Deconstructing Rightwing arguments (I): The Palestinian Charter

Posted: May 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Every now and then you get to hear Israelis argue that we cannot have peace with the Palestinians or even withdraw from the West Bank because Hamas is still opposing the idea of a Jewish state, and more important, because the Palestinian National Charter, which the PLO’s binding document, still states that the Palestinians have a right for the entire land of Israel, and that “Zionist occupation” of the land is illegal.

But have a look at article 1(b) in the constitution of the Likud, Israel’s ruling party: it turns out the Likud never accepted the idea of parting the land either, and its stated goal remains to settle and annex as much territory as possible.

This is the official translation of the constitution to English, taken from PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s own website (my italic):

Article 2: General purposes

1. The Likud is a national-liberal party which advocates the ingathering of the exiles, the integrity of the Jewish homeland, human freedom and social justice, and it strives to achieve these goals:

(…)

b. Safeguarding the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel as an eternal, inalienable right, working diligently to settle and develop all parts of the land of Israel, and extending national sovereignty to them.

Personally, I don’t pay much attention to such documents. We can negotiate with PLO and even Hamas, and Palestinians can talk to Likud Prime Ministers. Negotiations deal with the future, and those charters and constitutions are documents of the past. All arguments regarding them are no more than excuses.


19 Comments on “Deconstructing Rightwing arguments (I): The Palestinian Charter”

  1. 1 Confused said at 9:11 am on May 5th, 2010:

    Hey, that’s great. Can you show us where the Likud states that it will seek to destroy the Palestinians national movement? How about a section in their platform that negates any Palestinian connection to the region, such as Islam’s relationship and history with respect to the Al Aqsa Mosque? Also, will you find the part of the Likud platform that suggests the Palestinians or Arabs are seeking to take over the world through all sorts of nefarious tricks?

    When you can do that, you can compare.

    Until then, however, you are only partially right. Sure, they can be ignored while negotiations and discussions take place. Also, charters can change. However, you can’t claim that charters don’t carry serious weight because they do. They serve as guideposts to movements and in some cases, they even present a legal hurdle that needs to be overcome before the parties can take any steps.

    I think you would benefit from the interesting exercise of reading Israel’s Declaration of Independence and then reading the PLO/Fatah and Hamas charters. You will see there are substantial differences. Ignoring those differences may work on a blog, but you have to apply your conclusions to real life. I propose to you that after you read these three foundational documents, you will come away understanding why Israel is the party that keeps trying to make peace while the other side continues to reject it.

  2. 2 noam said at 10:48 pm on May 5th, 2010:

    Confused: I think that declaring you want to settle and annex the land pretty much says it all, unless it’s Netanyahu’s intention to hand the Palestinians Israeli IDs. On the day this happens, I will vote Likud.

    As for the declaration of Independence, I would love it to have an official legal status in Israel. As you probably know, this is not the case.

  3. 3 Confused said at 12:25 pm on May 6th, 2010:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean by “pretty much says it all.” Is there something there that I’m not seeing?

    Again, I ask you to simply compare the statement that they seek to “extend national sovereignty” to the Land of Israel versus the Palestinian charters which call for an armed fight that will lead to the destruction of the Zionist entity.

    Is it unclear that the language in the latter supports and advocates violence while the former does not? The former does not negate Palestinian heritage anywhere, the latter does. The former does not disparage Palestinians, one of the two Palestinian charters does so in clear antisemitic terms.

    Additionally, the Israeli PM, from the Likud, has stated publicly in 2009 that he will support a two state solution with one state being the Jewish state. Has any Palestinian leader agreed? Jabotinsky, spiritual father of Israel’ right, did not advocate for the destruction of a Palestinian entity or negate Palestinian history.

    As for the Declaration of Independence not being law, I don’t understand how that changes the fact that this is Israel’s formative document, just as the Fatah and Hamas charters are their official formative documents.

    I feel like I’m challenging you and all you can do is tell me, “We know what the Likud means” without actually showing any merit to your claim that this parallels the Palestinian charters.

    If you want to compare, then compare! Where do the Likud or the State of Israel reject Palestinian history, insult the Palestinians as a group, negate their relationship to the land, actively seek to remove them or their government, and so on? I’m saying that this does not exist on the Israeli side, but it certainly exists on the Palestinian side. If you want to show me that I’m wrong, please approach the charters or any Israeli official document of this nature and show me how they compare.

