As Israel and the Palestinians await US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework proposals, it is highly relevant to recall President Barack Obama’s urging of Israel to follow in the footsteps of the revered late Yitzchak Rabin, and argument that it would be a breach of faith to disregard Rabin’s legacy.
On November 8, 2009, President Obama sent an inspiring video message to the Rabin memorial rally in Tel Aviv. One could not help but be moved by his call to follow in the footsteps of Rabin, and by Obama’s declaration that the US would never lose sight of our shared purpose: “a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world, one that respects the dignity and security of every human being.”
The president concluded by saying, “Let us all fulfill his [Rabin’s] legacy, for here in this square that bears his name there can be no higher tribute nor more noble a calling.”
However, if we are to fulfill Rabin’s legacy we need to know what it is. It is interesting to note in this context that Rabin anticipated Kerry’s “framework” concept. This is how Rabin described his “framework” on October 5, 1995, in his last speech to the Knesset, just a few weeks before his assassination: “We view the permanent solution in the framework of the State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.
“First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev – as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term... .” (Rabin’s entire speech may be viewed at www.2nd-thoughts.org/id308.html) The Jordan Valley and settlements It is evident from the above that Palestinian claims to the Jordan Valley and the demands that every settlement east of the Green Line be removed run counter to President Obama’s desire that we follow in Rabin’s footsteps.
It is important to understand what the Green Line is – and what it is not. Too often it is mistakenly referred to as an internationally recognized border, which it is not. The 1949 Armistice Agreements were intended to serve only as interim agreements until replaced by permanent peace treaties. The Green Line denoting the cease-fire line was not intended as a recognized international border. It only marks the line separating the armies until permanent borders are eventually established by negotiation and agreement.
Recognition of a Jewish state Another important issue is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ adamant refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
On January 16, 2014, Nabil Sha’ath, Fatah’s commissioner for external relations, indicated to the press that the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a new concept never raised before. This of course is patently untrue: In 2007, prime minister Ehud Olmert declared that unless Palestinians accept this definition, diplomacy would be aborted, and that he did not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state.
That Israel would be a Jewish state was fundamental in its creation, as indicated by the name of Herzl’s seminal 1896 book Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”), and the concept is repeated in the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo resolution as well as in the infamous United Nations General Assembly partition Resolution 181. Israel’s Declaration of Independence states: “We ... hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”
More importantly, in his speech to Israelis in March 2013 during his feted visit to Israel, President Obama said unambiguously: “Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security.”
And AP reported that while addressing a gathering at Yad Vashem Obama said, “Here on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear: the State of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but with the survival of a strong Jewish State of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again.”
As countries like Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are recognized as Islamic states, there can be no logical reason to refuse to recognize as a Jewish state the only state in the area in which all religious and ethnic minorities have full rights. The obstinate refusal by Palestinians to do so is all the more unjust since Israel’s future neighbor intends to be an Arab-only state, as Abbas declared in Cairo last July: “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli, civilian or soldier, on our lands.”
The writer is a comentator on current affairs who writes at www.2nd-thoughts.org.