Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

On January 1, 2015, the New York Times editorial page led with a piece titled

The Palestinians Desperation Move.

The opinion piece advanced the case that acting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must be frustrated in his mission to create a new Palestinian State.

…Creating a State?

Desperate people take what they can. They view their options as limited and prospects as weak. They seize any opportunities to advance their main goal, whatever that might be.

Witness early Zionists agreeing to any size and configuration of a Jewish state, despite their dream for a larger state based on the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. They voted “yes” to a United Nations partition in 1947. They voted “yes” to greater Jerusalem and greater Bethlehem being international cities.

The Arabs, on the other hand, consistently voted “no” at every juncture.

  • They launched riots in 1936-9 to stop Jewish immigration and creation of the Jewish state
  • The Arabs voted no to any partition of the land in 1937
  • Voted “No” to the 1947 UN Partition plan
  • Joined a war with five Arab armies to destroy Israel in 1948
  • Aligned with Arab armies again in 1967 to destroy Israel
  • Said “No” to recognition of Israel; “No” to peace with Israel; “No” to negotiations with Israel in Khartoum in 1967
  • “No” to the US President Clinton’s plan to create a Palestinian state in September 2000
  • Voted for Hamas to 58% of the Palestinian parliament, a group which is rabidly anti-Semitic and calls for the destruction of Israel and a new Palestine over the entire region
  • Gave no response to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s two-state proposal in 2007
    • Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi described “the maximum proposed by Olmert did not approach the minimum acceptable that Abu Mazen needed to reach an agreement.
  • An insistence on setting pre-conditions before peace talks would even commence under US President Obama in 2009
  • Abbas waited nine months into the ten-month settlement freeze to begin negotiations with the Israelis
  • Advanced a ridiculous narrative that Jews living in the area makes a Palestinian state “non-viable”
  • Abbas refused to advance talks with Israeli PM Netanyahu in March 2014, and opted to unilaterally join international forums (contrary to the Oslo Accords) and signed a unity pact with Hamas

These are not activities of a people that is “desperate” for a state. These are not actions of leaders who are willing to make compromises to establish a country and move their people forward.

… Maximizing a Jew-free State and/or Destroying the current Jewish State

Palestinian actions have consistently had three main areas of focus:

  1. Creating a new state free of any Jews
  2. Maximize the size of the new Palestinian state: either the entirety of Israel+West Bank+Gaza or using the 1949 Armistice Lines
  3. If there remains a state of Israel, it should be small and not Jewish

 A Jew-free Palestinian state: Palestinians have sought to recreate the conditions of the Arab-controlled regions that expelled and barred the Jews from 1949 to 1967. The Palestinian leadership has continually called for preventing any “settlements”, meaning barring any Jewish people from living anywhere in Gaza, the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem that was controlled by Jordan from 1949-1967. Various Palestinian efforts towards peace talks have demanded a pre-condition of Jewish settlement freezes before any peace talks could begin.  They have lobbied the United Nations to condemn any and all settlements as illegal (even though Jews always lived in the lands before the illegal Jordanian takeover in 1949).

Palestinian law has repeatedly cemented the position of a Jew-free state. In 1973, it passed legislation that made the sale of any land or home to an Israeli to be a capital offense. The Palestinian Authority announced in 1997 that it would seek the death penalty for anyone selling land to a Jew or Israeli.

Abbas has repeatedly voiced his vision of a Jew-free Palestine, stating that he would not allow the presence of a single Israeli- civilian or soldier – in a new Palestine.

Abbas and other members of the Palestinian Authority have also called on the world to engage in a BDS- Boycott, Divestment and Sanction – of any Israeli company that has a presence in the territories they hope will become a Palestinian state. Their aggressive efforts in advancing BDS further underscores their desire to not only prevent any Jews living in a future state, but even establishing businesses there as well.

Even the Universities on the West Bank have laws that prohibit Jews from stepping foot onto campuses.

In short, Palestinian law and leadership calls for banning Jews from visiting, working, buying land or living in the territories it wants for a future state.

Those are the official positions of the “moderate” acting-president of the Palestinian Authority and the existing Palestinian laws. However, the majority of the Palestinian people are in favor of Hamas and would elect someone from Hamas as president according to every poll over the past few years. The Palestinian public elected Hamas to 58% of the Palestinian parliament in their last election in January 2006. Hamas’s charter and its leaders call for the outright killing of Jews and have specifically identified the Jewish nature of Israel as the root cause of the conflict: In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised…”

Maximize the size of the Palestinian state. It is not surprising that the Palestinians want to maximize the size of a future state; Israel wants to maximize what it can achieve in negotiations too. However, as detailed here, the working parameters for the Palestinians are to achieve “maximums” and certainly not reflective of a group that is “desperate” and willing to compromise.

Hamas calls for a single Arab Palestine to cover Gaza, the West Bank and all of Israel. They have never backed down or waivered from their 1988 charter in any statement from any leader since that time.

Abbas’ Fatah party has stated that it will “compromise” for a Palestine that follows the “1967 borders.” It states this, despite the fact the 1967 “borders” were not borders but Armistice Lines established in 1949 with Egypt and Jordan. Both of those armistice agreements specifically stated that those lines were not intended to be borders. After repeated invasions and wars by the Palestinians and its Arab allies, Israel has made clear that it will not accept those 1949 Armistice lines as final borders.

“Moderate” Palestinians argue that United Nations Resolution 242 stated that Israel should remove its armed forces from territory acquired during the 1967 war. While the Israelis point out that the language specifically does not state that it must leave “all” of the territory, Abbas is demanding such complete withdrawal; a “maximum” position within the two-state framework.

