There will be no room for Jews or settlements in the West Bank because their presence there will always be an obstacle to peace with Israel, Ahmed Qurei, head of the Palestinian Authority negotiating team, said at the weekend…
“Initially, Israel sought to annex 7.3 percent of the West Bank,” he disclosed. “Then it went down to 6.8%. Of course we completely rejected this idea…”
The chief Palestinian negotiator also said Israel agreed to take in 5,000 Palestinian refugees over a five-year period, but this was rejected by the Palestinians…
Qurei said the Palestinians have also rejected the idea of land swap with Israel. How can we give up any part of Jerusalem?” he asked. “For us Jerusalem is not only a spiritual or cultural or historic center, but also the economic center of the future Palestinian state. The settlements surrounding the city will make it hard for millions of Arabs, Muslims and Christians to visit Jerusalem in the future.”
In a few sentences we have the Palestinian position: no compromise on borders, refugees or Jerusalem.
No room for Jews. It has a familiar ring to it.
It’s instructive to ask exactly what justifies Qurei’s stubbornness.
One of the places that the Palestinians do not wish to compromise on is Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, south of Jerusalem. Part of the Palestine Mandate from 1917 to 1948, and the Ottoman empire before that, it was purchased from local Arabs and settled by Yemenite Jews in 1927. They lived there on and off (they were driven out several times by Arab riots) until 1948 when the invading Jordanian army overran it and executed all but four of its defenders. All of the West Bank and East Jerusalem were made Jew-free by the Jordanians, who illegally occupied the area until 1967, when the kibbutz was reestablished.
So please explain, Mr. Qurei, where the Palestinian claim comes from. And explain why it is that if Kfar Etzion did become part of your state, there would be no room for Jews in it. Will Palestine be a racist apartheid state?
He has an answer for this:
Our experiences have taught us that it’s impossible to coexist with these settlers. We still remember the [Tomb of the Patriarchs] massacre in Hebron in 1994 and the daily attacks carried out by settlers in Hebron, Nablus, Kalkilya and other places.
In other words because a Jew, Baruch Goldstein, acted like an Arab terrorist (after which he and his act were denounced by all but a tiny sliver of Israel’s population), and because some Jewish settlers have become hostile in the face of constant hostility from Arabs — that is, because they have behaved like the imperfect human beings that they are — Jews are not permitted to live in Kfar Etzion?
Does Mr. Qurei have the moral authority to argue that Jews must be expelled (again) from Kfar Etzion because of the settlers’ behavior when his national heroes are murderers like Samir Kuntar and Dalal Mughrabi?
Does he have the moral authority to worry about access to Jerusalem for “Arabs, Muslims and Christians” when Israel has allowed access to the holy places for all faiths, even after Jews were not permitted to set foot in East Jerusalem during the Jordanian occupation?
Does he have any moral authority at all when his PLO has been the world leader in terrorism and murder since the 1960’s?