Open Letter to PM Blair: Doing a Northern Ireland in the Middle East

In passing I’ll also say that the issue of the Palestinian right of return is notthe obstacle to peace Zionism asserts it to be. In good faith negotiations for a full and final peace based on a genuine two-state solution, Israel would discover that Palestinian pragmatism could and would be applied even to the right of return.As Arafat and his senior leadership colleagues told me many years ago, the right of return would have to be confined to the Palestinian mini-state; which would mean that probably not more than 100,000 Palestinians would be able to exercise their right to return. The rest would have to settle for financial compensation and a Palestinian passport.

The problem for any Palestinian leadership is that it cannot say so in public until and unless it can assure its people that in return for their unthinkable concessions to the reality of Israel’s existence, Israel’s occupation of land taken in 1967 will be ended to make the space for a viable Palestinian mini state.

In reality the Palestinian right of return would be a perfectly manageable matter if Zionism was interested ingood faithnegotiations for a genuinetwo-state solution. The truth is that it’snot.

That’s my Gentile assessment based on more than three decades of engagement with the conflict, including my time as an ITN and BBC Panorama correspondent who enjoyed, uniquely, intimate access to the two greatest opposites in all of human history – Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine. But it’s also the view of, for example, Gideon Levy, the conscience of Israeli journalism. The headline over a recent article of his in Ha-aretzwasISRAEL DOESN’T WANT PEACE. And that’s because Zionism sees everything in terms of “them orus”. The Zionist mind cannot conceive a “them andus” scenario.

The third key to understanding is in this fact. Since its unilateral declaration of statehood in 1948, Israel‘s existence has never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force or, to put it another way,the prospect of Israeli Jews being”driven in the sea” was never a real one. Zionism’s assertion to the contrary ? the myth upon which the first and still existing draft of Judeo-Christian history is constructed ? was the cover which allowed Israel to get away where it mattered most, Western Europe and North America, with presenting its aggressionas self-defence; and itself as the victimwhen, actually, it was and is the oppressor.

  • You might want to challenge my statement that Israel’s declaration of existence was unilateral. If you do, you’ll say that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by a UN Partition Resolution. Leaving aside the fact that the UN had no right to give away Palestineor even a part of it, the essence of the truth is that the Partition Plan resolution of the UN General Assemblywas only a proposal. (Which, as it happened, secured the minimum necessary support only because the vote was rigged). The proposal did notgo to the Security Councilfor a policy decision because President Truman knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force ? because of the totality of Arab and other Muslim opposition to it; and he wasnot prepared to use force. So the Partition Plan proposal was vitiated, becameinvalid. And the question of what the hell to do about Palestinewas taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the US was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what do that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence ? actually in defiance of the will of the organised international community, including the Truman administration.

  • The truth of the time was that the Zionist state hadno right to exist and, more to the point, could have no right to exist unless?.. Unless it was recognised and legitimizedby those who were dispossessed of their land and their rights during its creation. In international law only the Palestinians could give Israel the legitimacy it craved. And that legitimacy was the only thing the Zionists could not take from the Palestinians by force.

The fourth key to understanding is in this fact. It wasIsraelnot the Arabs which spurned opportunity after opportunity to make peace. (As researched by Professor Avi Shlaim for his truth-telling book, The Iron Wall, the record of de-classified documentation is crystal clear on the matter of who wanted an end to conflict and who didn’t).

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