I refer to the letter initiated by you and signed by 363 Israelis reading:
`We, Israelis who worry and care for the well-being of the state of Israel, believe that the long-term existence and security of Israel depends on the long-term existence and security of a Palestinian state. For this reason we, the undersigned, urge members of the UK Parliament to vote in favor of the motion to be debated on Monday 13th October 2014, calling on the British Government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel`.
I and very many other Israelis would have gladly signed your letter had it been slightly modified as below:
We, Israelis who worry and care for the well-being of Israelis, Arabs and all other demographic groups in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza urge the British Parliament to vote in favor of a motion promoting the early realization of a Palestine State alongside the State of Israel in terms of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 which are still valid.
With great respect it is surprising and disappointing that so many erudite personalities are prepared to be associated with the above unmodified document which calls for immediate UNQUALIFIED recognition of an entity which is intimately bound up with Hamas, an organization classified by the US and the EU as terrorist. An organization that closely resembles IS with its cruelty to fellow Palestinians and whose ultimate objective is an international caliphate as publicly declared in Arabic by Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Hamas interior minister, Fathi Hammad (endnote 1)
Significantly, unlike your unqualified call for immediate recognition of an undefined Palestine state the motion presented to the British parliament was far more realistically measured, referring as it does to a negotiated resolution of the conflict, rather than an imposed resolution as implied in your above letter and in your several published appeals to foreign governments to pressurize Israel. The motion reads:
That this House believes that the government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.
Also, more responsibly than your recommendation, the British resolution links recognition to the peace process as explained by Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood who said “the UK reserved the right to recognise Palestine when it was appropriate for the peace process”.
You will recall that resolution 242 calls for
“withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”
One must ask in all sincerity how you can consider supporting a Palestine state while it continues to reject the crucial requirement specified in resolution 242 namely, termination of all claims or states of belligerency. From public statements by Palestinian notables in the new unity government it is regrettably obvious that this precondition is not yet on the cards as witnessed by the public statements of Palestinian notables including Meshaal. (endnote 2)
For example in the interview with Charlie Rose of CBS News last July, Rose asked Meshaal directly whether he would recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state provided it was not occupying Palestinian territories, Meshaal responded with an emphatic “NO”.
Watch the short clip below:
Most Israelis including the leaders of all the main political parties in Israel as well as many Palestinians acknowledge that Israel will retain the major settlement blocs in the proposed two state solution. (endnote 3)
In the circumstances, I wonder how many of the signatories to your letter realize that contrary to 242 which does not require Israel to withdraw from “all” the territories, you nevertheless advocate that Israel withdraw completely to the pre-1967 line Green Line with all its serious implications. As you probably know, the word “all” was deliberately omitted after lengthy debate as explained by Lord Caradon one of the principal persons responsible for drafting the resolution. Furthermore on October 29, 1969, for example, the British Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons that the withdrawal envisaged by the resolution would not be from “all the territories.” When asked to explain the British position later, Lord Caradon said:
“It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.” “territorial adjustments in their peace settlement encompassing less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be notably insecure.” (See Resolution 242 After Twenty Years by Arthur J. Goldberg,who was the then US ambassador to the UN) (endnote 3)
While 242 refers to the “inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war” it is obvious that this does not apply to a defensive action as in the case of the Six Day War. In his work “Israel and Palestine – Assault on the Law of Nations” Professor Julius Stone wrote:
“International law forbids acquisition by unlawful force, but not where, as in the case of Israel’s self-defense in 1967, the entry on the territory was lawful. It does not so forbid it, in particular, when the force is used to stop an aggressor, for the effect of such prohibition would be to guarantee to all potential aggressors that, even if their aggression failed, all territory lost in the attempt would be automatically returned to them. Such a rule would be absurd to the point of lunacy. There is no such rule”.
It is also important to recall what the world has forgotten, namely that Israel has already complied substantially with its obligations to withdraw in terms of 242 having withdrawn from 91% of the territories when it gave up the Sinai and having disengaged from Gaza.
And it is also highly relevant to recall Yizhak Rabin’s declaration just weeks before his tragic assassination when he said:
At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel — Muslim, Christian, Druze and others — will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.
and when he added:
A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six Day War.
D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.
Significantly in a video message to the November 2009 Rabin Rally in Tel Aviv, President Obama urged us to follow in Rabin’s footsteps. (endnote 4)
This open letter is being published as will the considered response i hope to receive from you.