30 November 2009
Nov. 28, 2009
DAVID BEDEIN and ARLENE KUSHNER ,
THE JERUSALEM POST
In his column of November 20, "Salam Fayyad builds Palestine," Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz describes "two staunch Jewish supporters of Israel" - Sen. Joe Lieberman, former vice presidential candidate, and Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - "nodding their encouragement" at a recent Ramallah press conference, where Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad explained how he was preparing Palestinians for statehood. The piece goes on to outline a Palestinian state in formation, regarding security forces, the economy and civic institutions, with an optimistic sense of what the PA is achieving.
Regrettably, Lieberman and Berman did not use the press conference to raise some troublesome questions.
Since these American elected officials let that opportunity pass, perhaps it was Horovitz's journalistic responsibility to explore these matters, to offer a more balanced picture. Instead, he alluded to "staunch supporters of Israel nodding their agreement" - conveying the notion that, except for some technical problems, all is well.
Questions that Lieberman, Berman or Horovitz could have asked would have included:
• Renunciation of the PLO state of war with Israel.
The charter of Fatah - the predominant element in the PLO and the PA - to this day continues to call for the destruction of Israel. Written in 1964, before Israel controlled the West Bank and Gaza, it uses the term "Palestine" to refer exclusively to Israel within the Green Line. The charter declares that "Liberating Palestine is a national obligation," and that "Armed public revolution is the inevitable method" for doing so. This cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant anachronism. Last August, Fatah held its first General Congress in 20 years. Hope was held out for a charter revision, with violence officially renounced, but it never happened. Instead, Fatah continued to unambiguously embrace "armed resistance" to liberate Palestine. Why is this so?
• Cessation of incitement via changes in PA-produced textbooks.
The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT http://www.impact-se.org) has issued six reports on new PA textbooks published over the past eight years. Journalist and scholar Dr. Arnon Groiss, who translated these PA textbooks, has just completed an update. He writes that the new PA texts… "deny the historical and religious presence of Jews in Palestine," "fail to recognize the State of Israel," "demonize Jews and Israel," "assign blame for the conflict exclusively on Israel, totally absolving Palestinians," "stress the idea of a violent struggle of liberation rather than a peaceful settlement."
It is disingenuous for Fayyad to profess dedication to peace while the PA curriculum infuses these ideas within its youngsters. Peace is impossible until the message changes. Why do visiting elected officials and journalists not hold Fayyad and the PA accountable for the new PA textbooks?
• Cessation of PA pursuit of Hamas as a coalition partner.
The PA inclination to participate in a government that includes Hamas remains an "elephant in the room" that the international community, somewhat inexplicably, has chosen to ignore: Hamas is recognized by the US and the entire Quartet as a terrorist entity. Yet in March 2007, Fatah and Hamas briefly formed a "unity government" - negotiated by Saudi Arabia via the Mecca Accord - that saw Fatah acceding to Hamas demands. It fell apart with the Hamas coup in Gaza, but in recent months the news is awash with reports of negotiations via Egypt for a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Pursuing negotiations with Israel and Hamas at one and the same time is not acceptable. Why not ask the PA to make a choice?
• Renunciation of the "right of return."
The "right of return," promoted for 60 years by UNRWA and embraced by the PA as a non-negotiable right, remains a recipe for the destruction of Israel from within. If Fayyad and the PA are serious about peace, why not ask them to accept the principle of permanent resettlement of the refugees? UNHCR, the UN High Commission for Refugees - which oversees all refugees except Palestinians - operates according to this principle. Only Palestinian refugees are not resettled, but instead, for purely political reasons, are forced to linger in a (rage-inducing) state of limbo. Fayyad, in his master plan for a Palestinian state, openly states that he supports the "right of return." Isn't it time to ask Fayyad and the PA to openly embrace the UNHCR policy and pave the way for UNRWA to adjust its mandate?
LASTLY, HOROVITZ writes that "most of the international community completely supports [PA] demands for a 100% Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank," noting that "Netanyahu… is intent on driving a harder bargain."
The reader is left with the impression that Netanyahu is obstinately resisting what the world expects. Left unsaid is that the Israeli electorate is most definitely not in favor of complete withdrawal, and that the prime minister simply reflects the will of the nation in this regard. What is more, Horovitz neglects to say that neither does international law support this: UN Security Resolution 242, which does not demand full Israeli withdrawal, acknowledges Israel's need for secure borders.
David Bedein works as director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research, www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and the Middle East Correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, www.TheBulletin.us. Arlene Kushner is the senior research analyst for the Center for Near East Policy Research and author of a daily blog, "Arlene From Israel," www.arlenefromisrael.info.
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