What factors are really behind the statehood bid?

Mahmoud Illustration
Jacob Wilson/Staff

On Sept. 23, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, submitted a formal request for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian State. This measure is not supported by Israel or the United States because they see such a move outside the context of direct negotiations as counterproductive. In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Abbas claimed that he has initiated this unilateral statehood bid only after pursuing every available channel to directly negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. But history says otherwise. Israel’s peace offers have gone ignored and their attempts to negotiate have been rebuffed by Palestinian leadership for years.

Since its inception, Israel has consistently strived to make peace with its neighbors. Whether it be accepting the U.N. partition plan in 1947, signing a treaty with Egypt in 1978 or striking a peace deal with Jordan in 1994, peace has always been Israel’s first priority. Yet, Palestinian leadership refuses to act on Israel’s attempts at peace. Yasser Arafat rejected Israel’s offer at Camp David in 2000 that included virtually everything the PA had ever demanded without a counter-offer, and instead launched the second intifada leaving over a thousand Israelis dead.

Furthermore, Abbas never responded to an even more generous offer in 2008. In 2005, Israel’s military and civilian disengagement from Gaza — a good faith measure to promote the creation of a Palestinian State—was met with years of rocket fire on Israeli civilian centers. A December 2009 settlement freeze ordered by the Israeli cabinet, which represented a halt on construction in part of the Jewish people’s national homeland, elicited no meaningful response from the Palestinian Authority.

Instead of acting on Israel’s offers to make peace, Abbas has chosen to unilaterally pursue recognition of a state in the entirety of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These borders encircle Judaism’s holiest sites and hundreds of thousands of Israelis, despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority made it clear last week that no Israeli would be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. They leave Israel a mere 10 miles wide, making Israel’s borders indefensible without an agreement addressing its security needs. What’s more, the borders include the Gaza Strip, a territory administered by Hamas, which rejects the statehood bid and is committed to the destruction of Israel.

So if Israel has consistently proven its willingness to negotiate to achieve a just peace with its neighbors, why is Abbas unilaterally approaching the U.N.? If the state he is asking for contains a half million people his organization said cannot live therein, why does he refuse to negotiate with Israel to draw a viable border? And if the Palestinian Authority is serious about creating two states for two peoples, why does it refuse to accept Israel as the Jewish state?

Because Abbas’s statehood bid is a charade. Because it is a cynical attempt to draw attention away from the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to compromise and to work with Israel to find a permanent solution to this conflict. Because as Abbas reminds us time and again, he considers the occupation to be as old as the state of Israel, meaning that to the Palestinian Authority, Tel Aviv is as much a settlement as Ariel. If the Palestinian Authority were serious about making peace, there would be no reason for the current bid at the U.N.

It is time for the Palestinian leadership to act in the interest of the future of their people, to substitute diplomatic stagecraft for good faith talks that will ultimately lead to a viable Palestinian state. And once that solution is negotiated, Israel will accept the new state of Palestine with open arms.

Jacob Lewis is a junior at UC Berkeley and co-president of Tikvah: Students for Israel.

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  • Streeter67

    These young Zionists are brainwashed and taught at an early age on how to spew out pro-Israel propaganda regardless of that state or government’s illegal policies and actions.  They are also taught how to undermine or threaten critics of Israel and they will assert anything in order to so.  I wonder:  what is the value of Jewish education and history with such Zionist influence?

    • Sparkle

      Obviously, you know nothing at all about what propaganda really is.  Zionism and all that defends the position of the State of Israel is not propaganda, but the lies spewed out by much of the Muslim world is:  In the name of “peace,” no less.
      I support criticism of Israel, but I like it kept “within the family.” instead of jerks taking what we say and twisting it to meet their own distorted ideologies. 
      OK, go ahead and accuse me of being “brainwashed,” I will tell you that you are surely projecting.  Think about it, if you think at all!

  • Streeter67

    Best read:  Ritchie Ovendale’s, THE ORIGINS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT

  • Anonymous

    Here is the real orgin of the conflict.

    http://www.hudson-ny.org/1437/classic-islamic-view-of-jews

  • propeace

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsbDAMwXkXo  REAL PARTNERS = REAL PEACE

  • Anonymous

    Could someone explain this conundrum for me? Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any Muslims for that matter, but if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated. For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe. Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists? Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical. And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam. And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims. Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess. And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 5,000 years – something like 4,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam. Did you know that? It’s true. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their point. Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it is. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage.

  • C’mon man

    This dude makes it seem like Israel is some saint in this matter. As if Palestinians have been murking Israels for shits and giggles. C’mon bro, you look like an idiot if you don’t say, something like, “And yes Israel has killed loads of Palestinians and has loads of illegal settlements and has demolished loads of Palestinian homes, but …” (http://www.ifamericansknew.org/ >>> check the stats out there and if you think this website is biased/anti-Semitic (because well anything that puts Israel in a negative light is anti-Semitic these days), find me another one; I’m sure the statistical breakdown will be about the same).

    I do see the benefit of Palestine getting Israel’s “blessing” when creating a state, but come on, making it seem like a necessary requirement is foolish. We’d still be a British colony if we didn’t take action that was unapproved by the British.

    • Some person

      It seems that nowadays, if you simply say “anything that puts Israel in a negative light is anti-Semitic these days,” you have carte blanche to actually say anti-Semitic things and hide behind the “but you Jews always say it’s anti-Semitism!” card. Yawn.

  • Guest

    Some of the points you make are ok, and its true that the Palestinians have rejected numerous attempts at compromise but Israel isn’t faultless. Until  Israel can say “we have done everything possible to make peace” they will not be faultless–and as long as there are settlements, they have not tried everything. 

    Moreover, if both of these groups, the Israelis and the Palestinians, with their inept leadership are unable to talk to each other, why should we care anymore? I’m a Jew and as much as I would love a Jewish state in Israel, its current leadership is moronic and annihilates and loyalty I might have had. 

  • guest

    AWESOME OP-ED!

  • reztips

    This superb op-ed might have added the following: because Palestinian leaders have said no Jews would be permitted in their new state, “Palestine” would become the first nation since Germany under the Third Reich in which Jews were legally banned. Perhaps Jimmy Carter might consider revising his absurdly titled tome because the “new” Palestine would become the first nation to be a genuine apartheid state since the fall of racist S. Africa.

    Moreover, there is this pertinent little tidbit: did you know that Palestinian leaders have declared to so-called “refugees” will not be granted Palestinian citizenship?! Why? Because the Palestinian political head honchos consider them citizens of the area which has been called the nation of Israel since 1948. 

    In other words, the Palestinian political order will have no peace in their new state, regardless of its borders for they wish it to ultimate comprise all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. So much for a new Palestinian state achieving any resolution of warfare short of the liquidation of Israeli Jews…