Understanding the Importance of PerspectiveMay 4, 2006 marked the beginning of another Israeli government. This time however, the government coalition consists of 4 distinct political parties that provided the new Prime minister, Ehud Olmert, with 67 MK's (Member of Knesset). According to diplomatic sources, Olmert will seek to broaden his coalition to 80 MKs in order to give his government the necessary breadth, lasting more than the two years necessary to support his convergence plan. Such plan proposes that settlements beyond the separation fence would be evacuated and attached to the large settlement blocs of Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, Greater Jerusalem and Gush Etzion. The IDF would be given free reign in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley would be Israel's eastern border. More on these two items in a moment. As will be shown, based on the language or prior UN resolutions, the Oslo Accords, and general principles of international law, Israel has every legal right to remain in Judea and Samara, aka the West Bank.
Despite the legal basis of Israel's presence in the West Bank, support for Mr. Olmert's plan comes from the MKs of Kadima, Labor, the Pensioners, and Meretz, a total of 60 parliamentarians backed by some additional Arab party representatives. Mr. Olmert is also doing his best to bring into the government the six representatives of United Torah Judaism.
We should remember that Mr. Olmert has declared that the last election was a mandate for his so-called convergence plan. It is useful to read Mr. Olmert's expressed thoughts on the subject communicated on May 4 in the Knesset:
"The achievements of the settlement movement in main concentrations will forever be an integral part of the sovereign state of Israel, along with Jerusalem, our united capital … I, too, like many others, dreamed and wished that we could safeguard all of the territories of the Land of Israel for ourselves, and that the day would not come when we would need to give up parts of our land. Only those for whom the Land of Israel burns in their souls, know the pain of the concession, the farewell to the land of our forefathers." Contrary to media propaganda, Mr. Olmert did not receive a mandate from the Israeli people and thus no such mandate for the convergence plan can be stated unless one nods his head and winks his eye … in your direction. If one only examines the percentage voter's numbers for this year's elections, a little over half of the citizens voted while historically nearly ¾s of the voters typically vote in elections. Mr. Olmert's party, Kadima, garnered 29 seats, but a mere 24% of the total Knesset seats available during this last election, while the Labor Party earned 19 seats, representing but 16% of the available seats.1
If Mr. Olmert believes he really has the support of most Israelis, why then is the semantic game afoot here in Israel? Specifically, I refer to the morphing of the term convergence into consolidation. It is significant that the unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and adding to the size of a few large Israeli communities, aka settlements, to make everything contiguous with the Green Line was the more favorable term for a few days. Why is this occurring now? The answer is simple. The leaders abandoned the word withdrawal because it sounded too much like surrender, while convergence did not mean anything to anyone. The newly appointed Prime Minister has therefore decided that we shall consolidate our territory. But wait, even this term came under scrutiny because to certain government officials this term sounded too militaristic. As predicted, the morphing has continued and Olmert's plan is now called the realignment plan.
Lest anyone think that language is unimportant, it is precisely the ill-begotten use of words and terms that has allowed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to continue for some 30 years. Certainly, our enemies understand that the use of language is key to persuading and changing people's opinions, producing policies over time. I suggest that the change in language is due to an absence of mandate, impelling this government to search for a less offensive word to neutralizing an action that is unpalatable to the Israeli public. In America we call it "political correctness."
Having personally worked closely with the IDF, I understand that Mr. Olmert's claim that the IDF will be given free reign in the West Bank and the Jordan valley is nothing less than double-speak. Allow me to explain. The new West Bank will not include the areas within its jurisdiction today. The so-called realignment plan creates Israel's new borders and indirectly also forming the Palestinian state. An immediate reaction will be protests and cries by the Palestinians to the international community, claiming imperialism and illegal invasion, followed by a Hamas sanction justifying attacks on our IDF forces. Is there anyone who believes otherwise? Does Mr. Olmert disclose that the IDF will not only patrol the portion of the West Bank which he will declare as ours, but also continue to a presence in the newly formed Palestinian area? It is disingenuous of Mr. Olmert to provide an illusion of security in the West Bank due to continued IDF presence that will in reality be disallowed by the Palestinian leadership and will be the source of added aggression. Such a position by Mr. Olmert is simply language manipulation used by a politician to retain support for his ill fated realignment plan.
