Tag Archives: Israel-Palestine conflict

2-State Solution May Be Only Way to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict, but Israel Should Determine Borders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017: “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

After listening to very erudite analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics by Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies and co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America, I came to my own enlightenment. It came when Rosenblum, who is also a founding member of Americans for Peace Now, showed us a map of Israel with the Palestinian communities shown as brown clusters on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then he made this point: 80% of the 420,000 Jewish settlers in the so-called Occupied territory, the vast majority secular and not messianic Jews, live along a sliver of that territory that hugs the internationally recognized border of Israel.

Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies, co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU), and founding member of Americans for Peace Now, at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, for the longest time, the contention has been that even though the Arab states invaded Israel in 1967 en masse intending to drive the Israelis (Hebrews) into the sea and despite the fact Israel won the war for its very existence, that the Palestinians are entitled to 100% of the land that Israel occupied (forget the fact that Israel has already given back the entire Negev to Egypt in a “land for peace” deal, and has already uprooted its settlers to give back the Gaza Strip). The Palestinians insist on Israel being returned to its pre-1967 borders, including dividing once again the holy city of Jerusalem, which it intends to make its capital. And even after the rest of the occupied territory is given “back” to Palestinians, they are still demanding the right of return into the Jewish State. They want it all, despite being the aggressors.

I happen to support a two-state solution, convinced of the argument as expressed by former President Ehud Barak when he spoke in Great Neck, that Israel cannot swallow up the Palestinians and simultaneously remain secure and democratic – the demographics are such that unless Palestinians are not allowed full citizenship (and the ability to vote and be represented in the Knesset), the Jewish State would fairly quickly become majority Muslim.

But what I don’t understand is that the Arabs who sought in 1967 and still today seek to destroy Israel (despite any calculatedly tempered language) should have all the territory returned without bearing any consequence.

Israel should not apologize for taking the lead on drawing the new borders – it should dictate those borders according to its own self-interest, and that means a unified Jerusalem and a border that includes the vast majority of the settlers, and no right of return.

Israel should be a contiguous nation with defensible borders – not hollowed out with a Gaza strip from which thousands of rockets have rained down on Israel’s civilian communities and would continue to be an incubator for terror attacks. That is intolerable.  Israel should take back Gaza and allow the Palestinians to relocate to the new Palestinian state, or if they stay, become loyal citizens of Israel (yes I recognize the issue, but Israel already has Arab citizens). This would not be the same as ethnic cleansing, which is repugnant, because the Palestinians would not be thrown out. They would have the freedom to choose their citizenship, just as they chose to leave in the first place. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers would also have to be uprooted from the territory that abuts Jordan.

This is not to be confused with another sticking point, which oddly is rarely mentioned in terms of why the Israel-Palestine conflict has been intractable: the right of return. There should not be any right of return. In the first place, the Arabs who left, left because they thought they would be able to join the conquering army and throw out the Jews. In other instances, the land was purchased.

So, looking at the map that Rosenblum presented, carve out from that a Palestinian State. Let the Palestinians make their desert bloom as the Israelis did with sweat, innovation and invention.

Map of Israel and the Occupied Territories showing the concentration of Palestinian and Jewish settlements provided by Mark Rosenblum.

I heard all of this, and then went to the UN General Assembly and heard Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu basically say what Rosenblum said: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the larger Arab-Israel conflict – was the cornerstone, the touchstone about how to think about the Mideast, …the Israel-Palestinian conflict was the driver – if you don’t solve that problem, you don’t solve anything. Today, one has to think of Israel-Palestine in context of Mideast imploding with contagion.” And terrorism that has spilled over from the Mideast.

Netanyahu, put it another way:”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them.” This is because, he said, “Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles” and counterterrorism. Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they’re working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly: ”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Netanyahu had very little to say about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, except almost matter-of-factly, “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” Instead, he devoted a considerable portion of his remarks attacking Iran and a call to “fix or nix” the Iran nuclear agreement and rein in Iran’s terror activities.

