ZOA Concerned: Mideast Envoy Mitchell Blames Both Sides Equally; Says Settlements Main Problem; Rationalizes Palestinian Violence
January 23, 2009


Wash. Post: Mitchell Plan Was Flop.

Why Try Him Again?



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern over President Obama’s appointment of George Mitchell as his Mideast envoy dealing with the Arab war against Israel.  It’s surprising that Obama would appoint Mitchell since, as Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post said, “The Mitchell Plan of 2001 was a flop.  Why try the Mitchell approach again?”  And Aaron Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center said this week, “The appointment of George Mitchell would be a strong suggestion that Obama is going to free himself of the exclusive relationship that the US has had with Israel.” 


ZOA’s specific concerns include the fact that Mitchell has always made it clear that he believes both sides are equally at fault for the lack of peace.  He believed this even when terrorist Yasser Arafat headed the Palestinian Authority!   In fact, the reason there is no progress is the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to adhere to their written agreements to fight and prevent terrorism, arrest terrorists, end incitement to hatred and violence against Israelis and Jews in their schools, media, speeches and sermons, and refusal to accept its existence as a Jewish state that is the reason for the lack of progress.  After all, Israel has already given the Palestinian Arabs all of Gaza and half of Judea & Samaria with little to show for it except for the greatest amount of terrorism in Israel’s history.  And the United States and the world has given the Palestinian Authority billions of dollars in aid – more aid per capita than any country has ever received.


Evidence of Mitchell’s “equal blame” thesis include statements from the Mitchell Report of April 2001:


1.                  Israel and the Palestinian Authority must act swiftly and decisively to halt the violence,” – not the Palestinian Arabs must end their suicide bombings and terrorism, Israel has committed virtually no terrorism against the Arabs.

2.                  “There’s a high level of hostility and mistrust between the parties.”

3.                  “Fear, hate, anger and frustration have risen on both sides.”

4.                  “Neither party exercised restraint at the beginning of terror war in September 2000.”

5.                  Israel and the Palestinian Authority should reaffirm their commitment to existing agreements and should immediately implement a cessation of violence.”  Israel has fulfilled most of their commitments, the Palestinians have not.

6.                  “The Palestinian Authority and Israel should work together to establish a “cooling off period” and implement additional confidence building measures.”

7.                  “The Palestinian Authority and Israel should identify, condemn, and discourage incitement” – ignoring that it’s virtually all on the Palestinian Authority side.

8.                  “Palestinian Authority and Israel should undertake to preserve and protect holy places sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.”   Israel has always done this – Palestinians have destroyed Jacobs Tomb and other Jewish holy sites.

9.                  “Leaders on both sides must act and speak decisively to reverse dangerous trend of sense of futility and despair and a growing resort to violence.  They must rekindle the desire and drive for peace.” — Israel has always wanted peace – Palestinians have not.

10.             “Parties must protect human rights.”  — Israelis do; Palestinians don’t.

11.             “Each side accused the other of violations, specific undertakings and resolving their political differences peacefully.” – Israel has fulfilled their obligations, the Palestinians haven’t.

12.             “Through relationship of kinship, friendship, religion, community and profession, virtually everyone in both societies has a link to someone killed or seriously injured in recent violence.”—but there would be no deaths if the Palestinians stopped terrorism, stopped rocket attacks, and ended incitement to violence.

13.             “End the cycle of violence.”  — Palestinians terrorize, Israel responds.

14.             “We urge both sides to exhibit a greater respect for human life when demonstrators confront security personnel.” – Israelis do, Palestinians don’t.

15.             “Both sides expressed concerns about hateful language and images emanating from the other, citing numerous examples of hostile sectarian and ethnic rhetoric in the Palestinian and Israeli media, in school curricula and in statements by religious leaders, politicians and others.” – Palestinians incite to hatred and violence, Israelis don’t.

16.             “Their competing claims and religious differences have led to a grinding, demoralizing, dehumanizing conflict.”

17.             “We call on the parties to renew formal commitments to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and to refrain from incitement and hostile propaganda.  We condemn hate language and incitement in all its forms.  We suggest the parties be particularly cautious about using words in a manner that suggests collective responsibility.”  — Again, the Palestinians do this, Israel doesn’t.