With respect to Mr. Olmert's dreams and wishes, a history lesson might re-kindle hope and provide him with the necessary energy to follow through with already existing international mandates. Apparently he has forgotten that Israel is also entitled to lands within the West Bank. It is no wonder that he may have forgotten or perhaps chosen to forget this fact after 29 years of revisionist history being taught here and abroad. Coupled with the same amount of media distortion about Israel's rights to land inside the disputed territory known as the West Bank, one can understand how difficult it must be for the Israeli Prime minister to stand his ground and defend Israel's rights. Might this be why Mr. Olmert complained recently that we are tired of fighting ...? He did speak for himself and does not speak for the Israelis I know. Yes, Mr. Olmert, it is tiring, day after day, month after month, and year after year to insist on the truth, demanding that the world's distortioners be corrected and/or silenced. This would take unshakable commitment and a belief in doing the ethical and moral thing in the face of significant adversaries. When one has such a commitment, as did those who fought so many years for the existence of a Jewish state, it is not a drain; rather it is a motivating force.
It is an act of resignation to back away from our history and the diligent work of previous leaders. Historically, resignation within sovereign nations has led to their downfall and demise. The Jewish people have fought too long and with too much zeal and with too many sacrifices to have their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments undermined by weak leaders. It is crucial that this government, the media, Western leaders and citizens of the world remember that the below mandates were signed by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and recognized by the international community. They remain legally binding mandates and agreements, often overlooked or misread. A refresher is in order.
UN resolution 242 (following the 1967 war in which Israel was attacked by multiple Arab states and had to engage in a defensive war that it won):
This is Security Council resolution, not merely advisory, but a binding mandate. It has two main components:
1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
a. Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
b. 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;
2. Affirms further the necessity:
a. For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
b. For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
c. For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones
The ultimate goal of 242, as expressed in paragraph 3 is the achievement of a "peaceful and accepted settlement." This means a negotiated agreement based on the resolution's principles rather than one imposed upon the parties.
It is clear from the language that Israeli's withdrawal from any of the territories is not a prerequisite for Arab action of terminating belligerency. Additionally, Resolution 242 does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up. The Security Council did not say Israel must withdraw from "all or from the" territories occupied after the Six-Day war. The omission of these words was quite deliberate.
The following history clearly spells out why this resolution chose such specific words to address the required actions by all participating parties. The Soviet delegate wanted the inclusion of both words, arguing that their exclusion meant "that part of these territories can remain in Israeli hands." The Arab states pushed for the word "all" to be included, but this was rejected. They nevertheless asserted that they would read the resolution as if it included the word "all." The British Ambassador who drafted the approved resolution, Lord Caradon declared after the vote: "It is only the resolution that will bind us, and we regard its wording as clear."
Following the final language of 242, the British Foreign Secretary informed the House of Commons on October 29, 1969 that the withdrawal envisaged by 242 would not be from "all the territories." When later asked to explain the British position, 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. 2 Significantly, the territories taken were not part of a sovereign country.
Similarly, U.S. Amb. Arthur Goldberg explained: "The notable omissions-which were not accidental-in regard to withdrawal are the words 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines' …. The resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal."
It is important and crucial to note that the Palestinians were neither identified nor mentioned anywhere in Resolution 242. They are only alluded to in the second clause of the second article of 242, which calls for "a just settlement of the refugee problem." Nowhere does the language require that Palestinians be given any political rights or territory, an assertion that for decades has been misreported, misrepresented or intentionally revised for political purposes. The outcome has been international policies built upon deceit. I now call on the world leaders to reconcile this discrepancy.
I draw your attention to one final correction. Note that a generic term refugee was used in the resolution. This was intentional as it acknowledges that two groups of refugees were created by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--one is Arab and the other Jewish. The latter is seldom mentioned. This is no doubt because Israel immediately moved to accept, resettle and integrate the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from various Arab countries. In contrast, the Arab refugees continue to linger in camps, without any resettlement efforts, festering like an open sore without sympathy and minimal, if any assistance form their brethren in 22 Arab countries.
