Obama and Palestinian Statehood
President Barack Obama pressured Israel and the Palestinians, on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, to resume peace talks. Obama’s Middle East peace policy, which accomplished very little, is now on the edge of diplomatic disaster. Obama, on Wednesday while he was at the United Nations, made a plea for the Palestinians to drop a statehood bid. He followed his speech with separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, seeking to coax both parties back to direct peace talks. “There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” Obama said. But Obama also said, “One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own.”
But… Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations (UN) on Friday to accept Palestine as a member state. In doing so he defied US and Obama requests that application not be made. “It is near impossible to return to conducting business as usual,” Abbas said, referring to Israel’s building of settlements on land claimed by Palestinians. If the issue reaches the UN Security Council, the US has vowed to veto the Palestinian statehood proposal. Shortly after Abbas presented his proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told UN assembly that he was again extending the hand of peace to all of Israel’s neighbors. “I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace,” the Israeli leader said.
Who Are The Palestinians?
The idea of a “Palestinian people” with a language, culture and nationality of its own, is a creation of Yasser Arafat and the PLO, along with the Arab League. The “Palestinian people” are a mixture of Arabs whose mother tongue is Arabic, whose religion is Islam, and whose culture is shared by most of the 22 surrounding Arab countries. There simply is not nor has there ever been a distinct Palestinian national entity. The term ‘Palestinian’ has historically applied to anybody living in the area, even Jews. The name “Palestine” is the Romanized version of “Philistine,” which was assigned, by the Romans to the region in the first century AD. The name of Palestine today refers to that region of the eastern Mediterranean coast from the sea to the Jordan valley and from the southern Negev desert to the Galilee Lake region in the north. The word itself is derived from “Plesheth”, a name that appears frequently in the Bible and has come into the English language as the name of “Philistine”. Plesheth was a general term meaning rolling or migratory. The ancient Philistines were not Arabs, nor even Semites, but were most closely related to the ancient Greeks originating from Asia Minor. The word Palestine (or Palestina) originally identified the region as “the land of the Philistines.”
A UN vote will not create an actual Palestinian state. It was the lack of solidarity in 1948, the unwillingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good, that accounted for the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society. The UN will be doing the Palestinians a disservice by accepting the corrupt and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority as its newest member. It is a tragedy that the two leaders who determined their national development of Palestine during the 20th century – Hajj Amin Husseini and Yasser Arafat – were more interested in destroying the Jewish national cause than leading their own people. As far back as 1978, Arafat told his close friend, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity, and discipline to have a successful state. Once given control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza, Arafat’s regime quickly became oppressive and corrupt, launching the second intifada, the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war. The two factions dominating Palestinian life, the Hamas and Fatah, remain armed groups, and active practitioners of terrorism. Palestinians in east Jerusalem, who are entitled to Israeli social benefits and are free to travel across Israel’s pre-1967 borders, would rather become citizens of the Jewish state than citizens of a new Palestinian state.
The call by Abbas for recognition by the UN violates the spirit of the Oslo Accords, which commit both the Israelis and the Palestinians to addressing their differences through negotiations. The Montevideo Convention of 1933 explicitly provides that the existence of a sovereign state is independent of recognition by other states, and further provides that a state must have a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. The Palestinians arguably have none of those things. The Middle East is again on the cusp of crisis, with the UN about to stoke the flames, and the Obama administration caught in a self-imposed impotence.
Destroy Israel, Have a Jewish-Free State?
Palestinian expert Pinchas Inbari believes even after the UN approves a state of Palestine based on 1967 Israel borders, it’s not the end of the story. “There is a consensus that we are now on the stage of the destruction of Israel,” he stated. As the UN prepares to vote on a Palestinian state, Inbari says they might not realize what they’re voting for. “They don’t know what the Palestinians are talking among themselves. It’s all about abolishing the state of Israel.” Itamar Marcus, who monitors Palestinian media controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, has heard a consistent message. “Everything that he controls – books, his media, his religious leaders, his ministers in government – are all saying the war is a religious war until the end of Israel.”
Mahmoud Abbas told a delegation of U.S. congressmen, including Sen. Steny Hoyer (D-Md), in Ramallah he envisions a Palestinian state free of Jewish “settlements,” based on pre-1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Where Are We?
I think Michael Raymond says it best in his excellent article, “Only in Bizarro World does years of terrorist activity lead to an organization becoming a ‘respected’ partner for peace when their very own charter calls for the destruction of the other ‘partner’.”
But that’s just my opinion.