Death Adders in The Knesset

Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.

Israel is an apartheid state, it commits war crimes egregiously, and does not abide by agreements and UN resolutions that it has committed to honor. A good question to ask is why Israel’s law makers, the members of the Knesset have permitted this to come about. To answer this question, it helps to look at a few of them.

There have always been unsavory politicians. Today’s Knesset members remind us of Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, and Stalin, just some of those in the list of the ethically deprived. The long history of aggressive Zionist thuggery that began long before Ben-Gurion embraced it remains alive and well.

Today’s Israel quite possibly tops the all time list of governments with inhuman humans. In this article, we’ll name six of them, and tell you what they think, and say.

Avigdor Lieberman

On Sunday 8th April 2018, one of Israel’s most vile individuals, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, of the secular, right wing, Russian immigrant based Yisrael Beiteinu party, said there are ”no innocent people in the Gaza Strip”. He continued that “Everyone’s connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activities trying to challenge us and breach the border are Hamas military wing activists”. Lieberman made his announcement shortly after an unarmed Palestinian journalist, Yasser Murtaja, a 30 year old father, and wearing clearly identifiable journalist credentials was shot and killed, murdered by the IDF. Another killed was 15 year old Hussain Mohammed Madi, who was shot with an expanding dum-dum bullet. Dum-dum bullets wreak havoc inside the body and are illegal. Their use in conflicts is a war crime.

Yisrael Beiteinu’s progenitor is Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the terrorist founder of revisionist Zionism. It does not want peace, and does not want Arabs in Israel. It proposes a Palestinian state that contemplates an exchange of a few Arab dominated parts of Israel for Jewish inhabited parts of the West Bank.

When Lieberman spoke, there had been days of protests marking the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, on the Gaza side of the perimeter fence with Israel. There had been no breaches of the border, nor its containing wall, yet the IDF killed 33 and injured more than 3,000 Palestinian Arabs. Three of the dead and 445 of the injured were children. The vast majority of the casualties were in tent camps, 700 meters from the perimeter. The IDF had stationed 100 or more snipers along the border, and there were no IDF casualties, nor injuries.

As an attempt to justify the grossly extreme actions, the IDF said that a couple of militants were shot and killed after they breached the fence and entered Israel, but they produced no evidence, and said they had to withhold the bodies for security reasons. The Israeli air force fired missiles behind the protesters, and a farmer unconnected with the demonstration, was shot and killed while working on his land. During this period, in the West Bank, 715 Palestinians, including 165 children, were injured by the IDF, and settlers shot, killed and injured many more, claiming self-defense. Settlers set Palestinian property, including vehicles, on fire, and spray painted racist graffiti on walls. They threw Molotov-cocktails.

Israel said that it fired only when it expected attacks on the perimeter fence. It was clear, however, that individuals posing no threat whatsoever were fired on using live ammunition. In a tweet, subsequently deleted, the IDF noted, “Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed”. The IDF knew who they had murdered. The IDF questioned the number killed, murdered, and injured, and maintained that their targets were armed groups.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that those killed, or wounded, were unarmed and did not pose any threat to Israel’s security. The Commissioner noted that many of those shot had been running away from the fence. The UN Secretary-General has called for an independent investigation, which Israel has rejected, as usual. The International Criminal Court has cautioned Israel and reminded it that its actions may be criminal, and that the situation is under preliminary examination.

Apart from being devoid of fact, and self-serving rubbish, notably Lieberman provided no evidence for his remarks. Even if they had contained a semblance of truth. there would be no justification for the actions of the IDF. The Palestinian Arabs were harmless sitting ducks. There was no evidence that the protestors were armed, nor that they breached, or intended to breach the border fence.

Comments on the Middle East Eye article reporting these incidents on the 8th April 2016 include, that Lieberman is no better or different than Hitler, that he is Nazi scum, and that he has no respect for human life, that innocent Palestinians have been murdered, that he is a thief, and that he should be sent to The Hague.

In response Lieberman tweeted, that the IDF soldier who appeared in a video firing on peaceful protesters in Gaza “deserves an accolade”.

Lieberman considers that it is acceptable to treat the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza as game animals, objects for slaughter. He is a butcher. He should suffer the same fate as the Hitler henchmen who murdered Jews in Nazi Germany.

Miri Regev

Miri Regev is an ex-IDF Israeli politician, and a member of the Likud party. She is the current Minister of Culture and Sport. She is a vulgar, poorly educated, opportunistic, colourful, but dangerous fool. She is a Sephardi Jew and a Likud attack dog. She has little time for the cultural elites. The insecurity that stems from the discrimination she has experienced as a consequence of her Moroccan origins surfaces often, and accounts for her frequent loud-mouthed ravings à la Donald Trump. She too suffers from a desert between her ears and has the same regard for honesty and the truth as Trump. None at all. She is the Israeli version of Sarah Palin,

Regev equates artistic freedom with what she calls the “Freedom of Funding”. She uses kindergarten language to describe what is required, “Loyalty in Culture”. Artists must prove their loyalty to Israel before being funded. If you think you are hearing an echo of Nazism, you would be right. She does not understand that it’s not up to her to decide who receives public, tax payer money. For Regev, being loyal means agreeing with her, and her views are extreme.

Her understanding of the arts is, well, minimal. She confuses Chekhov, a contemporary author with Maimonides, an ancient philosopher, scientist. They both could read and write, but Regev makes no finer distinction. It raises the question of how well she reads and writes. Not well, we can safely assume. Similarly, she asks why classical music must be supported, and why music from Andalusia attracts no funding. She does not see the differences. It raises another question, how well she can listen. Not well.

She is the ultimate bimbo. She dresses like a whore, with tasteless makeup splashed over her cheeks and nose, and focusses pimp like on voters. “Cut the bullshit” she said at the beginning of a speech, as she uncoiled an Israeli flag.

She is an accomplished opportunist. When she entered politics, she sought a place on the Labour electoral list, and when rejected, Likud’s list. She exploits her poor background. She attacks the cultural junta, the secular, the Left, and the Ashkenazi elite, who she says exploit the uneducated, poor Mizrahi. She promotes everything Mizrahi, no matter how culturally valueless, at the expense of the cultural elite, regardless of how valuable.

She does not see the disconnect between her reliance on Arab support in Israel and her demonization of the Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories. The reason she does this, of course, is that only the Israeli Arabs are able to vote. She refuses funding to artistic groups that do not perform in the communities which support her and penalizes Arabs who do not wish to perform in the settlements. She tells the Arab members in the Knesset that they are traitors and should go to Gaza.

But now, to the real problems. She supported a move to require NGOs who received foreign funding, many human rights groups, to wear badges in the Knesset, so they could be identified. Another reminder of Germany in the 1930s. Kristallnacht. For her, human rights are subservient to Jewish rights. Human rights go if they conflict with Jewish rights.

She says the ”Sudanese [migrant worker] infiltrators are a cancer in the nation’s body”, and apologized to cancer patients for making a connection between them and the Sudanese. The patients are human. The Sudanese are not.

Regev’s views are derived from the basest impulses of the disadvantaged. She does not recognize human rights. She is a hypocrite with a Trump like need for approval, and she is foul.

Danny Danon

Danny Danon is in his late forties, he is secular, and a blight on humanity. Even his colleagues in Israel’s right wing Likud party want little to do with him. “Whenever I see him representing my views, I am embarrassed,” a prominent Likud figure said. He has been a Knesset member, has served as Deputy Speaker, and a Minister. He was banished to the UN in 2015, where Israel is ostracized, where what he says is irrelevant, and where he can no longer embarrass Netanyahu and Likud.

When the US hosted the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and Rabin and Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, Danon went to Washington to protest. “I had to spoil the party”, he said. He does not want a peace agreement nor a two-state solution. He wants all of Palestine for Israel with “the minimum number of Palestinian Arabs”. Danon says, “The biggest problem in the state of Israel are the Arabs of Israel”. In 2013, he said that the Likud party has no place for anyone who supports a peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs.

“We have [the] rights to the land”. He thinks that Israel has biblical rights to Palestine. There are no such things as biblical rights, and in any case the biblical account conflicts with the reality, the history of Palestine, and certainly does not give Palestine to the Jews. He thinks that international law gives Israel the right to the occupied territories, when the law clearly says that it does not, and demands that Israel withdraws. He says that Israel has historical rights, which obviously it does not, and he has invented a new kind of right, which he describes as a common sense right: “We won. When you win, you keep what you [have] won.” He is wrong again.

He says that Israel will annex what it wants of the West Bank, after which it will have no responsibility for the Palestinian Arabs who may remain in their unannexed towns. This will avert the “threat to the Jewish and democratic status of Israel by a growing Palestinian population”. He is incredulous. He wants Israel’s apartheid state to continue in order to protect democracy in the Jewish part of Israel.

Before he was banished, he wanted to propose a motion forbidding Palestinian statehood, and he introduced a bill requiring all citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in order to get a passport or driver’s license.

Prime minister Netanyahu fired him because he vehemently opposed, publicly, Netanyahu’s contemplated agreement with Hamas. He wanted no truce. On 10th November 2011, in Facebook, he posted “for every missile that falls in our southern towns, we retaliate by deleting a neighborhood in Gaza”. In July 2014, he advocated cutting off all electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza, and undertaking punitive attacks on civilians, and Gaza’s infrastructure. That same month, after the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, “If we don’t get the soldier back within a few hours we should start levelling Gaza.”

In December 2010, when Turkey demanded that Israel apologize for killing nine Turks on a Gaza-bound ship, Danon read on the Knesset floor: “We are sorry that, due to the IDF’s over-cautious behavior, only nine terrorists were killed.” Pointlessly inflammatory.

He meddles in the affairs of other states and embarrasses all parties. “When we see a lack of leadership coming from the White House, that’s what brings leaders in Turkey to attack Israel the way they do, … that’s why we see the leader of Iran … continuing to build the nuclear reactors.” Not surprisingly, Danon took Sarah Palin on a tour of the Western Wall.

He reacted to the UN Human Rights Council vote condemning Israel on Friday, the 25th March 2018 with threats. The Council had passed anti-Israel resolutions addressing human rights in the occupied territories, the right of the Palestinian Arabs to self-determination, the settlements and the necessity for accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied territories. Danon threatened that there would be “significant consequences … these actions against Israel are hypocritical and cause irreparable damage to the cause of those who truly care about real human rights violations around the world … We will put an end to the absurdity that this Council represents”. He is a disturbed individual.

We should recall his first speech at the UN, when he demanded that the UN must change.

The people of Israel want peace. The Jewish people have suffered centuries of exile and persecution, and simply want to live as free people in their land. There was of course one pre-condition, Israel’s security, which would override every other consideration. He did not mention that Israel’s security equates to territorial greed and expansionism.

Danon said that he had experienced Palestinian terrorism first hand, as his father had died as a result of it.

He branded all Palestinian Arabs terrorists, and accused them of years of unprovoked attacks on Jews driven by no other reason than deep hatred. Hatred was taught in schools, and a generation of Palestinian Arabs had been brainwashed with bigotry, and raised to dehumanize Jews, and glorify violence. The Palestinian Arabs have a culture of hate, and are the entire problem, and Israel is simply defending itself. What can you say to such a deranged individual? The Danons of Israel are the problem.

He accused president Abbas, and the Palestinian leadership of accusing Israel of trying to change the status quo in Jerusalem. He gave his reasons. In 1928, the Jewish Agency announced that it had no intention of claiming the al-Aqsa Mosque. The reason that it said this was that lies had been spread to incite violence against Jews. Then he lost it completely. He said that in 1928, there had been no Israeli presence on the Temple Mount, no settlements, and no state of Israel, the very developments that had driven Israel’s attempts to claim Jerusalem as its capital, and take the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Rather than see the reality behind Abbas’ claim, he accused the Palestinian Arabs of “employing old tactics” to incite violence, in order to manipulate the international community. Instead of penalizing the Palestinian Arabs, the international community rewarded them. Israel will not agree to an international presence on the Temple Mount. His reason? No nation would accept the presence of international forces in their capital. He had forgotten that Jerusalem was not the capital of Israel, that this was an agreement, and go forward basis for the UN partition. and the dozens of examples that contradicted this statement.

