By Ted Belman*
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been busy lining up countries to recognize Palestine as a state with armistice line borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. It intends to ask the Security Council to vote for such a resolution in September of this year. Should the US veto it, it will then ask the GA to do so.
To make the Palestinian’s case stronger, Fatah, Hamas and other terrorist groups have signed a Unity Agreement. Not for the first time, I would add. These agreements give the appearance of unity to obscure their fundamental differences if not on substance at least on tactics. But the main reason they fail is that neither party is prepared to give up their power. The driving force this time behind such agreement is the desire to present a united PA before the UN votes on whether to recognize Palestine..
The Obama administration is publically against such a resolution preferring instead negotiations. Privately it works with Britain, France and Germany to pressure Israel to agree to negotiations based on the armistice lines and a divided Jerusalem. Israel has refused to accept such limitation and will continue to refuse.
Everyone knows there isn’t a chance of reaching an agreement or even starting negotiations unless Israel makes this enormous concession up front.
PM Netanyahu just met with PM Cameron of Britain hoping to convince him to reject the Unity Agreement and to not support the recognition resolution in September. Cameron argued in support of negotiations that the Arab Spring and the execution of bin Laden and everything else that’s happening in the Middle East necessitate that now is the time to negotiate an agreement. Of course many people would argue just the opposite.
He also assured Netanyahu that “our support for Israel and Israel’s security is unshakable” just as Obama always does. But such assurances are worthless. What Israel requires for its security is not remotely being supported by the US or Britain. Israel is expected to accept much less and to rely on written commitments by the US and the EU to make Israel secure. In the past Israel has received big power guarantees to keep the Straits of Tiran open to Israeli shipping, to monitor the Rafah crossing to make sure that weapons and terrorist are not allowed in and to prevent Hezbollah from being rearmed after Lebanon War II. After receiving these guarantees, Israel withdrew from the Sinai, withdrew from Gaza and withdrew from Lebanon respectively, only to find out the guarantees were worthless.
Cameron also assured Netanyahu that Britain was committed to the Quartet’s principles that Hamas must renounce terror, recognize Israel and abide by past agreements with Israel. Don’t you believe it. Not only will Hamas not agree to these terms but even the Quartet is trying to back away from them. For instance, past agreements require all issue to be determined by negotiations and require nothing be done to pre-judge the final outcome. As I have indicated the Quartet wants to limit Israel’s negotiating room and attempts to pre-judge the outcome by telling Israel to divide Jerusalem. According to the Guardian UK, Cameron went so far as to threaten Netanyahu with Britain’s support for a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians if Israel fails to join substantive peace talks to create a two-state solution. “substantive” is a code word for negotiating on the basis of the armistice lines and the division of Jerusalem. In the words of one British diplomat “The more Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process the less likely it is that this question of unilateral declaration would arise.” Of course what is meant is that without accepting the armistice lines and the division of Jerusalem as the precondition for the negotiations, the negotiations wouldn’t be “serious and meaningful”. This is Obama’s position also.
Israel, for its part, is debating some moves of its own. It considers the unilateral recognition of Palestine as a fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords and Res 242 on which it is based, thereby entitling Israel to abrogate the Oslo Accords and to annex parts or all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
This week the leaders of Judea and Samaria sent a letter to Ban Ki Moon of the UN in which they asserted the legal rights of Jews to all of Judea and Samaria and called upon the UN “to reaffirm international recognition of the immutable rights of the Jewish People to all of their historical homeland.”
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cancel his upcoming Bar-Ilan II speech and annex Area “C”. He wants him to say “That Bar-Ilan I is off the table – a Palestinian state will not arise.”
Not long ago, both Leiberman and Shaul Mofaz, Kadima, recommended interim plans that would recognize a provisional Palestinian state on about 40% of the land. Lieberman’s plan, which corresponds to the second stage of the 2003 U.S.-sponsored road map peace plan, would not involve evacuating settlements or transferring significant additional territory to the PA. Thus the new state’s provisional borders would comprise mainly the parts of the West Bank known as Areas A and B.
Israel Beiteinu, Likud’s largest coalition partner, headed by FM Leiberman, just demanded that Israel cease all contact between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in light of the Unity Agreement. This would include all inter-ministerial initiatives and security cooperation in addition to the transfer of tax revenues,
“It is impossible to expect the State of Israel to transfer money to Hamas and thereby fund terror activities against Israel’s citizens. Those who declared Bin Laden a Muslim freedom fighter, as Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh did, and those who refuse to allow the Red Cross to visit Gilad Schalit, cannot be partners in negotiations, either directly or indirectly.”
Israel must also factor in the implications of the fall of Mubarak. Egypt’s military betrayed Mubarak and told him to resign. It betrayed him a second by putting in prison and prosecuting him. The military also made a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in which it agreed to recognize them as a Party, to have early elections thereby reducing the chances of smaller and newer Parties to make a good showing in the elections, to return to them the vast sum of money taken from them by Mubarak, to lift the blockade on Gaza and allow Hamas to open offices in Cairo. This gave rise to the Unity Agreement.
Finally it allowed Iranian warships to traverse the Suez Canal and it is in the process of rapprochement with Iran.
In exchange for the peace agreement with Egypt, Israel gave back the Sinai and the oil wells there that she developed. If Egypt aborts the agreement, as she is threatening to do, Israel will be within her rights to take it back.
Some Israeli politicians and journalists on the left are acting like Chicken Little and proclaiming that the recognition of Palestine by the UN in September is tantamount to the sky falling. Defense Barak even warned against a diplomatic tsunami that would ensue. Others like Caroline Glick and Alan Baker are more sanguine. Most Israelis couldn’t care less.