Israel, the Palestinians and the UN

Oct 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

I just returned from conducting my annual study tour of Israel.  As usual, it was an invigorating trip.  While I was there, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, petitioned the 66th session of the United Nations to in effect unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.  The move was anticipated and was not much of a surprise to Israel.  From much of the world?s perspective, it was a liberating move.  Indeed, at the UN Abbas received thunderous applause and a standing ovation.  But it was an incongruous gesture on the part of the Palestinian Authority.  It was, in fact, good theater, the theater of the absurd.  In this Perspective, I want to present a multifaceted analysis of this development.

  • First, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians have built their case around the proposition that Israel has not negotiated seriously and that the UN declaration of statehood is the only way they can get the territory and state that they argue is their destiny and right.  What Israel is offering, they contend, is only a fraction of the territory to which they are entitled.  Is this true and it is an accurate justification for this radical and unjust course of action?  Understanding this action requires a review of what has occurred nearly 64 years ago at the UN:  On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly voted to partition British-controlled Palestine into two states?one Arab and one Jewish, which would then live side-by-side in peace.  Obviously, the Jews accepted this agreement, but the Palestinian rejected it and joined with five Arab armies to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.  They failed!  Similar wars to liquidate the Jewish state occurred in 1956, 1967 and 1973.  In 1993, the Palestinians received another chance to accept the two-state solution.  During the Oslo Accords negotiations, Palestinians and Israelis pledged to resolve all outstanding issues through face-to-face negotiations.  This pledge produced two Israeli peace proposals?one in 2000 and one in 2008?that met virtually all of the Palestinians? demands for a sovereign state in the areas won by Israel in the 1967 war, including concessions in the West Bank, Gaza and even East Jerusalem.  [Incredibly, in the 2008 offer by Ehud Olmert of Israel, Israel was willing to give the Palestinians 100% of the West Bank, with appropriate land swaps, Palestinian statehood, and the division of Jerusalem with the Muslim parts becoming the capital of the new Palestine.  Olmert even offered to turn over the city?s holy places, including the Western Wall, to an international body on which sit Jordan and Saudi Arabia!]  However, Yasser Arafat rejected the first offer and Mahmoud Abbas, in effect, ignored the second.  Why?  Because both offers required that the Palestinians accept that Israel is a Jewish state?something they have been unwilling to do since 1947!  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren writes:  ?In between Israeli peace offers, the Palestinians waged a terror war that killed and maimed thousands of Israelis.  When Israel uprooted all of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians failed to create a peaceful enclave and instead created a Hamas terrorist stronghold that fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians.  Yet, in spite of their rejection and trauma, Israelis continued to uphold the vision of two peaceful adjacent states.?  Since 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the removal of hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank, facilitating remarkable economic growth and dramatically increased transport in and out of Gaza.  When President Obama asked him to freeze construction in West Bank settlements, Netanyahu announced an unprecedented 10-month moratorium on such settlement construction.  Oren concludes, ?But over the course of two and a half years, Mr. Abbas negotiated for a total of six hours, and then refused to discuss Israel?s security needs.?  The bottom line of all of this is that the Palestinians are unwilling to accept that Israel is a Jewish state?the homeland for the Jewish people all over the world.  Unless and until they are willing to accept that, there will be no peace!  Israel has demonstrated again and again that it is willing to give up land for peace.  But peace with the Palestinians requires that they acknowledge Israel?s right to exist and to exist as a Jewish state.  All events since 1947 have demonstrated that they are unwilling to do so!  By going to the UN and insisting that the UN recognize the Palestinian state, Abbas is in effect trying an end run around that fundamental requirement?that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state.  He apparently is unwilling again to acknowledge that fact.  Unless he does, the UN has no right to grant the Palestinians this kind of recognition.
  • Second, Israel has lived under a cloud of perpetual dread since its creation.  As columnist Bret Stephens has argued, just consider the two months that Israel had in August and September 2011:  1.  On 18 August, 8 Israelis were killed in a sophisticated cross-border ambush near the frontier with Egypt.  2.  From 18-24 August, some 200 large-caliber, factory-made rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza.  3.  On 1 September, the head of Iran?s atomic energy entity announced that it was moving the bulk of its enrichment facilities to a heavily fortified site near the city of Qom.  4.  On 2 September, the UN released a report on the May 2010 Turkish flotilla incident, which defended Israel?s right to enforce a naval blockade on Gaza and noted that Israeli commandos faced ?organized and violent resistance.?  The Turkish government then pulled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and expelled Israel?s ambassador from Ankara.  5.  On 8 September, Turkey?s Prime Minister announced that Turkish warships would escort future Gaza-bound flotillas.  6.  On 9 September, thousands of hooligans stormed and nearly sacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo.  7.  Finally, the world community enthusiastically embraced Mahmoud Abbas at the UN but has never held it accountable for its atrocities against Israel.  The world community holds Israel to a totally different standard when it comes to moral legitimacy.  The world community insists that Israel ends its ?occupation? of the West Bank but has never insisted that the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state, a state where Jews can have homeland.  The world community insists that Israel recognize a new Palestinian state as a homeland for the Palestinian people but does not insist that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.  No Israeli leader should be required to accept terms for the creation of a Palestinian state that does not include the recognition of the Jewish nature of the Israeli state.  The Jews of Israel are asking one simple thing of the world community and of the Palestinians:  Accept that Israel is a Jewish state?a homeland for the Jewish people.  End your demands of the ?right of return? and accept us as a Jewish state.  When I was in Israel a few days ago, I heard again and again from Jewish leaders that they are willing to accept the Palestinian state and exchange land for peace?but it must be a peace where the Palestinians, Hamas included, accept that Israel is a Jewish state.  Once they do so, Israel is willing to share its technology and its considerable resources with the Palestinian people to develop this entire region.  But the Palestinians will not do that!  The demand by Abbas that the UN recognize the Palestinians state is an effort to get a state without settling on peace with Israel.  They want a state without recognizing Israel?s right to exist as a Jewish state.  Abbas cannot do that and the world community must not permit Abbas to accomplish his end-run!  It is ethically and morally wrong to do so!

See Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal (13 September 2011); Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post (30 September 2011); and Michael Oren in the Wall Street Journal (24-25 September 2011). PRINT PDF

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2 Comments to “Israel, the Palestinians and the UN”

  1. Kathie says:

    Thank you!

    Is there any reason why you do not publish your perspectives on Israel in the OWH?

    Why are the Bible believing Christian churches not responding to this UN and Statehood issue?

    Why is the Bible believing Christian community so silent?

    Is it because of their 501c3 status?

    Are we the nation who has forgotten God? (referrfing to Edwin Lutzer’s book)

    Have you read the book by George Gilder – The Israel Test.

    HIs interview on CSpan was encouraging.

    Blessings amid prayers for you and your thinking and for the Jewish People on Yom Kippur!

    Kathie & Duane

  2. Richard Pendell says:

    I have seen this trend/pattern described gathering steam unabated during my post-WWII lifetime. Homes and churches have sold out to the false god of complete freedom without responsibility. Only public law restrains resultant chaos and it too has been on a fast-track downward due to public pressure. Any ‘holding the line’ based on transcendent or historical values is quickly dismissed as insensitive, ‘hate-filled intolerance’ no matter how gracrfully and lovingly approached.
    The remnant of True Believers is rapicly becoming a very tiny percentage of even the church-attending population, let alone the greater population. A majority of churches can’t lower the bar fast enough in their efforts to fill the tent, appear relevent, never confronting an outlandishly pagan culture with the outcome of its false religions.