He wound up by saying that the only way to bring closure was by negotiation, something that had failed for 70 years. It had failed because Israel, in all cases, had caused it to fail.

Danon is not only undesirable, he is a dangerous, inflammatory, ethics free individual who, like the others described in this short piece needs to be locked up for his own good.

Ayelet Shaked

One of the least desirable of the Knesset undesirables is Ayelet Shaked. She is approaching 40 years old, she is secular, she is a fascist, and although she describes herself as an intellectual, she has an IQ barely in high double figures. Another intellectual dim wit, Miri Regev, in comparison, appears to be an Einstein.

Her secularism enables her to escape the settler stereotype, religious, fanatical, gun toting red neck. This is probably why she is secular. She has been the Israeli minister of justice since the 14th May 2015. Apparently, Netanyahu’s well is not deep.

She has attracted enormous opposition from both the right and the left in Israel because she is obnoxious. When criticized she hits back not with a reasoned explanation, but with personal and professional vindictive attacks. Ha’aretz, is irresponsible, she says, and as a result, occasions violence.

An Israeli writer, “… the reason I am on the brink of burning my Israeli passport [is] because behind the wide-eyed innocent face lurks the Angel of Death”.

She holds untenable, confused and nationalistic opinions and wants to curb the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court, so that it cannot interfere with the Knesset. No checks and balances is fine with her. She also wants to eliminate regulations which she says hamper economic growth. Who should decide what is what are the people, and that means the Knesset. Again, she does not understand the contradiction.

She wants legislation to secure Israel as a Jewish state, and does not support two states, and certainly not a Palestinian Arab state. Her proposal is to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories, so that it becomes economically viable, and more dependent on the Israeli economy. She does not explain that this is apartheid, and would provide Israeli citizens with a source of cheap, domestic labour. This of course will mean changing the law, and the educational system, so that Jews can be taught their Aryan, superior stature.

Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people”, and keeping the Jewish majority is necessary, even when it constitutes a violation of human rights. The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel only applies to Jews. Along with this goes the demotion of Arabic, the language of 1.8 Israeli Palestinian Arabs, from an official language. This, she says is reasonable, as it would only denigrate the non-Jewish, Palestinian Arab minority, Israel’s second class citizens. She does not see the contradiction, which is not surprising as she does not see very much at all. She tells us in Ha’aretz, “there are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained, and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality”. There can be civil rights, but this does not mean equal national rights, and this means human rights are dead and buried, unless you are Jewish.

She wants to legalize the settlements as Israeli territory, and pass laws that give settlers security. The settlements are not occupied, but Israeli territory, and the settlers need to know that they will always be part of Israel.

The day after the bodies of three kidnaped Israeli teens were found, and the day before six Jewish Israeli louts kidnapped and murdered, burnt alive, Palestinian Arab teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir in a revenge attack, Shacked posted a quotation from an article written by the deceased author Uir Elitzur on her Facebook page, dated 7th July 2014, that called Palestinian children little snakes and said it was justified to bomb civilians when they gave shelter to evil. She called for the genocide of the Palestinian Arabs. “They have to die, and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists … They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists”. “Behind every terrorist stands dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the Martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes will be raised there.”

In an attempt to justify her Facebook post, she said that she was simply repeating the words of someone else. That she would attempt to exonerate herself in this way was sickening. But then again there is little between her ears.

The prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded. “An Israeli woman said Palestinian mothers should be killed, too. And she’s a member of the Israeli Parliament. What is the difference between this mentality and Hitler’s?” Not a lot. She is endorsing a Palestinian Arab holocaust.

Ayelet Shaked, a failed computer scientist attempts to justify some of her positions by referring to academics. She tells us that Locke’s ideas were not actually what they were, drawn from Roman law, and the Athenian states, but were restatements of what is in the book of Genesis. They are secured by Judaism. Enough for stupidity, ignorance and ineptitude. What we need to do is put this Angel of Death where she belongs, in the jails of The Hague.

Eli Ben-Dahan

Ben-Dahan is a particularly nasty piece of work. He has served as a member of the Knesset for a party that would be outlawed in a civilized state, the ultra-right wing fascist Jewish Home Party. He has held ministerial appointments as Deputy Minister of Religious Service and Deputy Minister of Defense. He is an Orthodox rabbi. Ben-Dahan thinks that:

  • A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is homosexual. He has clarified, that he strongly opposes homosexuality, but that a homosexual Jew is superior to a Christian or Muslim of any sexual preference;
  • Palestinians are like animals, they are not human;[1]
  • It is legitimate to execute those who throw stones at the IDF.[2]

Reuven Hammer, a past president of the International Rabbinical Assembly, has denounced his views as pernicious and a perversion of Jewish teachings. They are heresy. He should resign from the Knesset, or be expelled.[3] Ben-Dahan is a racist. It’s easy to see how the second and third above, are consistent with the first. He is a blight against humanity, and uses fabricated religious views, views identified as such by other religious Jews, as an excuse for demonic elitism, illegal land confiscation and ethnic cleansing. He should not be a free man. His own ethics demand that he be caged, although our ethics say that he should remain behind bars for the rest of his life, in a civilized country, in The Hague.

Naftali Bennet

Naftali Bennett is one of the few truly vile persons on the planet.

We saw the standards of veracity take a dive when Donald Trump assumed office, and we now have the Pinocchio awards. Bennett easily upstages Trump! I have written about this in my posts on this site: The Appalling Naftali Bennet and Pinocchio Naftali Bennet At It Again

In those posts you will see that he thinks that Israel, which he incorrectly calls democratic, that the bible gave the Jews the right to claim Palestine. He says that the Palestinians are immigrants, mostly illegal. This does not stack up with the facts. The Jews, like everyone except the Palestinian Arabs, have no claim whatsoever to Palestine. Not only that, such a claim is beyond rational discourse, beyond discussion, it’s preposterous and absurd. The Zionist claim to Palestine is not supported by international law, and with the exception of Israel, not the law of any of today’s almost two hundred states. The people that has ownership rights in, and nationhood rights to Palestine, are the Palestinian Arabs.

For many of his, often demonic ideas, Bennet relies on the bible, notwithstanding there is little evidence supporting the biblical account of history.

More importantly, Bennet has murdered an unspecified number of Palestinian Arabs and he is proud of it. “I’ve killed many Arabs in my life and there is no problem with that”. This comment came in a Knesset committee discussion. The question was how to deal with what Israel might suspect to be Palestinian Arab terrorists. It was costly to put them on trial. Much simpler to execute them. No need for due process. We see this daily in the occupied territories. It’s just like Nazi Germany.

Bennett was widely condemned for these words, though he denied that he said them, even though what he said is in the Knesset records. He is a liar. He said that he said “terrorists should be killed if they pose an immediate life threat to our soldiers when in action”.

Bennett was a poor IDF commander. During Operation Grapes of Wrath, he led 67 troops into Lebanon, and violated the battle plan without informing his superiors, who he thought were cowards. Bennett’s troops were ambushed, and 102 civilians were killed, including four UN peacekeepers. When criticized, true to form, he called himself a hero, rather than an irresponsible fool. He has never been held to account for the civilian losses. He should be.

Bennet thinks that the West Bank, Judea and Samaria are part of Israel. In February 2012, Bennett published “The Israel Stability Initiative” which called for the complete annexation of the West Bank. He opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state … there is not going to be a Palestinian state within the tiny land of Israel”.

The Gaza Strip would become part of Egypt, and Areas A and B in the West Bank would become a sort of Palestinian canton. The IDF and Shin Bet would “ensure quiet, suppress Palestinian terrorism, and prevent Hamas from taking over the territory”. That would give the Palestinian Arabs 38% of the West Bank. They would occupy only 8% of their land, Palestine, but they would not rule it. They could choose to become Israeli citizens or permanent residents but the vast majority of Palestinians, those exiled, would be unwelcome, as would those in the Gaza Strip. He says that in this way, Israel can live with the Palestinian problem. When Trump was elected, Bennet proclaimed that “The era of the Palestinian state is over”.

Bennett is opposed to same-sex marriage. His rationale is laughable. “just as we don’t recognize milk and meat together as kosher”.

In December 2014, Scholars for Israel, called on the US and EU to impose sanctions on Bennett and others “who lead efforts to insure permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and to annex all or parts of it unilaterally in violation of international law”.  Their mantle is “pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, pro-peace”. They demanded that the US and the EU freeze Bennett’s foreign assets and impose visa restrictions.

Like Dumb Thug Trump he claims credit for everything. He recently claimed credit for a small improvement in Israel’s economic performance. However, according to Ha’aretz it was due to a fall in global commodity prices.

He says that Palestinian Arab terrorists should be shot, and has proposed a death sentence bill. The Knesset has approved a first reading of the bill making it applicable only to Palestinian Arabs taking part in “operations against Israeli targets”. Extremist defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, endorsed the bill. The approval was narrow, 52 to 49 but needs a second and third reading before it could become law.

The bill violates international law as “The conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis is not criminal in nature but nationalist,” so Israel cannot sentence Palestinian prisoners to death under the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It’s a problem as Israel refuses to be bound by international law, the Geneva conventions and the international Criminal Court.

[1] Both remarks in Tamar Pileggi, The Times of Israel, 11th October 2015, https://www.timesofisrael.com/new-deputy-defense-minister-called-palestinians-animals/

[2] Dana Nasi, Jerusalem Online, 16th July 2015

[3] Reuven Hammer, The Jerusalem Post, January 2014

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The First Intifadah, a Lame Excuse for More Israeli War Crimes

Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.

Intifadah means to shake off or to get rid of. Its use conveys aggressive, but legitimate nonviolent resistance.

There were two intifadahs. The first began in December 1987, and lasted until the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, although some might argue that the complete cessation was not until the Oslo Peace Accords in September 1993, and the creation of the Palestinian Authority, with limited self-rule.

The combination of economic depression, political repression and politicization is combustible. The first intifadah began in a refugee camp, at an army road block in the Gaza Strip, on the 8th December. An IDF truck collided with a car and killed four Palestinian Arabs and injured nine others. It appeared that the deaths were intended. The funerals ignited popular protests, and the initial unrest grew into spontaneous demonstrations and disturbances throughout the oPt.

The IDF used live ammunition against the unarmed Palestinian Arab protesters, which resulted in high casualties and stimulated an expansion of the violence.

The uprising spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem, and to subdue the protests, the IDF, the police and the Jewish settlers used live ammunition, shot and killed unarmed Palestinian Arabs, ambushed them, and subjected them to harassment and severe beatings.

In December 1987, immediately after the intifadah began, the PLO Executive Committee met. It delivered a strongly emotional expression of support for those involved, and a tirade against the Israelis. It called them fascists and Nazis. It wanted the international community involved.

The Security Council met at the request of (Democratic) Yemen,[1] on the 11th December and on nine other occasions during the month. On 22nd December, it adopted a resolution, 14 votes in favour to none against with 1 abstention, the US, that the Security Council “strongly deplored the policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people in the oPt, and in particular the opening of fire by the Israeli army, resulting in the killing and wounding of defenseless Palestinian civilians”. It reaffirmed that the GCIV was “applicable to the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”.[2] The Security Council requested the Secretary-General to examine the situation in the oPt, and recommend a way to ensure the safety of the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli occupation.

Despite demands that it not do so, Israel violated the GCIV and deported Palestinian Arab civilians from the oPt. On the 5th and then on the 14th January, the Security Council adopted further resolutions which demanded that Israel act lawfully and refrain from deporting Palestinian Arab civilians, and “to rescind the order to deport Palestinian civilians and to ensure the safe and immediate return to the occupied Palestinian territories of those already deported”. Both resolutions were passed unanimously, 14 votes in favour to none against with 1 abstention, the US.[3]

The Fourteen Point Memorandum

The Palestinian Arabs in the oPt issued a Fourteen-Point Memorandum on the 14th January 1988. It made demands of the Israeli occupiers and asked for the International Peace Conference.

