Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 306 (since 2014-10-18 15:30:16)

David Gerald Fincham

Dr. David Gerald Fincham is a retired academic scientist from the United Kingdom. He now writes about the relationships between religion, science, and peace. His website is


Showing comments 306 - 301

  • Trump's not moving the embassy, and AIPAC and Netanyahu are disappointed
    • “Jerusalem is absolutely central to the history, culture and identity of the Jewish people” says J Street. Absolutely correct, and no educated person, Palestinian or otherwise, would deny it.

      But the State of Israel is not the same thing as the Jewish people. That is the point that we should constantly emphasize.

      The Declaration of the State of Israel does not mention Jerusalem. On 14 May 1948 Israel declared its borders to be those specified in the UN Plan of Partition with Economic Union. Jerusalem is outside those borders. Israel's Declaration said it is based "on the strength of the UN resolution (UNGAR 181, the Plan of Partition). In the Plan Jerusalem was to be internationalized, not part of either the Jewish or the Arab State.

      Israel gained de facto sovereignty over West Jerusalem in the 1948-49 war. There was no peace agreement at the end of that war, so Israel's de facto sovereignty has not been legalized. Israel gained military control of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. East Jerusalem is outside the 1949 Armistice Line, and so part of the occupied West Bank territory from which Israeli forces are required to withdraw under UNSCR 242.

      Israel's peace treaty with Jordan did not pass Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank to Israel. Jordan held the territory in trust for the Palestinian people who have a right to self-determination within mandatory Palestine. In 1988 Jordan passed its sovereignty over the West Bank to the PLO as representatives of the Palestinians. Since the 1988 declaration and international recognition of the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital, legal sovereignty over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, belongs to the State of Palestine.

      The State of Israel does not have legal sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.

  • Pro-Israel group bullies Church of Scotland over its 'sensitive' commemoration of Balfour centenary
    • "The framers of ‘Balfour’ deliberately left out ‘political’ and ‘national’ rights for the indigenous Arab inhabitants – that was only for the Jews."

      I don't see any distinction between civil rights and political rights. The declaration makes no mention of Jewish political rights in Palestine. Its objective is to establish a Jewish National Home IN Palestine: this does not necessarily imply that the existing population do not constitute a nation. Indeed, the 1921 Carlsbad Resolution of the World Zionist Congress proposed that Palestine should be the COMMON HOME of TWO nations, Jewish and Arab, with PERFECT EQUALITY between Jews and Arabs. (Rather like the United Kingdom is the common home of three nations: English, Scottish and Welsh.)

  • New charter, old politics
    • "The invaders would not be leaving Northern Ireland" ???????

    • It is strange that the author has not given a link to the new Document of General Principles and Policies, or quoted directly from it. Here it is:

      To my mind, it is a beautiful and moving document, with the exception of article 25: " Resisting the occupation with all means and methods is a legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and by international norms and laws. At the heart of these lies armed resistance, which is regarded as the strategic choice for protecting the principles and the rights of the Palestinian people."

      Yes, armed resistance is legitimate. But adopting it as a strategic choice is foolish. Israel has a mighty military machine up to and including nuclear bombs. Armed resistance will achieve nothing except more dead Palestinians. South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Civil Rights in the USA have shown that non-violent resistance is much more effective.

  • Passover in the era of permanent Jewish occupation
  • Open Letter to Theresa May: On 100th anniversary of Balfour Declaration recognize an independent Palestinian state
    • Mooser: Nothing to do with his Atomic Theory, it's his General Theory of Relativity which says that the gravitational forces generated by large masses can twist space itself. If all the Jews in the world went to Palestine, and took all their gold with them, there might have been enough mass to do the trick.

    • Page: 3
    • Absolutely, lying and deception has always been their method. Did you know that there are 13 lies in Israel's Declaration? See

    • YoniFalic: surely you do not deny that Jewishness and Judaism originated in Palestine? Jews naturally have a strong emotional connection to Palestine, as do Christians and Muslims. There is nothing wrong in the desire of some of these to go and live there, as did some of the Spanish Jews in the 15th century and European Jews in the 19th century. Of course, no-one has a right to go and live in another country, they have to be acceptable there. The evil of Zionism lies in its determination that all of the Jews should go to Palestine and take it over, either dispossessing, expelling or subjugating the indigenous population.

      I completely agree with your second paragraph.

    • It is also worth pointing out that the Zionists accepted the idea of a bi-national state, stating in the 1921 Carlsbad Resolution of the World Zionist Organization that "We do thereby reaffirm our desire to attain a durable understanding which shall enable the Arab and Jewish peoples to live together in Palestine on terms of mutual respect and co-operate in making the common home into a flourishing community, the upbuilding of which will assure to each of these peoples an undisturbed national development... The Jews on the one hand and the Arabs on the other are to be regarded as living side side on a footing of perfect equality in all matters, including the official use and recognition of their respective languages.

    • Mysterioso: thank you for that excellent summary.

      One quibble: you should not use capital letters when referring to the partition plan. The proper name of the plan was Plan of Partition with Economic Union. The Economic Board was in fact the sovereign body controlling all aspects of economic life in the Jewish and Arab states and Jerusalem. Its decisions were binding. There were three members from the Arab state, three from the Jewish State, and three appointed by the UN, so that foreigners had the casting vote. The terms of the Union could not be changed without the agreement of the UN General Assembly. The Arab and Jewish states were therefore not to be independent sovereign states: the arrangement is best described as a confederation of two states under UN Trusteeship. For more details see my my Mondoweiss article "Understanding the Partition Plan".

    • Letters like this may well help to change the mind of the British Government. Parliament has already voted to recognize Palestine, but in a non-binding resolution. There is a British organization called the Balfour Project which aims to bring justice to the Palestinians. A number of MPs and other influential people are members. They are holding a big meeting in November, and it would be great if that meeting could generate momentum towards recognition. They are more an educational than campaigning group, but I will try to persuade them that the centenary would be a good time to get serious and push for a real step forward towards a solution of the conflict.

  • Trump pick for ambassador to Israel continues to fund settlement construction in the West Bank
    • The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has good news from the UK Parliament:

      Dear friends,

      Over the last two weeks, over 10,000 of you answered our urgent call and contacted your MP asking them to speak in the Parliamentary debate on illegal settlements. The pressure you put on your MPs made a big difference.

      "I have heard from my constituents, powerfully and loudly, about their concern about that practice and its effect on communities." - Patrick Grady MP

      Yesterday, on Wednesday 9th February, our Parliament overwhelmingly supported a motion to reaffirm the illegality of Israel’s settlements. During the debate MPs from all parties condemned the latest Israeli government bill on settlements, its apartheid policies and called for a ban on settlement goods from entering the UK. 10,000 of you made a difference.

      "The settlements are the embodiment of occupation. Everything else that is wrong in the occupied territories flows from those settlements." - Andy Slaughter MP

      We need to keep up the pressure.

      Although the debate reaffirmed the illegality of settlements, the government has yet to take the action needed to end UK complicity. The demand for a settlement ban calls for measures to prevent settlement goods reaching the UK and for companies and charities to be forbidden from funding settlements and the infrastructure of the occupation.

      With your support, we will keep the pressure up on the government until they stop talking about settlements as illegal and start treating them as such.

      Thank you for taking action – it makes a difference.

    • Saying that the building of new settlements "may not be helpful" in bringing peace is not condemning them. It is a pathetically weak statement that gives a green light for Israel to continue its illegal behaviour.

  • With US reportedly poised to abstain on U.N. resolution slamming Israel, Egyptians withdraw it under pressure
  • 'State of Terror,' by Thomas Suárez
    • Further reply to echinococcus:

      I was sorting out some books this afternoon, and came across Procession by John Gunther, the American journalist and writer from the 1930s to the 1960s. He is well known for his books Inside USA, Inside Europe and so on: he traveled widely and met many politicians. In the book I came across a chapter on Chaim Weizmann, a Russian Jew who was by profession a scientist in Manchester University, England, a leading Zionist who was president of the World Zionist Organisation and later the first President of Israel. The Chapter on Weizmann is based on a personal relationship with Gunther, who describes him as "the finest person I have ever known in public life".

