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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 01, 2003

Sovereignty - no; autonomy - yes


The official release of the Roadmap represents a spectacular triumph for the Arab propaganda machine. In endorsing the creation of yet another Arab state, the authors of the Roadmap (including the US) had to accept, inter alia:

- That sometime after 1967, a "Palestinian nation" arose mysteriously, like Athena out of Zeus' head, where previously no such nation existed (the famous Resolution 242, for example, makes no reference to a "Palestinian people" or a “Palestinian” anything);

- That this "Palestinian nation", appearing out of the blue, has a right to self-determination and a sovereign state, a right the Kurds have never had, according to the "International community" [TM];

-That the "Palestinian conflict" is the "root cause" of Arab misery and anger, not the absence of democracy, the refusal to modernize socially and economically, and the steadfast rejection of Israel;

- That the Arabs in "Palestine" are willing and able to create and maintain a peaceful sovereign country, contrary to the evidence from “Palestinian” opinion polls and statements made by Arab leaders inside "Palestine" and outside of it;

- That there is no alternative to a sovereign "Palestine".

Many causes have contributed to this triumph of the Arab propaganda machine, such as the power of oil and petrodollars; the willingness of the naive/biassed media to propagate the Arab line; the cowardice of too many Western governments, fearing Islamist terrorism and disruptions in oil supplies; and pressure from the misguided Left (the same entity that opposed the liberation of Iraq and has no problem with the Syrian occupation of Lebanon or the Chinese occupation of Tibet). But the relative inaction of the Israeli government is also a component of the Arab success, particularly inasmuch as (to my knowledge - and I stand corrected if I'm wrong) Israel has never presented an alternative to a sovereign “Palestine”.

The object of this article is, first, to document the extent to which the "no alternative" notion has taken root even among Israel's supporters; and second, to present such an alternative, namely, Arab autonomy in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, under Israeli sovereignty.

... And now, the details

To illustrate that even some Israel's ardent supporters see no alternative to a sovereign Arab state in "Palestine", I refer to David Warren's recent article in the Ottawa Citizen. On Wednesday, April 30, 2003, David Warren staed in an article entiled, Bush's next challenge in nation-building is Palestinian state [bold font added]:
To my own view, Israel's long-term interest is unquestionably to find some workable and enduring peace deal that will be recognized throughout the region; and the larger Arab interest can only be served in the same way. A sovereign, placid Palestinian state seems the inevitable meeting place of the two interests.
In this context, I quote below a passage from a recent Telegraph article by Barbara Amiel, another ardent supporter of Israel. Filed on April 28, 2003, under the heading, Until Israel is recognised, this road map leads us nowhere, Barbara Amiel's article notes:
Like squabbling scholastics, Mr Blair and Westminster will not face the real dilemma. They will quarrel over the Quartet's "evaluation" of "performance on implementation" of the road map's arcania of "obligations in parallel unless otherwise indicated". But this road map is a road map to nowhere. Until there is acceptance of a Jewish state in the Middle East all peace plans are illusory and with real acceptance, any map is unnecessary.
The problem with Amiel's article is that it ends with the justified rejection of the Roadmap, but presents no alternative. This is characteristic of most of the articles that are critical of the Roadmap.

In contrast, when I posted the 23-part series detailing my objections to a sovereign Arab "Palestine", I ended with a reasoned outline of the alternative, namely, the autonomy alternative. The relevant article may be found at the IsraPundit link, or the entire 23-part series may be found as a PDF or ZIP file at an alternative site. For the benefit of new readers, following is an abbreviated presentation of the autonomy alternative.

An alternative to a sovereign "Palestinian" Arab state is autonomy within a sovereign Israel for the Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. This will answer Israel's vital security requirements and safeguard the civil and religious rights of the Arabs.

(i) The root cause
The root cause, in my opinion, is the rejection of Israel by the Arabs - leadership and street alike - which, in turn, results from deep seeded hatred for Jews, Zionism and Israel. This hatred has causes of its own, such as the failure of the once mighty Arab/Islamic world to keep up with the advances of Western countries, but further exploration of this issue is not essential at this point of the discussion, because the implications are clear even from this brief review. Inasmuch as this hatred is the prime motivator behind the conduct of both the Arabs in general and the "Palestinian" Arabs in particular, seeking an opportunity to annihilate Israel will be a paramount factor in their future policies.
On this issue of “root causes”, Daniel Pipes has written as follows:
... Rather, the root cause of the conflict remains today what it has always been: the Arab rejection of any sovereign Jewish presence between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The conflict continues into its sixth decade because Arabs expect they can defeat and then destroy the state of Israel.
Israel cannot end this conflict unilaterally, by actions of its own. It can only take steps that will make it more rather than less likely that the Arabs will give up on those expectations.

(ii) Israel’s Requirements
In any final arrangement with the "Palestinian" Arabs, nothing can supersede Israel’s security requirements. In turn, this leads to the conclusion that Israel sovereignty over the entire area of Western "Palestine" cannot be bartered. This obviates the solution envisaged by the “roadmap”, but leaves the door open for other arrangements.

(iii) The Palestinian-Arabs' rights
Referring to the Balfour Declaration and to the text of the League of Nations Mandate over "Palestine", one can accept that the “Palestinian” Arabs do have civil and religious rights that should be respected.

(iv) Specific solutions: Autonomy
If sovereignty is ruled out, then autonomy could still be considered as being congruent with the foregoing requirements. Autonomy would leave the control over security, borders, armed forces, foreign policy, air space, immigration and water firmly in Israeli hand. At the same time it would allow the "Palestinian" Arabs to elect their own parliament, one that would legislate within a prescribed domain and with appropriate qualifications that would obviate human rights abuses. The "Palestinian"-Arabs would have no representation in the Israeli parliament. Education should be delegated to the autonomous authority in a manner that would put an end to the constant incitement against Jews and Israel. The autonomy arrangement must address and remedy the flaws of Oslo, flaws that permitted the PA to wage a continuous war against Israel.

A model of such autonomy can be Puerto Rico, the official site of which describes the system as follows [bold font added]:
Puerto Rico has authority over its internal affairs. United States controls: interstate trade, foreign relations and commerce, customs administration, control of air, land and sea, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, currency, maritime laws, military service, military bases, army, navy and air force, declaration of war, constitutionality of laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures, treaties, radio and television--communications, agriculture, mining and minerals, highways, postal system; social security, and other areas generally controlled by the federal government in the United States. Puerto Rican institutions control internal affairs unless U.S. law is involved, as in matters of public health and pollution. The major differences between Puerto Rico and the 50 states are its local taxation system and exemption from Internal Revenue Code, its lack of voting representation in either house of the U.S. Congress, the ineligibility of Puerto Ricans to vote in presidential elections, and its lack of assignation of some revenues reserved for the states.
Interestingly, autonomy is consistent with the Oslo Accords, which referred to self-government, not to independence.

On the other hand, history also provides examples of autonomy being a nest of hornets rather than a basis for peace; suffice it to mention Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo as examples. Thus, autonomy is no panacea, just a possible arrangement that is superior to any other proposal.

The full article (see link above) also discusses (i) population transfer and (ii) Yesha in federation with Jordan, two solutions which to me are inferior to autonomy. The bottom line is this: there are several alternatives to a sovereign "Palestinian"-Arab state in Yesha, and none could possibly be as detrimental to Israel and the West as that which the Roadmap architects are concocting.

Embattled and pressured from all sides, Israel can hardly stand up and denounce the Roadmap in clear, blunt terms. This task falls on the shoulders of Israel’s supporters abroad. Let us raise our voices.