Whatever will happen in the future, we shall not repeat the mistakes we made in leaving Gaza.
— Shimon Peres to members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations 2/18/09
You take my water. Burn my Olive Trees. Destroy my house. Take my job. Steal my Land. Imprison my Mother. Bomb my country. Starve us all. Humiliate us all. But I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.
— Sign carried near Hyde Park Corner during a demonstration in London on 2/15/09 by a Member of the British Parliament
Ain el Helwe Palestinian Refugee Camp, Sidon, Lebanon — Israeli President Shimon Peres has participated in shaping the policies of Israel for most of its existence. His Washington Post op-ed last week billed as “a peacepartners prod” to the Obama administration, evidences a major disconnect within the government of Israel concerning what is urgently required for that country’s increasingly unlikely long-term survival.
According to a CIA Study currently being shown to selected staff members on the US Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Israel’s survival in its present form beyond the next 20 years is doubtful.
The Report predicts “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”
To President Peres’ chagrin, the Executive Summary states that “during the next fifteen years more than two million Israelis, including some 500,000 Israeli citizens who currently hold US green cards or passports, will move to the United States. Most Israelis not in possession of these documents will receive ‘expedited waivers.’ The Report claims that, “Alongside a decline in Jewish births and a rise in Palestinian fertility, approximately 1.6 million Israelis are likely to return to their forefather’s lands in Russia and Eastern and Western Europe with scores of thousands electing to stay, depending on the nature of the transition.”
In his Washington Post piece President Peres desperately attempts to salvage a two-state solution from a one, a three- or even a four-state arrangement. He appears to realize that a two-state solution is seriously jeopardized unless Israel dramatically and quickly changes course. With the tacking to the right in Israel and the likely make up of the next government once Peres selects Livni or Netanyahu in the next few days, and given the swelling mood among the occupied in favor of another Intifada, Peres plaintively asserts to the Obama administration that “two states is the only realistic solution.”
Peres instructed the American people and their government three times in his op-ed brief for a two-state solution, and that Israel is “the land of my forefathers.” He laments that the CIA-predicted one-state solution would, “Undermine Israel’s legitimacy and the internationally recognized right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the land of my forefathers.”
Peres knows that his forefathers had no connection whatsoever to Palestine, as is the case with more than 95% of the Zionists who swept into the area over the past century and demolished close to 600 villages while expelling a majority of the native population. Historians have established that most arriving Jews were in fact Slavic converts to Judaism without any historical or genealogical nexus to Palestine or Hebrew tribes in the area.
Against the historical backdrop of the past century of nearly global rejection of colonialism, his claim of settled international acceptance of “Israel’s legitimacy” is a major stretch. “Legitimacy” is what the conflict continues to be about — whether a 19th Century colonial enterprise can violently uproot and massacre an indigenous population taking over a land declaring God promised it to them, as they terrorize and expel the local inhabitants. Contrary to Peres’ claim of Israel as a “legitimate State,” there is no internationally recognized right for Israel to exist on stolen land without the consent of the dispossessed. Peres assures his American benefactors that Israel’s legitimacy is based “in international law or morality.” In point of fact, both International law and morality require the right of return of those whose lands were taken and lifting the brutal occupation. Surely Peres is aware, as the CIA Report asserts, that a majority of the 192 countries which make up the membership of the United Nations would vote this evening to establish one State of Palestine if given the chance.
The Report concludes that what went wrong will be debated for many years. In essence the problem was the premise that a “chosen people” with no link or rights to a land could impose a state by force. Many Middle East observers believe that the two-state solution is essentially over, but for the packing, finger-pointing and assuredly more violence.
Increasingly repelled by Israeli crimes, the international community is moving toward the majority position of Palestinians, and is coming to believe that the realistic solution to the Middle East conflict is one state — secular, multicultural, democratic, and based on one person one vote.
Peres is loath to accept one state and claims, in promoting a two-state solution, that he has “personally witnessed the remarkable progress we have made with the Palestinian Authority in recent years.”
Does he have in mind the increasing bantustanization (what Noam Chomsky calls “unviable fragments”), the ever-snaking apartheid wall and other barriers, the illegal outposts which increased yet again last year? The blockade of and depraved slaughter in Gaza?