      The chapter ends thus: Palestine became free in 1948 and entered the the UN as the Republic of Israel on May 11, 1949..


    • Reply to echinococcus October 22, 2016, 2:19 pm

      Most people in the world (including our friend talknic - see our discussion on this page and my previous article "Understanding the Partition Plan") think that the unilateral Declaration of the State of Israel was justified by the UN partition plan. That is because they have never actually read the plan carefully, and because they have unthinkingly absorbed the propaganda element in the actual Declaration which claims such justification with the use of 14 lies [ ].

      If the world knew that there was no legal basis whatsoever for the creation of an independent Jewish state in Palestine, it could add to pressure on Israel to come to a more just agreement with the Palestinians than the miserable 22% of their homeland that the PLO seems willing to accept.

    • Reply to echinococcus October 22, 2016, 2:19 pm

      Most people in the world (including our friend talknic - see our discussion on this page and my previous article "Understanding the Partition Plan") think that the unilateral Declaration of the State of Israel was justified by the UN partition plan. That is because they have never actually read the plan carefully, and because they have unthinkingly absorbed the propaganda element in the actual Declaration which claims such justification with the use of 14 lies [ ].

      If the world knew that there was no legal basis whatsoever for the creation of an independent Jewish state in Palestine, it could add to pressure on Israel to come to a more just agreement with the Palestinians than the miserable 22% of their homeland that the PLO seems willing to accept.

    • @talknic You say:

      "By declaring their state within the pre ’67 ‘borders’ (1949 Armistice Demarcation Lines) and thru its subsequent recognition, Palestine abandoned the right to Persistent Objection over territories illegally acquired by force through Jewish terrorism and Israeli forces 1947/48/49.

      But Palestine in its Declaration said only that the State is established "in our Palestinian territory" without specifying the extent of that territory. It is true that the PLO accepted the Clinton parameters in the Oslo process, which included the idea of a Palestinian state including only the West Bank and Gaza, but that was a concession made in a negotiating process "in the interests of peace". Since it did not produce peace, they cannot be held to that. When Palestine applied for full UN membership, it did say (foolishly in my opinion) that its borders included only the West Bank and Gaza. However, that application was rejected, and so has no force.

      The only 'legal' border between two adjacent states is one that both have agreed upon. The Oslo process always said that the borders were a matter for final status negotiations. Irrespective of 'Persistent Objection', I believe that the illegality of Israel's conquests in 1948-49 would give Palestine at least a strong moral argument for obtaining much more territory that the 22% of former Palestine within Gaza and the West Bank, to add to the practical arguments concerning viability and contiguity of the State of Palestine.

    • NO,NO,NO.

      The Declaration is not a Declaration of Independence. The states were not to be independent sovereign states. All this was discussed in my article "Understanding the Partition Plan":-

      "At some point before independence each State must make a Declaration to the U.N accepting a number of stipulations. Two of these, concerning religious sites and religious and minority rights go into the constitution. These cannot be changed without the agreement of the General Assembly. Others cover such matters as citizenship, and acceptance of international agreements and financial obligations previously accepted by Palestine. These are regarded as fundamental laws of the state.

      "Achieving independence. The Plan does not make clear exactly how and when the states achieve independence. My interpretation is the following.

      "After the end of the Mandate, effective sovereignty over Palestine was vested in the Palestine Commission. This progressively transferred administrative authority to the Provisional Councils, which operated under its supervision. After the Provisional Council and the Constituent Assembly had produced a Constitution, the Provisional Council was replaced by the Provisional Government. It was at this point that the State became independent.

      The Plan does not say anything about the States declaring their independence. That is unnecessary. The United States had to declare independence from Britain, because Britain did not want to let them go. The two States in the Plan do not need to declare independence from the Commission, because they have already been given it. In the same way, Israel did not need to declare independence from Britain on 14 May 1948, because the Mandate had already ended. Instead it simply declared the establishment of the State.

      "How independent? The two States described in the Plan are not really independent. The Plan has written a major part of their constitutions. The Palestine Commission has chosen the High Command of their militias. An Economic Union has been forced upon them, which cannot be modified for 10 years unless the General Assembly agrees. Decisions of the Joint Economic Board are binding on the States; in taking those decisions foreigners appointed by the UN have the casting vote."

    • Second reply to talknic.

      Please read the details of the Plan - it is all there in the text of the resolution. Nothing in the Plan allows for a Declaration of Independence by either party. The 'independence' they achieved under the Plan was not true independence in the sense you are using. This is because they were required to join the Economic Union before achieving 'independence'. The Union was under the control of the Economic Board whose decisions were BINDING on the two states, and on which FOREIGNERS appointed by the UN had a CASTING VOTE. The Union covered all aspects of economic life: agriculture, industry, transport, power, water and other natural resources.

      Your view suggests that the Plan gave some legitimacy to Israel's unilateral Declaration of Establishment. It did no such thing. There was no justification in law or morality for that Declaration (which also violated UNSCR 46).

      Talknic: you know, I think, how much I respect and admire your work. The day you pointed me to Epstein's letter to Truman in the Truman Library was a day which literally changed my life. But on this topic you are wrong: please, please, think again.

      If you want to continue this discussion I suggest a better place to do so would be on the page of my article "Understanding the Partition Plan".

    • Talknic, please re-read the Plan and my Mondoweiss article "Understanding the Partition Plan". The two-states could not unilaterally declare independence under the plan, they achieved independence by a gradual transfer of powers from the Commission. It was not intended that they should become independent sovereign states in the usual sense. They were required to join the Economic Union, in which foreigners appointed by the UN had a casting vote, and this could not be changed without approval of the General Assembly. They had to allow free transit across the mutual border, and they had to accept agreements which Mandatory Palestine had made with other states. These are the reasons why I describe them as forming a confederation under UN Trusteeship.

  • A lot of the grief over Shimon Peres is grief over the end of the two-state solution
    • Thank you jon for raising this point. Palestine was a bi-national state from 1922 when it became a defined political entity until 1948 when the State of Israel was declared within the territory specified in the UN Partition Plan. The Palestinians rejected partition and the aim of the PLO was always to re-unite Palestine into a single democratic state with protection for the minority Jewish community. It was Yaser Arafat who eventually decided that the Palestinians had no alternative but to accept the continued existence of Israel, thus accepting the necessity for a two-state solution. He did however say that if there was a two-state reality he would continue to work for re-unification by political means. This is the process I have suggested in another comment on this page.

    • The two-state solution is not dead: it is only one UNSC resolution away. The two states already exist as legal recognized entities. According to UNSCR 242, Israel forces must withdraw from territory outside the 1949 Green Line. There must be an enforceable resolution demanding an end to the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. There is a majority for this in the Security Council: only the US veto stands in the way. Once Palestine has gained its freedom the two nations discuss as equals their future relationship and the 'final status issues' of Jerusalem, the settlers, the refugees and the mutual border. The negotiations might end up with two sovereign states; some kind of confederation; or even a voluntary union of two nations into a single state with a defined but open border between them (cf. Scotland & England). Neither Israel nor Palestine is going to allow itself to be absorbed by the other.

  • Israeli government projects 'ethnic cleansing' on Palestinians
    • The Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel called for the "in-gathering of the exiles". The Israel Government strongly encouraged Middle Eastern Jews to migrate to Israel. No-one knows how many came in response to that invitation, and how many preferred to stay but were forced out.

  • 'It's like we're born with guns in our hands': Young Israelis face prison as they resist military conscription
    • From the Mondoweiss email of 16 August: "Omri Baranes is a 18-year-old conscientious objector who served 67 days in military prison for resisting Israel's obligatory military draft in protest of the nearly half-century occupation of Palestine."

      The Zionist occupation of Palestine began a century ago with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The 1967 military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza extended the occupation into the remaining 22% of Palestine not previously under Israeli control.

      From this article: "I had never even seen a map that shows the green line,” Omri said incredulously, referring to the pre-1967 borders recognized under international law as the border between Palestine and Israel.

