KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
September 15, 2005 - י"א
DEALING WITH POST-DISENGAGEMENT PRESSURES
A call for intellectual honesty
About the Author
In the aftermath
of the disengagement from Gaza, intense pressure from all quarters is
building up to end the occupation and determine Israel's borders.
Unfortunately, Israel's inept public
relations have, by default, given the Palestinians a head start in winning
the support of international public opinion and prejudging the outcome.
In assuming that the justice of its cause was self-evident, Israel failed
to challenge fundamentally incorrect statements, which have been repeated
so often by Palestinian spokespeople, that they have been absorbed into
conventional wisdom and accepted as fact by international politicians and
It has therefore become vital at this
late stage, to identify the salient indisputable facts relating to
arguments, which are already being raised. Particular care needs to
be taken to deal with the technique of 'Begging The Question' in
which the matter to be proved is already assumed in the language used in
the premise of the argument. Israeli interviewees on TV and radio are
frequently guilty of failing to challenge statements which prejudge
the issue under discussion, such as 'Palestinian terror will cease when
the illegal occupation ends'. This statement which is regularly made as a
self-evident truth, not only ignores the undisputable fact that Arab
terrorism was rampant prior to 1967 and even prior to 1948. (Endnote1) it
also assumes that the 'occupation' is illegal, ignoring the fact that
while the occupation may be considered undesirable, inadvisable or unwise
it is not illegal in the opinions of eminent international jurists
The late Eugene W. Rostow, who played
a leading role in producing the famous Resolution 242, as well as the late
Professor Julius Stone, one of the twentieth century's leading authorities
on the Law of Nations, both pronounced that the Jewish right of settlement
in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing
Palestinian population to live there. (Endnote 2) According to Rostow ,
the Armistice Lines of 1949, which are part of the West Bank boundary,
represent nothing but the position of the contending armies when the final
cease-fire was achieved in the War of Independence. And the Armistice
Agreements specifically provide, except in the case of Lebanon, that the
demarcation lines can be changed only by agreement when the parties move
from armistice to peace. Resolution 242 is based on that provision of the
Armistice Agreements and states certain criteria that would justify
changes in the demarcation lines when the parties make peace.
While intellectual honesty requires
open examination of all evidence, no matter where it leads,
acknowledgement of authoritative arguments that the occupation is legal,
does not preclude advocating withdrawal from part or all of the West Bank
in order to achieve a peaceful settlement. It is however, intellectually
dishonest to use the invalid assumption that the occupation is illegal to
bolster a case for such withdrawal.
The mantra 'end the
occupation' is in itself wooly and should not be used without
clarification of the intended meaning. Some assume it refers only to
territory gained by Israel in 1967. Others refer to all land beyond the
1947 partition boundaries. But the insurmountable obstacle to any
long-term peaceful solution is that many Palestinian and Arab spokespeople
openly declare that there is no place for Israel at all and that they will
continue their attacks until Israel ceases to exist. Until his last days,
the late Chairman Arafat wore a badge on his uniform depicting a
Palestinian state, which included the entire area of present-day Israel,
from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. This strategic Palestinian
goal goes a long way to explain the dramatic rise in terror attacks while
peace talks were in progress during 1993 and 1994.
- Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the
West Bank should not be seen as correction of an illegal situation.
Rather it is a declaration, that despite that fact that Israel's
presence in these territories was justified by the circumstances which
prompted the 1967 war and legal in terms of international law,
withdrawals and territorial adjustments have been made and more will
be offered in a sincere effort to attain a meaningful peace.
Also misleading, is the repeated call
to return the territories to the Palestinians, implying that the West Bank
and Gaza were taken by Israel from them. Intellectual honesty
requires acknowledgement of the historical fact that the Palestinians
never controlled either the West bank nor Gaza.
Jordan illegally entered the West Bank
and East Jerusalem in 1948 and remained in occupation until 1967. It
attempted to annex the territory in 1951, but that annexation was not
generally recognized, not even by Egypt nor any other Arab state.
Gaza was occupied by Egypt prior to 1967 but Egypt, unlike Jordan never
attempted to annex it. Interestingly, Egypt did not call for return of
Gaza in its peace agreement with Israel. Jordan no longer makes any claim
to the West Bank and as the only remaining claimants are Israel and the
Palestinians, the most accurate and realistic description of the West Bank
and Gaza is disputed territory, whose final disposition will be determined
by negotiation. It is ironical that neither Jordan nor Egypt offered to
create a Palestinian state in these territories when they were in a
position to do so.
Very few indeed, even among the most
ardent advocates of 'ending the occupation' call for Israel to relinquish,
the Western Wall and access to Mount Scopus which had been inaccessible to
Israel prior to 1967. If suggestions for a settlement are to be
meaningful, the misleading expression 'end the occupation' must be avoided
and replaced by the concept of 'territorial compromise' as contemplated in
the careful wording of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. These
resolutions require the Arab states and Israel to make peace, and that
when "a just and lasting peace" is reached in the Middle East,
Israel should withdraw from some but not all of the territory it occupied
in the course of the 1967 war. The Resolutions leave it to the parties to
agree on the peace borders.
Much has been written about the
implications of resolution 242 and if we are to avoid the distortions
introduced by propagandists, obviously, the most reliable source from whom
to seek clarification are the persons who drafted it. In drafting
resolution 242, both British Ambassador to the UN in 1967, Lord Caradon,
and American Ambassador, Arthur Goldberg, deliberately omitted a demand
for Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders. In an interview in the
Beirut Daily Star on June 12, 1974, Lord Caradon stated:
- "It would have been wrong to demand that
Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967 because these positions
were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places
where the soldiers on each side happened to be on the day the fighting
stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't
demand that the Israelis return to them, and I think we were right not
Articles by the Late Eugene W. Rostow, US Undersecretary of State for
Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969 who played a leading role in
producing the famous Resolution 242.
b. Are the settlements legal? Resolved. (The New
Republic, October 21, 1991).
Historical Approach to the Issue of Legality of Jewish Settlement
Activity (The New Republic April 23, 1990). http://www.take-a-pen.org/english/Articles/Art27012004.htm
1. In the years 1951-1955, for example, Arab terrorists killed
922 Israelis. Typical was the March 1954 ambush of a bus traveling from
Eilat to Tel Aviv, killing the driver and wounding most of the passengers.
The terrorists then boarded the bus, and shot each passenger, one by one,
spitting on their bodies.
2. An authoritative clear analysis of the legal status of the West bank
and Gaza in terms of international law, by Australian lawyer, Ian
Lacey, may be downloaded from http://www.aijac.org.au/resources/reports/international_law.pdf
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