UN resolution 338:
Another binding Security Council resolution calls on both sides to begin implementation of Resolution 242. This resolution was the result of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when once again attacked by multiple Arab countries. Israel was again victorious.
The language of 338:
1. Calls upon all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately, in the positions they then occupy, and to do so no later than 12 hours after the adoption of the resolution.
2. Calls upon the parties concerned to start immediately after the ceasefire the implementation of Security Council resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts;
3. Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the ceasefire, negotiations start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices, aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.2
It was not until September of 1993 that the existing leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), agreed that UN 242 and 338 should be the basis for negotiating with Israel. It took nearly a quarter of a century but the Palestinian leadership did agree as part of the Declaration of Principles (DOP).
To explain what has happened in the world media in reacting to the above history, I am going to coin a new phrase-- media mythology. Beginning with the Yom Kippur War in 1973, media mythology aided and abetted by academic agnostics, has done its best to justify revisionist history with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thereby supporting and giving some form of credibility to this mythology. For multiple reasons (beyond the scope of this article) the mainstream media has misrepresented the actual language of the preceding resolutions and has consequently confused subsequent generations about the intentions of the resolutions and the on the ground implementation of the respective responsibilities of the parties.
With the development of the Euro-Arab political and economic strategy during the past 30 years, forming what is called the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD), a strategy was designed, developed and implemented to undermine Israel. As part of the scheme, the expanding faculties at many of the Western universities and colleges have chosen to believe and promote the Arab side of the ongoing conflict. Such stance has necessarily been based upon false, misleading and/or revisionist historical information. These academics have become well organized and continue to this day with their revisionist activities. As detailed below, they ignore the language of the 1993 signed Olso Accords, resulting in a misrepresentation of the roles and responsibilities of each of the parties as required in the documents.
It is important to understand that Oslo I, signed on September 13, 1993,created the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the governing arm of the PLO. Let us examine some of these legal documents and required responsibilities of the Israelis and Palestinians as set forth in the DOP.
Oslo I: Based on the agreement worked out in Oslo a joint Israeli-Palestinian DOP was signed by the two parties in Washington, D.C. It outlined the proposed interim self-governing terms for the Palestinians. The terms and conditions of the DOP include (1) immediate Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and Jericho, (2) early empowerment for the Palestinians in West Bank, (3) self-government and the election of a Palestinian council. This later became known as Oslo I. Implicit within the agreement was the cessation of attacks upon Israel. A partial summary of this agreement follows.2
Transfer of Powers to the Palestinians:
The DOP features an agreement in principle regarding a transfer of non-military power and responsibilities to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, so that they may have control over their own affairs.
No Pre-judgment or Pre-emption of Permanent Status:
The DOP specifically excludes permanent status issues of Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements and final borders.
Security Remains an Israeli Responsibility:
During the interim period, Israel will remain responsible for security along the international borders and the crossing points to Egypt and Jordan. Israel also retained responsibility for the overall security of Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli population centers in Jericho and Gaza and freedom of movement on roads.
Implementation of the DOP:
Details of the implementation were signed in Cairo between Israel and the PLO on May 4, 1994, known as AGREEMENT ON THE GAZA STRIP AND THE JERICHO AREA and provided the following: Gaza-Jericho: Self-rule for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Jericho including a withdrawal of Israeli forces from those areas is to serve as a first step in the implementation of the DOP. Both parties agreed to the terms of this document.
Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities: In the rest of the West Bank, five specific spheres -- education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism were to be transferred to Palestinian representatives through early empowerment; all were accomplished by December 1994.
The Interim Agreement and Elections: A modalities agreement regarding the election of a Palestinian Council and a comprehensive Interim Agreement specifying the structure and powers of the Council was to be negotiated. The Interim Agreement detailed the self-governing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza. Concurrent with the elections, Israeli forces were to be redeployed to the outskirts of these populated Palestinian communities. The Palestinian Council was to have a strong police force in order to guarantee public order and its internal security.