The PLO Executive Committee and the Higher Committee for Occupied Homeland Affairs had issued a joint statement in December 1987:

Peace cannot be achieved except through the recognition of Palestinian national rights, including the right of self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on Palestinian national soil. Should these rights not be recognized, then the continuation of Israeli occupation will lead to further violence and bloodshed, and the further deepening of hatred.[4]

It continued, the uprising “affirms that all fascist Zionist crimes, terrorism, and repression cannot save the criminal occupation, … their defeat and removal from the sacred Palestinian land”, and the “the Zionist rulers today appear before the world as inheritors of Nazism and fascism”.

The message was that there was no point in proposing solutions that did not meet the demands that the Palestinian Arabs had made continually since the first days of the Mandate. The Accords, the Reagan Plan and similar proposals were pointless. If the demands were not met, there would be more problems.

The way forward was a decision-making UN International Peace Conference. Israel’s only ally was the US which had vetoed almost all UN Security Council resolutions detrimental to Israel. Outside of the Security Council the US would not have a veto, and the International Peace Conference would support the Palestinian Arabs overwhelmingly. Israel’s survival thus depended on being obstructive and doing anything to prevent the Conference from coming about.

The Fourteen-Point demands were actions that Israel had to take before the Conference. I have summarized them as follows:

  1. Abide by the GCIV, and all other agreements pertaining to the protection and rights of civilians under military occupation, to declare the Emergency Regulations of the British Mandate null and void, and “to stop applying the iron fist policy”;
  2. The immediate compliance with Security Council Resolutions 605 and 607, calling upon Israel to abide by the GCIV, and the Declaration of Human Rights;
  3. Release all prisoners and rescind all proceedings against them;
  4. Cancel expulsions, allow all those exiled to return, release administrative detainees, cancel house arrests, and accept the hundreds of applications for family reunions;
  5. Lift the siege of Palestinian Arab refugee camps, withdraw the IDF from population centres;
  6. Undertake an inquiry into the IDF and settler actions in the oPt and detention camps, and take punitive measures;
  7. Cease all settlements activity and land confiscations, release confiscated land, end the harassment of Palestinian Arabs by settlers in the oPt, curtail the provocative activities of Sharon and the ultra-religious settlers;
  8. Refrain from any act which impinges on the Muslim and Christian holy sites or which might introduce change to the status quo in the city of Jerusalem;
  9. Cancel VAT and all other Israeli taxes imposed on Palestinian Arab residents the oPt, end the harassment of Palestinian Arab business and tradesmen;
  10. Cancel all restrictions on political freedoms, and permit municipal elections;
  11. Release all monies deducted from the wages of laborers from the oPt who have worked or still work inside the green line, and return it with interest;
  12. Remove all restrictions on building permits and licenses for industrial projects and artesian and agricultural development programs in the oPt, and rescind the measures taken to deprive the oPt of their water resources;
  13. Terminate the discrimination against industrial and agricultural produce from the oPt, remove the restrictions on the transfer of goods within the green line, and place restrictions on the transfer of Israeli goods into the oPt;
  14. Remove the restrictions on contact between the inhabitants of the oPt and the PLO, so that Palestinian Arabs in the oPt can participate in the Palestinian National Council.

The reason for the detail, and the description of actions for Israel to take, but which would not be necessary when Israel was removed, was to show case the depth of Israel’s repressive behavior and its flouting of the law.

During the intifadah, there was an attempt by the US to resolve the problems. On the 6th March 1988, US Secretary of State George Shultz proposed a plan based upon a combination of bilateral negotiations and the contemplated International Peace Conference. He suggested that the Palestinian Arabs and Jordan negotiate as a team with Israel. For this reason, the plan was dead in the water before it began. The Palestinian Arabs had written off direct negotiation with Israel.

Following the Schultz proposal, the PLO Executive Committee in April, made a statement on the intifadah. It said it would continue, and it wanted to dismantle the blockade which Israel had erected solely to conceal what they were doing from the rest of the world. It rejected all the proposals, including the autonomy half measures and restated its views:

The PLO believes that the appropriate framework for a just solution is a UN-sponsored international conference with effective powers attended by the five permanent members of the Security Council and all the parties to the conflict in the region including the PLO, on an equal footing with the other parties and on the basis of international legality and UN resolutions on the Question of Palestine and the Middle East.

The command of the intifadah managed work days within the strikes so that the Palestinian Arabs could survive, and managed schools and other educational resources. It emphasized self-sufficiency, and, for example, the need to manage water and water wells, health care and legal aid. There were also special protest days, and it remarked that the intifadah marked 20 years of persecution and oppression and attempts to destroy the Palestinian identity.

Report of the Secretary-General of the 21st January 1988

In response to the Security Council’s request, the Secretary-General dispatched a representative to Israel and the oPt to examine the situation and explore ways to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian Arabs. The representative met with Israeli officials and about 200 Palestinian Arabs. On the 21st January the Secretary-General submitted a two part report to the Security Council.

The first part, “The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories” addressed Israel’s abuse of human rights, and the domestic conditions of the Palestinian Arabs. It reported that the Palestinian Arabs rejected the Israeli occupation, and complained about, or that:

  • The practices of the Israeli security forces including the IDF, the border police, the civilian police and the General Security Services, the GSS, also known as Shin Beth;
  • Palestinian Arabs were treated with contempt and arrogance that was deliberately intended to humiliate them and undermine their dignity as human beings;
  • The routine violence in detention centres, and administrative detentions;
  • The purpose of interrogation was to extract confessions that would be used in military courts;
  • There was extreme physical violence, and psychological pressure, for example, the GSS used techniques like hooding;
  • Political activity was banned;
  • Land was stolen and used for settlements;
  • Palestinian Arabs were deported.

The second part, “Ways and means for ensuring the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation”, considered the need for a settlement, the GCIV, and ways of protecting the Palestinian Arabs. The report noted:

  • More should be done to ensure the protection of the Palestinian Arabs;
  • Any measure would be palliative absent Israel’s withdrawal from the oPt, and Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have declared the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, and insisted on Israel’s withdrawal;
  • An urgent effort is required by the international community, and the Security Council to achieve a lasting settlement;
  • In the opinion juris of the world community, the GCIV applied to the oPt, so Israel must apply GCIV. If it did not, those signatories of the GCIV which have diplomatic relations with Israel, should ensure that Israel respected all its provisions, in all circumstances.

The Security Council, should ensure, urgently, protections for the Palestinian Arabs:

  • Physical protection included armed forces to deter, and fight, threats to the safety of the Palestinian Arabs;
  • Legal protection included judicial and political interventions;
  • General assistance meant resistance to violations of the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, and measures to cope with the day-to-day difficulties of life under occupation, security, curfews and harassment;
  • News media protection meant enabling publicity.

The recommended actions included:

  • The International Peace Conference;
  • The UNRWA to address the “squalid living conditions in many of the camps, especially in the Gaza Strip, resulting from the lack of such basic amenities as paved roads, sewage, water, lighting and housing of a minimum standard”;
  • The UNDP to address the economic development of the oPt.

He summarized that an urgent effort was required by the international community, and the Security Council.

The Secretary-General received a number of responses:

Kuwait as a member of the UN, wrote to the Secretary-General. The OIC had adopted a communiqué addressing the desecration by Israeli forces of Masjid (that is, Mosque) al-Aqsa during Friday prayers on the 15th January.[5] Israeli troops stormed the Mosque, opened fire and launched tear gas grenades at the worshippers. There were serious injuries. The OIC condemned Israel, and its violations of the GCIV. It supported the uprising.

The Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People expressed, again, its concern over Israel’s violation of the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, the GCIV, and UN resolutions. The Committee specifically protested Israel’s illegal exercise of collective punishment. The Committee endorsed 38/58 C, and the International Peace Conference, and appealed to all states and parties to provide food and other necessities to refugees in the camps.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, pointed out the urgent need to take concrete steps to implement the decisions of the General Assembly. He proposed that the Security Council should become far more active and more aggressive. He suggested that the Foreign Ministers should be involved, and endorsed the International Peace Conference.

The Secretary-General’s report was discussed by the Security Council at five meetings between the end of January and the beginning of February. The overwhelming majority demonstrably criticized Israel for its repressive and harsh measures against the Palestinian Arabs. He said the only way forward was the International Peace Conference.

The non-aligned states drafted a resolution which demanded that Israel, as illegal occupier and signatory of the GCIV, accept, de jure, its applicability in the oPt, including Jerusalem, to comply fully with its obligations, desist from violations of the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs, and facilitate the task of the ICRC and UNRWA. It requested the Secretary-General to monitor the oPt and affirmed the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

On 1st February, the draft was put to the vote, and was unanimous, except for the single US veto. The resolution was thus not adopted. It was disastrous. Despite the failure to adopt the resolution, the significance of this document, cannot be overestimated. It established, clearly, that Israel existed only at the pleasure of the US.

Israeli Policies and Actions in the Intifadah

During the intifadah, there were strikes, disruptions, non-violent and violent demonstrations, and boycotts of the Israeli civil administration. Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, stones and firearms. Palestinian Arabs refused to work on Israeli products, set up barricades, withheld taxes, and refused to drive cars with Israeli license plates. There was widespread destruction and human suffering.

The Israeli military response was extreme as usual. Despite world-wide condemnation, Israel continued with its iron-fist policy. This resulted in mass injuries and heavy loss of life. Many of the elderly, and many women and children were murdered. Specialized, toxic tear gas attacks killed hundreds. Children rarely survived and miscarriages among pregnant Palestinian Arab women were common. Palestinian Arabs were indiscriminately beaten and subject to other forms of physical abuse. They were attacked violently by the settlers. Prolonged curfews, collective punishments, administrative detentions, and deportations were standard practices. House demolitions were used to punish families.

The US Department of State, in 1988 noted that Israel contravened the GCIV, and The Hague Conventions of 1907. There was a “substantial increase in human rights violations” and “frequently used gunfire in situations that did not present mortal danger to troops, causing many avoidable deaths and injuries”. There were five cases of Palestinian Arabs in detention being executed “by the detaining officials”. “abuse, and harsh and demeaning treatment of prisoners and detainees” was usual.

On 19th January, Itzhak Rabin, Israeli Minister of Defense, confirmed that Israel’s policy was “force, might, beatings”.[6]

Palestinian Arab and foreign physicians, human rights organizations, and the international and Israeli press reported that the practice of using clubs to break limbs, and beat Palestinians who were not involved in disturbances, was widespread. Families were evicted from their homes during the night, and were made to stand for hours. Men and boys were beaten in reprisals.[7] Palestinian Arab children were treated as adults for security offences, which were defined fluidly. The Israeli Attorney-General of Israel declared these practices illegal.

To conceal its actions from the international community, Israel resorted to a media and information blackout, and imposed increasing restraints on the freedom of expression.[8]

The IDF deployed 80,000 soldiers, 1,200 Palestinian Arabs were killed, and 20,000 wounded. Thirty thousand youths were targeted, regularly, for beatings and physical abuse. One hundred Israeli civilians and 60 IDF servicemen were killed, 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 servicemen were injured. 12,000 Palestinian Arabs were held in detention for indefinite periods of time, and hundreds deported.

In short, it was a bloodbath, where Israel’s war crime and its affront to humanity hit new levels.

The intifadah cost the Israeli economy hundreds of millions of dollars and cast a significantly further dark light on Israel, especially as the number of deaths of Palestinian Arab children became known to the world. Israel lost large amounts of foreign support.

The Commission on Human Rights

During the Intifadah, the international community stepped up its political, humanitarian and economic support for the Palestinian Arabs.

The UN, the EEC, the League of Arab States, the OIC, the OAU, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the Nordic States, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Gulf Co-operation Council, the Caribbean Community and the Association of South-East Asian Nations all took actions, and the Commission on Human Rights continued to focus on Palestinian Arab human rights.

