I disagree with much of what Congressman Ellison writes in the linked article. See the comments below.
1) Mr. Ellison starts with “The Palestinian people deserve a state now”. Why? What have they done to “deserve” a state? Demanded that the world take care of them? Blown up planes and civilians for years? Taken handouts from the world and put enormous amounts of that money in the private bank accounts of their leaders? Made peace with their neighbor, Israel?
I am not arguing whether or not they should have a state, only the word “deserve” is a hot button for me and that the path to get to statehood must involve direct negotiations with Israel on borders, security, etc. End runs will NOT produce a peaceful or satisfactory (to anyone) result.
2) Mr. Ellison concludes that Israel’s path to statehood was similar to what the Palestinians are doing now. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel was founded as a result of well documented historical ties to the land over the course of several thousand years, modern treaties in the early 1900’s between most of the nations of the world, a UN mandate, and a UN partition plan. NONE of those things exist today. The only relevant agreement, really, is Oslo, which states specifically that neither party will make unilateral decisions to affect final status (such as the declaration of a new state, for example).
3) Mr. Ellison states “Arab countries that have never recognized Israel would implicitly be doing so when they voted to recognize a Palestinian state that envisioned itself beside Israel in a two-state solution to their conflict.” — Huh??? How on Earth he reaches that conclusion, I have no idea. All that will happen is that the Arab countries will recognize a state of Palestine. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with recognition of Israel.
The Palestinian’s “vision” of a state as free of Jews, free of homosexuals, based on Islamic Sharia law, and as a springboard to continue their fight against “occupation” of the rest of Israel, certainly does not imply, either explicitly or implicitly, that the Palestinians have any intention of being good neighbors, or that somehow, miraculously, their Arab and Muslim “brethren” will recognize either Israel as the Jewish nation or Israel’s right to exist. The PLO’s charter, as well as that of Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, are both quite explicit in their goals of “reclaiming” ALL the land held by Israel for the Arab world. Of course, they make no mention of the land held by Jordan, which was part of the originally designated Jewish homeland, but that’s a different story.
4) Mr. Ellison claims that the PA’s request of the UNSC for statehood is, by definition, “multi-lateral” and that negotiations for borders, etc. will still be necessary. Yet, he ignores that Abbas’ letter to the UNSC demands that the state be recognized in the 1967 “borders” (the 1949 armistice lines which are most definitely NOT borders). That sets the stage for NO negotiation about borders, which clearly is what Abbas intends. Mr. Abbas clearly intends for the world to solve his problem of borders. That the world will force Israel to accept what have been referred to as “Auschwitz borders” without the ability to bilaterally, with the Palestinians, define borders which will ensure Israel’s security (or at least give them the opportunity to defend themselves).
5) Mr. Ellison says “Thanks in large part to American assistance, incidents of terrorism in Israel have receded from the extraordinary levels of the first half of the last decade.” In reality, the reduction in terrorism in Israel is in large part due to construction of the security barrier between Israel and the West Bank, frequently referred to absurdly as “the Apartheid wall”.
6) Lastly, Mr. Ellison makes the following two points: “The Palestinian people are a distinct group that desires, and deserves, to have a homeland that is internationally recognized as a state. The international community has a formal process for recognizing states, and the Palestinian Authority is following that process. “
The response to the first point is “How are they “distinct”?” What is the recognized lineage which differentiates them from the Jordanians, Iraqis, or Syrians? Are they a separate nationality with a long history of independence that was somehow taken away from them? What is the reality? Certainly not that they are a unique ethnicity or nationality. That has NEVER been the case until after 1967. The Palestinians are indistinguishable from Arabs in the neighboring countries, ethnically, historically, religiously, or in any other way. That does not mean they should not have a state. If they feel they have a unique national identity, and want to be free to found a state, more power to them. BUT, claiming that they are somehow “different” is disingenuous at best.
The response to the second point is very simply that while requesting UN membership for a state is done by petitioning the UNSC, it is normally done when there already exists an actual state, which is not the case here. There is, and has never been, an actual state or country of “Palestine”, and frankly, the Oslo accords more or less prohibit the founding of one by unilateral declaration until the details of such a state are worked out between Israel and the Palestinians. That cannot happen until the Palestinians are ready to sit down and actually talk to Israel.
Mr. Ellison’s logic is flawed, as is his sense of history and justice.
While I have no objection to the forming of a Palestinian state, I do not believe that it should be on Israel’s back, nor should it be allowed to present a threat to Israel. Part of its founding MUST include their recognition that Israel is a Jewish nation (just like we will all have to recognize that Palestine is a Muslim nation, with no room or tolerance for other religions).
In addition, until the West Bank and Gaza resolve their differences, I do not understand how there can be a state that includes both these areas. They have separate rulers, and one (Gaza) is truly, in every sense of the word, in a state of war with Israel.
In short, Mr. Ellison does his constituents a disservice with his heavily biased, inaccurate op-ed piece.