Palestine – Mediterranean Union Misses Making Its Mark


By: David Singer

An International Meeting in support of Israeli- Palestinian Peace was organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Union and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People [CEIRPP] of the United Nations in Malta on 12 and 13 February.

The Union now includes all 27 member states of the European Union, along with 16 partners across the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The meeting turned out to be the usual talkfest in flogging a dead horse – the creation of a 22nd Arab State between Jordan, Israel and Egypt – also known as “the two-state solution“. This solution has been unsuccessfully pursued for the last 16 years and there is no possible chance that such a resolution will be achieved at any time in the future.

The two-state solution could have been availed of in 1937,1947, between 1948-1967, in 2000/2001 and 2008 but was rejected on each occasion by the Arabs. It will continue to be rejected by the Arabs who are not prepared to tolerate Israel gaining sovereignty in any part of the West Bank.

Despite the hopelessness of ever reaching the two-state solution – those present in Malta still concluded in their final communique :

“The Organizers appreciated that the participants had stated their firm commitment to ending Israeli occupation which started on 4 June 1967 in order to achieve a permanent two-State solution in which Israel and Palestine would live side by side in peace and security within mutually recognized borders. …

The Organizers support the firm stance by the international community not to recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to occupied Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

These statements go to the heart of explaining why the two-state solution can never be achieved for the following reasons:

* Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as a consequence of the Six Day War in 1967 is conveniently forgotten

* The use of the term “borders” is clearly wrong. There were in 1967 – and still are in 2010 – only armistice lines – a legacy of the Arab League‘s refusal to recognise Israel and settle the final boundaries between Israel, Jordan and Egypt following the conclusion of hostilities in 1948.

* No recognition is given to Security Council resolution 242 which does not require Israel to withdraw from the entire West Bank but only to withdraw to secure and recognized boundaries

* The statement ignores the Palestinan Authority’s continuing refusal to surrender its claim to even one square metre of the West Bank to Israel.

* America has recognized that a change to the 1967 armistice lines is necessary given the changed circumstances on the ground where 500000 Jews now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The notion that these Jews can be forcibly evicted from their homes is racist and offensive.

* No account has been taken of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine which provides that the West Bank and East Jerusalem were to form part of the area within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted and that such right has been preserved by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

No doubt the tone and language of the final communique was inevitable given the involvement of the CEIRPP, whose participation ensured that no attention would be paid to Arab intransigence and lost opportunities over 62 years – which has been largely responsible for any progress in finalizing the two-state solution.

What was particularly interesting was the frequent reference to the importance, observance and respect for the rule of international law in resolving the conflict to achieve the two-state solution. Such a reference appears on six separate occasions in the communique.

Yet the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter didn’t rate a mention in Malta.

Strangely enough these critical documents were also omitted from inclusion by the United Nations Secretary General in the brief submitted to the World Court when seeking the advisory opinion of the Court on the legality of the construction of Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank.

One wonders whether any of these august bodies will eventually take the time to read the Mandate and article 80 and fully understand what was determined by the League of Nations in 1922 following the Treaty of Sevres in 1920.

This is not ancient history but has been kept alive and is relevant today by virtue of Article 80.

Whilst the United Nations and its member States flagrantly breach the terms of the UN Charter pursuing a course of conduct that is completely devoid of compliance with and acknowledgement of international law, any hope of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Jews and Arabs relating to the territory once called “Palestine” will be impossible.

The reference by the Malta Meeting to the West Bank as “occupied Palestinian land” rather than “territory disputed between Jew and Arabs” further indicates an Arab bias that needs to be eradicated if the Mediterranean Union wishes to play any future role in resolving the conflict.

A hint of things to come was apparent in the following terms of the final communique:

“They [the participants] expressed their hope that the ten-month freeze of settlement expansion declared by the Israeli Government would be comprehensive, extended to East Jerusalem and retained indefinitely. “

Israel will no doubt be subjected to intense pressure to comply with this demand – irrespective of whether the Palestinian Authority resumes negotiations within the ten months time frame or not.

Rather than exploring new ideas to end the conflict, the Malta Meeting trotted out the old and familiar phrases that have formed the vocabulary of Middle East diplomacy for decades.

In doing do the Mediterranean Union has shown itself unable to break free from the failures of the past and embrace new and innovative ideas – such as the return of Jordan to the West Bank – which might offer some hope to resolving what President Obama has described as “an intractable problem”.

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