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An Open Letter To Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

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Posted on May 17 2011 1:25 pm

Dear President Abbas:

You write in your New York Times op-ed column today that the Palestinians are ready for international recognition of a “long overdue Palestinian state.” You’re wrong.

You may well succeed in persuading the pro-Palestinian UN General Assembly to give you the vote of confidence you will be requesting this September, but you blew any chance to make a legitimate claim for international recognition of a Palestinian state by deciding to lie down with the Hamas terrorists.

The General Assembly can only act on your application for UN membership “upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” (Article 4). There are basic obligations that UN member states are expected to follow.

The United Nations Charter specifically requires in Article 2 that

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Your government partner, Hamas, vows to destroy the member state of Israel. Its charter says so. And its leaders continue to say so.

Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 11, 2011 (courtesy of MEMRI):

 Yunis Al-Astal: The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang.

…All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews.

 …In just a few years, all the Zionists and the settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.

 …When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region, with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate.

President Abbas, do these vile expressions of hate and the intent to massacre the Jewish people in Israel, coming from a Hamas MP and cleric and reflecting Hamas’s charter, represent your views?  They will be attributed to your government as long as Hamas is your partner.  

At minimum, you must publicly repudiate Hamas and end its participation in your government in order to begin to meet the UN Charter’s qualifications for membership. If not, even the Obama administration will be likely to veto any Security Council recommendation for Palestinian membership in the United Nations. If the General Assembly proceeds to vote anyway in support of your application for membership, it will be an empty symbolic act having no legal effect.

Choosing to stand with Hamas instead of against Hamas dooms any legitimate claim you might have for international recognition of a Palestinian state. But you won’t stand up to Hamas because you are afraid of its power. You also agree with Hamas’s underlying premise that Israel has no right to continue to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed, in your op-ed article, you gave away the fact that you agree with Hamas’s claim to the entirety of Israel – from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea – as the Palestinians’ “historic homeland.”

While you say that you are now looking only for recognition of a Palestinian state “on the 1967 border,” you wrongly insist that this represents only “22 percent of our historic homeland.” You write that once admitted to the United Nations as a member state, you will be in a stronger position to press your “core” issue of the return of Palestinian refugees to “their home and homeland” – now in the millions, counting all the descendants of the original refugees.

In other words, “22 percent” now as Step 1. Elimination of the Jewish state of Israel later as Step 2.

Sixty-three years after the Palestinians could have had their own independent state if they had accepted the United Nations’ original two-state solution, you are coming back to the UN demanding that it bail the Palestinians out of their own colossal blunder. But instead of coming in the spirit of contrition for all of the deaths and human suffering the Palestinians caused by rejecting the UN’s original plan and rejecting several peace proposals since that would have given the Palestinians most of the West Bank as well as Gaza, you still maintain that the Palestinians were the victims of some sort of international injustice:

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued. Indeed, it was the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes.

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

You are wrong about the history. There was no internationally recognized Arab Palestinian homeland to start with. There was a mostly barren land, owned by the non-Arab Turks for centuries before the British took possession after World War I.  Arabs who had migrated from surrounding Arab countries and Jews who had migrated from surrounding countries and from Europe, settled in this territory. The Jews, who had been promised a home of their own on their historic land under international law, agreed to the UN’s compromise partition solution. The Palestinians did not.

Some Palestinians were expelled from their homes, but many more left voluntarily because they believed their Arab neighbors’ promise that the Jews would soon be driven into the sea. They gambled their families’ future and they lost. Yet you continue the fiction that all of Israel belongs to the Palestinians and you justify the violence perpetrated over the weekend by mobs of Palestinians and their other Arab supporters whom you claim were just trying to “return to their families’ homes.”

Mr. Abbas, if you want international recognition for the Palestinian state you could have had sixty-three years ago, then publicly renounce Hamas and its friends. Give up your spurious “homeland” claims (including claims to any part of Jerusalem, which was forcibly taken by Jordan in violation of the UN partition plan and liberated by Israel to allow access by followers of all faiths).

In other words, demonstrate some responsible statesmanship and a true commitment to the peaceful co-existence of a Palestinian state and a Jewish state living side by side.

Joseph Klein is the author of a recent book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam.

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