Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Peace Process: Lessons to Be Learned from 66 U.N. Resolutions Israel Ignores

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Peace Process: Lessons to Be Learned from 66 U.N. Resolutions Israel Ignores

Article excerpt

The Peace Process: Lessons to be Learned From 66 U.N. Resolutions Israel Ignores

There is a disturbing lack of historical perspective to the Clinton administration's efforts during its first days in office to shield Israel from United Nations sanctions. Like former Secretary of State James Baker's repeated assertion that both sides must want peace for it to occur, the Clinton-Rabin agreement ignores the sorry record of the 26 years since Israel's conquest of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. During that period Israel has unequivocally demonstrated that it does not want peace in exchange for territory. Its insistence on expelling Palestinians who oppose the occupation and on establishing Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are only the latest manifestations of its desire to retain them. Equally important in revealing its true policy is Israel's successful record of resisting American and other peace initiatives over the years.

Israel has managed to retain what it has wanted most: East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

These include defeating such imaginative initiatives and tireless mediators as the U.N.'s Gunnar Jarring in the late 1960s, Secretary of State William Rogers' major peace proposals of 1969, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy of the mid-1970s, the lackadaisical journeys of Secretary of State George Shultz in the 1980s, and the intense Bush and Baker efforts of 1991 and 1992. The one success was Jimmy Carter's Camp David process.

However, the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was unique. It came at the expense of the Palestinians, which was by Israeli design, and in exchange for Sinai, to which Israel never laid claim. Moreover, Israel received in return for signing the peace treaty with Egypt commitments from the U.S. that have now reached a level of economic and military aid unsurpassed in our history.

The result is that Israel has managed to retain what it has wanted most: East Jerusalem and the West Bank. After so many diplomatic initiatives, it seems fair to conclude Israel does not want peace on any terms but its own.

An end to expulsions is only the latest demand of the international community on Israel, whose defiance goes back to its very beginnings. There remain on the books of the United Nations a collection of resolutions criticizing Israel unmatched by the record of any other nation.

These resolutions, which now number 66, contain the international community's list of indictments against the Jewish state. The basic issues were all spelled out even before the 1967 Security Council resolution calling for a land-for-peace settlement.

Core Issues and Major Themes

The core issues, as contained in resolutions passed before 1967, remain the Palestinian refugee problem, the status of Jerusalem, and the location of Israel's boundaries. These are the basic issues. They spring from 1948, not 1967.

The early U.N. resolutions call for Israel to repatriate or compensate the original 750,000 refugees of 1948-9 and to renounce Jerusalem as its capital and regard it as a corpus separatum, an international city dominated by neither Arab nor Israeli. (The U.S. position on Jerusalem is slightly different and, not surprisingly, closer to Israel's. It says Jerusalem should not be a divided city and its final status should be decided by the parties.) Finally, the original U.N. partition of Palestine awarded Israel an area only about three-quarters of its current official size. …

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