Some 1941 years ago, the Romans conquered the ancient Jewish kingdom of Judea by force and attempted to expunge all memory of the Jews’ claim to the land by renaming the area Palestine. Two days ago, Mahmoud Abbas attempted to do the same thing by diplomatic force at the UN.
The whole thing was of course a grotesque charade, outdone in its surrealism only by the reaction of the western world. For the UK and US governments and others said that such a unilateral declaration of independence was a setback for peace and a Palestinian state, which could only be achieved through negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.
Not so. Negotiations do not have to be re-started in order to achieve this. If Abbas really wanted a state of Palestine to live in peace alongside Israel, he could have said a handful of words in New York which would have ended the conflict there and then and brought such a state into actual being.
For all that is needed is for Abbas to say, in Arabic as well as English, that he accepts the right of Israel to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people, and that his own people will no longer wage war against it. If he were to say that, and to match those words by deeds to show he meant them – for example, by ending the incitement in the educational materials and media under his command to hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis – there would be peace and a state of Palestine.
The problem is not the absence of a state of Palestine. The problem is that the Arabs want to get rid of Israel.
But this will never happen. For the dominant assumption in the west, the assumption that underpins virtually every political utterance on the subject and every interview on the BBC and the reporting even in notionally pro-Israel papers such as the Times or Telegraph that a state of Palestine would end the Middle East conflict, is not only wholly mistaken but is to mis-state that conflict.
For peace to be achieved, the belligerent has to stop making war. The Arabs have made war on the Jews in their ancient homeland since Israel became a state and indeed for three decades before that. For a solution to be arrived at, it’s necessary correctly to state the problem. The problem is not the absence of a state of Palestine. The problem is that the Arabs want to get rid of Israel.
For anyone paying attention to the actual words used, the evidence was there in Abbas’s own speech. His people, he declared, had been suffering for 63 years. What happened 63 years ago? The state of Israel came into being. So what Abbas was saying was not that the absence of a state of Palestine was the problem. The problem for him was the very existence of the state of Israel.
He also said:
‘...we agreed to establish the State of Palestine on only 22 per cent of the territory of historical Palestine – on all the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967.'
But the West Bank and Gaza were not 22 per cent of historical; Palestine; they were far, far less. It was Israel that was established on a fraction of ‘historical Palestine’, having settled for that fraction as better than nothing at all. And if the Palestinians truly had accepted a state merely in the West Bank and Gaza, why then did they refuse the offer of precisely such a state on more than 90 per cent of that territory which was made to them in 2000 and 2008? Why does the very Palestinian logo on their flags and insignia show a map of this state of Palestine to which they aspire as having swallowed up Israel altogether?
In Ramallah on September 16, Abbas made his position even plainer. 'The Palestinian people', he stated, 'have been abused for 63 years, generation after generation, under occupation'.
No, it is not the settlements but the existence of Israel itself that is the problem which Abbas believes UN recognition of a state of Palestine would help resolve. It is Israel itself that Abbas wants to subsume into Palestine. In other words, as he himself has previously said, declaring UDI at the UN was a way of internationalising the conflict with Israel. UN recognition of a state of Palestine is therefore not a move towards peace but a signal for genocidal war.
The truly incredible bone-headedness (or worse) of the western response was encapsulated by a BBC Today programme interview on Friday morning with the UK’s former ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. Sir Jeremy declared that a state of Palestine was ‘not a threat to Israel’, and that the Palestinians were ‘desperate’ to end the ‘injustice’ done to them and to restart negotiations. Eh? What ‘injustice’? The Palestinians are the ones waging war on Israel, not the other way round. What desperation, when they have repeatedly turned down the offer of a state? What keenness to re-start negotiations, when Israel repeatedly offers them negotiations and they repeatedly refuse?
