In the unyielding quest towards reaching a final resolution to the impasse between Palestinians and Israelis, it’s widely understood that the path to Mideast peace must see an independent, democratic, and demilitarized Palestinian state exist alongside Israel, recognized as the Jewish state and with ironclad security guarantees that produce secure and recognized borders.
The two-state solution would see both parties make painful compromises that will ultimately lead to peace and prosperity for all. And yet, instead of undertaking efforts to build confidence and nurture trust, the Palestinian leadership is attempting to obtain statehood without negotiating a peace accord. In so doing, Palestinian aspirations for statehood are being endangered and the conditions for protracted conflict are being renewed. Furthermore, Palestinians now feel that they don’t need to make concessions necessary for achieving peace. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rightly claimed recently that these efforts don’t contribute to the stability, the normalization, or the enhancement of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.
UN Security Council Resolution 242 and 338 call for both parties to engage in direct talks as the only solution to resolving the conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s gambit to unilaterally procure statehood without engaging in direct peace talks with Israel is a flagrant violation of binding instruments of international law such as the Oslo Accords, various UN resolutions, and the Roadmap.
Aside from the fact that the Palestinians do not possess even the basic requirements for statehood, the United States, Canada and the EU oppose the PA’s unilateral efforts because they understand that in going to the UN and in seeking non-binding resolutions in various governing bodies, the Palestinian leadership is only trying to delegitimize Israel in international arenas, and procure symbolic recognitions which are counterproductive and which only impede efforts to support a comprehensive final resolution to the conflict. Canada is on the right side of history by condemning, instead of championing, repeated Palestinian efforts to skirt negotiations with Israel, forestall the conflict, and evade recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
On a fundamental level, the PA’s efforts represent a bona fide breach of international law and sets a dangerous precedent for future international agreements. For example, if Palestinians can abrogate the Oslo Accords unilaterally, what is the value of international agreements, especially sensitive ones that govern matters pertaining to defensible borders? Furthermore, how can Israel be expected to put any stock in any future negotiations if it can easily be annulled by simple Palestinian frustrations?
The fundamental issue is not the creation of a Palestinian state, but the intolerance of a Jewish one. Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and went to war with Israel in 1948 and again in 1956, 1967 and 1973. That Palestinian rejectionism continues to be ignored by our media is alarming. The status quo must change.
Today, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas brazenly demands a unilateral return to the 1949 armistice lines that were drawn as a result of going to war against Israel repeatedly, without offering negotiations, peace or recognition of Israel in return. In 2000, 2001, and 2008, Israel made comprehensive offers to the Palestinians which gave almost 95 per cent of the west bank, all of Gaza, and with east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. This was rejected first by Yasser Arafat, then by Abbas.
Yes, Palestinians have every right to be frustrated, but one can argue that this frustration ought to find its source in the Palestinian leadership itself. A leadership which is aligned in a unity government with the Hamas terrorist organization and which glorifies terror and incites its masses to murder Israeli innocents. In recent weeks, official Palestinian Authority TV said that “Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews”. Just days after this statement, two Palestinian terrorists murdered five Israelis in cold blood at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Using meat cleavers, knives, and pistols, the terrorists entered a house of worship and slaughtered 4 rabbis and an Israeli police officer, and injured a half dozen people, including a Canadian-Israeli dual citizen.
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted recently: “The Palestinians expect us to recognize that they have a right to a state of their own, yet they say to the Jewish people who have been here for close to 4,000 years, from the time of Abraham: You do not have a right for a state of your own. That’s absurd.” Under the tutelage of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and auspices of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Canada has taken the principled position of opposing these Palestinian efforts that obstruct the peace process and that serve only to assault Israel’s legitimacy.
Canada knows that an agreement cannot be imposed on the parties. Canada, along with the United States, and the United Nations supports official policy that dictates that Mideast peace can only be procured through direct face-to-face negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians without preconditions.
Make no mistake, Palestinian unilateralism is just the latest manifestation of Palestinian rejectionism.