18.             “Each side mistrusts the other, believing that it really doesn’t want peace.”  — It’s the Palestinians that have shown little interest in peace, the Israelis have made major concessions.

19.             “I believe a majority on both sides want a peaceful resolution.” — Polls (see later) show Palestinians don’t want peace.


Mitchell also inappropriately criticized Israeli actions in his Report.


1.                  He demanded that “Israel must freeze all settlement activity, including “natural growth” of existing settlements — meaning children of Jews in communities there would have to move and couldn’t live near their parents.  This is also a racist notion that Jews can’t live in Judea & Samaria but Arabs can live in Israel.  I guess Mitchell wants Jews in Judea & Samaria to stop having children.  He also says nothing about and apparently supports the fact that the Palestinian Arabs are massively and illegally building Palestinian settlements in Judea & Samaria.

2.                  He said that “settlements violate the spirit of Oslo,” when in fact there was no mention of settlements being frozen in the Oslo agreements that Arafat signed.

3.                  Demanded “Israel lift closures, ensure that security forces and settlers refrain from destruction of homes and roads, trees and agricultural properties in Palestinian areas.  These measures have disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs.” — Closures stop terrorists, some homes and trees protect terrorists to enable them to shoot onto roads.

4.                  “Israel appears not to comprehend the humiliation and frustration that the Palestinians endure everyday as a result of living with the effects of occupation, sustained by the presence of Israeli military forces and settlements in their midst.”  — If there was no terrorism, there would be no Israel forces.  Their alleged humiliation isn’t fatal, Palestinian Arab terrorism often is. 

5.                  He said, “the widely seen images of the killing of 12-year-old Muhammed al-Dura in Gaza, shot as he huddled behind his father, reinforced the perception that Israel had contempt for the lives and safety of Palestinians.”  — The al-Dura killing was a staged fraud.

6.                  He said, Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount (September 2000) “was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen.” – Why can’t a Jewish leader visit Judaism’s holiest place, the Temple Mount, without offending the Palestinian Arabs.


George Mitchell also promotes the false anti-Israel belief that Jews living in communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is the biggest obstacle to peace – not Arab terrorism or Arab incitement by quoting former Secretary of State James Baker.  Baker said “I don’t think there is any bigger obstacle to peace than the settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an enhanced pace.”  Mitchell further states, “This policy described by Baker has been, in essence, the policy of every American administration over the past quarter century.”


Mitchell Explains Away Palestinian Terrorism 


Shockingly, Mitchell actually seemed to claim that Jewish communities existence and growth is a basis for Palestinian violence saying, “Israel has a responsibility to rebuild confidence, a cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustain unless Israel freezes all settlement construction activity.”


Then Mitchell seemed to express again a rationale for Palestinian terrorism.  He said, “We acknowledge the Palestinian Authority’s position that security cooperation presents a political difficulty absent a suitable political context, i.e. the relaxation of Israel security measures combined with ongoing, fruitful negotiations.  We also acknowledge the Palestinian Authority’s fear that, with security cooperation in hand, Israel may not be disposed to deal forthrightly with Palestinian political concerns.  We believe that security cooperation cannot long be sustained if meaningful negotiations are unreasonably defined, if security measures ‘on the ground’ are seen as hostile, or if steps are taken that are perceived as provocative or as prejudicing the outcome of negotiations.”

And as recently as December 18, 2008, at a conference in Tel Aviv of the Institute for National Security Studies, Mitchell said, “The Palestinians want an independent, economically viable and geographically integral state, that is their overriding objective.”  Mitchell ignores the fact that if this were true, the Palestinians could have had a state in 2000, offered by Ehud Barak.  Instead, the Palestinians launched a terror war against Israel.  They could have established a state from 1948-67, when they controlled Gaza & Judea & Samaria.  If the Palestinians’ real goal were a state and not Israel’s destruction why would they have elected Hamas in Gaza and why would Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas create a new Fatah party emblem showing all of Israel as Palestine with a Kalyshnakov rifle next to it.  Mitchell also ignores Abbas’ public statement that “it is not required of Hamas, or Fatah, or the Popular Front to recognize Israel. (PATV, October 3, 2006)”  Even Americans, in a new early January 2009 poll, show they are strongly opposed to establishing a Palestinian state.  Only 31% of Americans now support such a state (Jerusalem Post, January 16, 2009).  Americans understand we don’t need another terrorist state in the Middle East.  Statehood does not bring peace.  Syria, Iran and North Korea have sovereign states – are they lovely peace-loving countries.


