Latest update: January 10th, 2013
Since Netanyahu, whose own slick administration disingenuously strengthened the hand of Palestinian terrorists, most Israelis have insistently kept up a hollow refrain for Palestinian “autonomy.” But the Palestinians know full well the difference between autonomy and sovereignty, and they will have nothing of the former. For Netanyahu and his American public relations team, autonomy became a unilateral and uninspired mantra – a vain and pitiable incantation heard by no one outside of Tel-Aviv or Hollywood.
Over time, of course, Palestine will energetically enlarge to include what little remains of “Occupied Palestine.” No one ought to be surprised. Let us be fair. The Palestinian Authority has always been completely honest about its violent intentions. For them, violence against Jews offers a voluptuousness all its own. For them, the sheer joy of “resistance” against defenseless civilians makes sense even if it should impair their stated political objectives.
Today, official PA maps of “Palestine” still include all of Israel. Israel’s disappearance remains the utterly undisguised PLO/PA/Hamas objective. Should this vanishing finally happen, it would be the direct result of considerable legal brilliance on the part of the Arabs and of legal indifference and/or incompetence on the part of the Israelis.
Over the years, a number of cases in United States Federal Courts have authoritatively rejected the idea that the PLO is in any way the core of an independent state. Israeli lawyers and policymakers might at one time have been able to refer to such cases in support of an argument denying Palestinian statehood. But not now.
Today, after Oslo, after “disengagement,” after the “Road Map,” after Annapolis, after persistent Israeli capitulations under multiple pretenses of negotiation, Israel will simply have to accept the assorted Palestinian legal arguments. The civilized world will allow nothing else. History, moreover, will record such acceptance as just one more expression of Israel’s largely self‑inflicted mutilation and disappearance.
Truly, one must admire the Palestinians for the dexterity with which they have successfully undermined the Israelis. For years, even while they murder and mutilate each other, they have listened and learned and watched and persevered and terrorized. For their leaders (PA or Hamas – it makes no real difference), slaughtering Jewish children and their mothers on buses and in ice-cream parlors has proven to be a generally sound geopolitical strategy. After all, the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled that what is mainly objectionable in the Arab-Israeli conflict is not Arab terrorism, but Israel’s chutzpah in erecting a security fence to protect itself against terrorism. To the United Nations and the civilized international community, the inconveniencing of Palestinian olive growers is still a far greater violation of essential human rights than the exploding of Israeli civilians.
A similar calculus concerning Israel’s security barrier is now offered by certain churches in America. Here, Jewish blood is simply less sacred than Arab olive trees. When it comes to Jews and Jewish rights to stay alive, there is nothing new under the sun.
Unlike the Israelis, who still haven’t taken the trouble to understand and use relevant international law, the Palestinians have continuously engaged certain first-rate American scholars as serious policy advisors. While the Israelis have been busily developing complex weapon systems that could be largely “beside the point” in any coming war, the Palestinians have been thinking and consulting and reading and killing.
While Israeli professors of international law worry conscientiously about protecting Arab rights from assorted “Zionist infringements,” Arab scholars worry about the very same issue. For the Arab scholars, of course, Jihad is not a problem, but rather an authentic expression of justice. Not surprisingly, Jewish rights to survival in Israel, already self-diminished in law, will be lost materially in the now increasingly inevitable war.
Under the Montevideo Convention, all states are legally equal, enjoy the same rights, and have equal capacity in their exercise. The moment that the PA declares a State of Palestine, the new state could be the full juridical equal of Israel.
When Israelis begin to object fearfully to Palestinian claims for more territory – territory well within the extant State of Israel – the world will listen more than politely to the Palestinians. Palestine, after all, will now be fully equal to Israel under international law – courtesy of every Government of Israel, from Rabin to Olmert.
It is already too late to change all this. But Israel can still learn some important lessons from its mistakes. In the final analysis, Israelis will have to recall the very reason for the country’s founding, its true raison d’etre as a state. This means that before it can act effectively to save itself, Israel will first have to recall: 1. its special place among the nations and 2. its special and unavoidable responsibility to ensure Jewish survival.
Copyright © The Jewish Press, January 4, 2008. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is a long-time expert on international relations. The author of ten books dealing with international law, he is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.
About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.
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