Sunday, January 24

Is it Feasible to End the Occupation?

The main differences between the 1947 partitio...
The main differences between the 1947 partition proposal and 1949 armistice lines are highlighted in light red and magenta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the years the mantra of “ending the cruel occupation” has become a slogan in order to arrive at a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is as if the hostility of Palestinians towards Israel really began after the Six Day June 1967 War when Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, including Gaza, and the Golan Heights. It is as if prior to the Six Day War, there was never any hostility and the occupation since June 1967 is the main obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians because of “Israel – the Zionist entity aggressor”. If the occupation is ended and the territories are returned to the Palestinians as part of a peace agreement and forms the basis of an independent Palestinian State, there is a view that peace will be achieved between the Israelis and Palestinians. This is wishful, false thinking.
There seems to be selective lapses of memory in adopting this viewpoint. It is as if Palestinian pundits and their allies have conveniently shelved the definition of the word “occupation”, which really means the establishment of Israel in 1948 on Palestinian Lands. The “occupation” resulting from the June War of 1967 is just a further irritation of conquering more territory. The wars that Israel fought prior to the Six Day June War of 1967 were wars of defense as hostile Arab armies wished to destroy Israel.
 Israel has been involved in a number of wars and large-scale military operations, prior to the June 1967 War which is listed below:
·         Israeli war of independence (November 1947 - July 1949) - Started as 6 months of civil war between Jewish and Arab militias at the end of the British Mandate of Palestine and turned into a regular war after the declaration of independence of Israel and the intervention of several Arab armies. In its conclusion, a set of agreements were signed between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, called the 1949 Armistice Agreements, which established the armistice lines between Israel and its neighbors, also known as the Green Line.
·         Reprisal operations (1950s - 1960s) - Military operations carried out by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1950s and 1960s. These actions were in response to constant fedayeen incursions during which Arab guerillas infiltrated from Syria, Egypt, and Jordan into Israel to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. The policy of the reprisal operations was exceptional due to Israel's declared aim of getting a high 'blood cost' among the enemy side which was believed to be necessary in order to deter them from committing future attacks.
·         Suez Crisis (October 1956) - A military attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel, beginning on 29 October 1956, with the intention to occupy the Sinai Peninsula and to take over the Suez Canal. The attack followed Egypt's decision of 26 July 1956 to nationalize the Suez Canal after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam. Although the Israeli invasion of the Sinai was successful, the US and USSR forced it to retreat. Even so, Israel managed to re-open the Straits of Tiran and pacified its southern border.

This illustrates that historically at least; there was no occupation apart from The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which was a proposal developed by the United Nations that recommended a partition with Economic Union of Mandatory Palestine to follow the termination of the British Mandate. On 29 November 1947, the U.N.General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan as Resolution 181. The United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions and 1 absent, in favour of the modified Partition Plan. This was the basis of the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948. Israel became a member of the UN and was recognised internationally. It was never recognised by the Arab states and war was declared against Israel to annihilate the fledgling state upon its establishment.

  • After the 1967 Six Day War, there was never any desire of the Arab States to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel even though they had lost territory to Israel. Heads of state from eight Arab countries attended a summit conference in Khartoum, Sudan held from August 29 to September 1, 1967. The meeting formulated the Arab consensus that formed the basis of the policies of most Arab states participating in the conflict with Israel until the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The resolution adopted September 1, 1967 called for the continued struggle against Israel, the creation of a fund to assist the economics of Egypt and Jordan, the lifting of an Arab oil boycott against the West and a new agreement to end the war in Yemen.

  • The best remembered action at Khartoum, however, was the adoption of the dictum of “Three NOs” with respect to Israel:
  •                            NO peace with Israel
  •                            NO recognition of Israel   
  •                            NO negotiations with Israel
With this resolution, the Arab states slammed the door on any progress towards peace with Israel and ultimately led to the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

The stridency of the Khartoum resolution, however, masked important changes that the June 1967 Six Day War caused in inter-Arab politics. At Khartoum, Nasser was promised badly needed economic assistance in exchange for his pledge to stop destabilising the region and end his propaganda attacks against the Persian Gulf monarchies. This meant that Egypt, along with the other Arab states, would focus on consolidating power at home and on pressing economic problems rather than on revolutionary schemes to unify the Arabs. After 1967 Arab regimes increasingly viewed Israel and the Palestinian Arab problem not as the key to revolutionary change of the Arab state system, but in terms of how they affected their domestic political stability.

From this we can see that all doors were closed to any form of negotiations for a peace agreement with Israel and an end to hostilities. The territories that were occupied in June 1967 should never have been colonised with Jewish settlements but rather kept as a bargaining chip for an eventual peace agreement. This was a grave error on Israel’s part. It could have remained under Israeli military control until a peace agreement was reached and the territories returned subsequently.

Hamas "Mercy" 
Even if there would never have been Israeli settlements established in territory occupied since the Six Day War, it would not have made any difference to the Palestine Leadership attitude towards Israel and undoubtedly hostilities would have continued. The occupation since 1967 is just an added factor that goes against Israel.

Today the situation for an end to the conflict has deteriorated even further rendering the Two-State Solution out of the realm of a reality.

Lone wolf Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis by stabbings and ramming cars into innocent Israelis have received the blessings of Hamas and the PA. The latter has been dragged into supporting this form of terror committed largely by Palestinian teenagers and young adults.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians have become more radical and there is even a movement amongst a considerable number of them supporting Daesh (ISIS). The conflict is becoming not only a question of land but also religion. Hamas is the dominant factor and the key to solving the conflict. The PA under Mahmoud Abbas is ineffectual and weak as well as being artificially propped up by the US and even Israel. He also tends to speak with a forked tongue depending on whether he is addressing his Arab audience or the West. Both Hamas and the PA leadership are very wealthy and corrupt. An end to the occupation as well as hostilities against Israel threatens the personal wealth of the Palestinian leaders. Apart from that, the occupation in the eyes of Hamas is the existence of Israel since 1948 according to the Hamas Charter and not just territory occupied in 1967. 

This being so Israel cannot negotiate its own destruction as a pre-condition for a peace agreement as appears to be the case today. On Israel's side there will never be a partner to negotiate Israel's destruction by ending the occupation in the widest sense of the term, according to Hamas. They will not accept anything else. It is time that Palestinian pundits accept this unfortunate fact. Hamas is not a human rights friendly organisation nor does it care for the Palestinian People. Most of the Hamas leadership is sitting on the fleshpots of wealth in Qatar. While the occupation (or Israel’s existence) continues they will prosper and they are aware of that. It is a profitable mantra to gain world support by bashing Israel and using naive human rights activists of various NGOs as their kingpins for their personal enrichment.

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