The solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict lies with the UN. All everyone has to do is implement the decisions made throughout the years.
By SHIMON TAMIR
The renewed direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, under massive US pressure, were not conducted this time – as in the past – as part of general talks leading to specific results. Rather, they were tackled by addressing the roots of the conflict that would have hopefully once and for all led to a final agreement. But the negotiations, not surprisingly, have been fraught with difficulties.The Arab League leaders, meeting in Libya earlier this month, decided to grant the US some maneuvering room to find a way to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table after the freeze on settlement construction was not extended.The question has always remained: On which legal basis can the sides reach a mutual agreement that will lead to the end of the conflict? The only acceptable way, known to all parties, was and remains abiding by the UN resolutions since 1948, even when it is clear that each side has its own interpretation of them.What is, then, the practical opening discussion? There are four core issues that must be addressed. The first is the mutual recognition of UN Resolution 181 from 1947 that determined two states for two peoples, Jewish and Palestinian, in the Holy Land. This is a key issue in any discussion between the parties, and corresponds with the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative backed quietly by the Arab League earlier this year.With regards to the Arab- Palestinian argument that Israel should withdraw to the 1967 borders, it should be clearly stated that apart from the boundaries we share with Arab countries, no such borders ever existed on the ground. Furthermore, UN Resolution 242 from 1967 clearly mentions a withdrawal from the territories, but not from all the territories, as presented at the time by the British representative, Lord Caradon.As for east Jerusalem, which is seen by the Arabs as part of the pre-1967 borders, the issue is contradicted by the 1947 resolution which decided on a special status called corpus separatum.Jerusalem would serve as the intended divider between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state in negotiations.The Arab idea to see east Jerusalem as the future final border between the two countries has only one purpose: to discredit our historic, religious and national rights to this city, holy to all monotheistic religions.Our numbers there have surpassed the Arabs, even before the Balfour Declaration.The evidence – all the statistical analyses conducted in the city by the British embassy from World War I to the Six Day War – proves it.AS FOR the Palestinian refugees, the Arabs rely on the first half of UN Resolution 194 of 1948 which deals with the right of return to their homes, or compensation. But the second half says clearly that those Palestinians who wish to return to their homes must commit to live in peace with their neighbors – in others words, the Jews in Israel. Are we to believe that those who fought for the destruction of the State of Israel will suddenly become loyal citizens? Highly unlikely.Furthermore, what about Jewish refugees from Arab lands? This is an issue ignored by the Arabs even as the number of Palestinian refugees continues to grow. It is an inseparable part of the discussion.A resolution to the conflict demands tough decisions and compromises. The central challenge that lies before Israel is one of credible and aggressive hasbara which would include the best experts in their respective fields to present the truth to international and Arab public opinion.It must be noted that Arab PR on the conflict has deeply influenced public opinion over the past few years. Therefore we must change the picture drastically before it is too late.Israeli policy-makers must understand that the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is in our national interest, first and foremost to retain the Jewish character of the state. Otherwise, we are marching toward a binational state, whether we like it or not.A final agreement acceptable to all sides, as painful as it is, which would include a peace agreement with Syria and Lebanon on the basis of the ’67 borders, will finally remove the last obstacle to peace with our Arab neighbors. This in turn, will ensure Israel’s true integration as part of the Middle East, and we will see the realization of Leviticus 26:6: I will grant peace in the land.The sooner the better.The writer is an Orientalist and economist. He lives in Jerusalem.
var cont = `Sign up for The Jerusalem Post Premium Plus for just $5
Upgrade your reading experience with an ad-free environment and exclusive content