  4. 4 Gert said at 1:17 pm on May 6th, 2010:

    Confused:

    I suggest you take a look at Likud’s Charter, the part about Permanent Status and self rule. It doesn’t get much clearer than that:

    http://www.knesset.gov.il/elections/knesset15/elikud_m.htm

    “The permanent status arrangement shall be based on the following principles:

    Self-Rule

    The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.

    The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs. ”

    Do you get it now?

  5. 5 Confused said at 3:36 am on May 7th, 2010:

    Gosh, Gert, this is too confusing.

    Catch this, though, it’s Bibi talking just a couple of months ago (and in case you forgot, this guy is the official head of the Likud, just as was Begin when he made peace with Egypt after compromising far beyond the Likud parameters at that time):

    “While we cherish our homeland, we also recognize that Palestinians live there as well. We don’t want to govern them. We don’t want to rule them. We want them as our neighbors, living freely in security, dignity and peace. Yet Israel is unjustly accused of not wanting peace with the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth. My government has consistently shown its commitment to peace in both word and deed.

    From day one, I called on the Palestinian Authority to begin peace negotiations without delay and I make that same call today. President Abbas, come and negotiate peace. That’s so elementary and so obvious. You’d think we don’t have to say it because leaders who truly want peace should be able to sit face-to-face with each other and negotiate the peace. You can’t successfully end a negotiation for peace if you don’t begin it, so I call on the Palestinian leadership, come and negotiate peace.

    If a vision of peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Just as the Palestinians expect Israel to recognize a Palestinian state, we expect the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state. My government has removed hundreds of roadblocks, barriers, earth ramps, checkpoints and this has facilitated tremendous Palestinian movement. As a result, we have helped spur, actually an incredible boom given today’s world economy, an incredible boom in the Palestinian economy. You have coffee shops, restaurants, businesses, shopping malls, even multiplex studios. Just go to Ramallah and Jenin and that has not come about out of sheer error. We have made it possible. You cannot do this if you cannot move trucks, goods, people, customers. That has been our policy. And we added to that an unprecedented moratorium on new Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria. This is what my government has done for peace.

    Peace requires reciprocity. It cannot be a one-way street in which Israel makes all the concessions and the Palestinian Authority makes none. That has got to change. Israel stands ready to make the compromises necessary for peace, but we expect the Palestinians to compromise as well – to do their part.

    And therefore, a peace agreement with the Palestinians must have effective security arrangements on the ground – not just on a piece of paper – on the ground.

    We must make sure that what happened in Lebanon and Gaza doesn’t happen again in the West Bank. Let me explain what our main security problem with Lebanon is. It’s not Israel’s border with Lebanon – it’s Lebanon’s forced border with Syria through which Iran and Syria smuggle thousands and thousands of rockets and missiles to Hezbollah. And our main security problem with Gaza is not Israel’s border with Gaza – it’s Gaza’s border with Egypt under which there’s about a thousand tunnels dug through which Hamas smuggles weapons to fire at us.

    My friends, experience has shown that only an Israeli presence on the ground can prevent or limit weapons smuggling. And this is why a peace agreement with the Palestinians must include an Israeli presence in the eastern border of a future Palestinian state. If peace with the Palestinians proves its durability over time, we can review security arrangements. ”

    How’s that for spitting right down at that dastardly Likud platform. Don’t forget, by the way, that Ehud Olmert, who offered the Palestinians a state just two years ago, may have been at Kadima at the time, but before
    Sharon broke away from the Likud, followed by Olmert, he had been a life-long Likudnik. Yet there he was offering the Palestinians a state with a shared Jerusalem.

    Now, for Noam’s argument to be valid, you will have to show me where Abbas negates the key provisions of the PLO or Fatah charters? You know, like the parts where it says they will destroy the Zionist entity to liberate Palestine? Or the part where they plan to use force to do this? Don’t worry, though, I won’t trouble you to search for any denials of the Hamas government in their approach to Israel.

    I’ll wait patiently, Gert. Thanks.

  6. 6 noam said at 9:28 am on May 7th, 2010:

    Talking is cheap, especially when you are Netanyahu – who never did anything as PM but talk.

