Israel’s choice to inflict violence on civilians and ignore political offers violates ‘just war morality’

Israel/Palestine
on 31 Comments

Editor’s note: Several writers have raved lately about a long piece on Gaza by Jerome Slater called “Just War Moral Philosophy and the 2008–09 Israeli Campaign in Gaza,” published in International Security, a journal put out by Harvard and MIT. The piece supplies important historical context for the latest Israeli assault in Slater’s finding that “instead of exhausting all reasonable alternatives to war, Israel has deliberately ignored or even sabotaged them.” Slater argues that Israel long ago adopted a policy of inflicting pain on civilians, an “iron wall” strategy, and that it continues this immoral policy despite overtures from Hamas toward a political solution of the conflict. Below, some crucial excerpts, sans footnotes.

On the origins of the conflict:

According to Avi Shlaim, although Ben-Gurion “did not use the terminology
of the iron wall, his analysis and conclusions were virtually identical to
[Vladimir] Jabotinsky’s.” Thus, under his leadership during the 1947–48 period, Israeli forces often launched attacks designed to drive large numbers of Arab civilians out of areas designated by the 1947 United Nations partition plan for the
creation of a Jewish state or otherwise claimed by Israel. These actions created
the refugee issue that still plagues the conflict: most of the estimated 700,000
Palestinians who fled into neighboring Arab countries did not do so “voluntarily,”
as the Israeli mythology has it, but either because they were driven out
or because they fled in fear of being killed. This was a legitimate fear, given
that many Palestinians were killed by deliberately indiscriminate Israeli artillery
and mortar fire—and sometimes in outright massacres, as in the case of
Deir Yassin.

Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report:

The Goldstone Commission and other major investigations demonstrated that, beyond the direct killings, Israel intentionally attacked Gazan economic targets as well as other civilian infrastructures and institutions, including government institutions and police stations; schools; hospitals and ambulances; electrical generation plants and power lines; industrial facilities; fuel depots; sewage plants; water storage tanks; and various food production systems, including orchards, greenhouses, and fishing boats; and even private homes—all for “the specific purpose of denying their use for the sustenance of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.” B’Tselem provided additional details: “Israel destroyed over 3,500 homes, leaving approximately 20,000 persons homeless. . . . [It also attacked] the health infrastructure that had already been on the brink of collapse due to Israel’s siege on Gaza.”

Since the release of the Goldstone report in September 2009, all of its major factual findings have been confirmed and new details have emerged as a result of other extensive investigations and public reports by human rights organizations— including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, CARE, Oxfam, and especially the Israeli human rights organizations B’Tselem, Israeli Physicians for Human Rights, and Breaking the Silence (an Israeli military veterans organization formed after the Gaza attack) In sum, the Goldstone Commission found that “the conditions of life, resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government of Israel. . . . cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law.” Those actions, of course, also violated just war morality, as the next section of this article demonstrates.

Hamas has been remarkably restrained, while Israel has been the aggressor: 

In early 2006, following its electoral victory in Gaza’s parliamentary elections, Hamas secretly conveyed a message to the Israeli government that it “would pledge not to carry out any violent actions against Israel and would even prevent other Palestinian organizations from doing so,” provided Israel stopped its undercover assassination program and ended its military attacks in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel ignored the message; according to B’Tselem and Israeli Physicians for Human Rights, Israeli raids killed 660 Palestinians in 2006, most of them unarmed noncombatants and up to a third of them minors.  For the first ten months, Hamas did not respond, although Islamic Jihad did launch a few rocket attacks despite stringent Hamas restrictions against its doing so.

Then, in November 2006, following an Israeli artillery attack in which a shell struck several homes in a Gaza town, killing 19 Palestinians, most of them women and children, Hamas retaliated with an attempted suicide bombing in Israel, its first such attack in nearly two years. Throughout 2007 Israel stepped up its targeted assassinations and other attacks on militants in Gaza and theWest Bank, using indiscriminate methods that resulted in the killing of civilians: an independent investigation by Haaretz concluded that in 2007 and 2008, Israel killed 816 Palestinians in Gaza alone, 360 of whom were civilians and 152 minors—even Shin Bet reported to the cabinet that some 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces “were not clearly linked to terrorist organizations.”