The Commission resolved in March to demand that Israel abide by the GCVI, and condemned the killing, wounding, arresting, and the torturing of Palestinian Arabs, kidnapping Palestinian children, its use of physical violence, specifically, to break the bones of men, women and children, and causing women to miscarry. It condemned Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. The Commission reaffirmed its support for the International Peace Conference, and 38/58 C.

The Commission recommended that the Security Council adopt Chapter VII enforcement measures, against Israel, including military enforcement, to restore international peace and security.[9]

United States Tried to Block PLO UN Representation

The US tried all sorts of tactics to interfere in the Israeli-Arab dispute. It adopted the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, in order to close the Permanent Observer Mission of the PLO.

The presence of the Mission was covered by the UN Headquarters Agreement, an agreement between the UN and the US, according to which, the PLO had the right, as did all UN member states and observers, to maintain facilities in New York. Its personnel were permitted to enter and remain in the US in order to carry out their duties and functions.

The US challenged the Headquarters Agreement, but the International Court of Justice on the 26th April delivered a unanimous opinion that should the US wish to pursue the matter further, it must seek arbitration. The US District Judge in Manhattan, on the 29th June dismissed the US case seeking to close the PLO Mission. The US chose not to appeal, and the dispute was closed.

Developments, the Question of Palestine

During 1988, apart from the Israeli oppression, Israel continued to attack the PLO directly. On the 16th April it sent commando force into Tunisia and assassinated Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Palestinian Armed Forces and a member of the Central Committee of the PLO. The Security Council considered the assassination between the 21st and 25th April 1988, and resolved on the 25th April, by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention, to condemn vigorously the aggression perpetrated on 16th April against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Tunisia in flagrant violation of the UN Charter, international law and norms of conduct.[10] It would seem that Israel was a law unto itself. It disregarded all agreements, and took no notice of the globe’s condemnations.

By mid-1988 uncontrolled Israeli and terrorism, and its continual breaches of territorial integrity made it imperative to find a solution to the Question of Palestine.

In June 1988, the PLO announced that the PLO would talk to any party chosen by Israel to represent it. PLO accepted Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) within the framework of a UN resolution that recognized the Palestinian Arabs inalienable rights. It said that the PLO would accept and an international guardian for the oPt, and it would insist on international guarantees for the security of all countries in the region. Bilateral peace negotiations with Israel would be undertaken within a UN International Peace Conference.

On the 31st July 1988, King Hussain of Jordan announced a confirmation of the Rabat decision to acknowledge the PLO. Jordan would sever its administrative and legal links with the occupied West Bank because of the need to focus on the distinct Palestinian Arab identity in all issues related to the Question of Palestine. He noted the bonds between the entire Arab community, and that the Jordanian Palestinians remained citizens of Jordan, and Jordan would continue to fully support the Palestinian Arabs, the uprising, and their national objectives. The Jordanian Parliament, which included representatives from the West Bank was dissolved. This PLO which assumed responsibility for the administration of the oPt.

On the 28th August, Yasser Arafat and the UN Secretary-General met in Geneva and discussed the political and material assistance that the UN may provide the Palestinian Arabs.

On the 13th September, he addressed the Socialist Group of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. He spoke about the plight of the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli occupation, and the intifadah. He made it clear that for the PLO would only agree to a UN sponsored International Peace Conference, and with the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council and, obviously, the parties to the conflict, and Israel. The PLO wanted an independent Palestinian Arab State, liberated from Israeli occupation, with democratic, multi-party politics, which respected human rights, where there would be no distinctions among its citizens resulting from difference in color, race or religion. The Conference must assume agreement by all parties with the relevant UN resolutions on the Question of Palestine, including Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and acceptance of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian Arabs. Arafat eschewed terrorism, as set out in the 1985 Cairo Declaration and General Assembly resolution 42/159 of the 7th December 1987. Arafat also acknowledged Israel’s right to exist within its 1967 borders, and that with the formation of an independent Palestinian state, normal relations with Israel would be acceptable.

Special Session of the General Assembly

On 30th September, the Secretary-General made a number of observations.

All members of the Security Council had agreed on the UN sponsored International Peace Conference. There were differences of opinion over the framework, and who should take part, but all agreed that it was urgent.

The situation in the oPt, however, continued to deteriorate. Collective punishment of the Palestinian Arabs became more frequent as did extended curfews. The Israelis continued to demolish Palestinian Arab houses. There were military sieges of towns, villages and refugee camps. Sanctions also included closing schools and universities, and outlawing labour unions.

The Group of Arab States asked for a special meeting of the General Assembly on the intifadah. The agenda item was a “Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories”.

On the 3rd November, the General Assembly adopted a resolution,[11] 130 in favour, 2 against, with 16 abstentions, condemning “the opening of fire by the Israeli army and settlers that result in the killing and wounding of defenseless Palestinian civilians, the beating and breaking of bones, the deportation of Palestinian civilians, the imposition of restrictive economic measures, the demolition of houses, collective punishment and detentions, as well as denial of access to the media”. The General Assembly also called upon the signatories of the GCIV “to take appropriate measures to ensure respect by Israel, the occupying Power, for the Convention in all circumstances in conformity with their obligation under article 1”.

The Secretary-General, and the UN Centre for Human Rights, (the secretariat for the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories), said that it was essential that Israel comply.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,[12] voiced again its grave concern of “the increasing resort by Israel to armed force and other draconian measures in an effort to suppress the popular uprising, which began in early December 1987, against the continued occupation and gradual annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory and against the Israeli policies and practices violating the rights of the Palestinian people”. The Committee drew the attention of the General Assembly and Security Council to Israel’s flagrant violations of the GCIV, its attempts to prevent the Palestinian Arabs from attaining their inalienable rights, and thwarting international efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine.

The Nineteenth Session of the Palestine National Council[13]

The Nineteenth Extraordinary Session of the PNC was a land mark event. It produced two major documents, “The Political Communiqué of the Palestine National Council” and “The Declaration of Independence”. The Session also set up a provisional government.

The Political Communiqué affirmed the determination of the PLO to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Question of Palestine within the framework of the UN Charter, the resolutions of the UN, the resolutions of the Arab summit conferences, the right of the Palestinian Arabs to return to Palestine, the exercise of their self-determination, and to establish an independent Palestinian State. The PNC wanted:

  • The UN International Peace Conference, as contemplated;
  • Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from the oPt and other Arab oPt;
  • Removal of the settlements established by Israel;
  • The oPt to be placed under UN protection for a limited period of time;
  • A Palestinian Arab state;
  • The refugees’ problem to be resolved, in accordance with UN resolutions;
  • Religious freedom, etc., for all religions;
  • The Security Council’s assurance of peace and security.

On the 15th November 1988, the PNC declared its continuing support for the intifadah, which should be intensified, and asked for international support on a number of matters, and issued the Palestinian Declaration of Independence which proclaimed an independent State.

It noted “Despite the historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arabs in its displacement and in being deprived of the right to self-determination following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish State, that resolution nevertheless continues to attach conditions to international legitimacy that guarantee the Palestinian Arabs the right to sovereignty and national independence.”

The Zionists had first claimed that Palestine did not shelter a population, however the absurdity and self-serving nature of this remark was quickly noted. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League and the Treaty of Lausanne recognized that all Arab territories, including Palestine, of the formerly Ottoman empire were to be granted freedom, and sovereignty. General Assembly resolution 181 (1947) partitioned Palestine, which confirmed the legitimacy to the claim of Palestinian sovereignty.

The Declaration continued:

By virtue of the natural, historical and legal rights of the Palestinian Arab people to its homeland, Palestine, and of the sacrifices of its succeeding generations in defense of the freedom and independence of that homeland, “Pursuant to the resolutions of the Arab Summit Conference and on the basis of the international legitimacy embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations since 1947, and … Through the exercise by the Palestinian Arab people of its right to self-determination, political independence and sovereignty over its territory and … in exercise by the Palestinian Arab people of its rights to self-determination, political independence, and sovereignty over its territory, The Palestine National Council hereby declares, in the name of God and on behalf of the Palestinian Arab people, the establishment of the State of Palestine in the land of Palestine with its capital at Jerusalem.

The main features were:

  • The State of Palestine was for all Palestinians, wherever they then were;
  • Religious and political beliefs, and human rights and dignity to be safeguarded;
  • Palestine to be a parliamentary democracy, with an independent judiciary, and with respect for the rule of law;
  • Respect for minorities, no discrimination in civil rights on the grounds of race, religion or color, between men and women, mutual tolerance, etc.;
  • Palestine to be an Arab state, and a part of the Arab nation;
  • Palestine was committed to the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and would be an unaligned state.

On the 28th November the Secretary-General noted that the intifadah had been an inspiration behind the PNC session at Algiers.

The State of Palestine was immediately welcomed by the international community. Within a month, independent Palestine was recognized by 80 States in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The US finally recognized the PLO on the 14th December 1988, ending the US’s embarrassing estrangement from the world community over the Question of Palestine. It took five more years for Israel to accept the PLO. Its hand was forced, and it did so on the 13th September 1993.

Forty-Third Session of the General Assembly in Geneva

The PNC decided that Chairman Yasser Arafat should head the PLO delegation to the forty-third session of the General Assembly when it considered the Question of Palestine. Arafat would participate and make an opening statement. The reaction of the US was to deny him a visa, and attempt to block his entry to the US.

In the first instance, the US maintained that Arafat was a security threat, but when it became obvious that this was absurd, the US said that his entry and presence in the US did not meet certain relevant standards. A similar issue had been resolved by a previous Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld. The UN legal team responded: “I am of the opinion that the host country was and is under an obligation to grant the visa request of the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO, an organization which has been granted observer status by the General Assembly.”

The General Assembly dealt with the matter on 2nd December.  A resolution, “Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country” was put to a vote. It deplored the failure of the host country, the US, to honor the request of the General Assembly and admit Arafat, and elected to consider the Question of Palestine at the UN Office in Geneva. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 154 in favour, 2 against with 1 abstention, and the UN session moved to Geneva. The Question of Palestine was considered from the 13th to the 15th December 1988. The attempted US obstruction was petty.

On the 13th December, Arafat addressed the General Assembly again.

He began with an historical retrospective, after which he reminded the delegates of the numerous peace plans proposed during the past decades. He underscored the role the intifadah, and specifically reminded the delegates of the PNC’s position on terrorism.

He summarized a peace plan:

  • The preparatory committee to be convened, and in accordance with the initiatives of President Gorbachev and President Mitterrand presented to the General Assembly the previous September by Mitterrand;
  • With the single exception of Israel, the problem that gave rise to the Question of Palestine, the UN International Peace Conference commanded universal support;
  • The UN must place the oPt under temporary UN supervision and deploy a force to protect the Palestinian Arabs, and supervise the withdrawal of Israel;
  • The PLO will work to achieve a comprehensive settlement between the States of Palestine and Israel, and the other neighboring states on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

The peace plan was welcomed by almost all delegations, which also endorsed the Palestinian Arab struggle for their inalienable rights, and the newly established State of Palestine. Israel was severely criticized, and there was concern about Israel’s attempts to crush the intifadah.

On the 15th December, the resolution calling for the convening of the UN sponsored International Peace Conference, with the provisos and conditions described above, was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 138 votes in favour to 2 against, with 2 abstentions.[14]

A further resolution acknowledged the State of Palestine, and that the designation Palestine should be used in place of Palestine Liberation Organization. The resolution was adopted by 104 votes in favour to 2 against, with 36 abstentions.[15]

The US announced that it was prepared to “engage in a substantive dialogue with the PLO”. It was opposed to the resolution convening the International Peace Conference because it did not explicitly agree to direct negotiations, and the US neither accepted nor did not accept the independent Palestinian State. The PLO-US dialogue resumed on the 16th December.

Glasnost

Syria and the other Arab nations lost political and military support of Moscow, and Egypt came back into the Arab League in May 1989, and Israel permitted hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel. but the US became largely distracted by the Gulf War against Iraq by the spring of 1991. However, the efforts of Secretary of State James Baker lead to the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991.

[1] Yemen was the Chairman of the Group of Arab States in that month.