Or does President Peres have in mind this week’s announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Olmert that Israel has the right to keep building in large West Bank settlement blocs, including Efrat, by adding 423 acres so that 21,000 more residents can join the current 9,000, according to Efrat mayor Oded Revivi? Olmert claims its part of the annexation that will be considered in a future final peace deal with the Palestinians.
President Peres has passed nearly a lifetime devoted to undermining prospects for a viable Palestinian state and offering a wink and nod to the building of more than 430 colonies while offering lip service to the “peace process.” His “Message to the American People” fails to communicate what the Israeli and Palestinian public knows well about the real nature of the two-state option he has in mind and which he considers to be “the best resolution to this age-old conflict.” Both populations know that the two-state option that long time politician Peres has consistently run on, is the Yigal Allon Plan.
The Allon scheme to expel the Arab population from Palestine has been Peres’ electoral platform during his campaigns in 1974, 1977, 1981, 1984, and 1987 and it shaped Israel’s settlement policies from 1967-1977. Peres worked to make the Allon Plan part of the 1978 Camp David agreement and 1993 Oslo Accords.
As the American public begins to stir from its long slumber on the Question of Palestine and hopefully dramatically changes American Middle East policy, it should consider that the Peres favored “moderate” Allon Plan continues to be Israeli policy. As formulated by its author and adhered to by successive Israel governments, it contains the following “moderate” elements:
* Seeking “maximum land with minimum Arabs”
* Annexes approximately 40% of the West Bank and Gaza, taking the choicest parts
* Dispossess Palestinians from land Israel wants for Jews
After Israel’s attack in 1967, Yigal Allon presented to the cabinet a solution to the Arab problem. The Allon Plan called for annexing the following areas: “a strip of land ten to fifteen kilometers wide along the Jordan River; most of the Judean desert along the Dead Sea; and a substantial area around Greater Jerusalem, including the Latrun salient.” The plan was crafted to include as few Arabs as possible in the area claimed for Israel and included building permanent colonies and army bases in these areas.
The two-state solution that Peres is trying to sell the American public and administration is a Palestinian “state” in 76.6% of the West Bank, carved up into sealed enclaves, with the largest of the 430 plus settlements/colonies remaining in place under Israeli sovereignty. Israel would take another 13.3% outright and continue to occupy the remaining 10.1% for a period of up to thirty years. During this period Israel would continue building new and expanding current settlement/colonies. The above percentages do not include the subtracted East Jerusalem and the territorial waters of the Dead Sea. In point of fact the 76% offer is based not on 100% of the occupied territories, but merely those parts that Israel was willing to discuss. Consequently, the “just and moral solution” President Peres favors would amount to slightly less than 16% of historic Palestine being given to those driven from their homes and land.
Peres claims Israel has worked tirelessly for peace. Yet the record is clear that Israel has only worked tirelessly for expansion at the expense of the indigenous Arab population while obstructing more than two-dozen “peace initiatives” over six decades, while targeting the Palestinian people, culture, and economy.
Peres claims in his op-ed that Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi agrees that Israel deserves Palestine and that “this is salient in his fundamental and central premise that the Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.” Peres takes Qadaffi’s words out of context and misrepresents his thesis, which in fact calls for one state shared by both peoples. Qadaffi insists that the Middle East welcomes Judaism but not racist Zionism. It is the latter which underpins the founding of Israel and which has led to history’s condemnation.
As the President of Israel seeks yet more indulgence and largesse from the American taxpayers and the Obama administration, there is something he can do to shore up waning trust and waxing disillusionment with the two-state option. He can announce immediately that he fully accepts UN Security Council Resolution 242 and advocates the removal of all settlements and the total withdrawal of the Israeli military from the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel’s President urges the American people and government to, “commit our most concerted effort to allow two states to flourish.” Unless he and his fellow leaders of Israel are prepared, without further delay, to commit to a complete withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 armistice line, in a serious effort at peace, Israel will continue to lose American and international support and one state is the likely future for Palestine.
Israeli President Peres can avert his eyes from reality, but the Obama administration and the American people cannot afford this fatal delusion.