Palestine – The Lieberman Factor


By: Guest Authors

By David Singer

It has not taken long for media commentators to jump on the bandwagon and label the biggest winner in the Israeli elections – Avigdor Lieberman – as an “anti-Arab politician” (Scotsman 12 February) and a person “who holds abhorrent views” (Telegraph 12 February).

This form of generalised character assassination should be rejected and the media should be required to justify the policies of Lieberman that lead to those kind of general comments and labelling to be made.

The Telegraph has totally misrepresented and distorted Mr Lieberman’s policy in relation to resolving competing Arab and Jewish claims to the last 6% of the land once called Palestine – the West Bank and Gaza – in which sovereignty still remains unallocated between Arabs and Jews more than 60 years after the other 94% was divided between Israel and Jordan.

Mr Lieberman’s policy on this issue was stated by the Telegraph in the following terms:

“Mr Lieberman thinks that what we call the “peace process” has been a mistake from the start. Put simply, Mr Lieberman rejects every facet of President Barack Obama’s thinking on the Middle East. When the nationalist leader has real power in Israel, the country could find itself on a collision course with America’s new administration.

The following official policy of Lieberman’s party – Yisrael Beytenu – however tells a different story:

“Trading Spaces Moving The Border Between Us, Not Among Us.

The responsibility for primarily Arab areas such as Um-Al-Fahm and “the triangle” [presently in Israel - ed. comment] will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. In parallel Israel will officially annex Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria [the West bank - ed. comment]. Israel is our home. Palestine is their home.”

This policy does not reject – indeed it confirms – President Obama’s thinking on the Middle East calling for a “two state solution” involving the creation of a new Arab State in the West Bank between Israel and Jordan.

Lieberman is not the rejectionist politician on “the peace process” that the Telegraph would ask its readers to believe .

Lieberman and Obama are clearly united in wanting a two state solution to the conflict resulting in the creation of a 22nd Arab state between Israel and Jordan.

Lieberman’s policy affirms that Yisrael Beytenu does not support Israel’s return to the 1967 armistice lines – incorrectly called “the 1967 borders” by the Telegraph. This particular use of incorrect terminology – embraced by Arab negotiators – serves as a stark reminder that you don’t always believe what you read.

Lieberman is not unique in embracing this policy.

His view is shared by:
1. every major political party in Israel,
2. President Bush and the former Israeli Government in the Roadmap negotiations and
3 is enshrined in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.

President Obama will not retreat from this position, ignore the Security Council Resolution and demand Israel cede 100% of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. The facts on the ground will simply not allow this to happen. 500000 Jews cannot be kicked out of their homes in the West Bank.

Indeed the reality is that no two state solution can possibly happen until the Arabs accept the inevitability that there will be no return by Israel to the 1967 armistice lines..

President Obama will need to bring the Arabs to this realisation if he is to succeed where President Bush failed. Given the intransigent stance by the Arab League on this issue for the last 40 years it would indeed be a miracle if he could bring about a change in Arab thinking on this fundamental issue.

Lieberman’s policy to cede Israeli sovereign territory to the Palestinian Authority that presently contains solely Arab residents in exchange for Israeli sovereignty over West Bank land that presently contains solely Jewish residents has come in for a fair amount of unjustified criticism.

Yet this policy calling for the separation – as far as is practically possible – of the Jewish and Arab populations has been at the heart of every proposal for partitioning Palestine between the Arabs and Jews since the Mandate for Palestine was first formulated in 1920.

It was the same policy that led to the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947.

The Peel Commission in 1937 eloquently summed up the benefits of partition in the following terms:

“The advantages to the Arabs of Partition on the lines we have proposed may be summarized as follows:–

(i) They obtain their national independence and can co-operate on an equal footing with the Arabs of the neighbouring countries in the cause of Arab unity and progress.

(ii) They are finally delivered from the fear of being swamped by the Jews, and from the possibility of ultimate subjection to Jewish rule.”

“The advantages of Partition to the Jews may be summarized as follows:–

(i) Partition secures the establishment of the Jewish National Home and relieves it from the possibility of its being subjected in the future to Arab rule.

(ii) Partition enables the Jews in the fullest sense to call their National Home their own; for it converts it into a Jewish State. Its citizens will be able to admit as many Jews into it as they themselves believe can be absorbed. They will attain the primary objective of Zionism–a Jewish nation, planted in Palestine, giving its nationals the same status in the world as other nations give theirs. They will cease at last to live a minority life.”

Lieberman’s policies tread well established precedents for resolving the Arab – Jewish conflict in former Palestine.

Perhaps media like the Telegraph should take the time and make the effort to read and understand Lieberman’s policy rather than engage in sensationalist journalism that only hinders rather than enhances the prospect of a resolution of this ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews.

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