[2] The resolution was 605 of 1987.

[3] The resolutions were 607 and 608 of 1988

[4] The Israeli-Arab Reader, Page 316

[5] At an urgent meeting, at the UN, New York, 19th January 1988

[6] New York Times, 23rd January 1988

[7] UN Country Reports on Human Rights abuse in Israel and the oPt, Page 1397

[8] Ibid, Page 1382

[9] 44th Session, 1st February to 11th March 1988, the resolutions were 1988/1 A, 1988/1 B and 1988/3

[10] It was 611 adopted 25th April 1988

[11] It was 43/21

[12] In its 1988 report to the General Assembly

[13] From the 12th to the 15th November 1988, Algiers, Algeria

[14] It was 43/176

[15] It was 43/177

Five Years of Israeli War Crimes and Abuse of Human Rights, Continued

Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.Israel’s denial of peace

The 1980s were marked by Israeli’s abuse of human rights, and execution of war crimes. During the years 1984 to 1988, there was a drastic lowering of the living conditions of the Palestinian Arabs in the oPt, a direct result of Israeli aggression and its eschewal of human rights. To address this problem, economic and social assistance was provided by the UN and private relief organizations. Many Palestinian Arabs were forced in order to survive, to seek employment in Israel where they were grossly mistreated.

By the end of 1988, in the wake of the Geneva session of the General Assembly, Israel found itself isolated, globally. Between 1984 and 1988, the UN’s influence increased substantially.

The UN sponsored International Peace Conference, gained, except for Israel, universal support, not only as a way forward, but as the only way forward.

During 1984

After the General Assembly passed resolution 38/58 on the 13th March 1984 calling for an International Peace Conference, the UN -Secretary-General, sent letters to nineteen member states, and the PLO, soliciting opinions on the matter.[1]

The US was opposed to the Peace Conference, and to resolution 38/58 C. It said that the way to peace was on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and that a Peace Conference would hinder the peace process. The US provided no reasons for its position, and moreover, few disagreed with 242 and 338, which required Israel to withdraw from the oPt, an item on the International Peace Conference Agenda. Its position simply reflected Israel’s position, a position with no rationale. It was grossly irresponsible.

Israel too was opposed to the Peace Conference. It said that it would serve “as a forum for the dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda”. This was certainly true, and appropriate. The entire world, except the US was at loggerheads with Israel. Israel rejected any UN sponsored peace conference. It did not say why, but the reasons were obvious. Israel would face opposition from across the globe.

The other seventeen, and the PLO, were very much in favour of the Peace Conference, and its agenda.

The USSR strongly supported 38/58 C, and an international collective effort, as it “would open up a real path towards an all-embracing solution for all the problems generated by the Middle East conflict”. On the 29th July 1984, it submitted “Proposals by the Soviet Union on a Middle East settlement”. These Proposals focused on the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the International Peace Conference Agenda. The Proposals noted the need to end war in the region. The Security Council, or its permanent members could guarantee peace.

The PLO was very much in agreement with 38/35 C and the proposal for the International Peace Conference. It was critical of the US response. It added its support for Fez as the minimum measure of justice, and the International Peace Conference Agenda. The PLO also declared its supported the involvement of the US and USSR.

The Arab states that were directly involved, Jordon, Lebanon and Syria were fully supportive of the International Peace Conference and its Agenda, and 38/58 C.

Jordan stressed the importance of international law and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. It explicitly stated that it accepted 242 and 338.

Lebanon added that it was host to a large number of Palestinian Arab refugees and had been subjected to illegal Israeli acts of aggression, and the invasion of its territory, notwithstanding that it was an innocent bystander in the conflict.

Syria added that Israel’s policy of aggression and force was a significant obstacle to peace. It expressed strong support for the July Soviet proposals.

Egypt reiterated its support for the International Peace Conference Agenda and in the justice and legitimacy of the Palestinian cause. It called upon the Secretary-General to exert every effort to make the International Peace Conference happen.

The UN Secretary-General, in September 1984 reminded all parties that the International Peace Conference would require the participation of those directly involved, the US and the USSR, but that neither Israel, nor the US had agreed to it. He added later that only a comprehensive settlement could deliver the International Peace Conference Agenda, so all parties needed to talk, under the auspices of the UN.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People expressed regret over the Israeli and the US decisions but emphasized that this would not deter them from pursuing the International Peace Conference.

A number of prominent intergovernmental organizations such as the European Economic Community, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and its Committee of Nine on Palestine,[2] the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee were all strongly in favour of the International Peace Conference.

In summary, although the support for the International Peace Conference was universal with the exception of Israel and the US, planning did not progress because of the single US Security Council veto.

During 1985

During 1985, the Security Council debated the situation in the Middle East on many occasions. On the 12th and 13th September 1985, at the request of the Group of Arab States, it considered a draft resolution that deplored the repressive measures that Israel took against the Palestinian Arabs in the oPt and demanded that Israel desist, release the detainees and refrain from deportations. It demanded that Israel abide by GCIV. The resolution was vetoed by the single US vote.

During its February session,[3] the UN Commission on Human Rights considered the “Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territory, including Palestine”. It denounced the refusal of Israel to allow the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the OPt access to the oPt. It reiterated the deep and disturbing concern of the Special Committee with Israel’s actions in the territories and confirmed that many, including Israel’s breach of the GCIV, were war crimes and an affront to humanity. It demanded that Israel refrain from such actions, and implement all UN resolutions. It reiterated its call to all states not to recognize Israeli changes in the oPt and to avoid actions which might help Israel pursue its appalling policies. It requested that the General Assembly recommend to the Security Council the adoption of enforcement measures against Israel.

In a declaration adopted by the Asian-African Conference[4] in April, the participating states expressed their full solidarity with, and support for the Palestinian Arabs and the PLO. The Conference condemned Israeli practices, and reaffirmed that there could be no resolution of the Middle Eastern conflict until Israel unconditionally withdrew from the oPt, including Jerusalem.

The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Ten States Members of the EEC, on the 29th April, reaffirmed that peace required the participation of all concerned parties, and their willingness to contribute to the peace process.

Later, in July, the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the OAU[5], it reiterated its unwavering support for the Palestinian Arabs and the PLO, and strongly condemned any initiatives that did not take into account the aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs.

In August, the Summit of Arab States,[6] stated the necessity for continued Arab support for UN resolutions on the Question of Palestine. The Summit said that the International Peace Conference, with -the participation of the permanent members of the Security Council, and the concerned parties, would deliver peace.

In September, the Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries,[7] reaffirmed 38/58 C, and that a solution to the Question of Palestine could not be achieved without the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from all Palestinian Arab and other Arab territories, including Jerusalem, and the implementation of the International Peace Conference Agenda. The Conference stressed the urgent need for the International Peace Conference.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People[8] reported in 1985, that the resolution of the Question of Palestine had reached a critical phase, and urged renewed efforts to find a solution under UN auspices. The Committee was convinced that the International Peace Conference described in 38/58 C would lead to a solution.

In its 1985 annual report,[9] the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the OPt, stressed once more the hardships of the day-to-day life of the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli occupation. Israel continued to ignore GCIV. Israel’s abuse of human rights had skyrocketed because of the uncontrolled and vicious violence of the armed Jewish settlers directed at the unarmed Palestinian Arabs:

The extent and force of the activities undertaken by these settlers in regard to the Palestinians in the oPt showed that, in fact, it was the settlers who constituted the real authority in the country …

The civilian population remained without any protection whatsoever. Corroborative of this attitude of the Israeli authorities is the leniency with which members of the Jewish underground found guilty of murder and physical abuse of the civilian population were treated by the authorities. … There remains no doubt that the true political force in the oPt, which determines the fate of the civilian population, is made up of the settlers implanted illegally in these territories.

At the fortieth session of the General Assembly, in 1985, it resolved[10] that convening the International Peace Conference would be a major advance towards solving the conflict in the Middle East, and called upon Israel and the US to reconsider their positions towards peace.

The UN Secretary-General’s 1985 report[11] on the Middle East stated that the Security Council had a universally recognized responsibility for the explosive problems in the Middle East, and he acknowledged that there were difficulties. He was referring, obliquely, to Israel’s abominable attitudes and behavior.

During 1985, Israel reinstated the 1945 British Mandate’s emergency regulations enabling it to deport Palestinian Arabs and to detain them, with neither charge nor trial, for renewable six-monthly periods. The regulations permitted Israel to shut down the news media for any reason it chose. This was the cornerstone of the new repressive policy. Israel had continued to confiscate Palestinian Arab land, it had continued to increase the size and number of the settlements, and continued its policy of economic subjugation. It had also extended Israeli infrastructure into the oPt.

During 1985, all parties agreed that the conditions in the oPt markedly worsened, as did the appalling conditions of Palestinian Arab refugees in southern Lebanon, both as a result of Israel’s demonic policies and actions.

During 1986

By 1986, the UN sponsored International Peace Conference was seen by all, including Israel and the US, as the only means of resolving the Question of Palestine and achieving the International Peace Conference Agenda. It was certainly true that Israel did not want peace if the cost was the oPt. Ever since the first Zionist Congress in Basel in 1987, the Zionists had coveted the West Bank. Since 1967, they had occupied it, and they intended to keep it. With the US as its ally, it was not threatened militarily. An International Peace Conference could force it to remove itself from the West Bank. The US simply followed Israel.

The Question of Palestine, however, remained on the Security Council’s agenda throughout 1986.

The OIC and its Al-Quds Committee held a number of meetings in 1986 and considered the Question of Palestine. In January,[12] the Al-Quds Committee recommended, in order to effectively oppose the Zionist occupation, the support for the Palestinian Arabs should span multiple levels, and consist of political, military and economic support. Later in the year, on the 2nd October, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the OIC, emphasized the importance of the International Peace Conference, as contemplated by 38/58 C.

In March, the UN Commission on Human Rights considered the “Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine”.[13] The Commission reaffirmed that the occupation itself was a violation of the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs. It expressed deep concern over Israel’s homeland doctrine which contemplated a Jewish state which included the oPt. It condemned and rejected Israel’s decision to annex Jerusalem and the changes it had made to its physical nature and demographics, the changes it had made in the oPt, and stated categorically, that these measures were null and void. The Commission condemned Israel’s failure to abide by the GCVI, it strongly condemned Israel’s torture of Palestinian Arab detainees and prisoners, and their deportation. It demanded that Israel co-operate with the Red Cross, and similar organizations.

The UN Secretary-General’s March report, despite the endorsement of the International Peace Conference by all parties except the US and Israel, expressed concerns over the obstacles. The report stated:[14]

In light of the debate of the General Assembly on the above resolution and other available information, I believe that the obstacles which have so far prevented the convening of the International Peace Conference on the Middle East as called for by the General Assembly still exist. However, I also believe that the observations contained in my report of 22 October 1985, which are recalled above, remain valid.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a resolution in April[15] on the Question of Palestine. It demanded the full, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from all oPt and affirmed the International Peace Conference Agenda. The Conference called for parliaments and governments, globally to support the International Peace Conference.

In its 1986 report, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People[16] noted that Israel continued to remain in the oPt, in violation of numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. It continued to repress the Palestinian Arabs and expand the settlements. The Committee stated that Israel was primarily responsible for the tensions and violence that continued to mount in the Middle East. Israel thus compromised international peace and security. The priority was convening the International Peace Conference.

When Israel violated the Haram al-Sharif, Morocco as Chairman of the OIC, requested an emergency session of the Security Council. It tabled a draft resolution on the 30th June which read: the Security Council was deeply concerned at “the provocative acts by Israelis, including members of the Knesset, which have violated the sanctity of the sanctuary of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem”, it deplored these acts, and affirmed that “such acts constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, the failure of which could also endanger international peace and security”. It criticized Israel’s violation of the GCIV. The resolution was vetoed by the US, but voting was otherwise unanimous.

In July, the Council of Ministers of the OAU[17] reiterated once again, their support for the Fez Arab Peace Plan and the International Peace Conference. They called upon the Security Council to be a guarantor of the rights of the Palestinian Arabs.

