Partition is madness

Salomon Benzimra write to Daniel Pipes

Next Steps in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Testimony presented to: Hearing of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Foreign Affairs Committee February 14, 2007

Chaired By: Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY)

    David Makovsky, Director, Project on the Middle East Peace Process, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy;
    Martin S. Indyk, Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution;
    Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum

Dear Dr. Pipes,

At this hearing, David Makovsky was the first to raise the issue of “partition” when alluding to the 70th anniversary of the Peel Commission. He still believes in “the success of Oslo”; he recognizes that there is “too little geography”; and yet his solution is “to split that land.” His many years at Haaretz may explain his penchant for accommodation at any cost, with a total disregard for reality. Martin Indyk, on the other hand, being a long time diplomat, could not possibly liberate himself from the endless meanderings of diplomatic ambiguities, and was not particularly helpful.

But you, Dr. Pipes, whom I always admired for your rational thought and your broad knowledge of history, you disappointed me when you supported the idea of partition. I first thought of a lapsus linguae from your part, but you repeated it at least three times:

    • “I, too, concur with partition is ultimately the way forward.”
    • “But in principle, yes; partition is fine.”
    • “And some form of two-state solution does seem to me—partitioned, as David put it—seems to me the way forward.”

For the sake of full disclosure, I am neither a diplomat, nor a journalist, nor an academic with expertise in the Middle East. To be facetious, I could say: “but I stayed at the Holiday Inn!” On a more serious tone, I would like to stress the madness of entertaining any notion of partition.

On legal grounds:

The Mandate of 1922 recognized “Palestine” as the exclusive national home for the Jewish people. This is the core document of international law – never abrogated – that should be the basis of any dialogue on the Israeli-Arab conflict. At the time of the signing, in July 1922, Palestine had already been partitioned. Article 25 of the Mandate confirms that point. And to this day, all Jewish settlement of the land had been “withheld or postponed”, so that there is not a single Jew living east of the Jordan River. How many times does this land need to be “partitioned”? If the Peel Commission and, later, the United Nations called for partition, was it not a flagrant violation of the original Mandate? Even though Meir Shamgar and Theodor Meron misled the Israeli government after the Six day War, with their recommendations on the status to be adopted in the “territories” – recommendations which, again, amounted to a violation of the Mandate – they could not possibly erase the ultimate legality of the Mandate provisions. How many more violations of international law are we prepared to condone, let alone support, for the mere appeasement of those intransigent violators whose sole objective is the destruction of Israel?

On historical grounds:

The word “partition” leaves no doubt as to which area of Israel is to be abandoned. It is the “West Bank”, a common misnomer for “Judea and Samaria”, especially peddled by those who favor partition. But Judea and Samaria hold more than 90% of the historic patrimony of the Jewish people. Relinquishing this territory is not only a national suicide, but also a spur to the next generation of Arabs for further land claims (Galilee, the coastal area, etc.) where Jews cannot possibly justify any long established historical connection. I will not even mention the issue of “partitioning” Jerusalem and the relatively recent hoax of its sudden Islamic sanctity.

On geographic grounds:

It is hard to imagine a viable Palestinian Arab state in the 6,000 sqkm of the “West Bank”, especially with the looming “right of return” of some 4 million refugees. It is impossible to contemplate the removal of a quarter million Israelis living there, just to accommodate the supposedly peaceful Palestinian Arabs. If Israel retains a significant portion of this land – where most Jewish urban centers are located – the purported Palestinian state will be even less viable. So, why indulging in this self-deception? With Gaza now “liberated” and a potential corridor linking it to the “West Bank”, does anyone worry about the viability of the Jewish State of Israel? Why erasing from our minds the obvious realities? And when thinking about the fifteen years in which this irrational process has been kept alive, there is only one word for it: madness (or, to put it more politely: appalling diplomatic malfeasance)

On strategic grounds:
Since 1967, all military strategists – Israeli as well as American – have argued against relinquishing the high grounds of Judea and Samaria. Leaving the densely populated central part of a country within as little as 15 km from potentially hostile enemies is a threat no state in the world would ignore. The Lod airport is even more exposed. This strategic problem has been exacerbated in the wake of the Hezbollah attack last July. And since no one can vouch on the perenniality of the peaceful Hachemite Kingdom of Jordan, this strategic issue should not be dismissed.

On logical grounds:

For some mysterious reason, the “Green Line” of 1949 has acquired the status of an “internationally recognized border.” Jimmy Carter compounded his legendary ignorance of the facts by using that phrase in his article published in USA Today in May, 2006. And those who advocate for a two-state solution also use it to support the notion of “illegal occupation.” After 1967, the “Green Line” dissolved but the error persisted. We should make a parallel between the War of 1948 and the War of 1967. In both instances:

    • The Arabs’ objectives were the same: the eradication of the State of Israel through a war of aggression. The calls of the Mufti in 1948 and those of Nasser in 1967 were eerily similar: the annihilation of the ‘Zionist entity’.
    • Their methods were similar, in that the Arabs violated international law by breaching the UN Resolution 181 in 1948 and by closing the international waterways of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli navigation, a recognized casus belli.
    • And the results of the two wars were also the same: loss of predominantly Arab populated territory (Western Galilee in 1948, the “West Bank” in 1967).

So, why should the outcomes of these two wars be treated differently? On the one hand, nobody contests the Israeli territory acquired in 1948-49, and on the other hand, most people see the “West Bank” and East Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.” These territories are as “occupied” as western Galilee, Beersheba and Ashdod, all areas included in the Arab State proposed in the Partition Plan of 1947 (against the provisions of the Mandate, let us not forget). The fallacy of the notion of “occupied Palestinian territory” is most evident in the original version of the PLO Charter (1964) and its later update in 1968. Why does the world go along these Arab concocted falsehoods? Worse, why do supposedly pro-Israel experts – prominent Jews among them – indulge in this charade?

On ethnic grounds:

No one questions that the Arabs constitute a people. From their culture, their history, their traditions, their language, their predominant religion, etc., they clearly differentiate themselves from other peoples. But those who blindly insist on the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”, and who have been doing so for the past 40 years, would be hard pressed to identify what it is that differentiates those Palestinian Arabs from their Arab brethren of the region. For pure political reasons – the specific objective of destroying Israel as called for in the PLO Charter – a new people was created where none existed before. Peoples do not usually emerge within a few decades. But, apparently, it did happen for the “Palestinians.” One thing is certain: after the Palestinian Arabs, who already succeeded in deluding the world, finally acquire their “viable state”, a new Arab people will pop up, most likely among the Galilean Arabs, and they will claim historical links to the Canaanites and their “inalienable rights” to nationhood. How long will it take to put an end to this bloody hoax?

The Palestinian issue has been a most pernicious virus which still continues to infect otherwise rational people. Diplomats may believe in the “art of the possible.” But clear-minded people cannot figure out how a lasting peace can ever be achieved while distorting the truth so shamelessly and for so long. If the word “partition” takes root, especially coming from recognized authorities in the field, it will be another setback for decency, for peace, and most importantly, for the truth. I would urge the decision makers in the Middle East arena to concentrate on the title to the land as a first priority. Also, the faulty notion of “land of peace” should be amended to “Arab land for peace.” This is not mere semantics: it reflects the recognized laws of any war of aggression. Only when this issue is clearly established, should we devote our attention to helping the people living on that land and to assist them in the fairest possible way.

Best regards,

Salomon Benzimra, P.Eng.
Toronto, Canada

June 1, 2007 | 8 Comments »

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