Who Is Being "Intransigent"?
The Israeli cabinet also agreed that east Jerusalem would not be returned to Jordan, which had ruled it; that Egypt had no greater claim to Gaza than Israel has, and that Jordan had no greater claim to the West Bank than Israel has, as all three countries had acquired the areas through war.
Forty-five years after the Six Day War, declassified transcripts were released this June of the Israeli cabinet and government committee meetings in the days after war that ended on June 10, 1967. The documents provide a breathtaking insight into the efforts of Israeli leaders to reach a peace settlement with the countries and groups which had been at war with Israel. The evidence of the hard work and the varied opinions on the part of the Israeli ministers, all eager to reach a peace treaty and an understanding with the Palestinians and Arab states, presents a revealing contrast to the long-term refusal of the Arab parties to come to the negotiating table -- an attitude that was reiterated at the summit meeting of the Arab League on September 1, 1967 in Khartoum, Sudan. As has now been revalidated by the declassified transcripts, the Israelis were ready to negotiate land for peace; the Arab leaders instead issued their statement of the three "nos:" no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel -- an unconditionally negative position taken by Arab leaders that still persists.
The Arab and Palestinian intransigence, the refusal to accept a peace agreement, has a long history and is all too familiar. In 1922 the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine was officially established. Under it a Jewish Agency, set up in 1929, and composed of representatives of world Jewry, would assist the British administration in establishing the Jewish National Home in Palestine. The Jewish Agency then organized an infrastructure of political and social institutions that became the basis for the state of Israel. The Arabs refused the offer to create a similar Agency.
In 1922 the Arab leaders who refused to participate with the Jews in any plan or in a joint legislature, in which anyone other than the Arabs would have been the majority; rejected the proposal for a Palestinian Constitution with a Legislative Council in which the Arabs would have formed the majority, and boycotted the election for the Council.
In 1937 the Arab Higher Committee rejected the idea of two states, first officially proposed by the British Peel Commission Report. The Report had recommended a Jewish state in about 20 percent of Palestine, about 5,000 square kilometers, while most of the rest was to be under Arab sovereignty. The Report also suggested a transfer of land and an exchange of population between the two states. The Peel Commission Report was accepted, in principle, by the Jewish Agency, even though it meant that the Jewish state would be a small one, but it was totally rejected by the Arab Higher Committee, which called for a single state in all of Palestine.
In 1939, in the last attempt before World War II, to reach some agreement, the British Colonial Secretary organized a Round Table Conference in London that February. Failure was inevitable: the representatives of the five Arab states and the Arabs in Mandatory Palestine who were present refused any direct contact or discussion with the Jewish representatives -- even to sit in the same room with them.
The Arabs also refused to accept United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181(II) of November 29, 1947, which adopted the recommendation of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) that Western Palestine -- the area outside of Jordan -- be partitioned into two states, one Jewish, one Arab, with an internationalized Jerusalem as a corpus separatum, or separate body. The Jewish state would have about 55 percent of the area, but not the historic areas of Judea and Samaria. The Resolution was accepted by the Jewish leaders, but rejected by the Palestinian Arabs and by six of the seven member states -- Jordan being the exception -- of the Arab League, which at that time had replaced the League of Arab States.
Arab refusal to enter into peace negotiations persists to this day, inflexible as ever. The Palestinians decline to enter into negotiations with Israel unless Israel first accepts the "pre-1967 borders" (borders that have never existed; they are merely the armistice line of where the fighting stopped in 1949), agrees to Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, and ends all construction in areas acquired by Israel as a result of the 1967 war.
In the Six Day War of June 1967, Israel achieved a remarkably rapid victory over its Arab opponents; it left Israel in control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, Gaza which had been ruled by Egypt, the Jordan River, the Suez Canal, and the West Bank, so named by Jordan which had "annexed" the area despite almost unanimous international disapproval.
The Israeli documents just released also show among Israeli leaders a startling readiness to compromise, which contrasts with the total disinclination of Arabs and Palestinians to compromise. The documents show clearly that, while there were acute differences among the Israelis about the fate of the territories captured in 1967, almost all Israelis were eager to trade land for peace.
The discussions and proposals were not initially intended to be policy proposals; they were directives to Israel's Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, who was participating in New York in the Special Session of the UN General Assembly, called to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict. The ministerial discussions have to be put in the context of Israeli concern about any UN action after the memory of at least two issues. The first occurred when Israel was forced to withdraw from the Sinai after the Suez war of 1956 and had to rely there on United States guarantees and the UN Emergency Force (UNEF), which proved ineffective. The second was the speedy compliance in May 1967 of U Thant, Secretary–General of the UN, without the required approval of the UN General Assembly, to accede to Nasser's demand that the UNEF troops in the Sinai be withdrawn. The Israeli ministers feared that pressure would again be exerted on the state as in 1956 and May 1967, leaving Israel vulnerable.
It is also relevant that the Israeli government was a unity one under Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and included members of Gahal (Menachem Begin and Yosef Safir) and the Rafi party (Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan). Not surprisingly, there were strong differences of opinion on the issues of security, borders, refugees, and water -- all of which prevented agreement.