The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries considered the Question of Palestine many times. In September, it reaffirmed its solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs, and the Arab countries, victims of Israeli aggression.[18] It condemned agreements that violated the rights of the Palestinian Arabs. It stressed the urgent need for the International Peace Conference and confirmed the International Peace Conference Agenda. It called on the Security Council to direct a preparatory committee, comprised of its permanent members, to set the wheels in motion for the International Peace Conference.

During the forty-first session of the General Assembly, in September, an overwhelming majority adopted a resolution calling on the Security Council to establish the preparatory committee and ensure that the International Peace Conference went forward immediately.

The UN Secretary-General’s October report[19] noted the alarming absence of any active negotiating process, and the singular position of the US. On the prospects for the International Peace Conference on the Middle East he said that:

… the idea of an International Peace Conference to be gaining wider support and a number of procedural proposals have been made in bilateral contacts involving the parties in the region and others who are interested in a settlement of this long- standing conflict. Important disagreements nevertheless remain on the scope of the Conference, on its timing and especially on the question of participation. The latter question, more specifically how the interests and rights of the Palestinian people should be represented, has so far proved impossible to resolve in a manner acceptable to all the potential participants in the proposed Conference. Agreement on that issue would do more than anything else to unblock the present deadlock in the negotiating process.

In 1986, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the OPt, revealed new information.[20] It announced that there was an escalation of violence as a result of Israel’s revived iron-fist policy. There were increased arrests and trials, increased detentions of civilians, including minors, for political or security offences, and large scale expulsions and deportations. The Special Committee concluded:

… the policy pursued by the Government of Israel in the oPt continues, as in the past, to be based on the principle that the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 constitute a part of the State of Israel. This is at the source of the policy of annexation and establishment of settlements in oPt, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the international obligations of Israel as a State Party to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

During 1987

The year 1987 was the anniversary of a number of significant events. It was the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the fortieth anniversary of the 1947 UN partition resolution, 181 (II), the twentieth anniversary of the 1967 war and the fifth anniversary of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People designated 1987 as The Year of the Palestinian People.

The Fifth Islamic Summit Conference in January, vigorously recommended the International Peace Conference, and the Security Council preparatory committee.[21]

In February, the EEC endorsed the International Peace Conference in its “Declaration of the Foreign Ministers of the Twelve States Members of the European Community on the Middle East”.[22] The Twelve wrote to the UN Secretary-General to convey their strong views.[23]

In March, the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted “Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine”,[24] which strongly condemned the State of Israel’s terrorism, and its iron-fist policy. It noted Israeli settler violence sponsored by the State. The Commission strongly condemned Israel’s restrictions on religious freedom, and again demanded that Israel comply with the GCIV.

In March, the Foreign Ministers of the Scandinavian States issued a statement supporting the International Peace Conference.[25] In April, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries also issued a statement supporting this Conference.[26] Also in April, the Palestinian National Council [27] strongly endorsed the International Peace Conference, the Security Council’s preparatory committee, and there timely go forward.

The UN Secretary-General in his report on the Question of Palestine focused on the Security Council. He remained determined to continue his efforts to establish a process that would lead to peace in the Middle East:

All members of the Security Council were concerned about the Middle East problem, and all expressed support for a continuation of the Secretary-General’s efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Moreover, in contrast with experience of recent years, none of the Council members opposed in principle the idea of an International Conference under United Nations auspices. It was clear, however, that wide differences still existed regarding the form that a conference should take. It was also generally agreed that the position of the parties themselves remained far apart on a number of issues of procedure and of substance but that in recent months there had been indications of greater flexibility in attitudes towards the negotiating process and that this should be encouraged.

The Political Consultative Committee of the States parties to the Warsaw Treaty on Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance stated in May, that the UN conference would be “of great importance” for a comprehensive settlement, and lasting peace in the region. The preparatory committee could be a “great practical step”.[28]

In November, the UN Secretary-General submitted a further report on the Middle East to the General Assembly[29]. He said there was strong international backing and support for the International Peace Conference. The differences, and he meant the differences between Israel and the US, and everyone else were “differences about the procedural aspects of a conference”. These could be bridged. He made thhe observation:

The major obstacle at present, however, is one of a different kind, namely, the inability of the Government of Israel as a whole to agree on the principle of an international conference under United Nations auspices. Until the Israeli Government accepts that such a conference is the best way to negotiate a peace settlement, the way forward will remain difficult.

The Secretary-General concluded:

… the idea of an international conference under United Nations auspices has been given high priority among the Arab parties to the conflict and has been the subject of lively debate within Israel. These positive trends, combined with the growing international consensus in favour of the early convening of a conference, demand of us that we consolidate and build on the foundation that has so far been established.

The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the OPt in its 1987 report, stated that repression in the oPt had had very negative consequences. The reality faced by the Palestinian Arabs was one of day-to-day harassment and humiliation, expulsion and deportation. The Special Committee concluded:

… the situation in the oPt denotes a continuing deterioration of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the civilian population. The relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention continue to be disregarded. The persistent policy of annexation of the oPt, which meets with fierce resistance on the part of the civilian population, and the cycle of tension and repression that the implementation of such a policy involves, have led to an explosive situation that seems bound to provoke yet more dramatic events in the future.

The 1987 report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People noted that the level of appreciation for the need to ensure the inalienable rights of the Palestinian Arabs had reached new heights. It noted, however, that the deterioration of the conditions of the Palestinian Arabs could easily result in more violence, with disastrous consequences for the region, and the globe. Urgent action was required by the Security Council on the Committee’s recommendations. It must intensify its efforts and convene the International Peace Conference.

Before the year was out, in November, the Arab Summit[30] affirmed again its support for the International Peace Conference.

The International Peace Conference was a major issue at the forty-second session of the General Assembly. There was an intense sense of its urgency, and the debates reflected the keen demand of the international community for a solution to the conflict.

By an overwhelming majority, the General Assembly adopted resolution 42/66 D which demanded the International Peace Conference urgently. There was an “urgent need for additional efforts by all Governments in order to convene the Conference without further delay”.

In summary, by the end of 1987 the Question of Palestine remained high on the agenda for most members of the international community, a consequence of the growing understanding of the issues. Apart from Israel, there was universal support for the need to ensure that the Palestinian Arabs attained their inalienable rights, and that Israel must vacate the oPt, unconditionally. Israel’s attitude, however, stiffened, and its violence against the Palestinian Arabs increased, with disastrous consequences for them.

From September through December, the unrest among the Palestinian Arabs in the oPt grew. There were violent demonstrations, armed clashes, petrol bombs and grenades. Many lost their lives, and many more were seriously injured.

By the end of December, the Question of Palestine had entered a new phase.

[1] The fifteen Security Council members were China, Egypt, France, India, Malta, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR, UK, US, Upper Volta (today Burkina Faso) and Zimbabwe. The directly involved states were Israel, Jordon, Lebanon, and Syria. Note that Egypt was invited as a member of the Security Council.

[2] Established at the Seventh Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non- Aligned Countries, New Delhi, India, 7th to 12th March 1983. At this time its members were Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, India, Palestine, Senegal, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe

[3] Geneva, the 4th to the 15th February

[4] Bandung, 24th to the 25th April

[5] Addis Ababa, 18th to the 21st July

[6] Casablanca, Morocco, 7th to the 9th August

[7] Luanda, Angola, 2nd to the 7th September 1985

[8] Records of the General Assembly, Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/40/35), paragraphs 167-168, 1985

[9] Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the OPt (A/40/702), paragraph 323, 1985

[10] The resolution was 40/96 D

[11] Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Middle East (A/40/779-S/17887), paragraphs 39 to 40, 1985

[12] The tenth session, at Marrakesh, Morocco, from 21st to 22nd January 1986

[13] Its forty-second session, from 3rd to the 14th March, which adopted two relevant resolutions, 1986/1 A and 1986/1 B

[14] Report of the Secretary-General on the Question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, 14th March 1986 (A/41/215-S/17916), paragraph 2

[15] Its Conference, Mexico City, 7th to 12th April 1986

[16] Held in April, reported in the Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-First Session, Supplement No. 35 (A/41/35).

[17] At their forty-fourth ordinary session, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 21st to 26th July 1986,

[18] The eighth Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1st to 6th September 1986,

[19] 29th October 1986

[20] Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the OPt (A/41/680), 1986

[21] Kuwait, 26th to 29th January

[22] Adopted by their meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 23rd February 1987.

[23] 24 February 1987 from the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (A/42/151-S/18718)

[24] The forty-third session, 2nd February to 13th March 1987; the resolutions were 1987/2 A and 1987/2 B

[25] Reykjavik, Iceland, 25th to 26th March 1987

[26] Committee of Nine on Palestine, Harare, Zimbabwe, 14th to 15th April 1987

[27] Eighteenth session, Algiers, Algeria, 20th to 26th April 1987

[28] Berlin from 28th to 29th May

[29] Forty-Second session, November 1987

[30] Amman, Jordan, 8th to 11th November 1987

The Reagan No-Go Plan

Reagan proposes a plan devoid of any sense.

On 30th November 1981, in the aftermath of Camp David, the US and Israel entered into an agreement. They would cooperate on matters of security, each would provide the other with military assistance, and they would participate in joint military exercises. Ostensibly, its aim was to thwart the expansionist activities of the Soviets. There was an element of truth in this, but for the most part, it window dressing. The reason was the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s noncompliance with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the failure of the Accords. It was a bribe.

Because there had been little progress since Camp David, in 1982, the UN General Assembly convened a conference on the Question of Palestine. It took place in Genève the following year, from the 29th August to the 7th September 1983. It was attended by 117 full member states, 20 observer states, and the PLO. Israel and the US opposed the Conference. Israel had little standing in the global community and did not want a full frontal global confrontation. The US was its only real ally.

The Conference approved a Program of Action for the Achievement of Palestinian Rights, and recommended measures to be taken by all states, the UN, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The Conference decided that Middle Eastern peace conferences should be convened only under United Nations auspices, with the participation, on an equal footing, of all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the PLO.

Before the 1983 Conference, on the 1st September 1982, US President Ronald Reagan spoke to the nation and called for autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories, with Jordan, and a freeze on Israeli settlements. The Reagan Plan was land for peace and incorporated 242 and 338. He spoke on the very day of the evacuation of the PLO from Beirut. He expected the US military, which had engineered the evacuation to be able to leave Lebanon within two weeks.

He told the nation that the resolution of Lebanon was but the first step on the path to peace in the Middle East. Both the Arabs and Jews had been long suffering, and that the involvement of the US was a moral imperative (whatever did he mean?) The US demanded peace, and added:

  • The Middle East was strategically important to the US, and the globe’s economy was strongly influenced by instability in the Middle East
  • The US was committed to the survival and territorial integrity of friendly states, and it had humanitarian concerns.

He continued that while the US will certainly help rebuild Lebanon, there were two issues to deal with: Soviet expansion in the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. For the latter he embraced Camp David. The next step was autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs. He failed to link the three issues. In each case the problem was Israel. It had invaded Lebanon and was the cause of the Lebanese problems, it had illegally occupied the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, and the Soviets had been able to expand their sphere of influence because of Israel’s insincerity, its refusal to address the issues and intransigence and its ongoing habit of breaking the law and agreements.

He emphasized that Israel’s military would not bring about a solution. He saw the question quite simplistically, in binary, black and white terms. It was how to reconcile Israel’s security with the rights of the Palestinian Arabs. He was unable to understand that a solution to the latter would resolve the former. He failed to understand that the real issue was that Israel coveted the occupied territories and was not going to give them up. So, he concluded that Israel must recognize that their security can only be achieved with peace, and the Palestinian Arabs and Arab states must recognize that Israel had a right to exist. Israel was an accomplished fact and deserved unchallenged legitimacy, that few states accepted this, and no Arab state except Egypt acknowledged Israel, but “it has a right to exist in peace … and it has a right to demand of its neighbors that they recognize those facts”. Reagan could not see, so could not ask why Israel had so little support. Almost all on the globe recognized Israel as an illegal state, an imposter colonial settler state.

