War of Independence.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
"Can I get you a cup of tea?” “From your hand, even poison,” was Katerina’s inevitable response, uttered heartily in a Russian accent. I remembered this phrase recently, although what brought it to mind was the exact opposite: the offer of poison posing as something good. That’s what the Saudi initiative is – a trap.
It calls for Israel’s withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 borders and a solution of the refugee problem as outlined in UN Resolution 194 in return for peace and normalization between Israel and the Arab League.
It sounds good. It indicates that the Arab nations are ready to consent to peace with Israel, something they weren’t willing to do when the State of Israel was established, and haven’t agreed to ever since.
But the conditions, which they declare are nonnegotiable, are unacceptable.
Allow me to clarify: Return to the ’67 borders is not feasible, not now and not in the future. It would be suicide, and we value our lives. To whom, exactly, are we meant to cede the Golan Heights? We couldn’t turn them over to Syria before it became embroiled in war, and we certainly can’t now when Syria is in tatters.
And does it seem logical to anyone that we would be left with no more than 15 kilometers between Netanya and the border? That there would be territorial continuity from the outskirts of Tel Aviv to the Islamic State (ISIS) maniacs? That again Jews would not be allowed on the Temple Mount?
That we would again be permitted only as far as the seventh step outside the entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs? That the only way we could reach the Western Wall was in an armored convoy under the auspices of the UN? Can we give the Palestinians license to resume their old habit of throwing their trash in front of the Wall? Are we supposed to evacuate Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, Gush Etzion and the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem? This is nonsense. It can’t happen and it won’t happen.
As for the refugees, here is a quote from Article 11 of UN Resolution 194: “The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” Who are the Palestinian refugees this refers to? You wouldn’t expect a large number of them to be around any more. After all, it’s been almost 70 years.
How many can there be? But the Palestinian case has been given special interpretation.
In a highly exceptional move, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, was created to deal exclusively with Palestinian refugees, and Palestinians are the only ones in the world whose refugee status is handed down from generation to generation for all eternity. Instead of taking them in, the Arab countries have deliberately perpetuated this status and ensured that they remain neglected in refugee camps to keep up the pressure on Israel.
Over four million Palestinians today qualify as “refugees” according to the definition applied solely to them. Where do you think they would prefer to live? In ramshackle camps in Syria and Gaza, or in Israel? The number of Jewish refugees who were forced to leave Arab countries is considerably larger than the number of Palestinians who left Israel. The Jews and their offspring will not return to those countries, and the Palestinians and their offspring will not return to Israel.
If the Arabs had accepted the Partition Plan in 1947, there wouldn’t be a single Palestinian refugee, and they would control all the territory they are demanding now. But that wasn’t enough for them.
You can’t turn back the clock. If that means we have to live without diplomatic relations with Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen, the Comoros and other such places, then so be it. As things stand, we already have close relations, whether official or otherwise, with the major Arab states, relations that derive from mutual interests rather than any abiding love for one another.
So thank you Saudi Arabia, but no thanks.