‘With the two-state solution… Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the chosen people? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse…. Then we will move forward.”
– Abbas Zaki, senior PLO official. (ANB TV, Lebanon, May 7, 2009)
Two recent events have once again propelled Palestinian statehood into the forefront of media spotlight, after several months of it being overshadowed by other events like developments in Ukraine, the war in Gaza and the televised barbarity of Islamic State.
One was the statement by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (subsequently somewhat equivocally revised) that his country would recognize a Palestinian state. The other was the British Parliament’s (nonbinding, but in the eyes of some, historic) vote on recognition of statehood for the Palestinians.
In light of these incidents, I was invited to appear on i24news news and participate in a discussion with a Palestinian interlocutor on the prospects for, and the prudence of, establishing a Palestinian state.
Much of what follows reflects the things I said during that 20-minute debate – and the things I didn’t, but would have, had time permitted.
I began by asserting that it should be obvious to anyone with an iota of intellectual integrity that establishing a Palestinian state, in any conceivable configuration, is incompatible with the security and survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
It is incomprehensible for anyone who holds this view of Israel’s role in the world not to strive to have the issue of Palestinian statehood removed from the international discourse.
After all, the recent round of fighting in Gaza should have brought home dramatically the perils involved in a Palestinian entity with a short 50-km. border, abutting the sparsely populated, mainly rural South.
Thus, little imagination is required to grasp the horrific implications for Israel entailed in the establishment of yet another Palestinian entity in Judea-Samaria (a.k.a. “West Bank”), but now with a 500-km. border, abutting the heavily populated urban center of the country – with Ben-Gurion, Israel’s only international airport, easily within mortar range.
Just what the significance of this latter element is should be vividly underscored by two disturbing features of the last clash in Gaza. First, Ben-Gurion was closed down by the landing of a single stray rocket in its approximate vicinity. Second, the Iron Dome defense system, highly effective against Kassam and Grad rockets, was markedly less so against mortar fire.
Little imagination is required to envision the disastrously disruptive consequences for Israel’s international air contacts were its only gateway subjected to incessant – even intermittent – short-range mortar barrages from nearby locations, far more accurate than any occasional rocket launched from the remote Gaza Strip.
Much the same could be said for the country’s land transport system – with the Trans-Israel Highway (Route 6) running for much of its length immediately adjacent to, and well within rifle range from, any prospective frontier.
Moreover, the impact of this chilling prospect is magnified by the fact that, unlike Gaza, much of the territory earmarked for a future Palestinian state comprises the limestone highlands which dominate Israel’s urbanized Coastal Plain. In it lie virtually all of Israel’s major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations/systems (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80 percent of the civilian population and commercial activity.
All of these could be disrupted at will, at minimal cost, by any hostile forces, whether regular or renegade, deployed on the western slopes of these highlands.
Clearly, recurrent disruption of their functioning – or even a tangible threat thereof – would make the maintenance of socioeconomic routine untenable.
‘Not since Dr. Goebbels…’
Amplifying the dire danger that a Palestinian state would pose for Israel is the undisguised intention of the Palestinians, of all political persuasions, to exploit such a state as a platform for further assaults on the Jewish state, until “Palestine,” from the River to the Sea, is totally free of the “Zionist invader.”
To convey the manifest mendacity of the Palestinian position, I drew on a quotation from an opinion column titled “Palestinian Lies” that appeared in Haaretz, towards the end of the near-hegemonic era of the Labor Party, then headed by Yitzhak Rabin: “Of all Palestinian lies there is no lie greater or more crushing than that which calls for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank… Not since the time of Dr. Goebbels has there been a case in which continual repetition of a lie has borne such great fruits…”
There was a tangible sense of surprise in the i24news studio when I revealed that these were not the words of some rightwing religious radical, but of Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, who was elected to the Knesset soon after penning the cited article, served for a decade as an MK for the far-left dovish Meretz party, and held the post of minister of education.
One narrative; five myths
I took the firm position that Rubinstein’s assessment of the veracity of Palestinian claims is essentially accurate, and that the Palestinian narrative is nothing but a giant hoax, a gigantic political sleight-of-hand, comprising five transparent myths: Myth of Palestinian Peoplehood; Myth of Palestinian Nationhood; Myth of Palestinian Homeland; Myth of Palestinian Statelessness; and Myth of Palestinian Refugees.
I have discussed these myths in some detail in previous columns. All are easily refutable, indeed freely admitted, falsehoods, intended to blur the fact that the two-state prescription is a two-stage blueprint for the annihilation of Israel.
When my Palestinian interlocutor in the debate charged that my position merely reflected my own, uninformed prejudices, I replied that quite the opposite is true.
My contentions can all be conclusively corroborated by deeds, declarations and documents of the Palestinians.