Hamas has repeatedly indicated that it would negotiate with Israel toward a political solution. But Israel has preferred a policy of subjugation.

As discussed earlier, a willingness to pursue the possibility of a reasonable political settlement before resorting to war is a major principle of just war theory. Indeed, it was supposed to have been the goal of Jabotinsky’s iron wall strategy, which in his conception did not require endless war and the total defeat of the Palestinians and other Arabs, but only their being brought to the point at which negotiations could produce a political settlement resulting in the realization of the core goals of Zionism. As Shlaim argues, however, although the military component of the iron wall “became the cornerstone of Israeli government strategy from 1948 onward,” almost all of Israel’s political leaders ignored the political side, which had “encompassed a theory of change in Jewish-Palestinian relations leading to reconciliation and peaceful coexistence . . . [rather than] a bulwark against change and . . . an instrument for keeping the Palestinians in a permanent state of subservience to Israel.” By the end of 2008, there were substantial reasons to believe that Hamas was ready to go beyond cease-fires and join with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in supporting a political settlement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As had been the case with Yasser Arafat’s PLO, which gradually became more moderate (especially once it had a de facto government and a potential state to run in the West Bank), there were growing indications that Hamas was moving toward a pragmatic, if reluctant, acceptance of the realities of Israeli power and was becoming increasingly amenable to a de facto if not de jure two-state political settlement. The record makes clear that Israel made no attempt to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement. First, shortly after winning the January 2006 Gazan elections, Hamas sent a message to President George W. Bush, offering Israel a truce for “many years,” in exchange for a compromise political settlement; neither the Bush administration nor Israel replied. Soon afterward, Hamas began to go public with its new position. In February 2006, Khaled Meshal said that Hamas would not oppose the unified Arab stance expressed in an Arab League summit conference, which offered Israel full recognition and normalized relations in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and a solution to the refugee problem. In April 2006, a senior Hamas official stated that Hamas was ready to discuss a possible two-state solution with Israel. In May 2006, senior Hamas members imprisoned in Israel joined with Fatah leaders and issued the “Prisoner’s Declaration,” which went further than the earlier Hamas overtures. It called for the establishment of a Palestinian state “in all the lands occupied in 1967” and reserved the use of armed resistance only in those territories. In August 2006, Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, in effect accepted and incorporated the Prisoner’s Declaration into the Hamas position, especially its crucial distinction between the occupied territories and Israel within its 1967 borders, telling an American scholar: “We have no problem with a sovereign Palestinian state over all of our lands within the 1967 borders, living in calm.” In January 2007, Meshal stated that Hamas would consider recognizing Israel once a Palestinian state was established; a Haaretz story noted that “this is the first time that a Hamas ofªcial has raised the possibility of full and ofªcial recognition of Israel in the future.”

Prime Minister Olmert of Israel “shrugged off” Meshal’s statement. Throughout 2008 Hamas’s political position, including that of its hard-liners, continued to evolve. In particular, Meshal publicly reiterated in April 2008 that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders—meaning Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Israel ignored all of these overtures, terming them “verbal gymnastics.”

The conclusion of the piece emphasizes the moral dimensions of Israel’s war policy in light of Hamas’s willingness to negotiate:

Since the 1930s, the Zionists and later Israel have employed the iron wall strategy in its conflict with the Palestinians and neighboring Arab states. In Vladimir Jabotinsky’s formulation, the strategy held that Israel must avoid compromises with its adversaries until its military advantage is so overwhelming and the costs of resistance so painful that they have no choice but to accept Israel and agree to a negotiated end to the conflict. From the outset, a central component of the iron wall strategy has been to directly attack civilians, or their institutions, or both—partly as revenge or punishment for Arab attacks on Israelis, but more fundamentally for the purposes of what the Israelis see as “deterrence.” The premise is that the more the pain, the greater the likelihood that the Arab peoples will force their states or militant organizations to end their conflict with Israel.

