The latest Palestinian threat is that they will unilaterally declare a state:
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The Palestinian Authority is mobilizing international support for declaring statehood, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Saturday.
“The idea is clear and understandable,” Erekat told the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Ayyam. “Now we mobilize.”
Palestinians will bring the issue to a vote before the United Nations Security Council, which would declare a Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 border with Israel, he explained.
This is supposed to strike fear into the heart of PM Netanyahu and his (not really so) right-wing government. But imagine the conversation:
Saeb Erekat: We are unilaterally declaring a state.
Binyamin Netanyahu: A state? But you could have had one in 2000. Why didn’t you accept it? Or what about the offer that Olmert made last year, supposedly even worse — I mean, more generous — then the Camp David and Taba ideas? He offered you 98.1% of Judea of Samaria plus a connecting passage through Israel from Gaza, most of East Jerusalem, and to allow 5,000 ‘refugees’ to enter Israel. Why didn’t you say ‘yes’ to that?
SE: Because we want all of East Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria. And we want all 5 million Arab refugees to have the right to return to their homes in Israel even if they never lived in them. And we aren’t going to say that Israel belongs to the Jewish people because it belongs to the Arabs that live there now and the ones who will return.
BN: That’s absurd. We’d never agree to that — it would mean the end of the Jewish state.
BN: Well, declare whatever you want. But then you won’t get any land swaps, we won’t evacuate any settlements, and you won’t get ‘contiguity’ to Gaza. You will be in violation of all the agreements that you signed, and you’ll freeze the map as it is today, with no more territory in your hands. You’ll be Foreign Minister of Ramallah.
SE: But the Security Council will protect our new state. The UN will come and kick all 500,000 Jewish settlers [he’s including the Jewish population of E. Jerusalem — ed.] out of our land!
BN: So you are telling me that even the Obama administration wouldn’t veto a resolution to send UN troops to fight the IDF? Because that’s what it would take.
SE: We’ll have our capital in Holy Jerusalem!
BN: But if you won’t negotiate, you’ll get none of East Jerusalem. Even my administration, which is not as right-wing as some say, would agree to negotiate Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Declare a state unilaterally and you’ll just make the present status quo permanent. Is that really what you want?
SE: (losing it) What we really want is to end the occupation, from the river to the sea!
BN: Bingo. But you aren’t going to get that. So you can either keep things as they are today — either by unilaterally declaring a state or by just continuing to refuse to talk — or you can finally accept that “two-state solution” means that one of those two states will belong to the Jewish people, and make a deal.
Of course, they don’t accept that, and no member of the PLO — we are not even talking about Hamas — will ever accept it. The fundamental truth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is this:
No Palestinian leadership can come to power or stay there today which is not committed to replacing Israel with an Arab state. There may be differences in approach — in particular, whether a state in the territories is a useful step on the way to eliminating Israel — but there is no divergence in goals. They don’t so much want a state as they want our state.
PM Netanyahu’s conditions for a peace agreement — that ‘Palestine’ be demilitarized, that Israel must be recognized as the state of the Jewish people, and that refugees may ‘return’ only to ‘Palestine’ — and the idea that boundaries should be drawn to put the Arabs on one side and the Jews on the other, are intended to make coexistence possible. But coexistence is exactly what the Arabs don’t want, and that is why they insist on impossible preconditions even to return to discussions.
The PLO strategy until now seems to have been to take advantage of the Israeli propensity for wishful thinking, along with the desire of the US to push Israel back to 1967 borders, in order to get a state that could be used as a platform to conquer the rest, possibly with help from other Arabs — the so-called ‘phased plan‘ developed in 1974.
But several things happened to derail this. One was Hamas, which enormously complicated the process of creating the temporary state. Another was the fact that the PLO, following the lead of its spiritual father, Yasser Arafat, simply could not restrain its propensity to kill Jews and incite hatred. The Arafat intifada that began in 2000 and killed about 1,400 Israelis taught the ones who survived a strong lesson, which I expressed above. The wishful thinking that gave birth to Oslo was blown away by the bomb blasts of the intifada.
So now Israel elected a Prime Minister who thinks realistically. The PLO leaders are furious as they see their strategy dissolve, so they’ve come up with a new one. What is remarkable to me is how the media and foreign offices around the world continue to insist that the Palestinians want a state (of their own, as opposed to someone else’s) and that Israel is the obstacle to talks.
Israel can’t stop the PLO from declaring a state. But even if it receives UN recognition, the UN will not enforce its claimed borders any more than it succeeded in internationalizing Jerusalem in 1949. And the Palestinian Arabs will be farther from, not closer to, their goal.