Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wasting Time on Palestinian Fantasies

By Alan Caruba

After the state of Israel declared its independence and sovereignty in 1948 it was attacked by its Arab “neighbors” repeatedly until they concluded that was a bad idea. The name Palestine comes from ancient Rome and, in more recent times from the former British Mandate to oversee the holy land dating back to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. There were no Palestinian citizens then, nor are there any now because Palestine is not a state, nor ever was.

So, in a world:

# where the Syrian regime has been slaughtering thousands of its own people,

# where the Egyptians just got rid of their second dictator in two years,

# where bombs are going off daily in Iraq,

# where the Iranians are getting closer every day to making their own nuclear weapons,

# where our Recession cum Depression is spreading in Europe and South America,

# where the Russians are making us look weak by hosting a spy,

WHY is our Secretary of State, John Kerry, flitting around the Middle East trying to get Israel to sign onto a 2002 Arab League “peace initiative”  when it is based on returning to the June 4, 1967 borders, including the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem? The discussions include “future Israeli-Palestinian land swaps” and the status of Palestinian “refugees” who are now into a second or third generation.

How can you be a refugee from a nation that has never existed? Why should the Israelis give you land when they did that in 2005 with the Gaza strip and were rewarded with daily rocket attacks? When did we stop agreeing that land won in war should be given back by the victor? Are we going to give back the southwestern states and California to Mexico? Only Israel, sixty-six years later, is expected to “give back” land conquered in the process of defeating its “Arab neighbors.”

At the heart of the question of Secretary Kerry’s current efforts is the fact that Palestine was never “a key to peace” in the Middle East. It was a convenient subterfuge that Arab states used to avoid having to engage in any serious negotiations or agreements with Israel. It could well be little more than a cover under which questions about Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Iran are under discussion.

On July 15, Wall Street Journal columnist, Bret Stephens, dared to express the truth in a piece titled “The Boring Palestinians.” He quoted Sufian Abu Zaida, who sits on the Fatah Revolutionary Council and had worked closely with Yasser Arafat, the inventor of the so-called Palestinian state.

“Honestly,” wrote Zaida, “no one ever dreamt we would reach this situation of concentration of authorities and senior positions in the hands of one person”, referring to Mahmoud Abbas. “The president today is the president of everything to do with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause. He is the president of the Fatah movement and general leader of the (security) forces. And as the legislative council is now suspended, he issues laws and has practically replaced the council.”

Again, I ask, why would Secretary Kerry waste his time on the question of what to do with the Palestinians when there are many other pressing diplomatic problems and challenges? It is on a par with his other priority, saving the planet from climate change.

In September 2011, the Palestinians tried to sneak in the door as a state by seeking recognition from the United Nations, but neither the General Assembly nor Security Council has the power to create states or grant formal “recognition” to aspirants.

The Palestinians do not meet any of the basic characteristics of a state as set forth in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States.

As the Convention makes clear, Palestine does not qualify as a state because it does not have a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, or the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Palestine as an independent, separate entity was the invention of Yasser Arafat. It has no capital. Fatah runs the West Bank. Gaza is run by Hamas. The only borders that exist are those the Israelis permit. It has no real economy or even its own currency. It is a beggar.

The land area claimed by the Palestinians was, prior to 1967, occupied by Jordan. After it lost a war, Israel became the occupying state. Indeed, Jordanian sovereignty of the lands was never recognized and it relinquished any claims to it. Israel’s occupation is entirely legal and the UN has never claimed it was not. Resolution 242 permits Israel to remain in occupation until there is an agreement on “secure and recognized borders.”

The Secretary’s current efforts likely have to do with far more important Middle Eastern issues and, no doubt, with President Obama’s poorly hidden enmity to Israel. In September 2009, he said “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” That’s like England saying it does not agree to the way the U.S. Revolution ended.

Neither Fatah, nor Hamas have any desire to (a) cooperate or (b) give up their mission to destroy Israel and claim its territory. That’s not going to happen. Secretary Kerry would be better off spending his time visiting Disneyland.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

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