Palestinians often complain that the US is “biased” toward Israel. This could be because their fundamental belief is that all of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean belongs to them. So they see any recognition of Israel’s legitimacy as ‘biased’.
But if we stipulate that Israel is is not going away, then we can make a good argument that the US position — particularly as articulated by the Obama Administration — is strongly biased toward the Arabs.
Here’s a recent account of Secretary of State Kerry’s diplomatic effort:
- “Kerry is trying to pave the way for relaunching the peace process. He is serious and we encouraged him. He made progress and we hope he can conclude a deal in the coming week,” said one [Palestinian] official.
While Israel would not explicitly commit to returning to its 1967 lines, negotiations would be based on a May 2011 policy speech by President Barack Obama. That speech called for a border based on the 1967 lines, with modifications based on mutually agreed “land swaps,” while also urging the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Abbas has repeatedly rejected Israeli calls to recognize the country as the Jewish state, fearing it would undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees displaced from properties inside Israel.
Kerry’s plan also calls on Israel to release about 100 of the longest-held Palestinian prisoners in its jails in several stages, and envisions a $4 billion international investment plan, conducted in various stages, to develop the struggling Palestinian economy.
The idea would be that within six to nine months the sides could pursue an agreement on all outstanding matters, including final borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees and resolving the competing claims to east Jerusalem.
Let’s leave aside all of the practical problems, like the fact that Abbas can’t speak for Hamas, the fact that there is no way to ensure that the Arabs would keep any bargain once Israel withdraws, the fact that Palestinian ideology calls for continued ‘resistance’ until ‘all of Palestine’ is ‘liberated’ (and ideology trumps development), the continued Arab insistence that the descendants of Arab refugees are Israel’s problem, and last but definitely not least, the instability of Syria and Egypt. Let’s just look at the implications of Kerry and Obama’s approach to borders.
Historically, Israel — or rather, the Jewish people — had a prima facie claim to the land in question, as expressed by the Palestine Mandate. The land remained disputed while under Jordanian control after 1948, when both sides agreed that the armistice lines had no political significance.
But after 1967, when it finally came to physically possess the land, Israel agreed to relinquish some of the disputed area to the Arab nations in return for a peace treaty, by accepting UNSC resolution 242.