      The Green Line is the 1949 Armistice Line. The Armistice agreements say "the Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary". The Green Line has never been internationally recognized as anything other than a de facto border. People should please stop using the phrase 'pre-1967 border'. The Green Line is not a recognized border, and it did not move an inch in 1967.

      The only 'legal' border between two states is one they have agreed in a free and fair negotiation. Until there is such an agreement between Israel and Palestine, their mutual border is indeterminate. A fair border would give the Palestinians much more than the 22% of their homeland as envisaged in the Oslo process.

  • Israeli settler leader, rejected by Brazil, gets warm welcome in New York
    • @Mooser and others.

      Settlers who carry out criminal acts are criminals. Those who do not carry out criminal acts are not criminals simply by virtue of being settlers: the criminals are those people who actually promote and implement the settlement program.

      Israeli citizens are the primary victims of Zionist propaganda. It is in the schools, in the media, in the universities, in the synagogues, in the Knesset, and in the government. They are told that God gave all of Palestine to the Jews; that the Palestine Mandate gave a right for any Jew in the world to settle in any part of Palestine until the end of time; that the Jordanian occupation and annexation of the West Bank was illegal, and the Israeli forces liberated it in 1967; that the Palestinian territories are not occupied, merely disputed; that the Israeli government has determined that the ICJ and the High Council of the Geneva Conventions were wrong when they declared the settlement program to be illegal; and that the goal of the Palestinians is to destroy Israel.

      The only possible peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is one that is acceptable to the peoples on both sides. It won't be easy to convince Israeli Jews that they have been consistently lied to by the Zionists: and in particular it won't help to convince the settlers if we start off by branding them all as criminals. I know that among the settlers there are ordinary young families who are there simply because of the government offer of cheap accommodation: I have had internet conversations with them. They may well be in a majority. In most populations political activists are a minority, but those are the ones we read about. Ordinary people living ordinary lives do not make the headlines.

      @echinococcus. You accuse me of using "conscious propaganda to delay any action against this huge crime". Not at all. I am in favor of effective action against this huge crime as quickly as possible. I have many times said that the first step towards peace is an enforceable Security Council Resolution demanding a halt to the settlement building. There is already a majority for that, and it could pass tomorrow if the USA did not veto it. Do you have an alternative strategy? If so, let's hear it.

      You say that my opinion is "equivalent to banning any resistance to occupation soldiers, uniformed or not". Not at all. I accept that armed resistance to forces of the occupying state is legitimate. That was the policy of the PLO from its formation in 1964 to 1988, and it achieved nothing. Armed resistance could never defeat Israel, because it is the strongest military power in the region. Non-violent resistance is much more effective. It defeated apartheid in South Africa. It gained civil rights for blacks in the USA. It overthrew the dictator of Romania. Compare that with Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria where armed attempts to overthrow oppressive governments led only to failed states, massive humanitarian catastrophes and perpetual war.

    • @oldgeezer, @inbound39.

      We should be careful in our use of the word 'criminal'. Israel's program of building settlements for its own citizens in territory outside its borders which it has placed under military occupation is a violation of international law, namely the fourth Geneva convention. It is the State of Israel which has violated international law, not the settlers themselves. They are not criminals. Individuals are not expected to understand international law. They should obey the laws of their country. If Israel tells them it is legal for them to settle in the occupied territories, they cannot be blamed for doing so.

      We might loosely call Israel a criminal state because of its illegal behavior, but I think it better not to do this because it causes confusion with war crimes, which are committed by individuals, not states.

      The settlement program is considered a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and those individuals who are implementing the program are committing a war crime. I am not sure whether this would include members of the government, because normally they take collective responsibility for all government decisions, which cannot therefore be assigned to particular individuals. (It might be different in the case of Israel because votes by cabinet members on policy decisions seem to be public information.) The ICC could certainly go after the Military Governor who rules the occupied territories by decree. His authority comes from the international laws of war, and as a military officer it is his duty to disobey illegal orders.

  • Lawsuit aims to block U.S. foreign aid to Israel as clandestine nuclear power
  • Using Rep. Johnson's innocent comment to stain his reputation was the real crime
    • "To state the obvious, the word “termites” was used as a description of the settlements encroaching on Palestinian territory and is clearly not referring to human beings."

      Johnson's quote said that the "settlement activity" is "moving along". The settlement activity is carried out by human beings, Israeli government officials and the settlers themselves. It is an entirely appropriate metaphor to liken these people to termites.

      Of course, it is also offensive. But there is no human right not to be offended. Johnson has apologized, that should be the end of it.

      The accusation of anti-semitism is the usual nonsense cry we get from the Zionist side.

  • Michael Oren, historian, gets US history wrong to score a propaganda point
  • 'Conquerors of Jerusalem’: March celebrates Israeli occupation with messianic fervor
  • Resolution 242 does not mean what you may think it means
    • The two states have to work together to find practical ways in which they can live together as friendly neighbors to the benefit of both peoples. The Boundary Commission is at the heart of this process. Any solution must be acceptable to both peoples, or there will not be peace. Can you see the Palestinian people accepting 22% of their original homeland? I very much doubt it. In fact they have already rejected it when they voted for Hamas.

    • @sibiriak, in reply to yours of May 15, 2016, 8:30 pm.

      The 1949 Green Line is an Armistice Line, a line agreed between the parties which allows them continued control of the territory on their side of the line on a temporary basis until the conflict is resolved in a peace treaty which will specify the agreed border between the two sides. The Armistice agreements make clear that the line is made without prejudice to a final settlement.

      The PLO has said that, in the interests of peace, it will concede to Israel to territory it captured in 1948-49 and make the Green Line the basis of the border discussions. That does not mean the Green Line IS the border now; it will become the border when there is a peace treaty.

      The ICJ judgment on the Wall concluded that the Wall was built illegally under Geneva IV. Israel could of course build a wall on its side of the Green Line, because it was given control of that territory through the Armistice agreements. This does not mean that the Green Line was already recognized as the permanent border, as one of the judges clarifies in his comment attached to the judgement, which I quote.

      I am sorry I have to leave the conversation now. I hope to present another article in a few weeks time about the ideas of a confederation or union between the two states, which will no doubt touch upon the border question. I hope we can meet again to discuss that.


    • sibiriak: my profound apologies, I was overcome with emotion there. I withdraw the word hateful. But it is still a horrible idea.

    • It is a horrible hateful idea: apartheid in steel and concrete.

    • @Dan, @MHughes976

      Palestine's Declaration of Independence in 1988 did not define its borders, saying only that it was established "in the land of Palestine with its capital at Jerusalem". It was recognized by many states on that basis.

      The draft constitution of 2003 did accept the 1967 borders, but it was not adopted.

      The 2011 application for full Membership of the UN did accept the 1967 borders, but that was not successful.

      But here is the bummer: when upgrading the status of Palestine to observer state, Palestine again accepted the 1967 borders and the GA did indeed "confirm its commitment, in accordance with international law, to the two State solution of an independent, sovereign, democratic, viable and contiguous State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 borders [i.e the 1949 Green Line]”.

      I see a problem with that: is there an international law that says that the State of Palestine must be viable, contiguous and based on the Green Line? If so, it is a very strange law, because the Green Line leaves Palestine with only the West Bank and Gaza, a long way from contiguity.

      The fact that Palestine has already defined its border according to the Green Line will make it more difficult to persuade Israel to enter into serious negotiations over the border issue. But border negotiations have always been envisaged in the Oslo peace process, and the outcome I expect from the Boundary Commission would leave the West Bank largely intact and create contiguity from territory in the Negev, and therefore be in conformity with the GA resolution.

    • @hophmi you say:

      "I have no idea why Mondoweiss feels that a person with no training in international law, customary or otherwise, let alone standards of interpretations as they apply to UN resolutions and international treaties and conventions, or there International Court of Justice, should be given a platform here to give his layman’s opinion regarding 242".

      Your desire to suppress my views is a clear indication that, somewhere in the depths of your mind, you know that I am right.