For more complete information on the terms of the DOP and its implementation, visit any one of a number of internet sites including http://www.mfa.gov.il/. Suffice it to say, any reader who studies the terms and conditions of Oslo I and Oslo II will conclude that Israel had security control inside the disputed territories, gradually turning self rule over to the PA. It is also clear from the terms that the Oslo agreements that Israel, as the victor in the 1967 war, retained its right and claim to maintain a high presence in the territories.
Oslo II: On September 28, 1995, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and th\ e Gaza Strip was signed in Washington, D.C. The main object of the Interim Agreement was to broaden the rule of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank under the aegis of the PA by means of an elected self-governing authority -- the Palestinian Council. Again history demonstrated the degree to which the Palestinians failed to honor this agreement.
Since 1995, additional peace initiatives have been proposed, signed, and their implementation attempted. Not a single one was adhered to by the Palestinians-not the cessation of hostilities, not the end of incitement, and not the teaching of peace. The details of these subsequent agreements can be found in the Wye Memorandum, the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, the Camp David 2000 Summit and the Road Map.
It is critical to understand the terms of the signed agreements, because at this writing, the Palestinian leadership (Hamas, PA and any other so-called leaders) continues to state that the premise of their unrest and terrorist acts is Israel's illegal presence and operation within West Bank. This is a completely false premise. Any intellectual or respectable member of academia or media cannot, and must not, ignore the plain language of signed treaties and legal documents dating back to 1967, the provisions of which have been neither voided nor superseded. In plain and simple terms, Israel has retained rights to parts of the remaining disputed territory the people outside the Middle East call the West Bank. To state otherwise is not only incorrect, it is an intentional distortion of the truth. In my neighborhood, we called this a lie. The media and my collegial academic agnostics from this moment forward will be held accountable for their unfounded statements and their actions.
Some final observations:
The beginning of this paper stated that Israel is embarking on another attempt to reconcile its situation with the Palestinians. Mr. Olmert has mistakenly said that his election is a mandate from the people to implement his convergence plan. I have argued it is not! Already, in a matter of a few short days one can notice confusion as to what to even call this Olmert's plan. and there are many, including this writer, who oppose such action.
Additionally, one must understand what has covertly been withheld from the general population of Israel: full disclosure of the Negev Plan and its role to the decision of the government to withdraw from Gaza, and still further from Judea and Samaria. Simon Peres, who now occupies the position of Vice Premier in Olmert's new government, is also head of the ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee. This office was established in January 2005 and has a 10-year, NIS 17 billion strategic planning budget. The goal is to transform these unproductive and desert areas into flourishing communities of commerce and recreation. The secondary purpose is to provide an environment of prosperity and equality for Jewish and Arab Israelis alike, and create commerce with Jordan, the PA and Egypt. An important perspective on the Negev Plan can be gleaned from the remark of Mr. Peres to the Jerusalem Post. Now that Israel has started to leave the territories, funds and resources that once went to Judea, Samaria and Gaza can now be used for the Galilee and the Negev. Mr. Peres further stated, We are leaving the territories and building the country. We are going home. This comment alone merits another paper.
We all know the adage, follow the money and we believe that the handwriting is on the wall. Mr. Peres indicated that last year alone, the government allocated NIS 50 million and the project spent 2 billion. This was done by convincing other ministries to go along with this project. He also indicated there were some private institutional monies made available. Perhaps it is only we who do not understand the extent to which the project was rolling forward. Perhaps it is only we who did not know how much money has been spent and how much more is to be spent. One can reasonably question the motivation of Olmert and company to remain in Judea and Samaria given the linkage between the territory and the monies need for development of the Negev area. This clearly adds to a perspective regarding what some consider a primary motivation for demolishing the lives of 60,000-80,000 Israeli citizens who are slated to also uprooted and displaced.
You now have information that we believe will add to your point of view. Perhaps you have a new found perspective.
End Notes1. Morris, GS Don, Mandate-Really? posted on PRIMER web site April 16, 2006
2. Bard, Mitchell, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org.
3. Ye'or Bat Eurabia-The Euro-Arab Axis, Madison:Farleigh Dickinson University Press,2005
5. Still Mapping It Out, story in the Frontlines Section of Jerusalem Post, May 5, 2006.
Special thanks to editing by Ms. Aggie Hoffman.