The iron wall strategy, however, suffers from two crucial problems, at least as it has been interpreted by almost all Israeli leaders since the 1930s. First, Israel’s continuing reliance on overwhelming force rather than on political settlement amounts to a repudiation of what Jabotinsky argued should be the ultimate purpose of the iron wall: not an end in itself or a permanent condition, but a necessary means to create the conditions in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be settled on terms entirely consistent with Israeli security and well-being. In that sense, the iron wall succeeded, for not only most Palestinians but the Arab League states have unanimously and repeatedly formally stated that they will agree to accept a two-state end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on the creation of a small and lightly armed Palestinian state on the 22 to 23 percent of what is left of the land of Palestine before the 1947 UN partition plan. In effect, then, for all practical purposes Israel’s enemies have conceded defeat; Israel, however, continues its refusal to accept victory. Second, the iron wall strategy in action—in particular, Operation Cast Lead—has violated all of the key principles not only of Western just war morality but also of the “common morality” or heritage of almost all cultures and traditions—that wars can be fought only for just causes, as a last resort after all reasonable efforts to solve a conflict have failed, and with major constraints on their methods. With regard to methods, the most important just war principles—or constraints—are those of discrimination, which prohibits massive attacks even on military targets if they will result in heavy civilian losses, and noncombatant immunity, which prohibits intentional attacks on civilians and their key economic and other crucial institutions.

In support of this argument, I first reviewed the history of the iron wall from the 1930s through the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, a history that demonstrates that Israel repeatedly and deliberately attacked civilians and their institutions. I then examined the Israeli actions and policies in Gaza since 2005, especially Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008, a three-week Israeli air and ground attack on Hamas, following a three-year period in which Israel engaged in economic warfare as well as repeated though smaller-scale military attacks on Gaza.

Cast Lead violated every major principle of just war morality. Israel did not have a just cause in Cast Lead, despite the (largely ineffective) Palestinian terrorist attacks on its territory, for one can hardly divorce those attacks from the context of more than forty years of Israeli occupation, repression, and killings; the destruction of governmental, economic, public health, educational, and other societal institutions and infrastructures; the deliberate impoverishment of the Gazan people; the drastic restrictions on the importation of food, coldly calculated by the Israeli government so that they would fall short of causing mass starvation but be highly punitive; and the various humiliations, often deliberate, inflicted on the civilian population as a matter of routine. To be sure, because the Palestinian armed resistance to the Israeli occupation frequently has taken the form of terrorism, the argument that Israel still could not claim a just cause or a right of self-defense is necessarily morally complex. For example, some have argued that no state can ignore terrorist attacks on its territory, and this is undoubtedly true if understood as a statement of the facts of life. As a moral argument, however, it would be far more persuasive if Israel had no way to end terrorism other than the use of massive force. As I have demonstrated, even if Israel had a genuine claim to the just cause principle of self-defense, Cast Lead would have violated another crucial just war requirement—that the use of force is allowable only as a last resort after all nonviolent alternatives have been exhausted. As the record shows, Israel broke a series of cease-fires with Hamas and refused even to explore Hamas’s offers for a long-term truce and possibly even for a political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its methods aside, Operation Cast Lead was a war crime, the crime of international aggression. It also violated every principle governing morally acceptable methods of warfare, because Israel’s deliberate destruction of Gazan Just War and the 2008–09 Gaza Campaign 79 political, economic, and societal infrastructures and institutions was, at a minimum, grossly indiscriminate. The overwhelming evidence of how Israel has implemented the iron wall strategy throughout its history, as well as the unrefuted and detailed evidence of its behavior in Cast Lead, makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that Israel’s policies in Gaza constituted an intentional violation of the most important and widely accepted moral principle that seeks to minimize the destructiveness of warfare: that innocent civilians may never be the intended object of military attack whether directly or indirectly, as in attacks on civilian institutions and infrastructures.