When he turned to Camp David and explained that there were two reasons for the five-year transition. The first was that the Palestinian Arabs had to prove that they could run their own affairs, and the second was to demonstrate that autonomy posed no threat to Israel’s security. Both statements were irrelevant and examples of pedestrian stupidity and untarnished arrogance. Palestine was Palestinian Arab land, and their competence or otherwise was irrelevant. In any case, they had amply demonstrated that they could run their own affairs. Israel’s security was Israel’s problem, not something for the Palestinian Arabs to be concerned with. It could only be resolved when there was peace and a Palestinian state in Palestine.

US Secretary of State George Schultz was the first member of a US administration to say that the rights of the Palestinian Arab must be addressed. He did so on the 12th July 1982. In fact he revealed his hand when he hinted that there may be a way to align the US and Arab interests if it led to displacing the Soviets. The Reagan Plan was the first high level proposal that accorded recognition of Palestinian rights, and that the West Bank and Gaza were occupied territories. It did not, however, acknowledge any right other than autonomy in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

Reagan recognized that the Palestinian Arab cause was more than the refugee problem of US administrations prior to Carter, and Israel. He demanded that as the settlements had little to do with Israel’s security, there must be a freeze. Their presence certainly degraded rather than enhanced Israel’s security, but regardless of whether it did or did not, it was irrelevant. They were on Palestinian Arab land and must go.

Reagan then announced his bombshell. The US did not support the establishment of a permanent Palestinian state, nor did it support Israeli annexation, nor sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank and Gaza should form a self-governing body with Jordan! He announced that important issues like borders would be determined in the future. This was absurd. Borders were a large part of the problem. His proposal, if implemented, would have resolved very little. Israel would have been able to define the borders in any way it wanted, and Israel wanted the West Bank and Gaza.
Similarly, Jerusalem was to be undivided, but a matter for future negotiation. The Reagan Plan ignored an essential issue.

One of his summing points framed his ignorance. He said that Israel’s act of giving up of territory would be heavily affected by the extent of true peace … and security arrangements offered. It was not Israeli territory to give up, and of course, one has peace, or one does not. It does not come in degrees. The copout was a disguised Israeli threat.

It is important to consider the context in which Reagan made his remarks and note the views that Israel had made public in late 1981 and in the spring of 1982, in the months before Reagan spoke. In December 1981, Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli Defense Minister said the two major threats to Israel were the Arab states and the Soviets. His message was a plea to the US. He wanted the US to understand that Israel was a democratic buffer against Soviet expansion and stable ground in the Middle East. Given the occupation, Israel was neither democratic, not a buffer. It was certainly not a place of stability. It was rather a lever which cranked up instability. Consider its wars.

In respect of the Arab threat, he was correct. They were a threat to Israel’s existence, but he missed the point when he set out the reasons. Sharon explained that the source of unrest were the radical ideologies of some Arab regimes. These included Syria, Libya, Iraq and South Yemen. They and the PLO, wanted to wipe Israel of the map. They did, but the reason was not because of a radical ideology. In this respect their converging ideologies were rather conservative. The animosity came from Israel’s belligerent, illegal occupation of Palestinian Arab land. For some this was all of Palestine, for others it was the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, Israel consistently flouted agreements, most recently, the Camp David Accords. It had refused to vacate the occupied territories, it claimed sovereignty over them and would not recognize the rights of the Palestinian Arabs. It was clear that absent any resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict the default option was to dismantle Israel, using any available means.

Sharon was also correct when he said that the Arab states looked to the USSR for support. The Soviets wanted to expand their sphere of influence by leveraging the Arab states. Their goal too, was to eliminate Israel. Sharon was hardly insightful.

Sharon punctuated his statements with remarks about terrorism, stability, danger to the free world and vital interests without applying these epithets to the source of the problem, Israel itself. True to form, he said that Israel must be pro-active, and acquire superior weapons and be vigilant. It must react to possible threats of danger, like troop movements in non-Israeli territory.

A few months later, in the spring of 1982, Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and ex-Irgun terrorist leader, added to the conversation. He attempted to deflect attention by claiming that the Arab-Israeli conflict was but a small part of the problem in the Middle East, and not related to the wider unrest. He denied that the problem was the Israeli presence in the occupied territories for the reason that they were not Palestinian land. The home of the Palestinian Arabs was Jordan! He said that Israel would not bestow sovereignty on the 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories because the territory was Israeli. These remarks besides being ludicrous, were inflammatory and a measure of the logic, and self-serving fact free nonsense to expect.

He claimed that the Camp David autonomy plan for the occupied territories had resolved the issues, which of course, it had not. He told us that the solution was transitional in order that the Arab and Jewish occupants could learn to live with each other. He explained the reason why Israel had not exercised its sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza. It was that at the end of five years, the Arabs would accept Israeli sovereignty, and as Israel had not then claimed sovereignty, neither should the Palestinians. For Sharon, the pre-1967 armistice lines were unacceptable, and Israel would not return to them. Finally, to talk to the PLO, “would elevate its standing from that of a terrorist organization to that of a recognized aspirant to a totally superfluous political entity”.
Shamir shut the door on peace with Israel’s neighbors by saying that Israel would only welcome peace treaties that were based on the Accords. He said that as Israel had invested heavily in the Sinai, and returned it to Egypt, Israel had gone a long way to implementing Resolution 242. This was more nonsense. It was Egyptian territory, and there was nothing to return.

Shamir, remember he was a terrorist wanted by the British Mandate Administration for premeditated murder, larceny, and terrorism, was crazy. There was little point discussing anything with him.

The Palestinian Arabs and the neighboring Arabs state all rejected the Reagan Plan, as did, ultimately, Israel (Reagan thought he could bring them around!). There were many gaps: it disregarded the refugees right to return, self-determination, establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the recognition of the PLO.

Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.

Continue reading “The Reagan No-Go Plan”

Sadat Travels to Jerusalem, Washington and Camp David

Sadat Travels to Jerusalem

Frustrated by the lack of progress, in November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat travelled to Jerusalem and engaged in direct negotiations with Israel. He was desperate to regain the Sinai. He wanted a peace agreement, and if an agreement which included all Egypt’s Arab allies was not immediately possible, a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Israel would be a good start. He delivered an address to the Israeli Knesset, Piece with Justice on 20th November 1977[1] which opened the way to a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979. Israel then withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in April 1982. Sadat accepted Israel’s right to exist, he acknowledged its security concerns, and he agreed to an end to war.

As Sadat agreed peace only between Egypt and Israel, he put the interests of Egypt ahead of Arab and Palestinian interests. He was adamant, however, that justice demanded a fully encompassing peace agreement. He said that the Palestinians and their rights have been recognized by almost all states, implying that Israel was the only state that had not done so. He asked Israel to do it:

If you have found the moral and legitimate justification to set up a national home on a land that did not all belong to you, it is incumbent upon you to show understanding of the insistence of the people of Palestine for establishment once again of a state on their land

Notwithstanding Sadat’s apparent commitment to a solution for the Palestinian Arabs, the Arab League was shocked that he had chosen a bilateral relationship over a plan agreed by the other Arab states. The League thought that Sadat had undermined its efforts to restore Palestinian Arab sovereignty.[2] He and Egypt were isolated and ostracized. The League member states withdrew ambassadors from Egypt. and recommended breaking off all diplomatic ties with Egypt and suspending Egypt’s membership in the Arab League. The headquarters of the League moved from Cairo to Tunis. The PLO called Sadat treasonous, and excluded Egypt from its dealings. The PLO asked its allies, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria and Democratic Yemen to boycott the Sadat regime.[3] The Arab League Summit held in Tripoli, Libya in early December 1977 condemned the Sadat betrayal, and reaffirmed the boycott, which it extended to individuals and businesses that dealt with Israel.[4]

In the spring of 1982, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, then Egyptian Foreign Minister, clarified Sadat’s remarks:[5] He said that the focus of Egyptian foreign policy had been to contain Israeli ambitions and … solve the Palestinian problem. Egypt wanted a comprehensive solution and linked the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. Specifically:

  • Israel must terminate its occupations, which were illegal
  • Israel must recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian Arabs, and their right to self-determination including the right to establish their own state
  • All (Middle Eastern) states must conduct their relations according to principles set out in the UN Charter, and abstain from the threat or use of force

His plea was really a plea for Arab unity, and that the reality was that the Arab states must recognize the influence of the US. Boutros-Ghali emphasized the need to keep the US involved, and that it establishes formal contacts with the Palestinian Arabs and the PLO.

He Meets Jimmy Carter and then Goes to Camp David

In January 1977, Jimmy Carter became President of the US. He was the first president to demand that Israel withdraw back to the pre-1967 Six Day War borders. He believed that the Palestinians were entitled to self-determination, and a homeland. Carter supported the PLO and Arafat, even though neither acknowledged Israel’s right to exist. He insisted that the PLO was included in negotiations. The Palestinians were entitled to representation.

A foreign policy priority for Carter’s administration was resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and peace in the Middle East. Carter embraced UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as the framework for a peace agreement. In return for Palestine’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist within the pre-1967 Six Day War borders, Israel would withdraw from the occupied territories.

Carter was eager to understand in detail the reasons for the conflict, and after face to face meetings in early 1977 with King Hussain of Jordan, President Hafez al-Assad of Syria and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, he knew that the Arab leaders wanted peace and that Israel was the prevaricator.

Carter was a deeply religious man and his political views were shaped by a determination to ensure that human rights were respected. The Palestinians had a right to self-determination, the right to vote, to assemble, to debate freely, to own property, to a homeland and the right to be free of military rule.

Carter’s first formative contact with Israeli decision makers was when Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister, visited the White House in March 1977. Rabin told Carter that he was not prepared to negotiate with the PLO nor negotiate over Jerusalem. Carter had the upper hand, so he replied that the Israeli occupation and settlements were illegal, that the US would withdraw its support if Israel did not address the realities of the situation, and he threatened to block arms sales to Israel. Following his meeting with Rabin, Carter made a public announcement that he expected that the PLO to be part of all future negotiations.

Rabin’s Labour Party lost to Begin’s Likud in May 1977, and as we saw, Begin became prime minister. The tensions that had developed in the Carter-Rubin meetings increased substantially with Begin.

In January 1978, Carter made an unscheduled stop in Egypt, in Aswan to meet Sadat, and he delivered a forceful statement on Palestinian Rights.[6] He said that the then contemplated Egyptian-Israel peace agreement must go forward, that the US would be help, and that peace meant more than simply the cessation of hostilities:

  • He made it clear that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, behind the the pre-1967 Six Day War lines, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338
  • All parts of the Palestinian problem must be resolved, including the recognition of the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, and their self-determination

Carter subsequently invited Sadat to Camp David, for tripartite negotiations, and Israeli, Egyptian and US delegations met at the retreat from 5th September to 17th September 1978. Prior to the invitation, Carter had told Begin that Israel’s use of US antipersonnel cluster bombs during its invasion of Lebanon was illegal. The armaments had been supplied to Israel for defensive purposes only. Israeli attacks on Beirut and other urban areas had resulted in killing hundreds of civilians and left thousands without a home. Carter repeated the threat that he had made to Rabin, to block arms’ sales to Israel. Carter also demanded that Begin withdraw the IDF from Lebanon. Begin complied. The Israeli forces left Lebanon and were replaced UN forces.

The goal at Camp David was to get permanent peace between Egypt and Israel and lay the groundwork for such other Middle Eastern peace agreements as may be possible in the immediate future. There were a number of basic issues that arose, for example, the necessity for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, recognition of the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, the sovereignty of Jerusalem, Israel’s security, the Arab trade embargos, and the rights of Israeli shipping to transit the Suez.

After the initial meetings, it became clear that Sadat and Begin disliked each other intensely and that the negotiations might break down. Carter stopped the face to face meetings, and all subsequent discussions went through him. Begin would have been satisfied if no agreements were struck, so he avoided commitments. He agreed only when not to do so would have shown him to be completely disingenuous. Sadat wanted to forge an agreement for the Sinai and include as many of the Palestinian Arab issues as he could. This led to two agreements, the Camp David Accords[7] signed on the 17th September 1978 [8] and a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed on the 26th March 1979.

