French President Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting Israel and has made several statements that are quite positive. For example,
“I reiterate here in the clearest manner: As far as France is concerned, a nuclear Iran is totally unacceptable,” Sarkozy declared. “France is determined to continue to lead, along with its partners, a policy that integrates gradually intensifying sanctions with openness, in case Iran chooses to honor its international obligatons.”
France, he said, “is Israel’s friend, and will always stand by her side when her security or existence are threatened. Those who scandalously call for the destruction of Israel will always, always, find France blocking their path.” — Jerusalem Post
But that’s not all he said:
“The truth is that Israel’s security will only be guaranteed when we see, finally, a neighboring Palestinian state,” Sarkozy told the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem today on the second day of his three-day visit that includes a stop in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories…
Sarkozy, the first French leader to speak to the Knesset since Francois Mitterrand in 1982, called for the “total and immediate stop of settlements expansion.” — Bloomberg
‘Settlements’, he clarified, include Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and ‘expansion’ means any construction in these neighborhood, even if their borders are not expanded at all.
While Sarkozy appears to be a big improvement over Chirac from an Israeli point of view, nevertheless he seems to share the US State Department’s position that any Israeli presence across the green line ‘prejudges’ the final borders and is therefore unacceptable.
Considering that the territories passed from the British Mandate through an illegal Jordanian occupation beginning in 1948 — one imposed by force and characterized by ethnic cleansing of Jewish inhabitants — and finally were legally occupied by Israel as the outcome of a war of aggression against Israel in 1967, there is no reason that Arabs should be permitted to build anything in the territories any more than Jews.
Of course the truth is that the Europeans as well as the State Department have long since prejudged the issue themselves, and are of the opinion that the cease-fire lines of 1967 represent the only legitimate borders of the State of Israel, and that what lies outside of them is “Palestinian land”, as the BBC would say. This is demonstrated by the complaints of Condoleezza Rice and President Sarkozy about ‘settlement expansion’.
The friendly Sarkozy, like the less-friendly Rice, wishes to impose a settlement on the Israelis and Palestinians in which Israel will be returned to 1967 borders. A promise to this effect was made by Henry Kissinger to the Iraqi ambassador in 1975, and apparently the commitment has been ‘inherited’ by the leader of the Arab world today, Saudi Arabia. In any event, it has become a foundation stone of US and European policy.
It’s interesting that Kissinger said that Israel could be reduced in size to ‘historic proportions’ (I presume he is not referring to the historic proportions of King David’s time), thus ignoring the part of UN resolution 242 which calls for secure borders.
Unfortunately, because of the ascendancy of Hamas and for other reasons, it it not possible to create a Palestinian state in the territories today, consistent with Israel’s security. And even if it were possible, the 1967 borders certainly don’t meet the criterion of being ‘secure’.
The best approach for the West, including Sarkozy and the US, would be to recognize that they have put the cart before the horse in demanding a Palestinian state.
To reverse Sarkozy’s statement, I would say that peace and a Palestinian state can only come into being when Israel’s security is assured, and that means that Iran and others must give up their radical rejectionism of Israel and stop trying to destroy the Jewish state, and that Hamas and Hezbollah must be disarmed or destroyed.