By: Morton A. Klein
August 30, 2010
ZOA To P.M. Netanyahu: After 10 Month Freeze, End Hardship To Jews – Allow Building As You Promised
Freeze doesn’t promote peace – PA peace actions would
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is urging the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to accede to international and U.S. pressure, for a continuation of the 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria which the Netanyahu government imposed in November 2009. The 10-month freeze, which is due to end on September 26, was adopted by the Israeli government after Prime Minister Netanyahu pleaded with the Knesset, the Cabinet and the Israeli people, including the Jews living in Judea and Samaria, to accept it as an exceptional, temporary measure, after which construction would immediately resume. The ZOA is urging the Netanyahu government not to renege on the commitment it made to resume building after ten months at the time of the implementation of the construction freeze.
If Israel were to extend the agreed upon length of the freeze, the message will be sent that, by applying pressure, Israel can be made to increase and expand any concession it has already made.
Also, the freeze has produced no pro-peace actions from the Palestinians. They haven’t arrested terrorists, outlawed terrorist groups and ended the incitement to hatred and murder against Jews that suffuses the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Worse, the PA has continued to make violent, extreme statements, glorify terrorists and enhance the culture of jihadist and nationalist violence, without whose ending no genuine peace is possible. They have even refused direct negotiations until now.
The PA not only has not fulfilled its commitments, it glorifies terrorists and violence. Only in the past week, Mahmoud Abbas praised Amin Al-Hindi, one of the senior planners of 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist operation, Abbas, PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and other high PA officials attended al-Hindi’s military-style funeral, and the PA official newspaper described him as “one of the stars who sparkled … at the sports stadium in Munich.” In July, Mahmoud Abbas even told Arab journalists in Jordan that, “’If you [the Arab states] want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.”
Moreover, it is absurd extending the freeze in order to facilitate negotiations with a non-peaceful interlocutor – the PA – when the PA does not even control the people and territory in question. At present, Gaza, which comprises 40% of Palestinian Arabs, is under the rule of Hamas terrorists, with their genocidal program, enunciated in their Charter, of destroying Israel and murdering Jews. Cross-border raids and rocket assaults upon Israel from Gaza would continue, regardless of any agreement that might be signed. Thus, not only is there a lack of peace and security in Gaza, but there is not even a single Palestinian governing authority or entity with which to negotiate, even if the PA under Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad were angels. Even if Abbas and Fayyad did all that was required of them and even if they had the requisite good faith, little would come of it.
The construction freeze not only prevents Jewish communities from growing and flourishing within already defined boundaries, as they have every right to do. It also involves extraordinary hardship: telling Israeli families that they may not add a room to their house or a floor to an apartment, or build schools in their communities, means that people must pick up and leave their homes and that children have to move from their communities and families to seek employment and housing elsewhere. It has also created a situation in which people have taken out mortgages on land purchases which they are liable to repay but who have been unable to build on their land.
There is no justification for a racist policy of discrimination that imposes these harsh conditions on any group, in this case, on Jews only. What would Western governments say if Israel imposed such conditions on Arabs only?
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA upholds the view that even if there were a sound moral or strategic reason for Israel to bar Jews, and only Jews, from building homes and enlarging their communities in Judea and Samaria, the biblical, legal and historic heartland of the Jewish people, the PA has done nothing since the construction freeze was instituted to justify any Israeli concession.
“In addition to continuing PA promotion of terrorism and hatred, the actual freeze on Jewish construction – unprecedented in the history of negotiations since Oslo – has achieved nothing. At no point during the 10-month freeze did the PA modify any of its positions or indeed make any concessions. At no point in the past has a freeze on Jewish construction ever been a condition or demand of negotiations and the PA only made it an issue after the Obama Administration came to office and publicly demanded that Israel institute such a freeze.
“If Palestinians really wanted Jews to stop building above all, they would stop incitement, quickly negotiate with Israel, hammer out a peace deal complete with borders for a Palestinian state and that would be the end of the issue. The truth, of course, is that they do not want a state alongside Israel – they want Israel’s destruction and therefore have refused every generous peace deal.
“Concessions like the construction freeze afford Israel no benefit or advantage, even with the U.S. The construction freeze instituted in November 2009 was specifically made in regard to Judea and Samaria and excluded Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem. Yet, the Obama Administration did not respond to this concession with any sustained pressure on the PA to make concession of its own. On the contrary, when Israel merely announced a housing project in eastern Jerusalem – as mentioned, an area explicitly excluded from the freeze – the Obama Administration condemned Israel (an extraordinary thing for one democracy to do to another, let alone over something so mundane) and manufactured a major crisis. The only result is that the PA has refused to make any concessions and the Arab League has refused to make any concessions. Israel would therefore be badly mistaken to think that extending an unjustified and discriminatory freeze will help it internationally. At best, it might produce a few days or possibly weeks of muted praise and reduced criticism, followed by the resumption of the usual chorus of bias and hostility, as the existing freeze did.
“Since Oslo, Jewish communities have not extended their boundaries. All development has been internal, and therefore no land that Palestinians might claim has been taken by Israel.
“Worse than achieving nothing of value or of imposing unjust burdens on innocent, law-abiding people, however, is the fact that a construction freeze is strategically dangerous for Israel. Judea and Samaria are unallocated territory under international law. The right of Jews to live there is affirmed in numerous international documents from the San Remo Conference onwards and was never extinguished by any subsequent, legally binding international agreement. A freeze which prevents communities from growing and flourishing means only one thing – that these communities must be stifled and the aim is that they should cease to exist. On no account must Israel repeat the mistake of agreeing to a construction freeze on Jews which affirms, if only indirectly, that Israel has no claim, or is relinquishing its claim to territory for which is actually possesses under international law a better title than any other government.
“Rarely do moral, legal and strategic arguments coincide so fully. Israel should not renew the construction freeze. The Obama Administration should not pressure Israel to extend the construction freeze which has been prejudicial of Jewish rights, unhelpful in creating the conditions for peace, harmed Israel strategically and encouraged the PA to make no concessions or reforms for peace by arresting terrorists and ending incitement. This freeze doesn’t bring peace – accepting Israel right to exist as a Jewish state, arresting terrorists and ending incitement does. President Obama should be pressuring the Palestinian Arabs to fulfill these obligations which can bring peace, not pressure Israel to continue the construction freeze, which will only make the Palestinian Arabs more intransigent and therefore impede peace.”