Saturday, July 3, 2010

Responding to Avigdor Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman writes: “While many claim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is territorial, the facts suggest otherwise. Israel had no citizens, settlers or military in the West Bank until 1967, but did not enjoy one moment’s peace from our neighbors and the terrorists that they supported” (“My blueprint for a resolution,” Jerusalem Post, 23 June 2010).

Don Emmerich responds: Geez, do you think this had anything to do with the fact that 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948 and never allowed to return?

Lieberman: “There will be no so-called Palestinian right of return.

“Just as the Jewish refugees from Arab lands found a solution in Israel, so too Palestinian refugees will only be incorporated into a Palestinian state.”

Emmerich: So two wrongs make a right? Because Jews were expelled from places like Egypt and Libya, it follows that Israel has the right to prevent the 1948 refugees from returning to their homes? Given this logic, it would follow that if, say, a Catholic punched me in the face, then I would have the right to go out and punch another, different Catholic in the face. Don’t you understand that people are individuals, that one person cannot be held responsible for the crimes of another person?

Lieberman: “This [Palestinian] state needs to be demilitarized and Israel will need to retain a presence on its borders to ensure no smuggling of arms. In my opinion, these need to be our red lines.”

Emmerich: So this Palestinian “state” you’re proposing isn’t actually a state at all. In other words, you’re proposing that things remain essentially as the are, the main difference being that Palestinians are to start referring to the occupation as “statehood.” Okay, thanks for clarifying that.

Lieberman: “Those who claim that Israel must return to the socalled [sic] Green Line need to examine UN Security Council Resolution 242, the legal framework created following the 1967 war when the territories were conquered.”

Emmerich: Okay, I’ll do just that: “The Security Council…Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security…Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles: (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” (UN Security Council Resolution 242, 22 November 1967).

Lieberman: “The resolution purposely never called for a full withdrawal from the West Bank.”

Emmerich: But, “[e]mphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” the Security Council demanded the “[w]ithdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” This, of course, refers to the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

Lieberman: “Lord Caradon, the main drafter of the resolution, called the pre-1967 lines ‘artificial and undesirable’, another drafter, Eugene V. Rostow, US undersecretary of state for political affairs in 1967, said Israel needs to retreat only to ‘secure and recognized borders, which need not be the same as the armistice demarcation lines.’”

Emmerich: Although Caradon felt the pre-1967 borders were “unsatisfactory,” he later noted that the “overriding principle [of 242] was the ‘inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war’ and that meant that there could be no justification for annexation of territory on the Arab side of the 1967 line merely because it had been conquered in the 1967 war.” Dean Rusk, who served as the US Secretary of State at the time, later wrote that the US believed that “the Israeli border along the West Bank could be ‘rationalized,’ certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties.” He continued: “But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war” (Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 147-48).

Lieberman: “[F]or a lasting and fair solution, there needs to be an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian…

“In most cases there is no physical population transfer or the demolition of houses, but creating a border where none existed, according to demographics.

“Those Arabs who were in Israel will now receive Palestinian citizenship.”

Emmerich: Did you really just advocate ethnic cleansing?

Lieberman: “In most cases there is no physical population transfer or the demolition of houses…”

Emmerich: Oh, so ethnic cleansing will only occur in some cases. Well that’s sure thoughtful of you.

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