Monday, December 10, 2012

United Nations vote to recognize Palestinian state premature

Back on Nov. 29, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted by a huge majority to recognize Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member state with observer status. That vote occurred exactly 65 years after the UN passed the Partition Plan for Palestine, which provided the legal basis for the formation of the State of Israel.

Nine countries voted against the resolution: Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, U.S., Panama, The Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Micronesia, while 138 countries voted for it and 41 abstained.

That’s a sad reflection of how few friends Israel has in the international community. And what’s with 41 abstentions? Does this mean that 41 countries don’t care which way the vote turned out, or didn’t have the guts to go on record with an opinion? Probably the latter.

I’m pleased to see that PM Stephen Harper’s government stood by Israel and cast Canada’s vote against what can best be described as a premature resolution. I say premature because Palestinians have not shown they are capable of governing anything.

Once ever few (very few in fact) years Palestinians hold an election, and between times they live in a state of turmoil and undemocratic rule, depending on the international community for handouts. Gaza, a part of the proposed state of Palestine, even has a terrorist organization as its government!

Have Palestinians ever ruled themselves? The geographic regions typically called Palestine have been for centuries under the rule of other countries including the Ottoman Empire and, following the First World War, the British who ruled under Mandate from the League of Nations.

The U.K. terminated their Mandate in 1947, and the UN adopted a resolution to partition Palestine between an Arab state, a Jewish state and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. The Jews of the Mandate area accepted the proposal, but the Arabs rejected it. A civil war followed and the establishment of the State of Israel was declared in 1948.

The part of Palestine designated for the Arabs was taken over by Egypt (Gaza), Jordon (West Bank and East Jerusalem) and the remainder (26% of the Mandate territory) by the new Jewish state. Israel did no seek or start this war—the Arab states surrounding it did!

After enduring the stress of living surrounded by belligerent neighbouring Arab states, and being constantly under threat of invasion and annihilation, Israel initiated the 1967 Six-Day War and captured neighbouring territories, some of which are part of what the Palestinians now claim as their state—the so-called Israeli-occupied territories.

Since the Arab Palestinians refused to accept their portion of the partitioned British Mandate and stood by while Egypt and Jordon gobbled it up, there never was a Palestine state.

Following the end of the 1967 war, the Israelis offered to return the Golan Heights to Syria, the Sinai to Egypt and most of the West Bank to Jordan in exchange for peace. Unfortunately, Arab participants refused the generous offer, declaring “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.”

As far as I’m concerned, Arab refusal to take back the West Bank makes that territory Israel’s to do with as it pleases. Because Israel—unlike its Arab neighbours—is a democracy, it has been trying to negotiate a way to provide the Palestinians with a state of their own.

For the most part, those Palestinians have repaid Israel with years of savage attacks on its civilian population and have been doing everything they can to isolate Israel from the international community. Hatred of Jews seems to be a defining characteristic of most of the Arab world and especially of most of the Palestinians.

Palestinians gave up their lands to Jordon and Egypt and could not win them back through military means, including, for a time, international terrorism. Jordon and Egypt relinquished those lands to Israel, not to some Palestinian state which did not exist. Only peaceful negotiation with Israel will see those lands returned to an Arab state.

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