Palestine – European Union Finally Seeing Reality
By: David Singer
The veiled threat by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to approach the United Nations (UN) Security Council to seek its consent to the establishment of a new Arab state between Jordan, Israel and Egypt has received the short shrift it deserved from the European Union (EU).
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt whose country holds the European Unionâ€™s rotating Presidency said on 17 November in Brussels:
“I don’t think we are there yet. I would hope that we would be in a position to recognise a Palestinian state but there has to be one first, so I think it is somewhat premature.
The PA appears to have a totally misconceived notion of the UN as a body that can create states rather than give recognition to States once they have been established – for the purposes of admitting them to membership of the UN.
Mere declarations of statehood are insufficient to receive recognition by the UN and admission to membership.
Applicants seeking admission to the UN need to establish:
1. The borders of the new state
2. Complete and effective control within those borders
It is painstakingly obvious that the PA went way out on a limb when PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat declared:
“We have reached a decision to go to the UN Security Council to ask for recognition of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital within June-1967 borders. We are going to seek support from EU countries, Russia and other countries.”
The PA has no authority or control in Gaza and only has control of about 40% of the West Bank with Israelâ€™s current consent.
The â€œJune – 1967 bordersâ€ are not borders – only armistice lines agreed with Jordan and Egypt who occupied Gaza and the West Bank from 1948 until they were lost to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.
The last recognized sovereign occupier of the West Bank and Gaza was Great Britain as Mandatory Authority under the Mandate for Palestine conferred on it by the now defunct League of Nations.
However the provisions of the Mandate in relation to the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Gaza and the West Bank â€œwithout prejudice to the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communitiesâ€ living there – still prevail today by virtue of Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
As in the case of the PAâ€˜s refusal to resume negotiations with Israel on the future sovereignty of the West Bank without preconditions, the current threatened approach to the UN appears to have been some public relations ploy to put pressure on Israel and keep the cause of a Palestinian State in the media spotlight.
It has in fact achieved the opposite result and blown up in the PAâ€™s face.
The PA is clearly desperate and frustrated as it unsuccessfully pursues alternative diplomatic paths to keep the â€œtwo stateâ€ solution alive.
Negotiations have hit a brick wall as the PA refuses to change its negotiating stance of the last 16 years by even the slightest concession or admission that Israel also has claims at least as good as the PA to sovereignty in at those parts of the West Bank in which Jews currently reside.
There are a few other home truths the PA seem to have ignored in its proposed UN tour de force:
1. The Arabs were offered – and refused – a state by the UN in 1947 in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza plus additional land in what is now Israel.
2. The Arabs could have created a state in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza between 1948-1967 when not one Jew lived there ( having all been driven out by the Arabs) and it was under complete Arab occupation and control – yet failed to do so.
3. The current demand that Israel now cede 100% of the West Bank and Gaza in the current changed environment of the Middle East to give the PA what could have been achieved 40- 60 years ago is not going to happen.
4. UN Security Council resolution 242 has made it clear that the 1967 armistice lines must be replaced by secure and recognized boundaries that ensure Israelâ€™s safety and security.
5. Negotiations involving PA territorial concessions in the West Bank to Israel is the only possible way forward. If the PA refuses to offer any such concessions then they can kiss goodbye to any new state being created. The opportunities existing between 1947-1967 will not be returning in 2009 or at any time thereafter.
6. The 500000 Jews now living in the West Bank are legally entitled to do so by virtue of the legal rights conferred on them under the League of Nations and United Nations Charter.
7. The PA rejected two Israeli proposals in 2000 and 2008 that would have seen the PA receive sovereignty in 90-100% of the West Bank or its territorial equivalent in area. This offer is unlikely to be renewed by the current Israeli government in the light of Israelâ€™s invasion of Gaza in January, the subsequent Goldstone Commission Report and the continuing power struggle between Hamas and Fatah that threatens to divide the West bank and Gaza into warring fiefdoms for the hearts and minds of the Arab residents who live in both areas.
8. If the territorial division of the West Bank cannot be agreed upon then discussion on more difficult issues like refugees, Jerusalem, water and demilitarization will be a complete waste of time.
Arab rejectionism for the last 62 years has come – and will continue to come – at a high price.
The Arabs have had 90 years to mature their views since the small territory of “Palestine” was slated for reconstitution of the Jewish National Home and severed from the other 99.99% of the land freed from the Ottoman Empire by the British and the French and designated for Arab self-determination.
The EUâ€™s instant dismissal of the PAâ€™s proposed approach to the UN serves as a warning notice to the PA to return to the negotiating table and be more flexible in its negotiations with Israel if it ever wants to see the two-state option achieved.
The EU has at long last injected some air of reality into the Middle East. Its about time it did.