    BTW, The Palestinians already said all Israel wanted to hear, including giving up the right of return:

    http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1160643.html

  7. 7 Confused said at 10:58 am on May 7th, 2010:

    Here is Dan Meridor, another Likudnik, and a member of Netanyahu’s inner circle of ministers, talking about a Palestinian state.

    http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=174944

    On the other hand, in the article you provided, Noam, Fayyad does not say the Palestinians will quit any claims regarding Israel. His state appears as a freebie, without any commitments to Israel or to any agreements. On the contrary, he wants ALL of eastern Jerusalem, and ALL the lands Israel conquered in 1967. He does not abrogate or speak of abrogating any part of any Palestinian charter, unlike the speech by Netanyahu or the interview with Meridor which clearly oppose the Likud platform quoted here. His language about the refugees is calculated and makes no commitments other than absorption of some into the new Palestine.

    It’s a wonderful arrangement for the Palestinians and it does a run around Israel. They don’t have to address the refugee issue, Jerusalem or anything else. They just claim what they want as theirs and if they can’t get it now, they will fight the war later. After all, they will never have given up the claim of a right of return.

    I would think this is certain to lead to war.

    Fortunately, the Palestinians look like they’re not going to pull the trigger on a state, for fear that they will be relinquishing the battle for the part of Israel which wouldn’t fall into their hands under Fayyad’s plan. Fayyad could really screw Israel, but as you know, the Palestinians are specialists at missing opportunities, and he will be crushed by his own people and his own party before he succeeds making things hard for the Israelis.

    It’s already begun: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3883825,00.html.

  8. 8 Confused said at 11:00 am on May 7th, 2010:

    Oh, I forgot that regarding your remark about Netanyahu never having done anything, permit me to remind you who signed Wye and Hebron accords.

  9. 9 noam said at 11:24 am on May 8th, 2010:

    confused –

    Regarding the things Dan Meridor said, I remind you that Bugy Yaalon, the deputy PM, said two months ago to Yedioth that “there isn’t one cabinet member who believes in the negotiations”. But again. all this is just talk. the test to Israel’s intentions is actions.

    Netanyahu refused to talk to Arafat until the Palestinian started the mini intifada after the tunnel incident, and then he gave up and evacuated Hebron, but that’s where it ended. he didn’t even carry out the last part of the agreement. and regarding this term, i challenge you to show one major decision he took (not something he said, but something he actually did), even on issues unrelated to the peace process.

    Though you keep an aggressive tone, you seem like a knowledgeable and intelligent guy. I wonder what do you think Israel should do regarding the WB. do you really think that the status qou is manageable? do you think time is on our side, considering the fact that evacuating settlements will be even harder in five, ten years? I’m not trying to tease you, I really wonder if you think that in the long term, stalling the process and blaming the Palestinians for everything (even when there is a reason to blame them) is in Israel’s best interest.

  10. 10 Gert said at 11:53 am on May 8th, 2010:

    Noam:

    Zionism is the embodiment of what I call ‘function creep’. In plain English: the constant, slow moving of goal posts.

    Re. the WB, after all that time and all that colonising we now see many supporters of Israel buying into the absurd idea that the Occupation really serves a ‘security’ purpose. To believe that you’d also have to believe that Bibi and his predecessors have no qualms about using their own (settlers) as human shields and even I am not that cynical!

    Supporters also talk about ‘Israeli concessions’ but when is the last time Israel made any ‘concessions’? Withdrawal from Gaza? Is giving back something that didn’t belong to you in the first place a ‘concession’?

    Herr Lieberman has in the mean time indicated that the moment the ‘freeze’ expires, building in the WB will resume immediately.

  11. 11 Gert said at 12:06 pm on May 8th, 2010:

    Confused:

    You wrote:

    “On the other hand, in the article you provided, Noam, Fayyad does not say the Palestinians will quit any claims regarding Israel. His state appears as a freebie, without any commitments to Israel or to any agreements. On the contrary, he wants ALL of eastern Jerusalem, and ALL the lands Israel conquered in 1967.”

    What’s in a nickname: you sure sound confused alright. Fayyad i.o.w. wants what most of the International Community (including the US) see as the basis for a Palestinian state. You seem to be accusing them of wanting something unusual.

    Then another inanity:

    “It’s a wonderful arrangement for the Palestinians and it does a run around Israel.”

    Yes, it truly is wonderful. About 1.5 million live in an enclave the size of a handkerchief and in what is, thanks to the siege, considered by many as no more than a large open air prison.

    Those not living there live under military occupation or are part of the 4.5 million refugees (2005 UN count).

    It’s real cushty, isn’t it?