But while Netanyahu seemed to breeze through the Israel-Palestinian conflict (the topic of a Security Council meeting on Sept. 25), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in his General Assembly address, went on a tirade about how dare the UN not enforce the 1967 borders, including making Jerusalem the Palestinian capital, how dare the good people of the world not boycott the settlements, how dare Britain not apologize for the Balfour Declaration, and not make reparations to the poor, poor Palestinians, and how could the UN not demand the right of return (with recompense) to Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mind you, Netanyahu had only hours before called the United Nations “the epicenter of global anti-Semitism.” 

There is a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict: a two-state solution around practical borders that Israel gets to set. But there does not seem to be the ability to embrace it, as even Rosenblum, who has been working on the issue for 42 years, seemed to conclude:

“They will not by themselves have the will or capacity to pull themselves out of the mud and blood they are soaking in. Leaders on all sides -Netanyahu, Abbas, Trump – represent not the Three Musketeers but the Three Stooges. They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough.

Donald Trump addresses the 72nd General Assembly in NYC, one of the “Three Stooges”. “They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough,” says Mark Rosenblum. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Israeli street and Arab street are stuck as to whether enemy or frenemy for eternity. Every morning, Mideast changes- yesterday frenemy is today ally, yesterday enemy is frenemy today.

“We have to find way of addition through subtraction,” said Rosenblum. “The real hope for a breakthrough toward Israel-Palestinian peace is coming from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Gulf States except Qatar. They treat Israel as an ally, a bulwark against Iran – that’s what the Trump generals are most interested in working on.”

Demonstration of Orthodox Jews who do not want to be conscripted into Israel’s army protest PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in NYC. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

Netanyahu to UN General Assembly: ‘After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world’

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

In his speech to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 20, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the state of Palestine, railed against Israel, the United Nations, Great Britain and every nation that has commerce with Israel, and demonstrated why the Israel-Palestine issue is intractable. His notion of a two-state solution is for Israel, which beat back an invasion in 1967 intended to annihilate the Jewish state, to return to 1967 borders which means splitting Jerusalem which he wants as his capital and leaving Israel with undefendible borders, and allow the right of return for Palestinians who long ago left – which would demographically overrun Israel. These are the same sticking points that have prevented the solution for decades since Israel has agreed to swap land for peace – as when they completely exited the Gaza Strip, only to have thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli communities.

Abbas gave a hard-line speech, stating that 24 years had passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords, an interim agreement that set a five-year period for ending the Israeli occupation.  Today, he asked what was left of that hope.  Israel continued to pursue its settlements, breaching all international conventions and resolutions on the question of Palestine.  The United Nations bore a legal, moral and humanitarian obligation to end the occupation and enable Palestinians to live in freedom in their independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital along the 4 June 1967 borders.  Doing so would deprive terrorist groups of a rallying cry that they exploited to promote their repugnant ideas.

He pressed Great Britain “to rectify the grave injustice inflicted on Palestinian people when issued Balfour Declaration, promising Jews a national homeland in Palestine – despite the fact that it was inhabited … … 97% of population were Palestinians…The British have not taken any steps to correct this historical injustice against our people – should apologize and provide us with compensation and recognize the state of Palestine.  Even worse, in November they want to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of this crime against our people – the silence from the international community as to the aggression of the Israel government has emboldened Israel – I remind you that Israel violated international resolutions since its establishment….”

“The two-State solution is today in jeopardy,” he said.  Palestine had called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and prosecute Israeli officials involved in settlement activities, and would continue to pursue its accession to international conventions, protocols and organizations.  Palestine had upheld its responsibilities towards its people in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly affirming that “Gaza will not be the Palestinian State” and that “there can be no Palestinian State without Gaza”.  He expressed gratitude for the agreement reached in Cairo aimed at nullifying measures taken by Hamas following division of the area and formation of a government.

