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Exposure of Israeli lies will not revive the two-state solution

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during an Israeli military operation in Jenin. (Reuters)
Palestinians clash with Israeli forces during an Israeli military operation in Jenin. (Reuters)
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06 Jul 2023 12:07:51 GMT9
06 Jul 2023 12:07:51 GMT9

One of the supporters of Israel’s most-repeated claims is that Palestinians do not want peace with Israel. Those propagandists regularly list a number of Israeli offers (all of which come short of international standards and laws), claiming that Palestinian rejection means that they are not interested in peace.

Efforts by Palestinians to rebut these claims fall on deaf ears, even though the situation on the ground at any given time since 1967 — especially in regard to the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise, the (internationally rejected) annexation of East Jerusalem and the continuous Israeli human rights violations — does not seem to matter. Israelis, of course, buy their own government’s rhetoric and so do most Western countries that give blind support to Tel Aviv, irrespective of its actions and its refusal to honor the concept of the two-state solution, which those countries publicly espouse.

Perhaps the most-used attack on the Palestinian leadership came about as a result of the failure of the Camp David II meetings in 2000 and the subsequent Clinton Parameters. Prior to the fall 2000 meeting that President Bill Clinton called on Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak to attend, the Palestinian leaders were hesitant about going to the US. Arafat argued that the Israeli side had not shown readiness to make the hard choices needed for peace. And he accurately predicted that, if the talks failed, he would be blamed and that the lack of a breakthrough would have devastating effects.

For his part, Clinton, still suffering from the Lewinsky scandal and wanting to have a successful end to his presidency, promised Arafat that there would be no finger-pointing. Clinton reneged on this promise when the talks failed and, along with Barak, blamed the Palestinian leader for this failure.

Another final effort by Clinton — the Clinton Parameters, which were offered in December 2000 — also failed. While both the Israelis and Palestinians accepted the Clinton offer with reservations, the Americans argued that the Israeli reservations were simple and “within the parameters,” while describing the Palestinian reservations as “outside the parameters.” Efforts by Palestinians to respond to this claim again went nowhere and the Israeli-US claims appeared to stick.

Today, more than two decades later, and as Israel has declassified some of the documents of the Camp David II era, researchers and others are learning the truth. Namely, that the US and Israeli leaders lied to the world and that Israel’s reservations — of insisting on its right to annex Palestinian territory and its rejection of the recognition of the right of return — were violations of international law.

The declassified Israeli documents included a letter to the US national security adviser signed on behalf of the Israeli prime minister. It stated, among other things, that Israel’s objective was “to incorporate 80 percent of the settlers within the settlement blocks under Israeli sovereignty” and that, to accomplish this goal, it would combine “the suggested scope of annexation with long-term lease arrangements of additional territories.”

The declassified document also pointed out that Israel’s position differed from that of Clinton in that there should be a “special regime for the entire Holy Basin.” Israel also complained that it differed from the Clinton Parameters regarding “the Palestinian police and security forces, the mandate of the international force and the monitoring of the non-militarization of Palestine, the aerial arrangements, and the suggested timeline and arrangements in other areas of security and military significance.”

The Palestinian requests were legitimate clarifications and do not belong to the Israeli claim of ‘game-killer’.

Daoud Kuttab

Perhaps the biggest deviation in the declassified Israeli document was to do with the issue of the right of Palestinian refugees to return as stipulated in UN General Assembly Resolution 194. It said: “On the issue of refugees, the formulas concerning the right of return of the refugees embody certain ambiguities, which Israel wishes to avoid.”

At the same time, it is clear that the Palestinian requests, including regarding the status of the Palestinian police outside Al-Haram Al-Sharif, were legitimate clarifications and do not belong to the Israeli claim of “game-killer.”

History shows that Palestinian President Arafat was correct in his thinking that the Israelis had not made the hard decision of accepting a Palestinian state on the June 1967 borders, which for Palestinians is a major compromise that goes much further in the Israeli direction than even the partition plan of 1947.

The failure of the Camp David II era, and the falsification of the culprit, succeeded in convincing even the Israeli peace camp that the party responsible for the failure was none other than the Palestinian leadership. Ariel Sharon, Israel’s opposition leader at the time, knowing the centrality of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the negotiations, blew things up by storming Islam’s third-holiest mosque in September 2000. As a result, a Palestinian protest erupted that was brutally put down by Israel, causing the Al-Aqsa Intifada. A total of 141 Palestinians were killed and 5,984 wounded in the month of October 2000.

Words matter and, when words are used to create a false reflection of reality, those words have a huge effect. What Clinton and Barak did in blaming the collapse of the talks on the Palestinian leadership has been haunting the Palestinians ever since, while making the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace based on the two-state solution that much more difficult.

This stark reality was seen this week, when Israeli D9 military machines literally bulldozed part of the Jenin camp, causing families to flee for their safety and due to the fact that their homes were no longer livable.

Israel has not only bulldozed the Jenin camp, it has been bulldozing its way through occupied territory — an act considered a stark human rights violation by the international community. The very act of building settlements and destroying Palestinian homes, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, shows those who are interested in the truth that what is happening on the ground is the only reality that counts. The declassification of Israeli records might help explain the Palestinian narrative, but it will not bring back the lives and hope that have been lost.

• Daoud Kuttab is a former professor at Princeton University and the founder and former director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University in Ramallah.
Twitter: @daoudkuttab

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