(April 25, 2019 / JNS) ZOA was pleased to honor professor emeritus of Harvard University Law School Alan Dershowitz at a recent ZOA gala. Nevertheless, we disagree with his advocacy for creating a Palestinian-Arab state. It will be an Iranian-Hamas proxy terrorist regime threatening Israel.
The respected Israeli BESA Center recently explained that a Palestinian state would be a grave danger to Israel’s security. It would be the self-inflicted “disaster of the century” to confer statehood on a regime that pays Arabs to murder Jews; calls for spilling Jewish and Christian blood; refuses to accept Israel within any borders; admits sending terrorists to kill Jews; and calls stabbing Jews a “peaceful, popular uprising.”
We thus must respond to Dershowitz’s April 17 op-ed on this issue.
First, Dershowitz mistakenly labels opposing a Palestinian-Arab state an “extreme position” and favoring such a state a “centrist” position. In fact, Israeli surveys reveal that opposing a Palestinian-Arab state is the sane, centrist, overwhelming view. Only a minority support the creation of a Palestinian-Arab state.
For instance, the March 2019 Geocartographia poll found that more than 73 percent of Israelis oppose creating a Palestinian-Arab state. The 2019 Haaretz poll showed that only one-third (34 percent) preferred a “two-state solution,” even though 25 percent of that poll’s respondents were mostly Arabs. And the 2017 Maagar Mochot poll found that an overwhelming 10-1 majority of Israelis oppose a Palestinian-Arab state and favor Israel sovereignty over Judea-Samaria.
Second, Dershowitz wrongly states that Israel’s Declaration of Independence was “based on the [November 1947 U.N.] partition plan.” In fact, Israel’s Declaration of Independence never mentioned partition.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence was based on “the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country” in the land where the Jewish people first attained statehood and were forcibly exiled from, and yet maintained attachment to, throughout the dispersions, and migrated to in order to rebuild Israel. The Jewish people’s rights to the land of Israel were reaffirmed under international law, including the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine.
Notably, the 1947 U.N. partition plan was a nonbinding recommendation, included in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181. The partition recommendation was not an agreement and did not have the force of international law. Israel’s Declaration of Independence merely noted, among the many other facts supporting Israel’s independence, that UNGA Res. 181 irrevocably acknowledged the Jewish people’s right to establish their state.
Third, it’s wrong to invoke the 1947 nonbinding partition recommendation to justify a Palestinian-Arab state when the Arabs rejected that recommendation, and instead, six Arab nations went to war to destroy Israel. The Arabs’ rejection of partition, repeated wars of annihilation and terrorist attacks made the partition recommendation a dead letter.
Fourth, it was misleading for Dershowitz to portray former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion as willing to accept partition. Ben-Gurion testified to the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) that justice, history and international law all entitle Israel to at least all of Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan (which includes Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria) “in full.” (This was referred to as Western Palestine, as eastern Palestine was carved off by Britain and given to the Hashemites and Jordan.) Partition violated Israel’s international legal rights to the full mandatory area. Ben-Gurion further testified that “no state, no political regime” can be created that precludes these rights of the Jewish people.
Ben-Gurion was only willing to “consider” accepting less that the Jewish people had a right to, under severe duress to end the British blockade so that the Holocaust’s tattered survivors and Jews experiencing discrimination and pogroms in Arab countries could enter Israel.
Fifth, it was misleading for Dershowitz to invoke current Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University, made under extreme pressure by former U.S. President Barack Obama. The Palestinian Authority has never agreed to any of the five statehood conditions laid out in Netanyahu’s speech: P.A. recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; solving the issue of Palestinian refugees outside Israel; demilitarization of a future Palestinian state; defensible borders for Israel; and Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel. In fact, Palestinians turned down a state in 2000, 2001 and 2008 if it meant accepting a Jewish state and ending all claims.
Importantly, both before and after his 2009 speech, Netanyahu opposed creating a Palestinian-Arab state, and cogently explained why such a state would be a mortal danger to Israel.
In his famous 2002 speech to the Likud Central Committee, Netanyahu proclaimed that a Palestinian-Arab state would never keep a demilitarization agreement and would make alliances with foreign powers, import weapons and shoot down Israel planes—and that Israel would be blamed and stopped if Israel attempted to enforce demilitarization. Netanyahu declared if Israel agreed to a Palestinian-Arab state, “We will thus have created with our own hands a threat to our very existence.”
And in 2015, Netanyahu promised that he will not allow Palestinian state. He added: “Whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel.”
Moreover, in July 2017, Netanyahu’s Likud Party formally voted to oppose forming a Palestinian-Arab state. Likud’s recent re-election demonstrates that the Israeli public agrees.
In March 2018, Netanyahu stated in The New York Times that a Palestinian state “doesn’t work. … When we leave land, terror organizations take over. Immediately.” Only weeks ago, he reiterated his strong opposition to a Palestinian state.
Sixth, forming a Palestinian state is not U.S. policy. The 2016 Republican platform and the current administration refuse to call for Palestinian statehood.
Also, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin opposed a Palestinian state. Rabin confirmed in his last speech to the Knesset in 1995 that the permanent solution envisioned by the Oslo Accords was “an entity which is less than a state.” Rabin, moreover, opposed uprooting settlement blocs and various other dangerous forms of appeasement.
We hope that professor Dershowitz will reflect on these issues.
Morton Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth A. Berney is ZOA’s director of special projects.