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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Palestinian Seeks Recognition They Already Have

Palestine is seeking recognition as a nation. I posted some thoughts and misconception son this the other day and, while some were incorrect, I stand by my assessment that Palestine will not get the UNSC votes it wants for international recognition.

First, let’s set a standard of definitions as they relate to Nation and State. A nation denotes a people who are believed to or deemed to share common customs, religion, language, origins, ancestry or history. However, the adjectives national and international are frequently used to refer to matters pertaining to what are strictly sovereign states, as in national capital, international law. A state refers to the set of governing and supportive institutions that have sovereignty over a definite territory and population. I found these definitions on wiki.  

Under the above definitions there is a nation of Palestine, albeit in exile. A nation in exile is nothing new; the European Union has hosted the leadership of several governments in exile. Under international law this is recognition of a people as sovereign.

There are four easy ways under international law to recognize, but without going into painful detail and an argument over history we can agree to a few points.
First, Palestine did exist under the Mandate of Palestine and they were under British rule and protection. A civil war began in which Palestinians were throwing grenades into crowds, blowing things up, and using hit and run tactics to confuse, befuddle, and confound the Brits. Sounds familiar, huh? At this point in time those who were rich and powerful saw what was happening and left. By the time of the Israeli Declaration about 175,000, 25% according to UN estimates, Palestinians had left.
Of the remaining Palestinian populations, historians agree that some were forced out by Israeli military units but without higher command orders, some left, and others were militarized by Arab nations in order to stop Israel from further developing.

After this hullabaloo settled down the UN adopted Resolution 194. 35 of the then 58 members of the UN agreed to have the refugees returned to their homes and given a defined role at the UN. Of those who opposed the Resolution and were Arab we see that all six Arab states then opposed the Resolution. Those states being Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen

90 years ago, the Palestinians had a nation and a state. They had international recognition. Arab states were opposed to Palestine and Israel then and they are opposed to both states now. Arab nations fomented violence then and they foment violence now.

In 1967 the UN put together, painfully I might add, Resolution 242. Rather than summarizing a summary I will paste and link the following understanding of the resolution. Please pay close attention to the intent as recorded by the drafting parties in that “withdrawal” was not to include all the territories. In other words, Israel is to remain as a nation with land and be part of the Arab led peace process. Yes, folks, Resolution 242 put the onus for the peace process on the Arabs, not surprisingly, as we have seen, the Arab Street then as now refused and voted against it. Here is a very strong breakdown of Resolution 242 (I added the emphasis on certain points below):

The most controversial clause in Resolution 242 is the call for the "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." This is linked to the second unambiguous clause calling for "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and the recognition that "every State in the area" has the "right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

The resolution does not make Israeli withdrawal a prerequisite for Arab action. Moreover, it does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up. The Security Council did not say Israel must withdraw from "all the" territories occupied after the Six-Day war. This was quite deliberate. The Soviet delegate wanted the inclusion of those words and said that their exclusion meant "that part of these territories can remain in Israeli hands." The Arab states pushed for the word "all" to be included, but this was rejected. They nevertheless asserted that they would read the resolution as if it included the word "all." The British Ambassador who drafted the approved resolution, Lord Caradon, declared after the vote: "It is only the resolution that will bind us, and we regard its wording as clear."

This literal interpretation was repeatedly declared to be the correct one by those involved in drafting the resolution. On October 29, 1969, for example, the British Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons the withdrawal envisaged by the resolution would not be from "all the territories." When asked to explain the British position later, Lord Caradon said: "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial."

Similarly, Amb. Goldberg explained: "The notable omissions-which were not accidental-in regard to withdrawal are the words 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines'....the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal."
The resolutions clearly call on the Arab states to make peace with Israel. The principal condition is that Israel withdraw from "territories occupied" in 1967, which means that Israel must withdraw from some, all, or none of the territories still occupied. Since Israel withdrew from 91% of the territories when it gave up the Sinai, it has already partially, if not wholly, fulfilled its obligation under 242.

The Arab states also objected to the call for "secure and recognized boundaries" because they feared this implied negotiations with Israel. The Arab League explicitly ruled this out at Khartoum in August 1967, when it proclaimed the three "noes." Amb. Goldberg explained that this phrase was specifically included because the parties were expected to make "territorial adjustments in their peace settlement encompassing less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories, inasmuch as Israel's prior frontiers had proved to be notably insecure."

The question, then, is whether Israel has to give up any additional territory. Now that peace agreements have been signed with Egypt and Jordan, the only remaining territorial disputes are with Lebanon and Syria. Israel's conflict with Lebanon is a result of fighting after 1967 and is therefore irrelevant to 242 (Israel has said it would withdraw to the international border if a treaty is signed and the central government takes control of northern border areas currently in the hands of terrorist groups).

The dispute with Syria is over the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expressed a willingness to negotiate a compromise in exchange for peace; however, President Hafez Assad refused to consider even a limited peace treaty unless Israel first agreed to a complete withdrawal. Under 242, Israel has no obligation to withdraw from any part of the Golan in the absence of a peace accord with Syria.

It is also important to realize that other Arab states that continue to maintain a state of war with Israel, or have refused to grant Israel diplomatic recognition, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya have no territorial disputes with Israel. They have nevertheless conditioned their relations (at least rhetorically) on an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders.

Although ignored by most analysts, Resolution 242 does have other provisions. One requirement in that section is that freedom of navigation be guaranteed. It is important to remind people this clause was included because a principal cause of the 1967 war was Egypt's blockade of the Strait of Tiran.

Israel's Obligations to the Palestinians

The Palestinians are not mentioned anywhere in Resolution 242. They are only alluded to in the second clause of the second article of 242, which calls for "a just settlement of the refugee problem." Nowhere does it require that Palestinians be given any political rights or territory. In fact, the use of the generic term "refugee" was a deliberate acknowledgment that two refugee problems were products of the conflict-one Arab and another Jewish. In the case of the latter, almost as many Jews fled Arab countries as Palestinians left Israel. The Jews, however, were never compensated by the Arab states, nor were any UN organizations ever established to help them.

In a statement to the General Assembly October 15, 1968, the PLO, rejecting Resolution 242, said "the implementation of said resolution will lead to the loss of every hope for the establishment of peace and security in Palestine and the Middle East region."

By contrast, Amb. Abba Eban expressed Israel's position to the Security Council on May 1, 1968: "My government has indicated its acceptance of the Security Council resolution for the promotion of agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace. I am also authorized to reaffirm that we are willing to seek agreement with each Arab State on all matters included in that resolution."

It took nearly a quarter century, but the PLO finally agreed that Resolutions 242 and 338 should be the basis for negotiations with Israel when it signed the Declaration of Principles in September 1993.


Palestine wants to be recognized as a nation, they have that with 120 of the 193 member states of the UN recognizing them. Based on the definitions above and international law, as I understand it, the Palestinians are a nation. They are not a state as they do not have land other than UN Refugee camps; however, the denial of land and the refusal of recognition is coming from the Arab Street, not Israel; meanwhile, the Palestinians continue to align themselves with the more malignant personalities and forces in the region. There was a UN Resolution, the number I cannot recall, but it seems to me that the particular Resolution stated the requirement for a unanimous UNSC vote in favor of the Palestinians to have their state.

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