About Jerome Slater

Jerome Slater is a professor (emeritus) of political science and now a University Research Scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught and written about U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly 50 years, both for professional journals (such as International Security, Security Studies, and Political Science Quarterly) and for many general periodicals. He writes foreign policy columns for the Sunday Viewpoints section of the Buffalo News. And his website it www.jeromeslater.com.

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31 Responses

  1. Reuben_Manhattan
    November 19, 2012, 11:25 am

    It began with Plans A, B, C and the more famous Plan Dalet. Lord only knows how many plans they have been through since that time that were intended to drive those people out and terrorize them into fleeing even if in small numbers. The Irgun , Palmach and Stern gang never went away, they were merged into the IDF. Their members went on to become commanders, generals, colonels, and even Prime Ministers such as Menachem Begin. The Kahanists are the more recent addition to the Jewish terrorism family. You can find their gang signs on many Palestinian homes marking them as future targets for takeover. They have a strong fund raising even here in the USA.

    • pabelmont
      November 20, 2012, 7:56 am

      Einstein/Arendt wrote to the NYT in 1948 warning against support (“fund raising”) for Menachem Begin’s “fascist” party Herut. Begin of course became a prime minister, as did Shamir (and Sharon), terrorists all. Worth reading for historical interest (and prescience).

      And USA (or at least NYC) celebrates the terrorists with a large brass plaque in a 60th street sidewalk, picture shown here.

      • Reuben_Manhattan
        November 20, 2012, 2:31 pm

        and yet they complain about streets being named after Palestinian “terrorists”

        The gall of those pesky Palestinians doing what they do!

  2. American
    November 19, 2012, 3:57 pm

    “Editor’s note: Several writers have raved lately about a long piece on Gaza by Jerome Slater called “Just War Moral Philosophy and the 2008–09 Israeli Campaign in Gaza,” published in International Security, a journal put out by Harvard and MIT.”

    Now Slater uses the Just War theory to ‘finally’ condemn Israel? Well I suppose better late than never. Even though it’s 40 years, or in the case of Hamas’s offer of a 10 year Truce, exactly 6 years and 10 months late. How many words in the article? One for every illegal Israeli settler and unit Israel has put in Palestine during the past 6 years and 10 months? One for every time the “Israeli has a right to defend itself” excuse has been used?

    I posted the below back in Jan of 2006 on TWN. The entire world was aware of the offer Hamas made. How could all the Israel Supporters have possibly ‘missed it’? How have they ‘missed’ all the truce offers and Israeli rejections since then?

    link to msnbc.msn.com

    Hamas offers truce in return for 1967 borders
    No Israeli response, but U.S. rejects it as ‘no change’
    Bassem Tellawi / AP
    Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal talks to reporters at a news conference Monday in Damascus, Syria, where he offered Israel a truce.
    DAMASCUS, Syria — The leader of Hamas said Monday that his Palestinian militant group would offer Israel a 10-year “hudna,” or truce, as implicit proof of recognition of Israel if it withdrew from all lands it seized in the 1967 Middle East War.
    In his comments Monday, Mashaal used the Arabic word “hudna,” meaning truce, which is more concrete than “tahdiya” — a period of calm — which Hamas often uses to describe a simple cease-fire.
    “Hudna” implies a recognition of the other party’s existence.
    Mashaal said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state limited to the lands Israel seized in 1967 — that is, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. But he said the group would never outright formally recognize Israel.”
    Carter said that Hamas is prepared to accept the right of Israel to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.”
    In the past, Hamas officials have said they would establish a “peace in stages”.
    There was no immediate reaction from Israel to Hamas’ truce offer.
    Israel, which evacuated Gaza in 2005, has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state there and in much of the West Bank. But it has resisted Palestinian demands that it return to its 1967 frontiers. ‘
    In Washington, the State Department dismissed the offer saying there was no indication Hamas wanted peace with Israel. ‘’

    NOW….consider that every Israel settlement beyond the 1967 line is ILLEGAL under international law and therefore the Hamas request was totally reasonable. Hamas has said repeatedly…go back to the 1967 lines and we will have peace….Israel can go it’s way as a State and we will not interfere with it, and we as Palestine will go our own way as a State. The old excuse that the goal of Hamas and Palestine and Arab resistance is “to destroy Israel and drive it into the sea” hasn’t been valid for 40 years.