Even worse, Sir Jeremy also said that what was much more important for Israel than a state of Palestine was not to imperil any further its relationship with other countries in the region such as Egypt, Turkey or Iran. What?? Doesn’t Sir Jeremy realise that the Palestinians are despised by every country in the region? Hasn’t Sir Jeremy noticed that Turkey is now pursuing an Islamist agenda, with appalling implications not just for Israel but for the interests of the UK and the west, and that Egypt may well fall to the Islamists too? And as for Israel not upsetting Iran by its attitude to the Palestinians, hasn’t Sir Jeremy Greenstock understood that Iran is threatening Israel with nuclear extinction because it is a Jewish state? On what planet is Sir Jeremy Greenstock living?
To anyone with a scintilla of knowledge of the nine-decade Arab and Islamic war against the Jews in the Middle East, Abbas’s speech at the UN consisted of lie after lie after lie. He claimed that Israeli settlements in the West Bank were illegal and in breach of international law (untrue); he claimed that the settlements were in breach of the terms of negotiation (untrue; it is Abbas’s own unilateral declaration which tears up successive bilateral treaties); he claimed that Israel was targeting Palestinian civilians in Gaza (untrue; Israeli attacks, which carefully avoid hitting civilians wherever possible, are only in defence of its civilians against Hamas attacks --with which Abbas has now publicly lined himself up, not least by hailing as ‘martyrs’ those in Gaza who murder Israelis).
As for his claim that the settlements were the reason there was no peace, this was demonstrably ridiculous. As Netanyahu said in his own fine speech at the UN:
‘President Abbas ... said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our conflict has been raging for -- was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the -- I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva. Maybe that's what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn't say from 1967; he said from 1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict.’
The Arab response has always been to refuse and instead to attempt to destroy the Jews’ presence in their own ancient homeland.
History records that, from the 1930s onwards, the Jews have never stood in the way of a Palestinian state if that would end the war of annihilation the Arabs have continuously waged against them. A Palestine state has been on repeated offer. The Arab response has always been to refuse and instead to attempt to destroy the Jews’ presence in their own ancient homeland. As certain Palestinian spokesmen themselves have acknowledged, Palestinian identity was itself constructed purely to destroy Israel. The reason for the objection to a state of Palestine is that it would be used to bring about the final destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, an aspiration which Abbas never ceases to proclaim.
As Netanyahu said in his speech:
‘We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they’re ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel’s security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.
I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called “Jews”? Because we come from Judea.”’
What Israel should be stating explicitly and repeatedly is that it is the Jews who are the indigenous people of what are now Israel and the West Bank – and indeed beyond. Commentators often refer to Judea and Samaria as ‘Biblical’ names as if they can therefore be disregarded today. Not so. Judea and Samara were the true historical names for Israel and the West Bank, used in international treaties and official documents of the Palestine Mandate period, and throughout which land the Jews were given the legal right to settle. Only now as the west mimics the Arab attempt to airbrush the Jews out of their own history have these names become synonymous with Jewish extremism.
What really illustrates the west’s moral bankruptcy over Israel and the Palestinians is that the day before the Abbas charade, the very same UN gave the stage to Iran’s Ahmadinejad from where he spouted his murderous lies and hatred of the west, including his implication that 9/11 was a US conspiracy. This is the leader of a regime which executes teenagers for homosexuality and which is developing nuclear weapons to commit genocide against Israel and hold the western world hostage. Yet far from expressing outrage at this use of the UN by such a man, far from drawing attention indeed to the utter suicidal madness of having the UN as a global policeman when its own Security Council is now chaired by Lebanon, a country in thrall to Iran through Hezbollah, the appearance of Ahmadinejad elicited barely a shrug by western media which instead worked themselves into a frenzy over Abbas and the ‘plight’ of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu again called it right. He said the world was menaced by a malignancy.
‘That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smouldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.'
Netanyahu called the UN a ‘theatre of the absurd’ and the ‘house of lies’. The western media mostly didn’t bother to report that, just as they didn’t bother to report much of his speech. What they are really waiting for is for the Palestinians to resume attacking Israelis as a sign of their ‘desperation’. They won’t report those attacks either. But they will report the Israelis’ response and call that ‘aggression’. That’s the prospect over which the western media, sensing a final kill, are now slavering.
This piece originally appeared in Melanie Phillips's blog at http://phillipsblog.dailymail.