Back to Square One 1948
Abbas Won't Recognize Israel as a Jewish State
But Wants the World the Recognize Palestine
by Dan Ehrlich

West Bank Palestinian leader Mahmood Abbas told a group of Arab Americans that he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, proving that nothing has really changed in some Arab minds regarding Israel,

This bigoted religious philosophy, that Islam can be the only preeminent faith in the region, from 64 years-ago, was the main Arab sore point that prompted the first Middle East war.

Abbas, after his UN speech asking for his state of Palestine (Land of the Philistines) to be proclaimed he hinted he will not re start peace talks with Israel as long as settlement building continues. And it’s easy to see his point given the rather small area of his proposed state…or more accurately his half-state. Hamas in Gaza wants nothing from of his UN begging.

Yet, listening to his speech and you can see why this conflict just goes on and on…From start to now, the Palestinians’ problem is the fault of Israel…Abbas made no mention of Arab wars, terrorism and rocket attacks or the fact that his own Arab brothers have from 1948 designated Palestinian refugees as official pawns, hanging them out to dry on an Israeli clothesline.

Yet by western logic the negotiating stance of Abbas is mind-boggling. He leads a hard pressed people cut off by war from their own kind, receiving little aid from the Arab world, and yet dictates to the victors in these wars (Israel) that his people should have their own state, without first recognizing Israel, the established nation that occupies land they call their own.

So, what Abbas is hoping for is to have the UN proclaim his state without him recognizing Israel, thereby really changing nothing for his people on the West Bank, and maintaining the status quo that has been going on since 1967.

The West Bank has been in contention since after the 1948 war, when it formed a ceasefire line between Jordan and Israel. There never have been internationally recognized borders for Israel and the West Bank. This is why Abbas has asked the UN to declare his state there.

When Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 that enclave was not part of the deal. Through Arab League pressure Jordan finally gave up all claim to the West Bank in 1988. The League, since 1948, had wanted to keep the West Bank Arabs as dispossessed people, pawns in their war of attrition with Israel.

But, since there never have been internationally recognized borders and Israel controls that area, it feels it has the right to settle on its historic homeland. Why haven’t there been recognized borders? Because most Arab states don’t accept Israel exists and refuse to show it on their maps.

However, settlement building on occupied territory is also a political ploy aimed at forcing the Palestinians back to the conference table. And it might work if much of the world wasn’t involved in this conflict. But, since it is, Abbas can dig his heals in and refuse to negotiate.

In the end the zealous settlers become the losers. When Israel vacated the Sinai and Gaza Strip it evacuated settlers and demolished the settlements.

Abbas’ trip to the UN may also signal that he realizes he’s not going to get anymore out of the Israelis and wants to have his state proclaimed without his recognizing Israel. This is where the UN could show some initiative by linking Palestinian statehood with mutual peace and recognition.

Yet, how can the UN declare a state when that state is geographically and ideologically divided with Abbas speaking for only half of it? The other half is in Gaza run by Hamas, which wants an endless war against Israel.

This brings up the two totally different aspects to this conflict: the humanitarian in providing a home for a dispossessed people and the political in that any such state will be used as a tool weaken and nibble away at Israel. The latter will depend much on how Israel deals with any new state and its people.

Right now Israel’s economy is booming. It has a higher credit rating than America even though there is a great gap between rich and poor Israelis. Yet, any Palestinian state will have to depend on the kindness of strangers. It will have to deal with Israel and Israelis and hopefully some of the wealth and know-how will rub off on the Arabs.

Perhaps then peace will finally come to that area. Remember, affluent democracies seldom war with each other. On the other hand, Palestine may become Israel’s Mexico, something that could be more destructive to a Jewish state than war.

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