    Interview with Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar. Also Jan 2006. For I- supporters who don’t get it, it’s saying take your hands off our throats and we won’t have to fight you.

    “We have to disengage from Israel economically, on security, everything. We have to open the doors to the Arab and Muslim countries.
    “We destroyed our economical status by the linkage of our economy with the Israeli (one) . . . For example, we pay 5.5 shekels (66p) per litre for petrol from Israel. From Egypt, one metre from our borders, it is one Egyptian pound (9p). In 2004 we paid to Israel in one year $186 million (£105 million) for electricity. If we took it from Egypt it will be $20 million. We have ten commercial agreements with the Arabic and Islamic world without taxes. Israel takes from us 17 taxes and they are destroying our industry.”
    Full article at …..link to timesonline.co.uk

    • Mooser
      November 20, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Just amazing to me, that a man who has not been killed in a war thinks he knows anything about a “just war”. Only the dead know about just wars, and I haven’t heard a single one of them speak in favor of it.

  3. Donald
    November 19, 2012, 5:26 pm

    Just war theory isn’t without flaws, from what I gather (I’m not an expert), but to some extent it’s pretty much just the notion that if you do get in a war you still aren’t allowed to do whatever you want–you can’t deliberately aim at civilians, for instance or use indiscriminate firepower where a lot of civilians are present, for instance. I think there are parts that are flawed, that favor the powerful, or so I’ve heard. It’s what you’d expect–it generally isn’t the weak who get to write the laws.

    Even so, if Israel were held to the standards of constitutes a just war they’d be in big trouble–Hostage could probably go into all the legal details. The Israelis and their apologists understand this, which is why they went after Goldstone and every human rights organization that documents their crimes and why they complain about “lawfare”.

  4. RoHa
    November 19, 2012, 8:25 pm

    I’m sure Michael Walzer will find some convoluted argument to prove that Israel is totally innocent of all and any wrongdoing.

  5. RoHa
    November 19, 2012, 8:31 pm

    “Operation Cast Lead—has violated all of the key principles not only of Western just war morality but also of the “common morality” or heritage of almost all cultures and traditions”

    Almost.
    link to haaretz.com

  6. mondonut
    November 19, 2012, 9:54 pm

    In that sense, the iron wall succeeded, for not only most Palestinians but the Arab League states have unanimously and repeatedly formally stated that they will agree to accept a two-state end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on the creation of a small and lightly armed Palestinian state on the 22 to 23 percent of what is left of the land of Palestine before the 1947 UN partition plan. In effect, then, for all practical purposes Israel’s enemies have conceded defeat; Israel, however, continues its refusal to accept victory.

    This is simply not true. Neither the Palestinians, the Arab League, nor the Arab Peace Initiative has ever offered peace and an end of claims and conflict under these terms. The obvious oversight is that the Palestinians have never conceded their spurious claim to the non-existent right of return. A claim which is in fact the exact opposite if defeat – it is a claim to Israel itself.

    • Donald
      November 19, 2012, 10:51 pm

      “The obvious oversight is that the Palestinians have never conceded their spurious claim to the non-existent right of return.”

      So you’re saying that if an Israeli born in Israel is driven out of Israel (in some hypothetical future war) there won’t be any right of return for that person. That’s some weird set of ethical values you’ve got there.

      • mondonut
        November 20, 2012, 9:01 am

        Donald says:So you’re saying that if an Israeli born in Israel is driven out of Israel (in some hypothetical future war) there won’t be any right of return for that person.
        =========================
        No, I did not say that. That is a poor analogy.

