I swear, the longer I watch this Israeli-Palestinian conflict the more the nutty ideas of the past impose themselves on the present. Many Zionists don’t know or admit that Herzl had no particular romantic affinity for Palestine as the homeland of the Jews. He thought it could just as easily be Uganda and wrote as much. Fortunately for him (not so fortunately for Palestinians though), more traditional Jewish Zionists persuaded him that only the real Zion would do as the future homeland.
Now comes word that Condi Rice played a similar card in U.S. negotiations with the Palestinians:
Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under George Bush, suggested in 2008 Palestinian refugees could be resettled in South America. “Maybe we will be able to find countries that can contribute in kind,” she said. “Chile, Argentina, etc.”
The only thing I can say on Condi’s behalf is that at least her boss was elected (sorta). What’s Abbas’ excuse? He’s a leader without a mandate. Where does he get off accepting the shameful compromise of accepting a total to 10,000 Palestinian refugees resettled in Israel over a ten-year period? Even the Geneva Initiative foresaw a larger number than that. Where do they get the unmitigated gall to think that this would be acceptable to the Palestinians? How did they ever think they could sell this? Did they think that the U.S. showering Palestinians with billions would assuage the sting of giving up virtually their entire national dream?
Astonishingly, the Palestine Papers also show that Mahmoud Abbas himself accepted the Israeli narrative on the Right of Return:
“On numbers of refugees, it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million. That would mean the end of Israel.”
“The end of Israel.” The very mantra of Bibi Netanyahu in dissing ROR. And what business should it be of Abbas as erstwhile leader of Palestine to be concerned primarily with the welfare of Israel? If Israel could take in a million Russian Jews in a short period, it can take in a few hundred thousand (and not a million as Abbas imagines) Palestinian refugees who might insist on returning to Israel over generous financial compensation for their suffering and resettlement within Palestine proper. This guy has his priorities screwed up and has forgotten, if he ever knew, who he represents.
It is not surprising that during negotiations Israel did everything possible to deny any responsibility for Palestinian refugees (the Nakba of course wasn’t mentioned). But the utter sophistry of the arguments and the enthusiasm with which even the Bush flunkies advanced them in addition to the Israelis, is shocking.
I find it laughable that the Fatah goons have attacked and taken over Al Jazeera’s Ramallah studio. Attack the messenger why don’t you instead of the real bane of your existence. It wasn’t Al Jazeerah who sold out the Palestinian patrimony. It was their own “leaders.” If they want to to see the real enemy, take a look in the mirror.
The rogues’ gallery unfortunately now must include Tzipi Livni who, in discussing the issue of the expulsion as a violation of international law said the following pearl:
Livni told Palestinian negotiators in 2007 that she was against international law and insisted that it could not be included in terms of reference for the talks: “I was the minister of justice”, she said. “But I am against law – international law in particular.”
…She made clear that what might have seemed to be a joke was meant…seriously by using the point to argue against international law as one of the terms of reference for the talks and insisting that “Palestinians don’t really need international law”.
Where else but in Israel (and perhaps Zimbabwe and a few other despotic states) could you have a justice minister express overt disdain for the law?
Further, as I wrote yesterday, Livni specifically advanced Avigdor Lieberman’s proposal to forcibly redraw the international boundary so that Israeli Palestinian villages would be expelled from Israel and annexed to Palestine. Those Israeli citizens expelled from Israel would naturally have no recourse and not be consulted about the forced transfer. This is refined Kahanism for which Livni should (but won’t be) ashamed. She can deny it all she wants but the papers don’t lie.
As I wrote yesterday, liberal Zionists have long had a romance with Tzippi as the anti-Bibi. They believed when she left Likud at Sharon’s behest that she had somehow shed her Irgun family legacy. They hoped she might turn out to be as pragmatic as Ariel Sharon appeared to become just before his death. How wrong they were. And this should lay those illusions to rest.
Even George Mitchell, who I’d preferred to see as the good guy in the Obama administration compared to the blantantly pro-Israel Dennis Ross, conveyed to the Palestinians that Obama was reneging on a major Bush era pledge to the Palestinians. Condi Rice had affirmed that any agreement would use 1967 borders as a basis for any proposed land swaps. Mitchell told Erekat that the new administration felt bound by nothing agreed to by Bush, even something as elemental as 1967 borders.
In fact, the lead Palestinian negotiator threatened to tell Israeli TV that its audience should feel proud of its leader’s outmaneuvering of both Abbas and Obama:
Erekat: I am planning to go on Israeli channel 10 to say one thing: congratulations Mr. Netanyahu. You defeated President Obama. You defeated Abu Mazen… if it’s my word against theirs in your Congress and your Senate, I know I do not stand a chance.
In this particular case, Erekat is precisely right. And Obama has allowed Bibi to make him and Abbas look the fool. It’s shameful really that it’s come to this due to Obama’s futile policy. But it has.
The NY Times’ Eytan of Arabia (Ethan Bronner) has weighed in from the Delphic heights with his ‘penetrating analysis,’ as always favorable to Israel. But frankly I’m shocked that Bernard Avishai, known as a probing critic of the Occupation and Israeli policy, has proven so tone deaf about this particular issue:
“They [the Palestine Papers] focus on Palestinian concessions without presenting the other side of the negotiations. The Palestinians were going to get a great deal for their concessions.
Yes, they were going to get a Bantustan shorn of all land settled by Israel in Jerusalem post-67 short of Har Homa. The only major West Bank settlement Israel planned to abandon was Kiryat Arba. Israel would get Maaleh Adumim, French Hill, Gilo, Ramat Shlomo, even parts of Sheikh Jarrah (see proposed map). Israel planned to ‘console’ the Palestinians for their loss of this land by “bequeathing” them Israeli Palestinian villages whose citizens never wanted to be expelled from Israel in the first place. It would’ve been a game of three-card Monte. What was the PA going to get for their trouble? What major concessions? A state? Yes, but what kind of state? A truly independent state able to function on its own with contiguous territory? Not so much.