The Land for Peace theory (LFP) has always been something like this:
Israel and the Arab states are in conflict. The conflict can be ended if Israel gives up the lands it occupied in 1967.
This proposition was suspicious even in 1967, since the Jewish state — or even the Jews in pre-state Palestine — had never had peace until then, even without the territories. But the world in general — certainly the US and the European Union — at least pretends that it is true, and has worked hard to get Israel to divest itself of the land. So far Israel has evacuated the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza strip, surrendering them to complete Arab control. This represents by far the greater part of the lands conquered in 1967.
The Oslo accords included a great concession by Israel: the PLO — which had been responsible for numerous murderous terrorist attacks against Israelis inside and outside of Israel — was allowed to return to the territories and constitute itself as a government, the Palestinian Authority. As a result of the Oslo accords, about 95% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria now live in areas under Palestinian civil control.
One would think that if LFP were true, then there would have been movement toward peace as a result of Israel’s concessions. But this has not proven to be the case:
With regard to the Sinai, although the Egyptian regime refrained from overt conflict (in return for billions in US aid), it did not reign in incitement, nor did it take steps to improve relations with Israel. The ‘peace treaty’ was treated as an extended cease-fire, and now as the regime changes we are seeing a retreat from the idea of peace.
With regard to Gaza, in effect a continuous state of war with Israel exists, and only fear of massive military intervention keeps a lid — loosely — on terrorism.
With regard to Judea and Samaria, the PLO never accepted the ‘peace’ part of the LFP formula, insisting on receiving land without granting recognition (Mahmoud Abbas recently reiterated his refusal to accept a Jewish state as a neighbor to ‘Palestine’). The PLO does not accept the idea of ‘two states for two peoples’ and understands the ‘two-state solution’ as an Arab ‘Palestine’ free of Jews, and an Israel which — by virtue of ‘right of return’ — will have an Arab majority.
Although Israel made proposals for Arab sovereignty in 2000 and 2008, they were not accepted because they included a rejection of right of return and insistence on recognition.
It should finally be clear that LFP is not a possible solution to the conflict, because the Arabs have never accepted that a Jewish state may exist in the Middle East.
Now the PLO (with or without Hamas as a partner — the relationship is unclear) is going to the UN to demand the land without providing anything — even words — in return. And most of the world seems to think that’s just fine:
“The maximum that we can hope to gain [at the UN vote] is for a group of states who will abstain or be absent during the vote,” [Israeli UN Ambassador Ron] Prosor wrote, adding that his comments are based on more than 60 meetings he held during the past few weeks with his counterparts at the UN. “Only a few countries will vote against the Palestinian initiative,” he wrote…
Foreign Ministry sources estimate that 130-140 states will vote in favor of the Palestinians. A major question mark remains over the position of the 27 member states of the European Union…
A senior source at the Foreign Ministry, which is busy trying to foil the Palestinian move at the UN, said that so far only five western countries have promised Israel they would vote against recognition of a Palestinian state — the U.S., Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. “Most western countries will not be willing to be in the hall and vote against a Palestinian state,” the senior Foreign Ministry source said.
Of course, such a General Assembly resolution will not create a Palestinian state, and cannot be used to force Israel to do anything. Only the Security Council can apply sanctions or admit a state to the UN. However the GA resolution will be used as the basis for ‘lawfare’ against Israel, and is clearly the beginning of the process of implementing LFP, without the peace. And only the US stands against a Security Council resolution. May I be excused for thinking that Barack Obama is a weak reed to lean on?
The official position of the Israeli government is that LFP can work, and that it’s possible to reach an accommodation by bilateral negotiation with the PLO that will result in a viable Palestinian state in the territories, and peace. It therefore opposes a UN resolution.
It also points out, correctly, that such a resolution violates all of the agreements between Israel and the Arabs since 1967: UN Security Council resolution 242 (and others) which call for negotiations between the parties, the Oslo agreements, the Road Map, etc.
Although I understand that it is important for the Israeli government to scrupulously maintain what it believes to be the most responsible position, I think it should officially recognize the failure of LFP. This is only a question of opening one’s eyes and seeing reality.
Therefore, if the PLO seeks a UN resolution supporting a unilateral declaration of statehood, Israel should announce the following:
- It will assume that the PLO has abrogated all previous agreements, including Oslo
- It will cease all cooperation with the ‘Palestinian Authority’, which was created by Oslo
- It will annex those portions of Judea and Samaria that have large Jewish populations or have high strategic or historic importance (note that this will still leave 95% of the Arab population of Judea/Samaria outside of Israel)
- It will unilaterally delimit an eastern border and finish the security fence in keeping with it
- It will defend its borders vigorously