    • @sibiriak @everyone

      You do not seem to have noticed my expectation of the context in which the border negotiations will take place. The first step is the end of the occupation and the recognition by Israel of the State of Palestine and the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two States, and the admission of Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations. The Green Line will be the de facto temporary border between the States, which is what it has always been. Then the two States can discuss, freely, as legal equals, their future relationship and the final status issues, including borders. The relationship will include at the very least an economic union: this is the only practicable way for it to work. The border will be an open border, crossing it will mean only passing a signboard, as in the EU. The line of the border is no big deal as far as everyday life is concerned.

    • Sibiriak: you talk of a legal consensus which recognizes the Green Line as the basis for a final settlement. But that legal consensus is based on a Zionistic interpretation of 242 that is not supported by the actual words of the resolution. Furthermore, legality is not determined by consensus, but by authoritative judgment.

      The Zionistic interpretation creates the impression that the SC has legalized Israel's territorial seizures of 1948-49. As Uri Avnery put it in a recent article, "the world has forgiven us for that". Well, the world should not forgive it or forget it.

      What I think the Palestinians should do is ask, through the GA, for an Advisory Opinion on whether the territory, outside its declared borders, added to Israel in 1948-49, was acquired by war, in violation of international law. It should also ask whether the regime imposed in those territories violated the sacred trust automatically created under Chapter XI of the UN Charter whenever a state administers the territory of a non-self-governing people. The answer will be yes to both.

      Armed with that judgment, Palestine will have a good case for asking for a substantial border negotiation along the lines I have suggested, and I believe the world will recognize the justice in that.

      I do not think it is a fantasy to suppose that Israel would give up some substantial territory in the Negev. The Negev is much less important to Israel than the West Bank, both emotionally and economically. It is good place to put the military and the nuclear reactor, but it has been hard to persuade Jews to settle there. I think Israel may well see an advantage in letting that go, and perhaps receiving some territory within the West Bank.

    • talknic: I still fail to understand what you are getting at.

      Do you agree with me that the border between two neighboring states must be determined by agreement; that there is no such agreement between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine; therefore that they must negotiate a border in order to arrive at a peace agreement; that the UNSC does not have authority to determine where the border must be; that Resolution 242 does not specify that the Green Line must be the basis of negotiation of the border; and that it has not legalized Israel's land theft in 1948-49?

      If not, why not?

    • irishmoses: you say that I seem to be saying ‘what might have been can still be so’. Not quite, that might be more appropriately applied to talknic, who hopes that Israel can be pushed back to the partition border. I do acknowledge that not all the facts on the ground can be reversed, even with massive pressure, but I think I have found a way that some of the '48-49 facts might possibly be reversed as well as some of the '67 facts, through a Boundary Commission.

    • Just: thank you for your kind words. I have always appreciated your comments here.
      Kind regards, David

      And thank you too Mooser

    • @hophmi

      It needs no legal analyses to understand 242. It is extremely simple. You just need to read the words. It says two things. (i) Israel forces mjust withdraw from territories occupied in the recent conflict; (ii) there should be recognized and respected borders.

      Does it say the Israel can keep some of the conquered territory? No.
      Does it say that the Green Line is to be the permanent border? No.
      Does it say the permanent borders must be agreed before Israeli forces withdraw? No.

    • Sibiriak: no I haven't any empirical evidence that a Palestinian state on 22% of historical Palestine would not be viable: that is why I asked for such evidence at the end of the article, to which I have had no response. But with 8.5 million Israelis on 78% of the land, and a similar number of Palestinians on 22%, the latter are likely to be very overcrowded and life could be very difficult.

      I agree that there is no perfect justice, and the most just situation is not necessarily the best situation. But the thought of the Palestinian people, guardians of the Holy Land, being squeezed into 22% of their homeland, breaks my heart, and must surely break Palestinian hearts.

      I did not mention "a small bit of the Negev". How much and where depends on what the Border Commission decides.

    • @hophmi
      The right of return is an individual right, not a collective one. Whether those who wish to return are willing to live peacefully must be decided on an individual basis - difficult I know, but that's what must be done.

      Refugees give up the right to return if they take up citizenship in another country.

    • @talknic, @shakur

      talknic: you seem to be saying, on the basis of a letter written in May 1948 defining the borders of Israel, that the partition line is, in 2016, the legal border between the States of Israel and Palestine, and that the Palestinians can therefore have no claim to territory within the partition line.

      This was not even true in 1949. When Israel refused to retreat from the Green Line, President Truman demanded that Israel provide territorial compensation to the Arabs. No-one said that the border was already determined, and could not be negotiated. In fact, the Conciliation Commission initiated negotiations, in which the Arabs asked for the territory of the Arab state of the partition plan, PLUS the Negev, to accommodate the refugees, since Israel was refusing to accept them.

      shakur: you are saying, on the basis of remarks by some "serious scholars" plus the "international consensus" that the Green Line is the legal border between the States of Israel and Palestine, and that the Palestinians can therefore have no claim to territory within the Green Line. But you, and those scholars, and the consensus, and many other people, have made a mistake: they have jumped to the conclusion that the withdrawal line is to become the basis of the permanent border. It is an easy mistake to make: I made it myself initially. But the words of the resolution do not say that: read the words again. Serious scholars do not define the law: judges do, and I quoted the words of a judge of the ICJ who said that "there is no implication that the Green Line is to be a permanent frontier".

      talknic and shakur: you cannot both be right; please consider the possibility that both of you are wrong.

      The 'legal' border between two neighboring states is one that they have agreed. There will not be a peaceful future for the two states if they have not agreed their mutual border. States are sovereign: no outside body can tell them where their border must be (unless of course they cannot agree, and go into arbitration). The border between Israel and Palestine has never been agreed: it needs to be negotiated.

      The negotiation must take into account the events of 1948-49. Israel committed a crime: the acquisition by war of territory outside its declared borders. There must be territorial compensation for this in order to produce a just and lasting peace and a viable Palestinian state.

      Both of your views are prejudicial to this cause. I implore you to consider what I have said and think again.

    • Hello Dan, no I am not a lawyer and have no training in international law. The responsibility of a lawyer is to twist the meaning of the law as far as he can in favor of his client. Only when he becomes a judge is he required to make unbiased decisions on the basis of the evidence. That is why I quoted a judge of the ICJ who has expressed the same view as myself as to whether the Green Line is to be the permanent border.

      I am better than a lawyer, I am a scientist. My whole career has been spent in defining concepts precisely and drawing conclusions on the basis of reliable evidence.

      Please go ahead with your comment, I look forward to reading it.

    • Thank you Antoine for commenting. To answer your questions:

      There was a long period of consultation, including with the Palestinians and Arab states, who comprehensively rejected any partition, proposing instead an independent Arab-majority Palestine with guarantees for minority rights.

      The GA did not have any right to impose partition. It recommended a Plan of Partition with Economic Union to the Mandatory and other Members, but also set up a Commission of three members to implement it. The resolution included a clause asking the Security Council to declare a threat to international peace and order if there was any attempt to prevent implementation of the Plan by force (which would have enabled the SC to implement it by force) but the SC did not respond.

      The Mandatory Power (Britain) refused to co-operate with the Commission in implementing the Plan against the wishes of the Arabs, and refused them permission to enter Palestine until 14 days before the end of the Mandate. The Commission asked the SC to provide troops to restore law and order in Palestine, thinking that the Arabs would then agree to partition. The SC declined.

      The UN Charter created a system of Trusteeship to take over from the Mandates if the mandated territory was not ready for independence. When it became clear that the partition plan was leading to all-out war, the US State Department tried to replace it with a period temporary trusteeship, and was still arguing for this in the UN on the evening of May 14, 1948, when news came in of Israel's Declaration and its recognition by President Truman. The next day the GA withdrew the Commission.

    • Hello, Mysterioso, thank you for reminding us of that important bit of history. The GA made a huge error in admitting Israel to Membership when it was still at war with Syria, and in the middle of peace negotiations in Lausanne where Israel was refusing to let any refugees return or return any of the territory it had captured in the war. And yes, it should have been suspended many years ago.

