[In Part 1 of this open letter, I discussed what Mr. Ban had to say in his NY Times op-ed (“Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel,” Feb. 1, 2016) about violence and terrorism in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Now I’m going to turn to his suggestions as to steps each side should take towards resolving the conflict.]
You write, Mr. Secretary General, that “Israeli authorities need to unequivocally support the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian institutions.” Does that mean that Israeli authorities are obligated to deny reality? Mahmoud Abbas, the ‘president’ of the PA, is currently in the eleventh year of his four-year term as president. That is a fact. He and his supporters are unwilling to hold another election, because they fear with good reason that a candidate of the secular Fatah party—whether Mr. Abbas or anyone else—would be defeated by a Hamas candidate.
In fact, in 2007 Hamas violently and successfully revolted against PA control of Gaza; a number of PA officials were killed in the fighting. Mr. Abbas has never even set foot in Gaza since the putsch. He is obviously afraid that, if he goes to Gaza, Hamas or other Islamists might well assassinate him. These are the facts on the ground, and they cannot be altered by all the UN resolutions in the world. Are the Israelis supposed to pretend that the PA controls Gaza, when in fact it does not?
You allude indirectly to the incapacity of the PA when you write that, “Palestinians must make political compromises to bring Gaza and the West Bank under a single, democratic governing authority[.]” How will the ostensibly secular PA and the overtly Islamist Hamas terrorist organization come together to form a single, democratic governing authority? I think that can be ‘accomplished’ only if Palestinians pretend that Hamas has abandoned its Islamist goal of destroying Israel, and organizations like the UN pretend to believe that that charade is a reality. Why would any Israeli government, or any Israeli citizen, ever believe otherwise?
You also write that the Palestinians must take “preventive action to end attacks on Israelis, including an immediate stop to Gaza tunnel construction.” The rockets that Islamist terrorists fire into Israel come from Gaza, as do the tunnels that extend into Israel. The PA has lost all control over Gaza, and it lacks either the force or the will, or both, to re-establish its control over that territory. There is absolutely no reason to believe that, in the foreseeable future, the PA will acquire either the requisite force or the will to accomplish that goal. All the diplomatic conferences and resolutions in the world will not make the PA a single, democratic authority governing both the West Bank and Gaza—it will take force and will on the part of the PA, just as it took force and will for Hamas to seize control from the PA. What evidence do you have to support a contrary conclusion, Mr. Ban?
Mr. Ban, the message you’ve presented is not one that Israel will embrace with any enthusiasm, but I don’t think you need fear being shot by Israeli officials. That is not likely to happen. Rather, what is a virtual certainty is that your message will ultimately be ignored by Israel and its supporters, because it is so hopelessly biased in favor of Palestinians and against Israelis. There are fifty Muslim-majority countries in the UN, comprising more than one-quarter of the member states. There is only one Jewish-majority member state. Perhaps it is not surprising that, as the head of the UN, you might not be a model of even-handedness.
The bias inherent in your position is highlighted by the concluding sentence in your op-ed, which reads: “Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security and future of both Israelis and Palestinians.” Clearly, this places the blame unequivocally on the Israelis. You could just as well have written: “Subjecting another people to waves of terrorism undermines the security and future of both Israelis and Palestinians.” This would have placed the blame unequivocally on the Palestinian terrorists. Or, as an alternative to either of the foregoing, you could have written: “Keeping another people under indefinite occupation, or subjecting another people to waves of terrorism, undermines the security and future of both Israelis and Palestinians.” This would have been the most even-handed formulation of all, but it is not one you chose.
David E. Weisberg