I began by citing former Arab MK Azmi Bishara, described as a “Palestinian intellectual,” and forced to flee Israel to avoid investigation of alleged acts of treason during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
One could hardly find a more resounding renunciation of Palestinian nationhood than that provided by Bishara when, in a 1994 Channel 2 program, he astounded his Israeli co-participants with the following assertion: “I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation at all. I think there is an Arab nation. I always thought so… I think it’s a colonialist invention – a Palestinian nation. When were there any Palestinians? Where did it come from?” Indeed, when? Indeed, where? A swift tour d’horizon of decades of what prominent Palestinians have done, said and written will convincingly confirm the flagrant falsehood of the Palestinian narrative and the sinister subterfuge on which their demand for statehood is founded.
Five myths (cont.)
For example, senior Palestinian leaders have admitted – openly, consistently and continually – that Palestinians are not, and never have been, a distinct people identifiably different from others in the Arab world (Myth of Peoplehood).
But not only do the Palestinians admit that they are not a discrete socio-ethnic entity – i.e. a people – they concede that as a political unit – i.e. a nation – their demands and aspirations are neither genuine nor permanent (Myth of Nationhood) and are merely a contrivance to undermine Jewish nationhood.
The Palestinians explicitly eschewed any sovereign claims to the “West Bank” (and Gaza), only incorporating them in their territorial claims after these territories came under Israeli control (Myth of Homeland), clearly vindicating the view that the concept of Palestinian “national identity” is a fabricated construct, conjured up to further the Arab quest to repudiate Jewish national claims.
Moreover, the Palestinians are “stateless” not as a result of callous Israeli malfeasance, but of deliberate Arab malevolence (Myth of Statelessness). It is the Arabs who either stripped them of citizenship they already had (as King Hussein did in 1988), or precluded them from acquiring citizenship they desire (as per the Arab League directive).
Finally, regarding the issue of refugees, it is becoming increasingly difficult to conceal the fact that the status of Palestinian “refugees” is totally different from that of all other refugees on the face of the globe (Myth of Refugees). Were the same criterion that applies to all other cases, applied to the Palestinians, the number of refugees would plunge dramatically – from around 5 million claimed today, to fewer than 50,000.
The malice behind the myths
Arguably the most dramatically revealing and comprehensive declaration as to the malicious mendacity that underlies Palestinian claims to statehood was provided by the late Zuheir Mohsin, a senior member of the PLO Executive, in an interview to the Dutch newspaper Trouw.
It is a declaration frequently cited by opponents of Palestinian statehood, yet seldom repudiated by its proponents. I, too, have referred to several portions of it in the past, but in the present international context, I feel there is great value in presenting it in its entirety.
In the interview headlined:
“We are only Palestinians for political reasons,” Moshin stated frankly: “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.
We are all part of ONE people, the Arab nation… We are ONE people. Only for political reasons we carefully underwrite our Palestinian identity. Because it is of national interest for the Arabs to advocate the existence of Palestinians to balance Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new tool to continue the fight against Israel and for Arab unity.
“A separate Palestinian entity needs to fight for the national interest in the then remaining occupied territories. The Jordanian government cannot speak for Palestinians in Israel, Lebanon or Syria. Jordan is a state with specific borders. It cannot lay claim on – for instance – Haifa or Jaffa, while I AM entitled to Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem and Beersheba… The Palestinian state would be entitled to represent all Palestinians in the Arab world and elsewhere. Once we have accomplished all of our rights in all of Palestine, we must not postpone the unification of Jordan and Palestine for one second,” Moshin said.
Two stages, not two states
It is hard to conceive of a more brazen confession that the true goal of the two state principle is the two-stage destruction of Israel.
It would be a perilous error to dismiss this as unrepresentative of mainstream Palestinian opinion today.
Nowhere is it more clearly articulated than in the Palestinian National Covenant, still posted on the official “State of Palestine” site hosted by the UN. It proclaims: “Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947, and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time…
“Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history…”
Article 12 lays out the temporary nature of Palestinian identity in the staged strategy for the “liberation” of “Palestine” defined as “an indivisible territorial unit, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate.”
It states: “The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab Nation… [and] believe in Arab unity… however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity…”
The present stage? See what I mean by two stages? Stage one: Create Palestine.
Stage two: Eliminate Israel – precisely as per Abbas Zaki in the introductory excerpt.
The real tragedy
All of this is – or at least, should be –painfully obvious. Yet, Israel has failed – even refused – to make this case to the world.
This is inexcusable, incomprehensible and unacceptable.
For as Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, correctly underscored in bemoaning the Swedish initiative, (Jerusalem Post, October 14), doing so is a “strategic imperative” for the nation.
It is one that Israel has failed dismally to address. That is, perhaps, the greatest tragedy of all.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic- israel.org).