    • Shakur: thank you so much for your thoughtful and informative comment. Of course, I disagree with your disagreement.

      1. You say "It was understood then and it is understood now by any serious scholar on this issue that the only change to the ’67 borders would be “minor” and “mutual” landswaps, nothing else". Surely the legal effect of the resolution is determined by the words of the resolution, not by what some serious scholar thinks it ought to mean. The words of the resolution say nothing about the position of any borders.

      2. Surely the border between two adjacent states can only be agreed by those two states? The UN and the international consensus can put forward ideas, but those ideas are not legally binding. Nowhere in the Charter is the UN given the authority to tell two states where their border must be.

      3. You say that the Arab states and the PLO have accepted the Green Line (o.k, I give in, the 67 borders). Now I am not on firm ground here because I am still researching this topic, but I think that there is misunderstanding of various statements made in which they accepted resolution 242, and that was taken to be an acceptance of the 67 borders because of the prevailing false belief that what was 242 specified. As far as I have determined so far, the PLO did not explicitly accept the idea of a Palestinian state consisting only of the West Bank and Gaza until the Clinton parameters: and that of course was part of a failed negotiating process, not a commitment to which they can be held.

      4. You say "the ICJ ruling of 2004 confirms that territory outside the Green Line is “Occupied Palestinian Territory”. This reference is not made to anything on the Israeli side of the ’67 borders." You cannot draw any conclusion from this, because the ICJ was not asked about the status of territory inside the Green Line.

      5. You cannot get peace unless you have justice. In 1948-49 Israel stole 23% of Palestine from the Palestinians. The Palestinian people will not and should not accept a settlement that does not compensate them with sufficient territory to make a contiguous and viable state.

      6. I did not "interpret" the quotes from Rusk and Caradon. I pointed out that their interpretation was not supported by the words of the resolution.

    • @talknic May 12, 2016, 11:58 am. I completely fail what you are trying to say in this post.

      I say that the border between two states can only defined by agreement. If one state makes a unilateral declaration of the mutual border, the other is not bound to accept it, just because external states have recognized it.

    • silumcuz: "Israel has no right to exist in any form on Palestine". I agree. The creation of Israel cannot be justified by the Jewish right to self-determination, by the Mandate for Palestine, by the Partition Plan, or any system of law, justice or morality known to mankind. It was accompanied by horrific crimes against the Palestinian people, which are ongoing to this day.

      But it is impossible to rewind history back to 1917 and start again. Israel is recognized by a majority of the world's states, as is Palestine. Two nations exist in Palestine, and there is no possible political process which can make either disappear. The two nations have distinct identities, one as a mainly Jewish state, and the other as a mainly Arab and Islamic state. The only possible peaceful future is one in which the two peoples share the land as good neighbors.

      We cannot change the past: but what we do in the present does create the future. We need a vision of a better future, and then work out practical ways to achieve it.

    • Talkback, thank you for commenting. Of course the refugees have a right to return, I did not say otherwise. But they are human beings who have a right to decide for themselves where and how they want to live their lives. In my view, the most just solution is that they should be be given that opportunity.

    • talknic, re your comment May 12, 2016, 9:27 am "Why is the border between Israel and Palestine in a different category to the borders with neighboring states?"

      Well, I think I explained that, but here goes again. The borders between Israel and the neighbors were the same as those between Mandatory Palestine and the neighbors, and recognized as such on all sides. The border between Israel and Palestine was announced unilaterally by Israel, and recognized by powers outside the area, but it was not recognized by the Arab States or the representatives of the Palestinian people. The border between two states has to be established by agreement. Although Israel's border declaration is binding on itself, in the sense that territory outside those borders, obtained by war, is legally not part of Israel, it is not binding on Palestine. Therefore the border is indeterminate, and open to negotiation. There was an attempt at that negotiation at Lausanne in 1949. Israel's opening and final offer was everything inside the Green Line: the Arabs wanted the area of the Arab state in the partition plan, PLUS the Negev.

    • Hello Yonah. Please do not accuse me of being lawyerly. The responsibility of a lawyer is to twist the meaning of the law as far as he can in favor of his client. That is, until he becomes a judge, when he must decide cases on the basis of the evidence without any bias. That is why I quoted Judge Al-Khasawneh.

    • Hi talknic: "The only ‘negotiations’ were how and when withdrawal would take place." Absolutely. However, I am not sure whether you accept my contention that the border between Israel and Palestine is in a different category to the borders with neighboring states, and does need to be negotiated.

    • pabelmont: thank you for commenting. I agree that there needs to be a great deal of pressure on Israel from the UN, and also from the BDS movement. The first step is an enforceable SC resolution demanding a complete halt to the settlement activity. Demanding demolition of the settlements and removal of the settlers won't work. The SC would not vote for it, and Israel would fight even NATO to stop it. What to do about the settlements can be worked out later. The second step is an enforceable SC resolution demanding an end to the occupation of the West Bank. The modalities of the withdrawal need to be worked out between Israel and Palestine under UN auspices, and with a UN peace-keeping force, as suggested by the Arab states many years ago.

    • Harry Law: Thank you for commenting. I agree that the US veto is the biggest stumbling block to progress. Ultimately that depends on the American people. American politicians need to realize that they need votes more than they need money. How about starting an internet campaign where citizens can pledge that they will never vote for a politician who takes Zionist money?

      Another problem is that the PLO seems to have accepted the Zionistic interpretation of 242. (I have another article coming up about that.) They need to be convinced that the Israeli land theft of 1948-49 has not been legalized, and that Palestine has a good case for territorial compensation, as demanded (secretly, and so without effect) by President Truman.

  • Reebok backtracks on Israel Independence Day-inspired sneaker (Updated)
    • @talknic "If they were non-Jewish Israeli citizens and took up permanent citizenship in a country other than that of return, they abandoned Israeli citizenship.

      If they were from territories the Israeli Government itself claimed on May 22nd 1948 were 'outside the State of Israel' … 'in Palestine' and took up permanent citizenship in a country other than that of return, they abandoned Palestinian citizenship."

      Not necessarily. Not all states require immigrants who become citizens to renounce previous citizenships. Not all states require emigrants who become citizens of another country to renounce their original citizenship. Article 12 of the 2003 Draft Constitution of Palestine says:

      "Palestinian nationality shall be regulated by law, without prejudice to the rights of anyone who legally acquired it prior to May 10, 1948 or the right of any Palestinian who resided in Palestine prior to this date and fled, was forced to immigrate, or prevented from returning thereto. This right passes on from fathers or mothers to their offspring. It does not cease or lapse unless voluntarily relinquished in the manner prescribed by law. A Palestinian cannot be deprived of his nationality. The acquisition and relinquishment of Palestinian nationality and the rights and duties of those with multiple citizenship shall be regulated by law."

    • No-one knows how many of the Jews moving to Israel from Arab countries after the 1948-49 war were refugees. Israel's Declaration called for the "in-gathering of the exiles". Many were responding to that call, and migrated of their own free will. Anyway, they ceased to be refugees when they adopted Israeli citizenship. You might like to read the book "Sipping from the Nile" about a Jewish family in Cairo in those times. Although they were known to support Zionism, they felt no pressure to leave until Israel attacked Egypt in 1956.

  • A new proposal for confederated states (without any idea of how to get Israel to comply)
    • This is not actually a new proposal, in fact, if you read the UN Partition Plan carefully, freedom of transit was included as well as a full economic union.

      Uri Avnery has been talking about a confederation for years, having initially discussed it with Yasser Arafat.

      It is clear that two completely independent sovereign states won't work: the land is too small and the infrastructure and economies too inter-related. I disagree with the Guardian piece on two points. The so-called 1967 border ( i.e the 1949 Green Line) has no legitimacy at all. (I have an article coming up about that on Mondoweiss very soon: Annie, please nudge Phil if you have the chance.) Palestine deserves and needs much more territory than the 22% of their historic homeland outside the Green Line. Also, complete freedom to change residence would result in a rush of die-hard Zionists into the West Bank and Gaza in pursuit of the Zionist dream of settling all of the land from sea to river.