To save the two-State solution, he urged the United Nations to help end the Israeli occupation within a set timeframe and implement the Arab Peace Initiative.  It should work to end all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; ensure international protection of the land and people of the State of Palestine in line with resolutions 605 (1987), 672 (1990), 673 (1990) and 904 (1994); and demand that Israel commit to the 1967 borders as the basis for the two-State solution.  He similarly urged Member States that recognized Israel to proclaim that their recognition was based on the 1967 borders, and thus align themselves with international resolutions.

States should also end their involvement and support to the illegal Israeli colonial regime in the occupied State of Palestine, he said, pressing those that had not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so, in fulfillment of the principle of equality.  For its part, the Security Council should approve the State of Palestine’s application for full United Nations membership, while the broader international community should continue providing economic and financial support to Palestinians to achieve self-reliance, as well as support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Abbas Meets with Trump

Later, before a bilateral meeting with United States President Donald Trump, Abbas said this meeting “attests to your seriousness” to “achieve the deal of the century,” during this year or in the coming months. And we are very certain that “you Mr President are determined” to bring peace in the Middle East. And “this gives us the assurance and the confidence that we are on the verge of real peace” between the Palestinian and the Israelis, he said.

“We have met with our brave and active delegation” more than 20 times after January 20, Abbas said. “This is an indication of how serious you are” about peace in the Middle East.

“You will find utmost seriousness on our part to achieve peace,” President Abbas said because it is in the interest of Israel and Palestine.

“We can coexist peacefully together,” the President said. “Once again Mr. President, we count on you.”

Trump said he has been hearing about peace in the Middle East since the time he was a little boy. And for so many years “I have been hearing about” peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We are fighting very hard, we are trying very hard” to achieve this peace. “If we do it, it would be a great great legacy for everybody,” Trump said.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

In Advance of Abbas Visit to White House, 36 Congressmembers Call on Secretary of State to Address Palestinian Authority’s Payments to Convicted Terrorists

Washington, D.C.—Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY 22) and Congressman Thomas Suozzi (NY 3 ) joined together to call on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to address official payments made by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, May 3, when he will meet with Donald Trump in the White House. The letter, signed by 36 Members of Congress, also urges the administration to ensure that the Palestinian Authority is discouraged from continuing this practice in the future.

The Palestinian Authority has a long record of providing financial compensation and employment benefits to Palestinians who have engaged in acts of terrorism. Begun in the 1990s, the practice continues today.  Under current law, Palestinians convicted of an act of terrorism are given monetary compensation as well as employment upon release.

“It is extremely unsettling that the Palestinian Authority continues to provide financial support to convicted terrorists. These policies promote acts of terrorism in the region and must be immediately addressedAdditionally, it is highly concerning that payments to terrorists and their families increase with the length of the sentence, which has the potential of encouraging particularly brutal acts of terrorism,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney.  “As the largest providers of aid to the Palestinians, the United States must lead the way in ensuring that the Palestinian Authority ends this practice and that peace is brought to the region, especially since innocent Americans have died at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.”

“The Palestinian Authority cannot incentivize terror. Terrorists and their families cannot be paid for killing innocent people. Longstanding U.S. policy is committed to a two-state solution, but this dangerous practice pushes us further away from that goal. The United States must put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to end this dangerous and unconscionable practice, which only encourages more acts of terror,” said Congressman Thomas Suozzi.

The United States provides aid to the Palestinians to assist with a wide range of needs. However, since 2015, Congress has joined together to reduce U.S. aid on a 1-to-1 ratio for every dollar that the Palestinian Authority uses for official payments to convicted terrorists. Despite the reduction, these payments to terrorists have continued. The letter urges Secretary Tillerson to use all means at his disposal to address this ongoing issue and the Palestinian Authority’s reluctance to put an end to this program.

Read the full text of the letter below.

