On Monday 12 October, Prime Minister Netanyahu opened the Knesset’s winter session by blasting the Goldstone Report that accuses Israel of committing war crimes and vowing that he would never allow Israelis be tried for them. But that was not his main message. It was an appeal, delivered I thought with a measure of desperation, to the “Palestinian leadership”, presumably the leadership of “President” Abbas and his Fatah cronies, leaders who are regarded by very many if not most Palestinians as American-and-Israeli stooges at best and traitors at worst.
Netanyahu again called on this leadership to agree to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, saying this was, and remains, the key to peace. And he went on and on and on about it.
“For 62 years the Palestinians have been saying ‘No’ to the Jewish state. I am once again calling upon our Palestinian neighbours – say ‘Yes’ to the Jewish state. Without recognition of the Israel as the state of the Jews we shall not be able to attain peace… Such recognition is a step which requires courage and the Palestinian leadership should tell its people the truth – that without this recognition there can be no peace… There is no alternative to Palestinian leaders showing courage by recognising the Jewish state. This has been and remains the true key to peace.”
As Ha’aretz noted in its report, Netanyahu’s demand for Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state is for him “a way on ensuring recognition of Israel’s right to exist as opposed to merely recognising Israel” (my emphasis). This, as Ha’aretz added, is the recognition which Netanyahu and many other Israelis see as the real core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the name of pragmatism, willingness “merely to recognise” Israel – meaning to accept and live in peace with an Israel inside its pre-June ‘67 borders – has long been the formal Palestinian and all-Arab position. Why does it stop short of recognising Israel’s “right to exist”, and why, really, does it matter so much to Zionism that Palestinians recognise this right?
The answer is in the following.
According to history as written by the winner, Zionism, Israel was given its birth certificate and thus legitimacy by the UN Partition Resolution of 29 November 1947. This is propaganda nonsense.
• In the first place the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own.
• Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote, the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal – meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council.
• The truth is that the General Assembly’s partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the U.S. knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force given the extent of Arab and other Muslim opposition to it; and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.
• So the partition plan was vitiated (became invalid) and the question of what the hell to do about Palestine – after Britain had made a mess of it and walked away, effectively surrendering to Zionist terrorism – was taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the U.S. was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what do that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence – actually in defiance of the will of the organised international community, including the Truman administration.
The truth of the time was that the Zionist state, which came into being mainly as a consequence of pre-planned ethnic cleansing, had no right to exist and, more to the point, could have no right to exist UNLESS … Unless it was recognised and legitimized by those who were dispossessed of their land and their rights during the creation of the Zionist state. In international law only the Palestinians could give Israel the legitimacy it craved.
And that legitimacy was the only thing the Zionists could not and cannot take from the Palestinians by force. No wonder Prime Minister Netanyahu is more than a little concerned on this account.
Israel’s leaders have always known the truth summarised above. It’s time for the rest of the world to know it.
Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and globally as a researcher, author, and a correspondent for ITN and the BBC.