Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wrong Documents

Rick Richman has a post over at Contentions, "Re: The Value of an International Guarantee" and in it, he writes:

Let me add a note to Evelyn Gordon’s important posts yesterday and today regarding Mahmoud Abbas’s weekend assertion that the UN should endorse a two-state solution “based on the June 4, 1967 borders” – a solution he contends is reflected in the relevant UN Security Council resolution and the Roadmap...it would be a breach of a longstanding international guarantee to Israel for the UN to endorse the June 4, 1967, lines as the basis of a Palestinian state. It would also violate repeated assurances made to Israel by the United States.

Would it be so simple.

I hate to break it to everyone but the Pals. base themselves on another document.

Yes, the Oslo Accords.

Allow me:

Declaration of Principles
On Interim Self-Government Arrangements
(September 13, 1993)

The Government of the State of Israel and the P.L.O. team (in the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference) (the "Palestinian Delegation"), representing the Palestinian people, agree that it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict, recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights, and strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process. Accordingly, the, two sides agree to the following principles:


The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the "Council"), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338...


Jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period.

Now, I will be the first to point out, similar to what the Arabs have done to us Zionists regarding the Balfour Declaration, that a Jewish National Home will be reconstituted "in Palestine" but not all of it will be the future Jewish state (see: The initial draft of the declaration, contained in a letter sent by Rothschild to Balfour, referred to the principle "that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people." In the final text, the word that was replaced with in to avoid committing the entirety of Palestine to this purpose), that the wording is not 100% solid in supporting the Pal. assertion.

For example, in this phrase:

to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority...for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

but, nevertheless, basing themselves on that last phrase, that "the West Bank and the Gaza Strip [is] a single territorial unit", the situation is nebulous.

And yes, one could say that the single-unit integrity is only for the length of the interim period and that there are those final status issues that could evolve into an alteration of geographical configurations. But to presume that the Pals. will willingly yield on territory is wishful thinking.

It doesn't preclude, of course, that Israel will also demand that a strict literal interpretation be held to by all concerned. Something that should happen.

However, in basing themselves on what they do, both Evelyn and Rick have to rethink their arguments.


Rick Richman said...

Yisrael -- This is an interesting post, but I am going to stick with my position because: (1) the multiple assurances of “defensible borders” subsequent to the documents you cite are inconsistent with an argument that those documents contemplate a return to the June 4, 1967 lines; (2) the documents themselves contemplate a permanent settlement “based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338” -- not a return to the June 4, 1967 lines; (3) at the time UN Resolution 242 was adopted, the Joint Chiefs of Staff prepared an analysis for President Johnson of defensible borders, which contemplated significant changes to the June 4, 1967 lines; (4) President Johnson himself said at the time that he did not intend to require Israel to move back to the pre-war armistice lines; and (5) the reference to the West Bank and the Gaza strip as a “single territorial unit” is probably intended to prevent separating the two areas into a three-state solution, not as a reference to the June 4, 1967 lines.

Resolution 242 was heavily negotiated, at the highest levels in the relevant governments, and a reference to a withdrawal from “all the” territories was expressly rejected at the time. I do not think the Oslo documents contradict that, or could be read to deny Israel the right to “defensible borders” given the multiple U.S. commitments to that right and the reference in 242 itself to "secure" (not just "recognized") borders.

YMedad said...

Well, I hope someone at the Foreign Ministry and at least one othe rat the PM's office is giving this some thought. My problem is that a claim could be made that later agreements overtake previous ones. Thanks for the comment.