By Salomon Benzimra
Israeli PM Netanyahu went to the White House, shook hands with President Obama and both stated the usual diplomatic platitudes. It would all be inconsequential if the mad train of the peace process were not in motion again, heading to a new Palestinian Arab state.
When that state is proclaimed, there is no point in wondering how it got there. Phony foundations of Palestinian nationalism; terrorism; Arab doublespeak and duplicity ignored by gullible diplomats; violation of signed agreements; calls for genocide … it will all be erased. The statehood end justifies all means.
Imagine the day after. A Palestinian state is created anywhere in Judea and Samaria. It is eagerly recognized by the world community and admitted at the UN by unanimous acclamation. Then, the real problem begins with this inaugural speech of the Palestinian leader addressed to the Israelis:
“Now that Palestine has been restored, you, Israelis, have finally recognized that Israel has been occupying our land. The era of foreign occupation and colonization is over. All foreign occupiers have abandoned their colonies since the 1950s. Sure, in your view, only the West Bank, Gaza and east-Jerusalem were occupied. But could you give me a good reason as to why the rest of so-called ‘Israel’ is any different, just because you conquered most of it in the 1948 war and not in the 1967 war? What historical justification do you have in claiming Ashkelon, Beersheba and western Galilee once you recognized that Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus (which you misnamed “Shechem”!) were occupied?
You have blamed the Palestinians for always denying the most basic truths of Jewish history and yet you are incapable of justifying your historical connection to what you call the ‘non-occupied’ part of Palestine! No Muslim would ever think of sharing Holy Mecca with others but you are willing, if not eager, to part with Jerusalem, which you call the holiest site of the Jewish people. Is this not a tacit admission that your attachment to the whole land is tenuous at best? You say so implicitly, when you admit that you no longer wish to be an occupier and yet you want to retain those areas that you believe are essential for your security. No matter how ‘essential’ to you these lands are, you have no right to occupy them. They belong to us and you have proved it. So, get out of our land and go back to wherever you came from!”
This is where the notion of the “illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian Arab lands” inexorably leads. And no one could logically, historically, or legally refute the arguments of that Palestinian leader once sovereignty is granted to the Palestinian Arabs and Palestine becomes immediately a member of the United Nations. It doesn’t matter that the Palestinian claims are bogus; that they achieved statehood through deceit and terror; or that they are undistinguishable from their Arab neighbours: the recognition of sovereignty trumps everything.
Contrast this with what an enlightened (and, unfortunately, hypothetical) Israeli leader would say before contemplating a suicidal ‘two-state solution.’
“The Jewish people have returned to their ancestral Land of Israel after centuries of dispersion. We are here today by right. Not by foreign conquest. Not by subjugation of a lawfully established sovereign. Not by spoliation of any indigenous people. Not as compensation out of the guilt felt by our executioners in Europe. We are here by right. A right fully recognized in international law at the San Remo Conference ninety years ago, when sovereignty over the geographical region of ‘Palestine’ was legally transferred to the Jewish people, based on their historical connection going back over three millennia, thus enabling the reconstitution – not the ‘creation’ – of what became the Jewish State of Israel in 1948.
Echoing Ben Gurion in his Proclamation of Independence, I welcome all those who are loyal to Israel – the nation-state of the Jewish people – and who wish to partake of all the privileges of citizenship, and to contribute to the building of the country. I also call upon world leaders to recognize that diplomacy cannot be divorced from international law, lest treaties, agreements and conventions lose all validity; that the selective dismissal of the legal rights of Israel, while other instruments of international law regularly condemn Israel for its putative violations, is a denial of justice; that the Wilsonian principle of self-determination only applies to an identifiable people in their ancestral land and not to a recently forged “people” in a land already lawfully adjudicated to its rightful owners. From now on, these are the principles which will drive our foreign policy with our Arab neighbours.
As much as I fear the imminent reality of the first speech, I still cling to the possibility of the second, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Why? Because Israel has no future once a sovereign Arab state is established in Judea and Samaria and the international community recognizes it. At this critical time when a “Palestinian state” is looming in the horizon, it is imperative that we take a firm stand for the preservation of the Jewish State of Israel.
Salomon Benzimra, P.Eng. July 12, 2006
Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR)