Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Is The 1967 Border So Important?

The borders of Israel and a Palestine state should be based on the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states," President Barak Obama said in a policy statement on May 19 at the State Department. The heart of the matter is that Israel declared independence on the Palestinian land on May 14 , 1948 , but did not formulate a constitution just to avoid limiting itself to a fixed boundary. In 1947 , the British intended to end their mandate on Palestine and hand over the Territory to the United Nations. Palestine then had a population of about 2 million -- two-thirds Arabs and one-third Jew. A UN Special Commission, the same year, recommended the creation of two separate states -- a Jewish state on 52 % of the land with a population of 4 , 97 ,000 Arabs and 4 , 98 ,000 Jews, and an Arab state on the remaining land with 7 , 25 ,000 Arabs and 10 ,000 Jews. Jerusalem and the area surrounding it would become an International Zone. The plan was so crafted that it met the wildest dream of the Jews. The Zionists accepted it with jubilation. The United States went to the most extraordinary lengths to manipulate things on behalf of its Zionist protégés. Britain and the United States were primarily motivated to partition Palestine for a separate homeland for Jews to stem the Jewish influx to UK and US after the Holocaust in Europe. Secondly, they also realised that a Jewish state in Palestine would protect the Suez Canal and thus safeguard Western interests in the Middle East and beyond. Britain relinquished the Mandate on May 14 , 1948 , and hours later the Zionists proclaimed the State of Israel. The Arabs rejected the partition plan and went to war. Better organised Jewish forces with the backing of the Western powers defeated the Arabs and occupied further Palestinian land, including West Jerusalem of the divided city, at a cease-fire in January 1949. Jordan annexed the West Bank, including the holy sites forming East Jerusalem. The Zionist state's next strategy was to make Israel as free of Arabs as possible. Underground terrorist organisations Irgun and Hagana carried out systematic and calculated massacres. Arabs were forced to leave the areas the Jews wanted to take over. An Irgun leader Menachem Begin subsequently became prime minister of Israel! Exodus of Palestinians continued unabated. An estimated 3 million Palestinians are out of the country. Law of Return established rights of Jews to settle in Israel from any country but forbids Arabs who were driven out of their homes. Under the charismatic leader Gamal Abdul Nasser Arabs fought two more wars in 1963 and 1967 to restore Arab position in Palestine, but lost more territory. Israel defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian Liberation Army and elements of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti armies in a matter of six days. Israel heeded the UN call to cease hostilities after its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Sinai desert and strategic parts of the Golan Heights. Geographically, Israel occupied areas more than four times its original size. Under the "Land for Peace" formula hammered out at Camp David in 1979 Israel relinquished occupation of Sinai desert and Gaza to Egypt, which in turn ceded Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Israel is not willing to end its occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem, a stand which is inconsistent with the principles embodied in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 adopted after the six-day war, and accept a viable Palestine state. In occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem Israel is building settlements at accelerated pace to change the demographic composition. Netanyahu calls it "the reality on the ground." After Israel erected walls on Palestinian territories in several zones the territory under the Palestinian Authority has become roughly the size of a municipality. In such an unrealistic situation the peace process stumbles at every step, giving way to frustration and consequent belligerency -- Palestinian bricks met with Israeli bullets. The Palestinians live in occupied territories in the most dehumanising conditions. For decades, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been in a "no war, no peace" limbo. In his May 19 visionary statement US President Barak Obama rightly emphasised that such a status quo was neither sustainable nor could endless delay makes the problem go away. The president hit the right chord by enunciating US policy of "two states for two peoples," with the borders of Israel and a Palestine state being based on pre-1967 borders with agreed swaps to make Palestine a viable state. This is meant to end the Israeli occupation on the basic principle on which Iraq was driven out of Kuwait during Gulf War in 1990-91. The president also reminded the Jewish state that it would face growing isolation without "a credible peace process" in the background of Arab awakening. The United States provides approximately $2 billion per year in security assistance to Israel. A non- declared nuclear weapon state having weapons of mass destruction besides possessing state-of-the-art military machines, Israelis suffer from perennial insecurity because their leaders' lack vision. Lee wrote in his Story of Singapore: "Singapore did not want to become an Israel in South East Asia to be alone and odd man out, a Chinese entity in the midst of a Malay archipelago of about a hundred million people." Singapore did not show the China card to her antagonistic neighbours, but instead worked tenaciously to win the acceptance of other South East Asian states. She was successful in providing much needed security to her people as well as building a modern viable state with impressive human rights record. This is the most instructive lesson for Israel to learn from Story of Singapore. At what cost to the US will Israel survive on the American card?