Letters to the editor

Against the Palestinian statehood bid

Re: “In defence of statehood bid” (Oct. 4, 2011).

Dear Editors,

Although Omer Aziz neatly lays the burden of a failed peace process on Israel, his analysis is problematic as it fails to address some fundamental issues, such as the history of Palestinian rejectionism, most recently exemplified by the Palestinian UN gambit this past month.

The United States does not oppose the UN gambit because of a Jewish lobby, as Aziz suggests. Do Arab countries and Europe support Palestinians because of an Arab lobby? Introducing conspiracy theories and quoting John Mearsheimer, who recently endorsed a book on Holocaust denial, only serves to cast aspersions on Aziz, not Israel.

The United States opposes the unilateral declaration because it understands that in going to the UN, the Palestinian leadership is violating previous international agreements, avoiding recognition of Israel and negotiations with the Jewish state.

The UN bid is the latest manifestation of a history of Palestinian rejectionism that is too often ignored. The issue is not the creation of a Palestinian state but the intolerance of a Jewish one. Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and went to war with Israel in 1948 and again in 1956, 1967 and 1973.

In an interesting take on history at complete odds with the historical record, Aziz claims the West bank and Gaza were seized by force by Israel in 1967.

Israel in fact repelled, not instigated, the united Arab attack on the State of Israel and captured the West Bank and Gaza in a defensive war. Importantly, this Arab military defeat led to the “the 3 No’s” of the Arab Summit Khartoum Conference of 1967: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel. That is, any attempt by Israel to exchange land for peace with the Palestinians subsequent to the war, as has been successfully accomplished with Egypt and Jordan, was rejected.

Today, Abbas brazenly demands a unilateral return to the 1949 armistice lines that were drawn as a result of going to war against Israel repeatedly, without offering negotiations, peace or recognition of Israel in return. In 2000, 2001 and 2008 Israel made comprehensive offers to the Palestinians which gave almost 100 per cent of the West bank, all of Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. This was rejected first by Arafat then Abbas.

In 2000 and 2005, Israel withdrew unilaterally from South Lebanon and Gaza respectively, for peace. Both regions have since served as bases of terror. Today, Israel is naturally wary about the consequences of unilaterally withdrawing from land without first negotiating and securing peace.

Aziz claims Israel is an obstacle to peace, but cannot advance an example of Palestinian efforts toward peace, and with reason.

Abbas outrightly rejects recognition of a Jewish state. He has formed a unity government with the terror group Hamas. He has not lived up to his committments of restraining from incitement in school textbooks and the media.

The Arab spring should indeed come to Palestinians. However, it should be accompanied with peace, recognition and negotiations with Israel.

Michelle Whiteman, JD ’08


Dear Editors,

In 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a 10-month freeze on all settlement construction in the West Bank. This was an uprecedented attempt to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians didn’t respond, as the freeze failed to include the suburban settlements around East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, reunited during the six-day war when Israel liberated the other half of the city from Jordanian rule in a war of self-defense.

Abbas has two preconditions for negotiation with Israel: freeze settlements, including East Jerusalem, or recognize Palestine on pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital. Either way, the problem hinders on Jerusalem.

Netanyahu won’t freeze settlements again after the 2009 disappointment. Further, he can’t recognize pre-1967 lines without losing bargaining power on security.

Security is of great importance to Israelis who live in areas susceptible to attack. Iran supplies weapons to radical groups targeting Israel, and Rockets fired from the Judean hills in the West Bank could hit Ben Gurion airport, Israel’s only international airport.

Any agreement must involve Palestinian accommodation for Israel’s security. Israel’s options include controlling key mountaintops, demilitarizing Palestine or controlling airspace over Palestine. Recognizing pre-1967 lines before negotiations limits the possibility of bargaining the mountaintops for airspace or mountaintops for a demilitarized Palestine. If preconditions are structured so Israel can’t attain its goals in a peace, why negotiate?

The UN declaration is unproductive. It is an attempt to bypass negotiations and avoid compromising with the goals of Israelis. Abbas should drop his preconditions and enter negotiations.

On Sept. 14 a reporter asked Palestinian ambassador to the U.S. Maen Areikat whether Jews could live in an independent Palestinian state. He said, “I think it will be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated.” After 44 years, do we really want religious intolerance returning to Jerusalem?

Alexander Rotman, ArtSci ’13
President, Queen’s Israel on Campus

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