      • Donald
        November 20, 2012, 12:59 pm

        “No, I did not say that. That is a poor analogy.”

        I know you didn’t say it. You think Israeli Jews have basic human rights and Palestinians do not.

    • RoHa
      November 19, 2012, 10:56 pm

      “Neither the Palestinians, the Arab League, nor the Arab Peace Initiative has ever offered peace and an end of claims and conflict under these terms. The obvious oversight is that the Palestinians have never conceded their spurious claim to the non-existent right of return.”

      Bearing in mind that the 2002 Saudi peace plan included a provision for an agreed resolution to the Palestinian Refugee problem, could you explain why this plan does not constitute an offer of peace under those terms?

      “Palestinians have never conceded their spurious claim to the non-existent right of return.”

      When people are driven out of their homes by main force, or flee from the threat of such force, it would seem, prima facie, that they have a right to return to their homes. Could you explain why such a right does not exist?

      “A claim which is in fact the exact opposite if defeat – it is a claim to Israel itself.”

      If maintaining Israel requires that people be expelled from their homes and their land and property taken, with neither redress nor admission of wrongdoing, that suggests that maintaining Israel is a fundamentally immoral activity.

      • mondonut
        November 20, 2012, 9:10 am

        RoHa says:Bearing in mind that the 2002 Saudi peace plan included a provision for an agreed resolution to the Palestinian Refugee problem, could you explain why this plan does not constitute an offer of peace under those terms?
        ===============================
        I guess you think that you are disagreeing with me, but in fact you are supporting my argument. Every point that you make shows that this essay is incorrect in stating that the Palestinians are simply making a land claim and that they have conceded defeat.

      • RoHa
        November 20, 2012, 7:35 pm

        I see you have avoided explaining why the refugees do not have a moral right to return by referring to the legality of an immigration policy.

        This clearly shows that you cannot distinguish between morality and legality, which in turn shows that you have no understanding of morality.

        This moral blindness seems characteristic of Zionists. It is not surprising, then, that you do not recognize the fundamental immorality of Israel.

    • Cliff
      November 19, 2012, 11:30 pm

      The Palestinian right of return is not spurious. The Zionist Law of Return is. A Jew by virtue of being Jewish can come to Palestine and steal Palestinian land but a Palestinian whose family was driven out by Jewish terrorists is not allowed to RETURN home.

      You really are a nut.

      • mondonut
        November 20, 2012, 8:55 am

        Cliff says: The Palestinian right of return is not spurious. The Zionist Law of Return is.
        =========================================
        This Zionist Law of Return you speak of is actually the the established immigration policy of a sovereign state. Every sovereign state in the world has the right to create and maintain an immigration policy. Israel is no different.

      • Cliff
        November 20, 2012, 12:20 pm

        Which means nothing. Israel is an apartheid, colonial-settler State.

      • tree
        November 20, 2012, 1:38 pm

        Every sovereign state in the world has the right to create and maintain an immigration policy. Israel is no different.

        You’ve just justified the expulsion of Jews from Nazi Germany. I know you won’t like the analogy, but there you have it. And please don’t say that it is different because the Jews in Nazi Germany were long time residents there. The same applies to the Palestinians who were expelled or fled from the territory that Israel claimed as its state. If you excuse one as a sovereign state’s “immigration policy” then you excuse them both.

    • Sibiriak
      November 20, 2012, 10:49 am

      mondonut:

      The obvious oversight is that the Palestinians have never conceded their spurious claim to the non-existent right of return.

      God is in the details. “Right of Return” can be interpreted in many ways. (see Hostage’s posts on the meaning of RoR in international law).

      Palestinian negotiators at Taba and subsequently (2008) adopted a position that a negotiated RoR agreement would entail severe restrictions on the actual number of refugees that could return to Israel along with compensation, symbolic statements of responsibility etc.

