article 80 UN Charter).  This kills stone-dead the twin aspirations for a successful two-state solution and regional peace and security.  It means that if a two-state solution is to have any chance of success, the only option is Two-State Solution A.

21/  Therefore, any attempt to foist a type-B Palestinian state onto Israel as if Palestinian intentions to destroy Israel did not exist, will free the Palestinians of the necessity to abandon the prime obstacle to a successful and peaceful end to the conflict.  This means that if states wish to end all impediments to Palestinian self-determination a further answer is required.   

Question # 5

What measures will countries and international organizations undertake to persuade or pressurize the Palestinans to jettison the Palestinian National Charter and the aim of destroying Israel? 

22/   Without this there is no insistence that the Palestinians undo the single greatest impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict – and the failures of earlier peace attempts will be repeated.  In fact, the ONLY way to end wars in Gaza, bring an end to Israel’s blockade and Israeli security measures on the West Bank, is to have Palestinian governments that do not seek to eliminate Israel.  

23/  Yet PM Netanyahu has recently caused consternation in some quarters by his expressed opposition to the two-state solution.  As two-state solution B is the only version currently ‘on-offer’ he is not alone.  The reason is simple: the optimism following the Oslo Accords has been beaten-out of most Israelis by series of traumatic experiences:

  1.  the second intifada,
  2.  the series of rocket-wars with Hamas from 2008-2023,
  3.  the Hamas atrocities of 7th October, 
  4.  the current ‘tunnel war’ in Gaza.

24/   This is why an answer to question # 5 above is so crucial if a peaceful resolution of the conflict and regional stability are to be attained.   It also makes an answer to the following necessary:

Question # 6

How will states that favor Palestinian statehood ensure that Two-State Solution ‘A’  is replaced by Two-State Solution ‘B’ in the UN and  EU?

25/  Further, have the UN or EU ever expressed indignation, condemnation and outright opposition to the openly declared policies of the PA and Hamas to wipe-out Jewish national self-determination?  And with Hamas widely considered a terrorist organization, where were the international demands over the last 18 years for its replacement by a government that does not want to ‘obliterate’ Israel?

26/   Instead, despite the foundational aspirations of the UN, the scarcely believable reality is that on this issue the international community has effectively abandoned Israel by turning a blind-eye to these illegal Palestinian aims.  This has allowed Hamas to misuse international funds to accumulate weapons and construct an unparalleled underground infrastructure with a single overriding purpose.  Therefore, if, as many states seem to believe, it is time that the conflict ended, it is time to abandon measures that make a solution impossible and only prolong it.  Yet  to implement the UN Charter, ensure peace and security between states, and provide real hope of an end to the conflict, a further question suggests itself: 

Question # 7

What measures will states that promote Palestinian statehood now undertake to ensure that the UN and EU actively oppose the illegal Palestinian aims of seeking the destruction of Israel?   

27/   Likewise, the ICJ has not said a single word on the legal and human-rights consequences of eliminationist Palestinian intentions.  Nor has the ICJ issued a legally binding ruling that the Palestinians should immediately abandon these aims and cease actions that support them.  In fact, there is not even a mild ICJ reprimand.  Similarly, the International Criminal Court not only ‘stretched’ the definition of statehood to accept the PA for membership, it also turned a blind-eye to the PA’s twin genocidal intentions of eliminating the Jewish state and its policy of incitement and rewards for the murder of Israeli Jews.

28/  Although Israel has chosen not to participate in the proceedings of the ICJ-AO, there is no impediment to dialogue outside that framework.  Unfortunately, my own efforts attempting to engage with the governments of Ireland and Slovenia basically hit a brick wall.  Despite sending the ‘Times of Israel’ version of this article and numerous emails to Slovenian and Irish Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, Justice Ministers, and others, they have not engaged.  

29/  Naturally, the 7 questions are not only aimed at governments and organizations that support a type-B Palestinian state, but also the international public.  The more the issues raised by these questions become public knowledge, the less governments are able to avoid scrutiny and the more susceptible they become to the nullification and reversal of their policies.  Israeli Public Diplomacy clearly has a major program of work ahead. 

30/  Therefore, it is useful to distinguish between two types of Public Diplomacy.   The first is the event-driven urgency for ever faster responses to immediate issues.  The second is a longer-term, strategic perspective that deals with basic or causal factors of the conflict – as indicated by the 7 questions.  But are the MFA, the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and the Public Diplomacy Directorate in possession of a perspective and strategy for this undertaking?

 

 

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