    It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who from the comfort of their own recliner can spout such nonsense about an entire people suffering hardship…

  12. 12 Confused said at 9:18 pm on May 8th, 2010:

    Gert, one of my parents was a refugee from an Arab land. The family gave up their assets and life and had to move to Israel because that country became so inhospitable to Jews. Being a Jewish refugee from an Arab land didn’t count at the UN and never has. Instead, Israel absorbed these refugees and offered them normal lives despite extremely harsh years at the beginning. This parent has never used the word “refugee” around me. I have never considered myself a child of a “refugee.” The property that was lost is property we will never recover and I don’t think about that either. Life went on and goes on.

    The point is that the Palestinians who are counted as refugees 62 years after 1948 are for the most part not refugees. UNRWA enables this lie and provides funds that may not make them rich, but give them a standard of living competitive with much of the Arab world. They can shut down the refugee camps, but they choose to keep them open.

    In other words, I have little sympathy for the “refugee” issue. If Lebanon refuses to accept Palestinians who were born in Lebanon as Lebanese, the criticism should be addressed to Lebanon, not Israel. This is the real crime here, but here you are complaining about Israel.

    If there should be sympathy toward the Palestinians, it is for one key reason: they live under military rule of another nation.

    However, even this, it turns out, is by their own choice. They could have agreed in 2000, 2001 or 2008 to make peace and have their own state, without Israeli military control. They chose to reject these agreements. Under those circumstances, even the sympathy felt for people living under military rule diminishes greatly.

    As for the “international community” wanting the Palestinians to have everything up to 1967 lines including the eastern part of Jerusalem, are you referring to the Muslim bloc at the UN or the Dutch? It seems to me the “international community” that matters wants peace at whatever price it comes, but accepts that not all 1967 lines will be kept. They actually have a UN resolution to this effect. Also, the international community wants a Jerusalem open to all and as of today the only history we have with that is having Israel and Jordan in control. Israel gives open access to all faiths. Jordan managed to forget the Jews. I suspect the “international community” recognizes this problem and is waiting for the Israelis and Palestinians to come to an agreement because this is the only way Jerusalem will remain free and open to all.

  13. 13 Confused said at 9:59 pm on May 8th, 2010:

    Noam, what Yaalon said is what Yaalon said. This is Dan Meridor talking openly to a newspaper. Meridor is, as you know, a fairly straightforward guy. He’s one of the good guys.

    It could be that Yaalon was referring to the doubts that negotiations at this time will lead to a concrete development. This isn’t surprising since Abbas and his associates have indicated in the past they are going to avoid coming to a deal or even to talks until Netanyahu’s government is brought down.

    Regarding your complaint about a lack of Israel actions, this is also easily proven wrong. Israel has removed numerous checkpoints and defensive points in the West Bank to facilitate easier movement for the Palestinians since Netanyahu has come to power. The Palestinian economy is booming as a result.

    Israel is also protecting the PA from Hamas. That seems to be something real and tangible – it would be much easier for the Israelis to control the West Bank with an iron fist if Hamas was in power there. With the PA, they have to be gentle even as those guys beat up on them in the international diplomatic arena. I think this is a serious tactical error by Israel.

    You can complain about Netanyahu and why he evacuated Hebron, but my point was that he signed at Wye and the Hebron Accords. He did it, by the way, because of Clinton pressure, not because of a mini-intifada by Arafat. Yet, the point remains that he did it.

    As for doing something concrete this term, as I wrote above, he has opened up parts of the West Bank to greater freedom of movement and assistance with helping the PA develop the Palestinian economy. That’s a big deal.

    He also gave a speech where he accepted a two state solution to the conflict. That’s a big deal which we can all admit when we read the Likud charter of just a decade ago.

    As for your final question, it is flawed. The process is not stalled by Israel. It is stalled by the Palestinians for the exact reasons you mentioned – they think that time is on their side.

    In answer to your question, Israel should get out of most of Yehuda and Shomron. This issue is tearing Israel apart, it is tearing Diaspora Jews apart. It is also opening the door to haters of Jews to speak openly of their hate because they can replace the word “Jews” with “Zionists” or “settlers” or “occupiers” or “colonialists.”

    Mostly, to be honest, the damage is being done by leftist Jewish activists, like yourself. You have given the Palestinians gifts they could not get on their own. Gifts they don’t deserve since they won’t negotiate for peace.

    Israel, however, should not get out of eastern Jerusalem. It should also be careful not to get out of all of the West Bank. It should keep a good 10-15% . Otherwise, the Palestinians will have no incentive to negotiate once they are free of Israeli military rule.

