Better late than never, a very senior Palestinian official in Ramallah, Yasser Abed Rabbo, found the right way to challenge Israel and the U.S. As reported by AFP on 13 October, he said, “We officially demand that the US administration and the Israeli government provide a map of the borders of the state of Israel which they want us to recognise.”
That’s a completely logical and totally reasonable demand.
IF Israel was interested in peace on terms virtually all Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept, the map provided would show Israel with borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war. An accompanying note would say that, subject to agreement in final negotiations, Israel seeks minor border adjustments here and there. The note would also propose that Jerusalem should be an open, undivided city and the capital of two states.
If such a map with the note as above was presented, it would open the door to peace.
But the implementation of such land-for-peace deal would require the IDF to confront and forcibly remove illegal Jewish settlers who refused to leave; and that would open the door to a Jewish civil war – the price Israel’s Jews would have to pay for 62 years of contempt for and defiance of international law.
Of course it won’t happen. As I reveal in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, why not was explained to me as far back as I980 by Shimon Peres. At the time he was the leader of the Labour Party, the main opposition to Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Likud-led coalition. Peres was hoping to win Israel’s next election and deny Begin a second term in office. (President Carter was hoping and possibly praying for such an outcome). My purpose in talking with Peres in private was to establish whether or not he was interested in me acting as the linkman in a secret, exploratory dialogue between himself and PLO Chairman Arafat. Peres was interested but before I went off to Beirut to seek Arafat’s agreement to participate in a little conspiracy for peace, he said to me, “I fear it’s already too late“.
I asked Peres what he meant and this was his answer:
“Every day that passes sees new bricks on new settlements. Begin knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s stuffing the West Bank with settlers to create the conditions for a Jewish civil war. He knows that no Israeli prime minister is going down in history as the one who gave the order to the Jewish army to shoot Jews out of the West Bank“. Pause. “I’m not.”
When Peres spoke those words to me there were 70,000 illegal Jewish settlers on the occupied West Bank. If it was “too late” then, in 1980, how much more too late is it today when the number of illegal Jewish settlers is in excess of 500,000 and rising on a daily basis?
Some weeks after that conversation with Peres, I had reason to talk in private with Ezer Weizman, then serving as Defense Minister in Begin’s first-term government. He gave me extraordinary and frightening insight into why any future Israeli prime minister would not and possibly could not order the IDF to remove settlers from the West Bank by whatever force was necessary. At a point in our conversation he said the following, very slowly and with quiet emphasis:
“This lunchtime Sharon convened a secret meeting of some of our generals and other top military and security people. They signed in blood an oath which commits them to join with the settlers and fight to the death to prevent any government of Israel withdrawing from the West Bank.” Pause. “I know that’s what happened at the meeting because I’ve checked it out and that’s why I was late for this appointment with you.” (I tell the full story of this conversation with Weizman in The Blood Oath, Chapter 12 of Volume Three of the American edition of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews).
So no, there won’t be a Jewish civil war because no Israeli prime minister is ever going to risk provoking it.
So there will be no map. (I mean not one that could come even close to satisfying the Palestinian demand and need). Yasser Abed Rabbo knew that when he put the demand into words.
So what was the point of his challenge?
I presume he was hoping that Israel’s refusal to come up with a map based on more or less pre-June 1967 borders will help to convince more and more people, Americans especially, that Israel simply is not interested in peace on terms virtually all Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept, and for which there is universal support (minus only the opposition of the Zionists and the mad, fundamentalist Christians who support them right or wrong, an opposition which in numbers of people is only a tiny, almost invisible fraction of the global whole).
If it does that, the challenge will not have been made in vain.
The day after Yasser Abed Rabbo issued the challenge, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman had the gall (chutzpah) to say that Israel “has already made many gestures to the Palestinian Authority to facilitate restarting direct negotiations,” and now “the other side must show goodwill”. In one sense Liberman was right. Israel has made many gestures to the Palestinians. But all of them have been of the “Go to hell” type.