Palestinians often complain that the US is “biased” toward Israel. This could be because their fundamental belief is that all of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean belongs to them. So they see any recognition of Israel’s legitimacy as ‘biased’.
But if we stipulate that Israel is is not going away, then we can make a good argument that the US position — particularly as articulated by the Obama Administration — is strongly biased toward the Arabs.
Here’s a recent account of Secretary of State Kerry’s diplomatic effort:
“Kerry is trying to pave the way for relaunching the peace process. He is serious and we encouraged him. He made progress and we hope he can conclude a deal in the coming week,” said one [Palestinian] official.
While Israel would not explicitly commit to returning to its 1967 lines, negotiations would be based on a May 2011 policy speech by President Barack Obama. That speech called for a border based on the 1967 lines, with modifications based on mutually agreed “land swaps,” while also urging the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Abbas has repeatedly rejected Israeli calls to recognize the country as the Jewish state, fearing it would undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees displaced from properties inside Israel.
Kerry’s plan also calls on Israel to release about 100 of the longest-held Palestinian prisoners in its jails in several stages, and envisions a $4 billion international investment plan, conducted in various stages, to develop the struggling Palestinian economy.
The idea would be that within six to nine months the sides could pursue an agreement on all outstanding matters, including final borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees and resolving the competing claims to east Jerusalem.
Let’s leave aside all of the practical problems, like the fact that Abbas can’t speak for Hamas, the fact that there is no way to ensure that the Arabs would keep any bargain once Israel withdraws, the fact that Palestinian ideology calls for continued ‘resistance’ until ‘all of Palestine’ is ‘liberated’ (and ideology trumps development), the continued Arab insistence that the descendants of Arab refugees are Israel’s problem, and last but definitely not least, the instability of Syria and Egypt. Let’s just look at the implications of Kerry and Obama’s approach to borders.
Historically, Israel — or rather, the Jewish people — had a prima facie claim to the land in question, as expressed by the Palestine Mandate. The land remained disputed while under Jordanian control after 1948, when both sides agreed that the armistice lines had no political significance.
But after 1967, when it finally came to physically possess the land, Israel agreed to relinquish some of the disputed area to the Arab nations in return for a peace treaty, by accepting UNSC resolution 242.
One can argue, and one might be right, that Israel should have told the UN to go to hell, annexed all of Judea and Samaria, and expelled those Arabs who would not agree to be loyal to the state. But that didn’t happen.
Somewhere in the years since 1967, the intent of UNSC 242 that an Israel-Arab peace settlement would include “secure” boundaries for all states, and that Israel is not required to withdraw from all territory captured in 1967, seems to have been forgotten.
The Obama Administration has taken the radical position that all of Judea and Samaria belongs to the Arabs, and that they must be compensated for any land outside the 1949 line that becomes part of Israel! This contradicts the commitment the international community made to the Jews when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled, the consensus that the 1949 lines were not borders, and the intent of UNSC 242. This is what I mean when I say that the US is biased in favor of the Arabs.
The administration position is much more pro-Arab than that of the Bush Administration, which recognized that any border agreement had to be based on the Jewish and Arab populations, and not arbitrary lines (and which also rejected ‘right of return’). Unfortunately, the State Department, in a significant betrayal of its ally, has walked back statements to this effect made by President Bush.
So much for living up to commitments.