 No recognition of the Jewish State. For much of Israel’s existence, the Arab world refused to recognize Israel in any matter at all and viewed Israel’s entire existence as illegitimate. The Arab world underscored the point with the famous three “no’s” in 1967 including refusing to recognize the basic existence of Israel.

In 1975, Yasser Arafat and the PLO effectively lobbied the United Nations to label the national aspirations of Jews to be a form of racial discrimination. Specifically, Resolution 3379 adopted by the General Assembly referred to the “the racist regime in occupied Palestine” and determined “that zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Such efforts have nothing to do with establishing a new country and everything to do with delegitimizing the rights and claims of Jews to their own state.

Today, Palestinian leadership continues on the same path of delegitimizing Israel.  Palestinian leadership makes a point of denying Jewish history in the Holy land. Whether addressing the United Nations General Assembly or speaking to reporters, acting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas denies any connection between Jews and their history in the land. In 2014, Abbas stated that “they [Israel] imagine that by brute force they can invent a history, establish claims and erase solid religious and historical facts.

Abbas has made very clear that he will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel:

  • I’ll never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” (2014);
  • We shall never agree to recognize the Jewish state.” (2013);
  • “I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a “Jewish state.” (2011)

Underscoring these points is the insistence of a “Right of return” for descendants of pseudo-refugees to the state of Israel. He believes that the 4.6 million SAPs (Stateless Arabs from Palestine) should be entitled to move into Israel as opposed to a new Palestinian state. The entire point of partitioning the land for two peoples and creating a new Palestinian state is to create a home for these Arabs. What is the point of sending the grandchildren of Arabs who left homes in 1948 to a country they despise (Israel) when they are just creating the country they dreamed of (Palestine)?

For almost a century, the Palestinians have tried various paths to achieve their goals: broad regional wars;  local wars; intifadas; riots; and peace talks.  But what are they hoping to achieve?If the primary goal of the Palestinian people was a state, would they care if a small number of Jews lived there? Would they so strongly object to recognizing Israel as a Jewish State? Would they insist on an all-or-nothing strategy of getting everything in negotiations?

Are Palestinians truly desperate for a state or are they desperate to deny any rights and legitimacy of Jews to live in the land?

The Palestinians’ Desperation Move

 In some ways, the decision by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to force a losing vote on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday and then sign papers to join the International Criminal Court on Wednesday was not surprising.

At nearly 80, he has to be tired and deeply frustrated with the failure of years of peace negotiations with Israel to achieve the Palestinian dream of an independent state. He has seen his popularity and credibility plummet as he competed for the support of his people with Hamas, the militant group that would rather lob missiles at Israel than recognize it.

“They have to take some meaningful steps to recover anything of their really shredded credibility,” Nadia Hijab, executive director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, said of Mr. Abbas’s team in an interview with The Times.

And, in truth, prospects for a two-state solution grow dimmer by the day, with right-wing Israeli politicians opposing a Palestinian state and the Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, steadily expanding settlements, making the creation of a viable Palestinian state harder.

But Mr. Abbas’s actions will almost certainly make the situation worse, setting back the cause of statehood even farther. By taking this tack before the Israeli elections, which are set for March 17, he has given Israeli hard-liners new ammunition to attack the Palestinians and reject new peace talks. And he may have set in motion the collapse of the Palestinians’ self-governing authority.

Mr. Abbas began this week by insisting that the Security Council approve a resolution to set a deadline for establishing a Palestinian state, including the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank by the end of 2017. After heavy lobbying by the United States and Israel, the resolution received only eight of the nine votes needed to pass in the 15-member council. The fact is, the United States, which voted against the measure, supports a Palestinian state. And France, which broke with the Americans and voted in favor, acknowledged reservations about some of the details.

Following this defeat, Mr. Abbas moved swiftly on Wednesday to take an even more provocative step in joining the International Criminal Court, through which the Palestinians could bring charges against Israeli officials for cases against their settlement activities and military operations.

While he was under strong pressure from his constituents to do this, he knew well the cost might be great. “There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down — where shall we go?” Mr. Abbas said at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The United States Congress had long threatened to impose sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, including the loss of about $400 million in annual aid, if it joined the court. Israel could withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax remittances, as it has before, and could move more aggressively to build settlements in sensitive areas. Mr. Netanyahu also said the Palestinians may now be subject to prosecution over support for Hamas.

How the European Union, another major donor to the Palestinians, might react is unclear. Even though the United States and Israel may want to punish the Palestinian Authority, hasty retaliation could trigger the authority’s collapse and impose major new burdens on Israel.

Under agreements with the court signed by Mr. Abbas, the Palestinians cannot file a complaint against Israel for up to 90 days. They would be wise to delay any action until at least after the Israeli election, when voters will have a chance to decide the country’s leadership. It’s possible that the crisis Mr. Abbas has provoked could bring about fresh consideration of the compromises that both sides need to make to allow their peoples to live in peace. But given the history, it’s hard to be optimistic.


1936 riots:

1947 Partition plan:

1948-9 Israel war of Independence:

1967 Six Day War:

Khartoum declaration:

Arafat ends 2000 Clinton-Barack initiative:

Hamas wins 2006 elections:

No response to Olmert plan:

Netanyahu 10-month settlement freeze to re-start talks:

No Abbas engagement for nine months:

Maximum of Olmert is short of Minimum for Abbas:

Various quotes of Arab intents for Israel:

Palestinian law banning the sale of land to Jews:

Left-wing article on left-wing journalist barred from Bir Zeit University:

UN resolution 242:

UN Zionism is Racism:


Published at FirstOneThrough

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