      Critically, polls show that 90 percent of the Palestinian refugees in question want to exercise their right to compensation, not their right to return to Israel.

      Hostage writes:

      Most refugees were not born in Israel and have never lived there. Even the ones who were originally from what is now considered Israel have a perfect right to opt-out of returning there under the explicit terms of UN General Assembly resolution 194(III) regarding compensation in lieu of return.

      Actual surveys of Palestinian refugees are rare, but the few that have been conducted indicate that 9 in 10 want compensation and have no desire to live among Zionists in Israel. link to 972mag.com

      The current PA officials have stated that all of the refugees will have the option of citizenship and taking-up residency in the new Palestinian state. For example, the current President of the State of Palestine was born in Safed, beyond the borders that he, himself has proposed for the new state of Palestine.

    • talknic
      November 21, 2012, 3:19 am

      mondonut November 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      ” The obvious oversight is that the Palestinians have never conceded their spurious claim to the non-existent right of return. “

      You’re making spurious claims … RoR was instituted before Israel was declared.

      The Palestinian claim is under UNGA res 194, which gave the same right to Jewish folk and was written before UNRWA was formed, so it cannot possibly refer to the UNRWA definition of refugee which is only to ascertain who qualifies for relief while they are refugees and does not extend to final status. Oh and UNRWA was originally formed to cater for Jewish refugees as well.

      ” A claim which is in fact the exact opposite if defeat – it is a claim to Israel itself”

      Twaddle. There is only a demographic threat to territories Israel has illegally acquired by war, has never legally annexed and which are NOT Israeli. link to wp.me

      As for a demographic threat to Israel itself, how do you reconcile the plea in the Declaration of the Establishment of the state of Israel for Arabs to stay if they were a demographic threat?

  7. talknic
    November 20, 2012, 1:38 am

    mondonut November 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    “Neither the Palestinians, the Arab League, nor the Arab Peace Initiative has ever offered peace and an end of claims and conflict under these terms”

    How odd. Twice now, in front of the world at the UN Abbas offered to accept for peace, only 22% of the territory allocated for an Arab State link to haaretz.com (2011) and again 2012.

    You of course must ignore this as Israel has to make your schtick stick.

    • mondonut
      November 20, 2012, 8:59 am

      talknic says: How odd. Twice now, in front of the world at the UN Abbas offered to accept for peace.
      ==========================================
      Abbas has never offered peace under the terms that Jerome Slater puts forth in this essay. They have never conceded defeat, they have never conceded the RoR and they have never, at the UN, offered peace in conjunction with an end of claims. The entire point of the UN gambit is to create a platform to pursue further claims – hardly peace.

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 20, 2012, 9:24 am

        “They have never conceded defeat”

        Because they’ve yet to be defeated.

        “they have never conceded the RoR”

        Because it’s a right under international law that the israelis have no right to deny.

        “they have never, at the UN, offered peace in conjunction with an end of claims”

        Because the israelis have yet to indicate an intention to live up to any bargain that will ensure that Palestinians enjoy the rights to which they’re entitled.

        “The entire point of the UN gambit is to create a platform to pursue further claims – hardly peace.”

        Yes, because the israelis continue to commit the crimes for which the Palestinians seek remedies.

      • RoHa
        November 20, 2012, 7:36 pm

        “Because it’s a right under international law that the israelis have no right to deny.”

        More importantly, it is a moral right.

      • MHughes976
        November 21, 2012, 4:40 am

        And it is extremely difficult to see how the moral rights of each and every Palestinian can be removed by the stroke of a pen wielded by the Arab League or even by Hamas.

  8. Erasmus
    November 20, 2012, 9:19 am

    Refreshing our often too short-lived memories

    sometimes it is really eye-opening to re-read what has been not too long ago:
    e.g.
    1) 06 October 2004: Quotations from Dov Weisglass Interview
    link to news.bbc.co.uk

    “The significance of the (Gaza evacuation) plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Dov Weisglass told Haaretz newspaper, adding the US had given its backing.
    Palestinian statehood, refugees and the status of Jerusalem had effectively been dropped off the agenda, he said.