  • 'Her absurd generals, her military junk' -- Daniel Berrigan's prophetic speech on Israel in '73
    • Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in an attempt to recover their sovereign territories, Sinai and Golan, which Israel had been occupying since 1967.

    • Rodney, I am so pleased to have met a like-minded fellow Brummy so far from home. I was born in 1944; it seems that the Israel-Palestine conflict has been a background to my whole life. I am afraid I may die before it is solved. That is why I support Mondoweiss. Only pressure from the USA can bring Israel to heel, and that won't happen until the American public have a better understanding of the real truths of the I/P situation. Mondoweiss is making a huge contribution to this. I hope we meet again here soon.

    • What is the correct name for what I so ignorantly call the "European Union"?

  • J Street is in denial of one-state 'consensus'
    • @ diasp0ra "how is this anything but a one state reality?" See the response by Sibiriak. The present situation has some factors in common with a single state, but also some differences. I suggest that my description of Palestine as a state under occupation by another state, Israel, is more realistic and provides a better route towards a final solution of the conflict. As I said, I believe the next step is for an end to the occupation/blockade, and that this could be achieved by an enforced UN resolution.

      @Sibiriak. "Israeli Zionists will never willingly agree to the total destruction of Zionism, which is what a single democratic state means".

      It does not necessarily mean that. Once Palestine has gained its independence, the two states will have to negotiate the nature of their mutual relationship, as well as their mutual border (and Palestine needs, deserves and can make a good case for much more territory than the West Bank and Gaza).

      The two states could unite as two semi-autonomous nations within a single democratic sovereign state, along the lines of the England/Scotland model. This would not satisfy those Zionists who demand all of biblical Eretz-Israel, but it does satisfy the 1897 Zionist ambition of the establishment for the Jews of a "publicly and legally assured home in Palestine" which was taken up in the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine.

    • There is no "one-state reality". There are two states, Israel and Palestine, each with their banners flying at the United Nations, and each recognized by a majority of the world's states. The border between the two states is indeterminate, but the territory of Palestine includes, at a minimum, the West Bank and Gaza, because UNSC Resolution 242 says that Israeli forces must withdraw from "territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict". That Palestinian territory is under military occupation or blockade by Israel. That is the reality.

      Since the two states already exist, a one-state solution can only come about as a result of a voluntary agreement between the two. An agreement would not be voluntary if Palestine had to negotiate while under the duress of occupation and blockade. Palestine must achieve independence first. An end to the occupation must be the next step towards a peace agreement, and there needs to be a Security Council Resolution demanding this.

  • 'An Arab is an Arab'
    • There is a book by Haim Gerber, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called "Remembering and Imagining Palestine" which traces the development of the distinct Palestinian identity from the time of the Crusades, as well as discussing the later development of Palestinian nationalism.

  • Denouncing Iran deal, Democratic Rep. Maloney mixes up Asia and Africa
    • "The ink was not even dry before they [Iran] were announcing Death to America, Death to Israel. Osama bin Laden has taught us when they say they’re going to kill you, believe them…"

      The Supreme Leader has once again explained the slogan "Death to America" on his website, in his recent Letter to Western Youth:

      "And you should know that your slogan, your “Death to America” and the cry that the people of Iran let out enjoys a rational and powerful source of support. It is also clear that “Death to America” does not mean death to the people of America. The people of America are like other peoples. It means death to American policies and to arrogance. This is what it means and it has a rational source of support. Our Constitution and our fundamental, deep and reasonable thoughts are based on this. If we explain this to any people, they will love, cherish and accept it."

      Of course, there is no connection between his views and those of Osama bin Laden.

  • After 22 years it's time to stop pretending about the peace process
    • pabelmont: "And since the pretence of ownership of OPTs has gone on for 48 years, and the pretence of ownership of the pre-1967 Israeli territory is only 17 years longer (67 years), perhaps Israel should be required to give up some of that territory as well."

      Yes, Israel should certainly give up some of the territory captured in 1948-49 and illegally incorporated into the state.

      Given that Israel within its present de facto borders has a population of some 8 million, and that the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip plus refugees with a right to return amounts to some 9 million, it is hard to see how squeezing those 9 million into 22% of historic Palestine could possibly lead to a viable Palestine or a just and lasting peace.

    • Sibiriak,

      "In that and numerous other passages, the ICJ makes it clear that under international law, the “Green Line” (not Israel’s original UN-mandated border) is the dividing line between Israeli territory and Occupied Palestinian Territory."

      Yes, but we must be careful not to read into that the notion that the Green Line is recognized as Israel's 'permanent' border, or even as the basis for discussion of the permanent border. No court or international body or UN Resolution has said that. Territory within the Green Line is de facto Israeli territory, not de jure.

    • michelle, your are right, replacing Israeli occupation forces with UN peace-keepers is a good idea, and is in fact part of the Arab peace plan.

    • Samer Jaber is absolutely right to declare the so-called peace process a sham. The process started in Oslo in 1993 was invalid from the start, because Palestine recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, whereas Israel did not even recognize that there was a place called Palestine. Twenty two years have been wasted.

      But I do not conclude from this that "it is now time to declare the two-state solution well and truly dead". There has been one real achievement of the last 22 years, and that is the increasing recognition given internationally to the State of Palestine. Both Israel and Palestine are formally recognized by a majority of the world's states, and both are included in the United Nations system. The world as a whole (excluding the US and a few other, mainly English-speaking, states) clearly understands the situation: the two states exist, but Palestine is occupied by Israel.

      A two-state solution could be achieved if the Security Council were willing to recommend Palestine for full Membership, enforce international law, put a stop to settlement building, and demand an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade of Palestinian territory.

      The American people have the power to prevent a US veto of such a resolution. Wake up, organize, educate, campaign, make clear to your politicians that your votes cannot be bought, and that you will never vote for any politician who accepts Zionist money.

  • J'lem mayor warns Palestinians in holy site clashes: 'if they use violence we will hunt them'
    • Froggy: "Yet it is fine for Jews to worship walls and rocks." That is a bit unfair. They are not worshiping the walls and rocks. They like to worship God in places and buildings that have historical associations with their religion or have historically been consecrated for such worship. So do Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Christians. So do Muslims.

      The real idolatry in Zionaism is the worship of the Land of Israel. One Zionist told me that "the Land of Israel plays the same role in Judaism as does Jesus Christ in Christianity."

    • From Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad (my emphasis):

      "Every where about the Mosque of Omar are portions of pillars, curiously wrought altars, and fragments of elegantly carved marble–precious remains of Solomon’s Temple. These have been dug from all depths in the soil and rubbish of Mount Moriah, and the Moslems have always shown a disposition to preserve them with the utmost care.. The designs wrought upon these fragments are all quaint and peculiar, and so the charm of novelty is added to the deep interest they naturally inspire. One meets with these venerable scraps at every turn, especially in the neighboring Mosque el Aksa, into whose inner walls a very large number of them are carefully built for preservation.

  • 'NYT' misrepresents Iran's prediction about 'Zionist regime' to mean 'Israel'
    • There were many crimes committed by the Zionist leadership in the founding of Israel, and there have been many crimes committed by the State of Israel subsequently. But that does not mean that the existence of Israel is, in itself, 'illegal'. There is no world government, and hence no system of law higher than that of a sovereign state. That is the meaning of 'sovereignty'. The UN Charter is treaty law, applicable only to states that are Member States. There is no body that has the authority to say that Israel does not exist, or that it must cease to exist. The decision by one state to recognize another is a sovereign decision of that state. I call Israel a 'legal entity' because other states say it is a state, and there is no law that can force them to say it is not: indeed, according to the Montevideo Convention, recognition is irrevocable.

      I use exactly the same argument to say that Palestine is a 'legal entity'.

    • Echinococcus:

      I did not say "Zionists", I said Jews. Many, many Jewish citizens of Israel are intelligent and humane people, with a genuine desire to live in peace with Palestinians. Of course they support the continued existence of Israel, but this does not mean that they are Zio-supremacists.