    Israel needs to maintain some sort of military leverage if they do leave the West Bank, because if what happened in Gaza happens in the West Bank, it will lead to a brutal war and both sides will pay a steep price.

    In spite of what I just wrote, Yehuda and Shomron, by all rights and even according to international law, should be in Israeli hands. I am advocating, just like Netanyahu, Olmert, Livni, Sharon and Rabin, for a “solution” that I believe is entirely unfair and unjust toward Israel. Peace is worth it. But even if this doesn’t bring peace, the peace it would bring the Jewish people and Israeli society is reward enough.

  14. 14 noam said at 7:35 am on May 9th, 2010:

    confused: you didn’t really answer my question. even if i agree that Israel is not stalling the process – and i don’t – we should also agree that we are not in a rush to ecavuate the WB. this is nothing to do with security concerns. Israel had a better case if we evacuate the settlements and left the army. but we don’t do that. remember: Netanyahu didn’t decide to freeze the settlements on his own. it was under american pressure – which most Israelis, even from the left, opposed – and if he had his way, we would have gone back to building houses all over the WB.

    lets say the negotiations don’t work well. should Israel continue to settle the West Bank? should we leave? is time on our side? what alternatives do we have? i think the Israeli center-right avoids these fundamental questions.

    opening and closing roadblocks is not a decision. it’s practically nothing. tough decisions are ones you pay political price on. Netanyahu avoids those at all cost. I think I’ll post something about this soon, as there is just too much evidence for a simple post.

  15. 15 Confused said at 1:54 am on May 10th, 2010:

    I thought I answered in great detail.

    Let me turn it around. On the basis of what happened in Gaza, what do you believe will be the outcome of a unilateral pullout by Israel from the West Bank up to the security fence?

  16. 16 Gert said at 8:16 am on May 10th, 2010:

    Noam:

    “Israel had a better case if we evacuate the settlements and left the army. but we don’t do that.”

    This is a point I’ve been making all my life: if security was the issue withdrawing from the settlements (or most in any case) and maintaining the military presence would be a logical thing. The occupation doesn’t serve a security purpose, quite the opposite: it creates a security nightmare. On the settlement issue the Israeli public seems both thoroughly confused and divided. As Tony Karon said: the price for maintaining the settlement policy and the occupation is very low but the price of doing something about it could be very high, both politically (for Bibi) and in terms of real, financial cost

    Confused:

    I think you’re what’s known as a ‘revanchist Zionist’.

    My family suffered considerably during the war. I don’t see that as a reason to wish that suffering on someone else. The refugees are refugees, no matter how much you twist it and no matter how much ‘self-reliance’ crap you try and throw at it…

  17. 17 Confused said at 12:41 pm on May 10th, 2010:

    Gert says: “I think you’re what’s known as a ‘revanchist Zionist’.

    My family suffered considerably during the war. I don’t see that as a reason to wish that suffering on someone else. ”

    And that is known as a straw man, since that is not what I said or implied.

    As for “refugees are refugees” then I guess you do consider my parent a refugee and me as well. Gee, thanks. Maybe you could encourage UNRWA to throw some money my way?

  18. 18 noam said at 10:27 pm on May 10th, 2010:

    Confused: regarding leaving the WB: I’m not that naive. there is a fair chance that things will turn out for the bad after we leave (there is also a chance they won’t). in the short run, security concerns will probably increase. stabilizing borders takes time. we saw that in the Golan, Lebanon, the border with Egypt and the one with Jordan. they were all used for attacks, but things got better with time. In the long run, the sooner we leave the better.

    I also don’t think a Palestinian state will be an existential threat to Israel. prolonging the occupation is.

    I think we need to accept that there will be a price for retreat – both domestically, as we don’t know how things will play with the settlers, and both with regards to our security concerns. we shouldn’t return to the illusions of the Oslo process. but then again, the right thing to do is to evacuate – or annex – the WB.

    regarding the refugees: you are not a refugee, because you got citizenship and you were re-settled. just as UNRWA doesn’t count as refugees the Palestinians who got re-settled in east Jerusalem or became citizens of western countries.

  19. 19 Confused said at 11:09 pm on May 10th, 2010:

    I’ve got news for you. Lebanese Palestinians aren’t refugees either. And certainly refugee camp dwellers like at Shuafat aren’t refugees