    “When you freeze [the peace] process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the [Palestinian] refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.”
    “Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.

    2) link to lrb.co.uk
    This article by Henry Siegmann of 29 January 2009 revisits and recalls the scenario before / after the truce and truce breaking before the Gaza War1 (=”operation Cast Lead”).
    The parallels are often striking.

    The essence remaining the same:
    Israel does everything possible to avoid at all cost: PEACE

  9. Nevada Ned
    November 20, 2012, 9:23 am

    Under international law, refugees have the right to return. Or they can accept compensation if they choose.

    Israel ethnically cleansed the Palestinians, without compensation (with a few exceptions).

    The people living in Gaza today were expelled from what is now Israel (or their parents and grandparents were expelled). If they had received fair compensation for their lost property, they would have billions of dollars.

  10. Jerry Slater
    November 20, 2012, 10:03 am

    Clarification: All the Arab peace plans since 1982, all of which have been unanimously reaffirmed by the Arab League, give Israel an effective veto on the right of Palestinians to return, and how many of them. Abbas has accepted these terms, and even Arafat before him strongly indicated, including in messages to Clinton and in opeds, that the Palestinians understood and accepted that there could be no large-scale right of return. In various secret negotiations, especially under Olmert, the discussion focused on some 10,000-20,000 returnng to Israel, as part of a “family reunification” plan.

    In short, possibly accepting the most extremist Palestinians, well to the left of Hamas, the Palestinians understand and accept that there will never be a return of the 3-5 million Palestinian refugees. They won’t publicly abandon their rhetorical demand now, because they rightly believe that Israel will find many other reasons to refuse a two-state settlement. However, if all the other pieces fell into place, no serious Israeli negotiator or observer believes that the r-of-r would torpedo a settlement, which would probably take the form of the Palestinians maintaining their symbolic “right,” and the Israelis admitting some few Palestinians, even while claiming it was based on humanitarian reasons (“family reunfication”), rather than a Palestinian right. In this way, each side will maintain its symbolic position, but the issue will be finessed and it will not be allowed to disrupt a final settlement.

    Hamas’ position is not so clearcut, but the weight of the evidence is that they will be prepared to accept a two-state settlement, which entails the end of a right of return.

  11. seafoid
    November 20, 2012, 10:50 am

    It looks like Israeli model and all round “Jewish women are so hot” slobber target Bar Rafaeli spoke out of turn the other day

    @BarRefaeli: i prey for the safety of the citizens on both sides and for the day we will live in peace and harmony Amen.

    Ignore the effects of the Israeli focus on YESHA rather than education for a moment.

    Some on-message Israeli rapper trading as Subliminal took umbrage

    link to facebook.com

    “With all due respect for your lovely posterior and bosom that you display on every magazine cover round the world, perhaps for once you’ll represent your nation which isn’t America in case you forgot. Stop being a bleeding-heart humanist. You end up appearing false and a hypocrite.”

  12. Walid
    November 20, 2012, 1:28 pm

    The Arab peace proposal of 2002 (Beirut) that contained a provision about numbers of returnees to be mutually agreed upon, to be gradual and over number of years, was endorsed by Arafat, who at the time was under siege in his Ramallah compound.

    The issue crept again a little while back with the Jazeera-leaked Palestine papers that described the RoR negotiations between Israel and Erekat/Abbas that discussed something like 10,000 returnees at most over a 10 or 15 year period. So we can more or less say that Abbas has also agreed.

    One of the stumbling blocks with RoR not being openly discussed is Israel’s wish to impose some kind of limitation on the number of returnees to a new Palestine. Israel’s concerns had been about being drowned by the millions of returnees to the West Bank and Gaza along with the ensuing water problems for both Palestine and Israel. Another is the refugee population in Lebanon and others in Syria and Jordan (total is around 2 million) that none of these countries can absorb.

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