Consensus was reached, however, on some issues. First, Israel should withdraw from captured territories only if the Arab states agreed to make peace and end the boycott of Israel. Most important, Israel would return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for either a peace treaty or strong security guarantees. The Israeli cabinet also agreed that east Jerusalem would not be returned to Jordan, which had ruled it; that Egypt had no greater claim to Gaza than Israel had, and that Jordan had no greater claim to the West Bank than Israel had, as all three countries had acquired the areas through war.
Some ministers thought that the demand for peace treaties was unrealistic. In the desperate effort to find positions that would both lead to negotiation and also also protect the state of Israel, they grappled with a variety of contradictory alternatives: control over the Gaza Strip, freedom of navigation in the Strait of Tiran; demilitarization of the Sinai and of the Golan Heights; control of the sources of the Jordan River; rule over the West Bank; end of any Israeli rule in the West Bank; military rule during a transition period; and self-rule for the Arab inhabitants of the West Bank while Israel still concerns itself with foreign affairs and national security.
Although there were differences on the issues of the destiny of the West Bank, and on whether peace treaties should be based on international frontiers, ministers all spoke of peace with security arrangements. The positive answer to the security issue was finally approved by a majority of one, 10 to 9: it was decided that a peace agreement should ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Suez Canal; the freedom of flight over them, and the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula.
The formula agreed to by unanimity on June 19, 1967 was that "Israel proposes the conclusion of peace treaties with Egypt and Syria on the basis of the international frontiers and Israel's security needs." This proposal was presented to both Egypt and Syria, but no positive response came from either. Instead, the Arab Summit leaders at Khartoum announced on September 1, 1967 the three "nos."
As a result of Khartoum, Prime Minister Eshkol wrote a month later, "I doubt whether the government would approve the decision of June 19 exactly as it stands." In view of the continuing Arab leaders' refusal to negotiate, the decision did indeed become invalid.
What these newly released Israeli documents show in dramatic fashion is the eagerness of all the Israeli leaders, no matter how they differed on specific issues, to reach peace agreements with their Arab neighbors. If there is any hope for peace at this time among the Palestinians, they might wish to reconsider.
Michael Curtis is author of Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under Attack by the International Community.
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Many Arabs and Muslims identify with the terrorists' anti-Western objectives ideology; they are afraid of being dubbed traitors and U.S. agents for joining non-Muslims in a war that would result in the death of many Muslims, and they are afraid their people would rise up against them.
Many Arab and Muslim leaders view the Islamic State as a by-product of failed U.S. policies, especially the current U.S. Administration's weak-kneed support for Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki. Some of these leaders, such as Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, consider the U.S. to be a major ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi and his regime will never forgive Obama for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Also, they do not seem to have much confidence in the Obama Administration, which is perceived as weak and incompetent when it comes to combating Islamists.
by Peter Martino
Scottish independence would be a disaster for NATO, putting the UK nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. It would also put into question national borders all over Europe, including Catalonia, Belgium, France's Brittany and Corsica, Italy's South Tyrol -- and Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in 2008 that Kosovo's independence "would be the beginning of the end for Europe."
Crimea's recent secession from Ukraine was justified with a reference to "the Kosovo precedent," which Putin pointed out, "our Western partners created with their own hands."
by Soeren Kern
Portugal, like Spain, also figures prominently in a map produced by the jihadist group Islamic State [IS] that outlines a five-year plan for expanding its Islamic Caliphate into Europe.
"Holy War is the only solution for humanity." — Abdu, Portuguese jihadist.
"Every time these jihadists groups mention the recovery of al-Andalus, they are also referring to Portugal. Jihadists do not believe in national divisions, but in the existence of a single Muslim community that embraces the entire Iberian Peninsula." — Miguel Torres Soriano, Spanish terrorism expert.
by Alan M. Dershowitz
President George W. Bush's announcement in 2001 to support the creation of a Palestinian state offered a unique opportunity to Palestinians to end the violence and begin building a new future. Hamas's response came a few weeks later, when it fired the first Qassam rocket into the Israeli town of Sderot, population approximately 20,000.
It was only after Hamas's coup in June 2007, and the heavy rocket attacks that followed, that Israel imposed more extensive sanctions on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians were not a response to Gaza's increasing isolation, but the cause.
The sanctions imposed on Gaza -- not only by Israel, but the world -- were the direct result of Hamas's refusal to meet the international community's basic, reasonable demands: stop terror, recognize Israel, and respect previous agreements. Hamas and its fellow terrorist organizations deny the right to live in peace.
The Goldstone Report not only falsified the past; it had a negative influence by encouraging Hamas to repeat its own double war crimes: firing rockets at Israeli civilians from behind Palestinian human shields -- and killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians and soldiers through its terrorist tunnels.
by Burak Bekdil
Last June, Turkey's own Frankenstein, who went by the name of ISIS, attacked the Turkish consulate compound in Mosul, and took 49 Turks, including the consul general, hostage.
The hostages are still in captivity. So is Turkey.
For each [Islamic] sect, the other is "not even Muslim."