I just read the article above on the Jerusalem Post’s website, and have a few comments. I’m not sure where to even start with this one, so I’ll just dive right in. My points are in no particular order…..
1) The Palestinians have ZERO chance of Israel ever agreeing to absorb any significant number of “refugees” 60 or 45 years after the fact. It’s a non-starter, guaranteed to go nowhere. In fact, by the PA’s definition of “Refugee”, a very large portion of Israeli’s would be considered refugees, too, since they and their parents and grand-parents fled the Arab countries following the 1948 War of Independence to come to Israel. They are no less refugees than are the Palestinians, although they were ALL successfully absorbed and integrated into Israeli society, despite the vast majority leaving behind homes, businesses, possessions, and wealth in their countries of origin. Perhaps this should just be considered a population exchange, much like that between India and Pakistan, when the Muslims went to Pakistan, and the Hindus went to India. Voila. Problem solved.
2) Declaration of a Palestinian state on the “1967 B…orders” is also a non-starter, as it has absolutely no basis in international law and is contrary to both the 1967 armistice agreements AND the Oslo accords to which the PLO is a signatory. Those agreements state explicitly that the armistice lines are NOT to be considered borders, and also state explicitly that Israel is entitled to secure borders NOT based on those armistice lines.
3) Such a unilateral step, claiming all the territory conquered by Israel in 1967, which included territory LOST by Israel and Jews in 1948/49, would not, as Abbas says, stake their claim for “Occupied Territory”, but would quite probably cause Israel to state their own claim for some of that territory. And, since there are several hundred thousand Jews living in those very specific areas, the Palestinians have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning that argument IF they declare a state and decide to make it a case of two states arguing about borders.
4) Abbas’ continuing demand to stop construction in all the “settlements” ignores several important things. There ARE “settlements” that will remain part of Israel in any peace treaty. They are just too big and too close to the “green line” (1967 armistice lines) to be dismantled. Any border will most likely include them in Israeli territory.
Most building going on today in those settlements is NOT expanding the borders of the settlements outward – they are building internally, expanding individual homes to accommodate natural growth, and not likely to stop. They are NOT taking any additional land for that growth, which seems quite benign by most standards.
More importantly, Abbas does not differentiate between settlements over the “green line” and neighborhoods in Jerusalem (whether in the city itself or “suburbs”). Many of these areas were Jewish before 1948 and are Jewish again. Many were not inhabited by anyone. AND, Israel formally annexed Jerusalem following the 1967 war. Anyone believing that Israel is going to just hand these over to Abbas is in for a rude awakening.
5. In some ways, I feel badly for Abbas, but he deserves the position in which he finds himself. He and his cronies have created an atmosphere in which compromise has become impossible. If he makes peace with Israel, he’ll be dead within the week, given public opinion and the influence of the more radical Islamist groups. Even if he DOES survive, he will certainly be personal non grata and any agreement won’t be worth the paper on which it’s written.
Abbas has painted himself into a corner with this UN initiative, and in the end, it is likely to have a negative effect on whatever concessions the PA/PLO would likely have wrung from Israel had they sat down to negotiate.
Israel is likely to, and fully justified in doing so, tell them simply “Go to hell. We will no longer support you, transfer any taxes to you, or give in on anything we do not think is in our best interests.” When and if it becomes a border dispute between two countries, it will be that much harder for Abbas to convince Israel to withdraw from ANY territory, AND, any violence or attempts to send masses across the border could easily be interpreted as an act of war perpetrated by a state, albeit one that is self-declared, cannot support itself, and has no formal borders.