      The two-state solution is not a 'pipe dream'. The two states already exist as legal entities. An independent Palestine could be achieved tomorrow if the Security Council was willing to enforce international law and demand an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

      The real pipe dream is that the "application of force to the Zionist entity" will solve the problem. Application of force in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya did indeed remove oppressive regimes, but left the people of those territories in a much worse state than before.

    • Kris:

      "So it will have to be a non-peaceful solution. Why should it matter what the Israeli Jews want if what they want is to continue to oppress the Palestinians?"

      Of course the Zionist regime should be stopped from oppressing Palestinians. Time and time again history has shown that the most effective way of overcoming oppression is by non-violent civil resistance. Examples: civil rights for black Americans, majority rule and the end of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of Ceaucescu in Romania, power sharing in Northern Ireland, the Arab spring inTunisia.

    • Danaa: you say "Why is it so important for Israel to remain a “Jewish” state? haven’t the past 50 years demonstrated that this is the last thing the Jews of Israel need?"

      You may be right, but as a non-Jew my opinion is irrelevant. I am simply pointing out that there cannot be a peaceful solution unless it is acceptable to the Israeli population, and what the majority population in Israel wants is to be part of a Jewish state.

      I should qualify that. I am using the term "Jewish state" as Ben-Gurion once defined it: "a state with a Jewish majority". There are certain aspects of the present day "Jewishness" of Israel that belie its claim to be a democratic state with equal rights for all citizens: the classification by the state of all citizens into Jewish and non-Jewish categories; the discrimination against the non-Jews in around 50 laws; the electoral system which, although it gives everyone a vote, in 67 years has only ever resulted in, I am told, a single non-Jewish government minister. I do not think the international community would recognize a peace treaty which did not put a stop to these practices.

      I agree entirely that the Jews need the Palestinians and the Palestinians need the Jews. Indeed, they can hardly avoid each other, crammed together as they are in a small piece of land (especially if large numbers of the refugees choose to return). That is why I think their long term future will be as a single state, formed by a union of the two nations in which each retains its identity.

    • Not at all. I have no opinion whatsoever on what is the essential character of Jewishness, or which Jews are pale imitations of which other Jews, or of which Jewish sects if any should play what role if any within Israeli society and governance. That is not for me to say.

      You have said twice that you think I have a low opinion of Jews. That would make me a racist. There is no justification in anything I have written to support such a conclusion. I ask you to withdraw and apologize for that remark.

      I have proposed a future for Israel and Palestine as two largely autonomous nations united into a single state, with a defined but open border between them, along the lines of the England/Scotland model. That would enable the two peoples to share the land but retain their national identities.

      Please, try to be more constructive in your comments. I would welcome well-argued criticism of my ideas.

    • I am sorry that I am tied up with domestic affairs and can only give a brief reply to some of the people who have commented on my previous post.

      Diaspora: I agree that the occupation is not the real problem: I worded that badly. What I should have said is that ending the occupation is an essential first step in resolving the conflict. I am not suggesting that Palestine should be limited to the '1967 borders' i.e the West Bank and Gaza. The border between Palestine and Israel needs to be negotiated with the help of a Boundary Commission under UN auspices. Palestine can make a very strong case that it need and deserves much more territory as compensation for land stolen by Israel in 1948-49.

      I agree that the positions of both peoples are not equally valid. But to me it is self-evident that there cannot be a lasting peace unless it is acceptable to both peoples. This situation is quite different to that in South Africa. In my view, the probability that the Israeli people will allow themselves to be absorbed by Palestine, or that the Palestinian people will allow themselves to be absorbed by Israel, is zero.

      Mooser: when I say that the majority of Israeli people want to preserve their Jewish identity, I mean as it is now in Israel. Not necessarily the same as that of Jewish people outside Israel.

      Bandolero: you say "a simple UN sanctioned boycott of military sales to Israel will bring the racist Zionist regime over Jerusalem down". I don't see any basis on which you can come to such a conclusion.

    • Mooser: the human race has divided itself into nations, with different languages, different governing systems, different religions, different myths, different customs, different architecture, different music, different art, different food, etc.That is a fact. It is also a fact that individuals value their national identities.

      The only peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is one which would be acceptable to both peoples, and that is one that allows them to preserve those identities. The example I always give is that of the relationship between England and Scotland. The Union has been successful because the two nations have preserved their national identities, not only in the cultural sense, but also in terms of national institutions. They have different legal systems, different established churches, national football teams playing in international competitions, and in modern times Scotland has had its own parliament and a great deal of autonomy in local governance. I suggest this sort of arrangement would be a good model for Israel and Palestine to follow.

      Israel declares itself to be a Jewish state, and its official religion is Orthodox Judaism. Palestine declares itself as an Arab state, and its official religion is Islam. Islamic Sharia is a main source of legislation.

      Can you really think that either of these peoples would vote in a referendum for a single homogeneous secular state as proposed by Abunimah?

      I cannot understand why you think that my recognition that Israeli Jews have a national identity means that I have a low opinion of Jews.

      I did not appreciate your attempted joke about the Soviet Union. I was making an important point. Once the State of Israel was recognized by the two superpowers, there was no possibility that Israel could be made to disappear, as Khamenei still vainly hopes.

    • Khamenei's policy is that Palestinian resistance should be supported, and international pressure applied, leading to a return of the refugees and the re-unification of Palestine as a single state. As a result, Israel would disappear as a separate political entity, and there would be no Jewish state. This is also the policy of the Palestinian and other 'one-staters' such as Ali Abunimah and Ramzy Baroud (see and

      These people are living in a dreamworld. Once the State of Israel had been recognized by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1948 there was no going back. There was no progress in resolving the conflict until 1988 when Yasser Arafat decided to accept the reality of the existence of Israel and declare the State of Palestine. Arafat blundered in accepting the Oslo Accord, because Israel made no reciprocal commitment to the two-state solution. Twenty -two years have been wasted on a fruitless and invalid process.

      It is now rumored that Abbas is about to annul the Accords and declare Palestine a 'State under occupation' [].

      I hope he does, because it will focus minds on the real problem, the occupation. The final status issues can only be solved, in my view, after Palestine has gained its independence and is able to negotiate as an equal, a full Member State of the UN.

      There may eventually be a single state, but that can only come about as a voluntary union or federation between Israel and Palestine, in which each retains its essential character as a Jewish or Arab nation respectively.

  • Understanding the Partition plan
    • Sibiriak: thanks so much for that reference which confirms my own research. It is wrong on one point, Ben-Gurion did not "remove all references to the partition plan" from the Declaration. He replaced one explicit mention of the partition plan by a reference to the UN Resolution. In fact he greatly emphasized the importance of the partition resolution compared with previous drafts.


      and also: THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

      The story of the composition of the Declaration, including the three drafts, is on my website at

    • SHOULD, not MUST. There must be many cases when states have been recognized when they still have border disputes with neighbors.

      As to the question of independence and sovereignty mentioned in the jcpa article, it is incorrect, as I have learned from hostage during this discussion. The UN declined to define what is meant by the word 'state', or to distinguish it from 'nation'. It was certainly prepared to admit as Member States the Jewish and Arab states of the Plan, although they were not really independent of each other and there were severe restrictions placed on the extent of their sovereignty.

      I have always understood that the decision by one state to recognize another state is a sovereign decision of that state, which cannot be restricted by 'traditional legal criteria' as claimed by jcpa. Anyway, Palestine has been recognized by a large number of states, and nobody except jcpa seem to be claiming that those states have violated international law by so doing.

      Perhaps hostage has something to say on this?

    • It looks to me that the telegrams to other states replaced "within frontiers.." to "on the basis of...". That's probably what Ben-Gurion would have done, given that he never had any intention of declaring borders.

      The New Zealand government probably read between the lines ands realized what he was up to.

    • hostage and talknic:

      The significance of the formal request for recognition is that, in order to achieve recognition by the US, Israel was forced to LIMIT THE AREA of its claimed sovereignty: " proclaimed WITHIN THE FRONTIERS...."

    • Sibiriak: thank you for that well-argued response.