May 2, 2017

The Honorable Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520-0099

 

Dear Secretary Tillerson,

We write today to bring an issue of bipartisan concern to your attention. For more than three decades, the Palestinian Authority has provided monetary awards and other incentives to those who have committed acts of terrorism in the region. We fear that this financial support encourages violence and serves as a clear impediment to a truly durable peace. As such, we encourage you to address this issue when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Washington in early May.

Since the early 1990’s, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has provided financial compensation and employment benefits to Palestinians who have committed acts of terrorism. In 2016, programs providing compensation to terrorists and their families were funded at approximately $300 million. These payments are officially sanctioned by the PA and create a perverse and troubling incentive for individual acts of terrorism. For example, under current PA law, a Palestinian who was convicted of an act of terror and given a 10-year sentence would receive $130,000 over ten years. In addition to such compensation, individuals who are incarcerated also receive a guarantee of employment following their release from prison, creating yet another incentive for terrorism.

Policies which have the potential to encourage violence in the region are simply unacceptable and given that American citizens have died in previous acts of terrorism, this is an issue of grave concern to us. For example, on November 19, 2015, 18-year old Ezra Schwartz, an American boy from Sharon, Massachusetts, was murdered by a Palestinian in an attack that left him and two others dead. The individual charged with his murder was sentenced to four life sentences, making him eligible to receive $3,000 a month. Sadly, since payments are based on the length of individual sentences, convicted terrorists receive more money for acts of terrorism that are even more brutal.

The United States is the largest provider of aid to Palestinians. This aid serves a variety of purposes, including to help meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people. Since 2015, members of Congress have come together on a bipartisan basis in an attempt to use this aid as leverage to deter the PA from providing such payments to terrorists and their families. In each year since 2015, annual appropriations have provided for a 1-to-1 reduction in U.S. aid for every dollar that the PA provides to terrorists. It is clear, however, that this troubling policy continues and that this change alone in current law has not been sufficient to deter the continuation of the PA’s program.

As a result, we strongly urge you to ensure that this issue is raised with President Mahmoud Abbas during his upcoming visit to the White House and to continue using all other means at your disposal to address the PA’s reluctance to abandon this program altogether. As members of Congress, we are committed to the long-standing policy of the United States to see a durable peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, resulting in two states; a Jewish, democratic state living in peace and security next to a peaceful Palestinian state. So long as the PA continues to compensate and thereby incentivize terrorist activity, we find it difficult to see how the necessary conditions for a lasting peace can be established.

We thank you for your consideration of this important issue and stand ready to assist you in bringing about a sustainable resolution to our concerns.

Sincerely,

  1. Rep. Claudia Tenney
  2. Rep. Thomas Suozzi
  3. Rep. Peter J. Roskam
  4. Rep. Trent Franks
  5. Rep. Jackie Walorski
  6. Rep. Doug LaMalfa
  7. Rep. Randy Weber
  8. Rep. Tom McClintock
  9. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
  10. Rep. Grace Meng
  11. Rep. Lee Zeldin
  12. Rep. Ted Poe
  13. Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E
  14. Rep. Mia Love
  15. Rep. Paul Cook
  16. Rep. Mike Gallagher
  17. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis
  18. Rep. Thomas J. Rooney
  19. Rep. Peter King
  20. Rep. Todd Rokita
  21. Rep. Don Bacon
  22. Rep. Paul Mitchell
  23. Rep. Patrick Meehan
  24. Rep. Steve Russell
  25. Rep. Andy Biggs
  26. Rep. Ryan Costello
  27. Rep. David Cicilline
  28. Rep. Drew Ferguson
  29. Rep. Josh Gottheimer
  30. Rep. Jim Banks
  31. Rep. Jack Bergman
  32. Rep. Ted Deutch
  33. Rep. Lois Frankel
  34. Rep. Nita M. Lowey
  35. Rep. Bradley S. Schneider
  36. Rep. Pete Olson