The Accords focused on the occupied territories, Palestinian Arab autonomy, and peace in the Middle East generally. They contained few concrete agreements and were vague when they should not have been. They were mostly prescriptions. They stipulated that a transitional arrangement for the West Bank and Gaza that would lead to full autonomy for the Palestinians Arabs.

The major items and resolutions were:

  • The basis for peace were Resolutions 242 and 338, international law and the UN Charter. This was a definite agreement, and one that Israel did not keep, and has never kept
  • Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Arabs, the US and the UN were the major players
  • Egypt, Israel, and Jordan would agree on how to elect a Palestinian Arab Authority to govern the occupied territories. This was then something for future agreement
  • There would be a five-year transition to autonomy, which would begin when the Authority was elected. The Israeli military government would vacate when the Authority was in place.
  • The IDF would be able to deploy at certain security locations and undertake security patrols after the transition was complete. This was vague, and prescriptive. How many? What arms?
  • There could be special security arrangements such as demilitarized zones, limited armaments areas, early warning stations, and the presence of international forces. It went no further than this. This provision was prescriptive and open ended
  • There could be peace treaties between Israel and Jordan, Syria and Lebanon as well as Egypt. Prescriptive. Yes, there could be
  • Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the Authority would resolve Palestinian recognition and rights issues, and again this was for the future. Why Israel?
  • During the transition, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the Authority would decide upon the admission of refugees. Why Israel?
  • All necessary measures would be taken, to assure the security of Israel during the transitional period.

The subsequent Egypt-Israel peace treaty between was land for peace. It was underwritten by substantial US aid for both Egypt and Israel. It provided that:

  • The Accords UN resolutions and principles would apply
  • Egyptian sovereignty would be recognized to the internationally recognized border between Egypt and mandated Palestine
  • Diplomatic, economic and cultural relations would be restored, the economic boycotts would be terminated as would the barriers against the free movement of persons and goods.
  • The IDF would withdraw from the Sinai;
  • Israel could use certain airports for civilian purposes, and a highway could be built
  • Israel would have a unencumbered passage for its ships through the Suez, the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba
  • Although the IDF would be withdrawn there would be an asymmetrical Israeli dominant force, and the UN would deploy a force.

There were many comments.

Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, when he addressed the General Assembly of the UN on the 25th September 1979, a year later, called for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and for a Palestinian state.[9]

Arafat on the 19th November was critical of the Carter, Begin and Sadat alliance, and the fascist actions of the Israelis which included the confiscation of Palestinian Arab land, construction of settlements, terrorism, deportations, arrests, confiscations and mass punishment of Palestinian villages. He also decried the Israeli destruction of Lebanese towns and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and evictions.[10]

President Hafiz al-Said of Syria spoke on the 8th March 1980. He said peace means Israel’s complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, the acknowledgement of Palestinian Arabs’ inalienable rights and the right to determine their own future, within their own state. He criticized the expansion of the settlements. The autonomy proposed by Begin and described in the Accords was not independence, but a farce. The PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs, and Syria pledges its support to Palestine and the PLO. Syria will remain aligned with the USSR.

Crown Prince Fahd ibn Abdulla al-Aziz spoke for the Saudis. He had resolutely supported the Palestinian Arab cause and has condemned Israel in the harshest possible terms. He had worked politically and diplomatically to fight for the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, attempting to counter one of the most pervasive distortions of historical truth, and to expose one of the most serious political crimes, of the last century. He demanded Israeli withdraw from the occupied territories, the dismantling of the settlements, a Palestinian state, that the Palestinian Arabs could return to their homes in Israel, and for those who did not wish to return, compensation. Jerusalem was to be the capital of the Palestinian state. He asked the US to end its support for Israel and called Begin the ugliest face of Israeli arrogance.

After the withdrawal of the Israelis from the Sinai in April 1982, the Council of the European Union in Venice on the 13th June 1980 included declarations in support of the Palestinian Arabs and Lebanon. The rights of the Palestinians must be recognized, and Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories. The status of Jerusalem must not change. The EU was prepared to participate in finding a settlement which would enable the Palestinian Arabs to exercise their right to self-determination and form a state. The settlements were illegal and must be withdrawn. The EU expressed total solidarity with Lebanon and called upon the violent Israeli intrusions to stop.

The Accords did not address the central issues, ignored for the most part Palestinian Arab rights were one sided and failed. Israel leveraged the Accords when it suited, but otherwise ignored them. Notably, it ignored 242, 338, international law and its UN Charter obligations.

What Begin called autonomy in his statement of the 28th December 1977 was not autonomy.[11] It was mischievous, disingenuous and malevolent. It was foul play, designed to enable Israel to confiscate the occupied territories but message otherwise. Israel in a cloud of less that surreal objectivity claimed sovereignty over the occupied territories and rejected the PLO as murderers. Astounding coming from the mouth of Begin. While maintaining that the occupied territories were indisputably part of Israel, it perversely said that it would keep the formal claim of this open during the transition period of the Accords because it knew that the Palestinian Arabs would then welcome Israeli sovereignty. What was the point of talking to this twisted individual?

Four years later, on the 5th August 1981, Israel confirmed its claims on the occupied territories.[12] “The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is an eternal right that cannot be called into question”.

Israel had agreed to implement the Camp David Accords and it should have done so, no matter how pointless. As usual, Israel ignored its commitments. It concluded its statement by saying that Israel would not withdraw from the Golan Heights, and on the 14th December 1981, that Israeli law applied in the illegally occupied Golan Heights. Egypt, a day later, on the 15th December, and then followed by the other Arab countries strongly condemned this action and reminded Israel that this was an illegal act and a violation of the UN Charter. Israel took no notice. It replied that it was willing to renew the negotiations and agreements. What could this mean? It was a further example of Israel’s agreeing to something and then ignoring it, while maintaining that it was keeping to the agreed conditions.

The Accords would not have come about without Carter and US leverage. He achieved what all US administrations since Eisenhower had failed to do. Unfortunately, his later attempts to re-ignite the Geneva Middle East Peace Conference were not successful. During the preparations, the parties distracted themselves with logistics, the agenda and other minutia.

On 6th October 1981, Sadat was assassinated by Egyptian Islamic radicals.

[1] Anwar Sadat, Peace with Justice, 20th November 1977 in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., Page 207

[2] Arab League, Summit Communique, Bagdad, 31st March 1979

[3] PLO, Six Point Program, 4th December 1977 in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., locn 4765

[4] Arab League, Summit Declaration, 5th December 1977 in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., locn 4779

[5] Boutros Boutros-Ghali, The Foreign Policy of Egypt in the Post-Sadat Era, Foreign Affairs, Spring 1982

[6] President Jimmy Carter, Statement on Palestinian Rights, 4th January 1978, in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., locn 4884

[7] A Framework for Peace in the Middle East Agreed at Camp David

[8] The signatories were Sadat and Begin, and Carter was the witness

[9] Andrei Gromyko, Speech delivered to the UN General Assembly, 25th September 1979

[10] Yasir Arafat, Interview, Al-Sha’b newspaper, 19th November 1979

[11] Menachem Begin, Speech to the Knesset, Autonomy Plan for the West Bank and Gaza, 28th December 1977

[12] Israeli Government, Fundamental Policy Guidelines, 5th August 1981, in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., locn 5154

Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.

Likud Redefines Israel: Palestine Is All Mine

In 1973 the Likud party was founded by Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin. You will recall that Begin was the terrorist who had celebrated the massacre at Deir Yassin. In May 1975 Likud formed a government and Begin became prime minister. He refused to acknowledge any right of the Palestinian Arabs to the West Bank and Gaza. He referred to the West Bank by its Biblical names, Judea and Samaria. For Begin, they were an inalienable part of Israel, and he increased the rate of the establishment of settlements in them.

When Egypt became side-lined in the Arab world because of Sadat’s visit to Israel and his singular approach in 1977, Begin’s hand was strengthened. His unsaid goal was to sabotage peace for land negotiations.

The Zionists had agreed to the Peel partition, the UN partition and the subsequent 1949 armistice line, none of which allocated any territory in the West Bank to Israel. While it was clear that many Zionists had agreed to the partition as a thin edge of the wedge, the demand that the West Bank was Israeli territory was an egregious breach of the 1949 border agreement. Furthermore, Ben-Gurion had always thought that the West Bank could not be part of Israel for demographic reasons. Incorporation of the West Bank (and Gaza) into Israel would result in either a non-democratic Jewish state, or an Arab state. The former would attract strong criticism for all quarters, the latter was for Ben-Gurion, off the table. Much later, in 2007, then a former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert warned that Israel could become an apartheid state.

Days before its election, Likud had published its platform: [1]

The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable and is linked with the right to security and peace; therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the [Mediterranean] Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.

A plan which relinquishes parts of western Eretz Israel, undermines our right to the country, unavoidably leads to the establishment of a Palestinian State, jeopardizes the security of the Jewish population, endangers the existence of the State of Israel, and frustrates any prospect of peace.

It could not be clearer. Likud did not recognize the rights of the Palestinians to Palestine, nor any part of it. Moreover, a Palestinian State would endanger the existence of the state of Israel. The first statement was simply false. The Zionists had no right to Palestine. The Palestinian Arabs did. The second statement was correct. Absent peace, Israel was an endangered species. It continued:

The Likud government … will spare no effort to promote peace … Directly or through a friendly state, Israel will invite her neighbors to hold direct negotiations, in order to sign peace agreements without pre-conditions on either side … The PLO is an organization of assassins, which the Arab countries use as a political and military tool, … its aim is to liquidate the State of Israel, set up an Arab country instead and make the Land of Israel part of the Arab world. The Likud government will strive to eliminate these murderous organizations in order to prevent them from carrying out their bloody deeds.

Likud said it wanted peace and would negotiate in good faith with any party except the PLO, which is to say, except the Palestinian Arabs, those who held the right to the land. Likud did not say whom it would negotiate with on behalf of the Palestinians. The unsaid agenda was that Likud was not going to negotiate with anyone who claimed the right to Palestine. The conclusion was that Likud did not want to negotiate peace. The platform was ingenuous.

A little later, in December 1977, Begin stated the conditions for autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza.[2] The military government would be withdrawn in name, but law and order would remain in the hands of Israel, the IDF and the Israeli police. Elected individuals would have some administrative authority, and Israelis could buy land in the West Bank. Then:

Israel insists on its right and demand for its sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Knowing that other demands exist, it proposes, for the sake of the agreement and of peace, to leave the question of sovereignty in those areas open … We do not even dream of the possibility … of abandoning those areas to the control of the murderous organization that is called the PLO … Let it be known that whoever desires an agreement with us should please accept our announcement that the IDF will be deployed in Judea, Samaria and Gaza … We have a right and a demand for sovereignty over these areas of Eretz Yisrael. This is our land and it belongs to the Jewish nation rightfully.

This is what Likud meant by pre-conditions on either side. Any Likud starting point, and Likud claim, or any Likud condition was excluded from the pre-conditions.

Again, it could hardly be clearer. Likud’s position was notwithstanding it understood that the Palestinian Arbs claimed the West Bank and Gaza as rightfully theirs (and many Palestinians claimed a lot more of Palestine), the West Bank and Gaza were parts of Israel, they certainly were not Palestinian Arab and this was not up for negotiation. A precondition of peace was that those who converted the West Bank and Gaza must give up their claims! Begin made a point of saying that if Israel were to withdraw the IDF from the West Bank and Gaza, then the PLO would control these areas, so for this reason alone, Israel will not remove the IDF. One wonders what Begin thought there was to negotiate. The kind of autonomy proposed by Begin was not autonomy.

[1] The Likud Party: Platform, March 1977, in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., locn 4568

[2] Menachem Begin, Speech to Knesset: Autonomy Plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 28th December 1977 in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (Eds.), ibid., locn 4835

Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.