    • The Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance of September 1948
      said that "Any law applying to the whole of the State of Israel shall be deemed to apply to the whole of the area including both the area of the State of Israel and any part of Palestine which the Minister of Defence has defined by proclamation as being held by the Defence Army of Israel." By applying Israeli law in captured areas as soon as Israel had physical control those areas became de facto part of Israel - if you like, a creeping de facto annexation. (I call this the Israel Law Device). Maybe this is just semantics, but I cannot see this as a formal annexation because the latter would surely require a specification of the area to be annexed.

      The law Israel applied in some of the captured territory was Israel martial law. They regarded the territory as part of Israel, not territory belonging to someone else under military occupation according to the laws of war. So I do not see how the change from martial law to civil law makes any difference at all - the territory had already been annexed de facto - unless the legislation specifically said the armistice line was the boundary of the area affected. I am sorry I do not have time to look up the legislation (perhaps you can help by giving a link), but I very much doubt it mentions the armistice line specifically, because then Israel would have declared its borders, which it has always been reluctant to do, because that would place limits on its sovereignty.

    • Wow again! I was particularly struck by your reference to article 103 of the Charter: "In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."

      Has there ever been a formal examination of ways in which the obligations of Britain in the Mandate are in conflict with its Chapter XI obligations? No doubt we would say that the obligation to establish the Jewish National Home in Palestine conflicted with Britain's obligation to hold the territory as a sacred trust for the people of the territory: but Britain would say that by the time of the UN Charter the Jewish National Home already existed, and that the sacred trust extended to both the Arab and Jewish residents (at least to those who were not illegal immigrants.)

    • Wow! Thank you once again, Hostage, for sharing your immense knowledge with us. It will take me some time to digest it all.

      One question: "the act of formally annexing the Arab territory in November of 1966". I had no knowledge of such an act - please provide a reference. I am very surprised to hear of it. If Israel formally annexed Arab territory, that would amount to declaring the Green Line as its border, would it not? And that would mean that Israel disclaimed any sovereignty over the West Bank, would it not?

    • Point 1 of the Neturei Karta program is dissolution of the State of Israel by the UN. Israel was not created by the UN, as I hope my article makes clear. The UN is not a world government. Its Charter does not give it the power to dissolve sovereign states. The whole thing is cloud-cuckoo land.

    • Dear commenters. Thank you very much for your interest in my article. I always find that the Mondoweiss comments help me to clarify my thinking. I hope my writing is getting better as a result.

      I am sorry I have to leave the scene for a while. I look forward to meeting you next time.

      Kind regards, David

    • Tree:

      The South Africa situation was totally different, because South Africa already was one state, in which a minority community dominated a majority community.

      Former Palestine was partitioned in 1948: Israel was created and recognized as an independent sovereign state. It is constituted as a Jewish and democratic state, totally committed to maintaining a Jewish majority. No amount of pressure could force it to absorb the West Bank and Gaza with their populations, and there is no legal basis for such action. Nor could the residents of Gaza and the West Bank be forced to accept Israeli sovereignty.

      To go from today's situation, where the two states exist as legal entities, directly to one state
      means that one of those states will have to disappear: and it wouldn't be Israel.

    • Tree: we do not know what Israel will accept if put under pressure, because it has never been put under pressure. The US veto has ensured that.

      The question the 'one-staters' never answer is this: what political process will take us from where we are now to a one-state solution?

    • You are wrong. The Palestinians have accepted the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.

    • zaid: a two-state solution does not necessarily prevent return of the refugees. That is an individual human right which cannot be negotiated away. What is required is for international law to be enforced by the Security Council.

      The only just solution to the refugee problem in my view is that they be helped to make their own individual decisions as to what they want to do: some may want to return to their original locations in Israel, some to Palestine, some to stay in their current Arab host states, and some to go to other countries in the world.

    • Sibiriak, sorry, I can only answer you briefly.

      1. I was not talking about the anticipations of the Zionists, but of UNSCOP.
      2. I cannot give evidence of what might have happened.
      3. At Lausanne in 1949 Ben-Gurion said that if Gaza was given to Israel, citizenship would be given to all its inhabitants PLUS all the refugees there. He was clearly no longer worried that Israel would not have a large enough Jewish majority.

    • Diasp0ra: Ultimately, the two-state solution will not work. That was already clear at the time of the partition plan, which is why the Plan did not actually create two independent states. That is what the article is all about.

      The argument is about what we mean by a one-state solution, and how do we get there. Suppose you are right, and Israel annexes area C? What do you envisage happening then? What possible political process can turn that into a one-state solution? I have never seen any one-state advocate discuss that question.

      Since the two states already exist as legal entities, any final solution can only be achieved by way of a two-state solution (unless one of the states suddenly decides to dissolve itself - no chance).

      There is a very clear process that CAN produce an interim two-state solution: the enforcement of international law by the Security Council. Israel has to end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and Palestine has to gain its independence. Then the two States will be be able to work together as equals to determine their future relationship.

    • I think the authors you quote overstate the objections to the Plan. It was designed for an evolving situation. The Jewish state was expected to receive large numbers of immigrants from Europe. Also, there was to be a period in which the minority community in each state could voluntarily change citizenship and move to the other state. If the Plan had been accepted by the Arabs, and implemented as envisaged, the Jewish state would soon have had a much larger Jewish majority, and there would not have been a need for ethnic cleansing. When the Arabs rejected the Plan, and the Zionists decided to go ahead with declaring an independent state, it was clear that the Arabs within the area of that state would be extremely hostile, and that the project would fail unless the Arabs were expelled.

    • Brewer: thank you for commenting. I liked your blog article. Article 2 may suggest to some people that a Jewish State is intended, but this is a mis-reading. I discussed this in detail in my previous Mondoweiss article "Understanding the Jewish national Home".

    • Sibiriak: I agree with you on that. Those who keep saying the 'two-state solution is dead' are essentially asking the Palestinians to surrender and hope for the best.

    • If only...

      Executive Order 13224 applies to persons responsible for terrorism directed against the United States. I doubt a case against Netanyahu for terrorism against the US could be made.

    • ritzl: "Any equitable, long-term solution to this problem will have to go through a universal-suffrage, one-state phase first."

      There is less chance of this than a two-state first stage. The reason is that Israel will not give citizenship to non-Jewish West Bank residents, because this would result in Israel ceasing to be a Jewish state. Nor would those West Bank residents be willing to give up their Palestinian citizenship for Israeli citizenship. Nor would the State of Palestine be willing to be absorbed into the State of Israel.

      The continued occupation and colonization by Israel of land outside its borders has already been determined to violate international law. If the Security Council would accept its duty to enforce the law, the occupation would end and there would be two independent states.

    • Thank you Denis.

      As to your point 1, no the Arabs did not in general support the Nazi's, except for one notorious character, Amin al-Husseini. You can read his story on Wikipedia.

      The High Commissioner rigged the election for Mufti of Jerusalem, giving the post to Amin, and also created a new job for him as President of the newly formed Supreme Muslim Council. He was the most powerful Arab politician in Palestine, and when the disparate Arab groups got together in 1936 to form the Arab Higher Committee, he became its Chairman. This group lead the Arab revolt of 1936-39, and Amin fled he country fearing arrest. He did indeed collaborate with the Nazis during the second world war.

      As to your point 2, at the end of the Mandate most of the Jews in Palestine were Ashkenazi. However, during the 1948-49 war and afterwards, up to a million middle eastern Jews (mizrahim?) moved to Israel: a combination of attraction to Israel and repulsion by the Arab states.

    • Mooser: please read more carefully. I did not say disarm the IDF, I said they should withdraw from territory captured in 1967. I did not say take Israel from the Zionists, I said take Palestine from the Zionists.

    • Steve C: I do not agree. Israel has a real problem with the West Bank: it has lots of Arab residents. Israel will not annex, because that would change Israel's demographic, making it no longer a Jewish state. It cannot maintain the status quo indefinitely, because the world is waking up to its illegal behavior. If a UN resolution demanded an end to the occupation, backed up by a threat of sanctions, plus some US sweeteners, then Israel would eventually submit.

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