Mitchell ignores numerous polls nullifying his theses:  54% of Palestinians reject 2-state solution in historic Palestine (September 2008, An-Najah National University Poll); 58% of Palestinians reject statehood alongside Israel (An-Najah National University poll, May 2008); 75% of Palestinians don’t think Israel has right to exist and 70% of Palestinians support one-state solution (Near East Consulting poll, February 2007); 67% of Palestinians oppose Hamas recognizing Israel (PCPSR, September 2006); 61% support non-recognition policy toward Israel pursued by Hamas/Palestinian Authority government (Bir Zeit University poll, June 2006).


Mitchell also made no mention of the Palestinians goals reflected in schools, speeches and the media calling for Israel’s destruction as well as every official Palestinian map showing no Israel.


Marty Peretz in this week’s New Republic said, “Mitchell is a bit too credulous.”  This was evident when in answer to the talk show host Charlie Rose’s question “Do you think Yasser Arafat will be able to negotiate for peace and take steps for peace.” – Mitchell confidently answered, “Yes, I do.”

More Mitchell credulousness was revealed when he said, “The problem is that Palestinians don’t believe they’ll really get a state.”  And “they need a contiguous state,” said Mitchell again ignoring Israel’s offers by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and others. 


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is troubled by the choice of George Mitchell as President Obama’s Mideast envoy for several reasons.  One, he incorrectly believes both sides are equally at fault.  He gives a moral and factual equivalence between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis actions and goals.  He refuses to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim, between right and wrong.  Secondly, he incorrectly believes that “settlements are the main problem,” not understanding that the main problem is the Palestinian Arabs’ refusal to fulfill their obligations by ending terrorism, outlawing terror groups, ending incitement, refusing to place Israel on  their official maps and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.  He seems oblivious to the fact that freezing settlements was not only not in the Oslo accords, but it would reward the Palestinians for their violence, and promote a racist agenda of Jews being banned from living in Judea & Samaria while Arabs can live in Israel.  (How is it that Israel can have 15% of their population be Arabs, while the Arabs won’t permit even less than 10% of their population in the territories be Jews)?  Thirdly, he wants Israel to endanger itself by closing checkpoints which monitors the possibility of terrorists entering Israel, which makes as much sense as closing security checkpoints in airports. He has accepted the Arab propaganda of its alleged humiliation and frustration and phony staged killings like that of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura.  Again, no terror, no checkpoints. Fourthly, he tries to explain away Palestinian Arab terrorism, violence and murder by claiming that Israeli behavior and actions are its cause.  Finally, he strongly urges both sides to negotiate, as if that is the overriding goal in and of itself, ignoring the fact that 15 years of negotiations and concessions has only led to more bloodshed.


“Mitchell seems unaware that the real issue is not settlements, or Jerusalem, or statehood, but the Arabs refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state.  And that Israeli concessions were not taken as positive signs by the Palestinians but as an indication that Israel is weak and ready to cave in to more demands.


“The issue is not more concessions but making clear that unless the Palestinians transform their culture, and actions, and policies, and goals, they will not be able to get anything in terms of more concessions or international funding.


“We also must remember that George Mitchell’s success with the IRA-British problem doesn’t translate to success with the Arab war against Israel.  However extreme and murderous the IRA was, the goal was not the destruction of Britain and extermination of its people.  They wanted only to remove Northern Ireland from British rule.  By contrast, the goal of Hamas and the Palestinian nationalist movement is Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews, not merely the creation of a Palestinian Arab state next to it.  This is not, as Mitchell once said, merely a “more complicated” conflict – it is a conflict on a different plane with different goals and motivations from the nationalist war in Ireland.  We are worried that George Mitchell does not understand this.”

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