On May 21, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Israel that its planned annexation of parts of the West Bank could lead to an escalation of violence in the region. It’s possible, of course, but history suggests that it is even more possible that such annexation would in the long term improve the chances for peace. For such annexation of the Jordan Valley, control of which Israelis deem essential to their survival, and of settlements in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) where half a million Israelis now live, would signal to the Palestinians that they can have their state, consisting of 70% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and two parcels of land in the Negev, on the Israeli border with Sinai, along with a colossal aid package of $50 billion, as proposed in the Deal of the Century, but that they will not be getting more than that. Many Israelis now realize that peace with the Arabs can only be kept through deterrence, not through treaties that can always be broken by those who take as their model of treaty-making the agreement – the Treaty of al-Hudaibiyyah – that Muhammad made with the Meccans in 628 A.D.. That agreement was to have lasted for ten years; Muhammad broke it, as soon as he felt his side was stronger, after eighteen months.
Here is Russia, the largest nation on earth, trying to dictate to Israel, one of the smallest, that it must return to the armistice lines of 1949, lines which Israel at the time offered to make permanent borders, but the Arab states refused. The Russians know that in the pre-1967 lines Israel was only nine miles wide at its waist, from Qalqilya to the sea, and easily cut in two by an invading force from the east. No wonder Abba Eban called the 1949 armistice lines the “lines of Auschwitz.” This attempted diktat to Israel by a country that is 823 times its size is both unseemly and cruel.
“The ministry [of foreign affairs] added it “reiterates Russia’s principal position of supporting a comprehensive and sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution within the given international legal conditions.”
There is no final “resolution” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a classic Jihad, undertaken by Muslim Arabs against Infidels, in this case the much-despised Jews, who have taken possession of land that was once, and therefore must always be, Muslim. Instead of a “solution” to this Jihad which has no end, there is another, better way to think of the conflict: it is a situation to be managed. And the way to manage it is the same way that the peace was kept during the Cold War, through deterrence. As long as Israel remains obviously, and overwhelmingly, stronger than those who oppose it, peace will be maintained.
A “two-state solution” has been proposed, and set out in remarkable detail, in the Deal of the Century. The Palestinians will be given a state of their own, consisting of 70% of the West Bank, while 100% of that territory, according to the Palestine Mandate, was to become part of the Jewish National Home. Not only that, but the Palestinians were also promised the gigantic sum of $50 billion dollars in aid. Those “international legal conditions” to which Foreign Minister Lavrov refers must include what he wants us to forget, that is, both the Mandate for Palestine, and U.N. Resolution 242. The first gives Israel sovereignty over the entire “West Bank”; the second allows Israel to extend its sovereignty over whatever territories it needs in order to have “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized boundaries.” It will not be the bloc of Arab and Muslim states that have turned the U.N. into a kangaroo court, with Israel perennially in the dock, that will decide what territories, won in 1967, the Jewish state can keep for its security. Nor will it be the craven nations of the E.U., fearful of offending the Muslims in their midst and willing, with a handful of exceptions, to hang Israel out to dry. Nor will Russia be able to dictate to Israel what territories it needs to survive. Israel has earned the right, many times over, to decide for itself the territory it requires for its own survival.
Amid rising tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Russia called upon “all sides to refrain from any steps that may provoke a new dangerous escalation in the region, hindering the creation of conditions allowing for the re-opening of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that he is uninterested in further negotiations with Israel. He has just ripped up not just the Oslo Accords, but all previous agreements with Israel, including those creating the security coordination.between the P.A. and Israel. It is his display of hysterical animus that constitutes a “new dangerous escalation in the region.” But Foreign Minister Lavrov has in mind something else: the agreement reached by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz on annexation of the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements. That, and not the refusal of Mahmoud Abbas even to begin discussing the provisions of the Deal of the Century, is what alarms him.
Russia’s attempt to violate the letter and spirit of U.N. Resolution 242 is disgraceful. As previously noted, Russia is 823 times the size of Israel. How can Russia’s rulers not understand that, in trying to force the Jewish state back within the 1949 armistice lines, making it nine miles wide at its wasp-waist, it is demanding that Israel take risks far beyond what is asked of any other country, and that Russia would never demand of itself?
Russia now deplores tiny Israel’s tiny annexations of territory, to which it not only has a right under the Palestine Mandate, but also has a right to retain if it deems that territory essential for its defense, according to U.N. Resolution 242. Russia is a country which has held onto – “annexed” – countless territories after many different wars. After defeating Finland in the Winter War in 1940, the Soviet Union incorporated almost 15% of Finnish territory. It didn’t need it, in the way that Israel needs the Jordan Valley, but it wanted it. That was reason enough. After World War II, in the Far East the Soviets took Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands from Japan. They wanted them. Reason enough. In Europe, the Soviet Union annexed parts of eastern Poland (even beyond what it had already helped itself to after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939) , and also annexed Carpathian Ruthenia, taken from Czechoslovakia, with which it had not even been at war. It just had to have it. Reason enough. The Soviets took from Germany the city of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg, the city of Kant, and of the Seven Bridges Problem), on the Baltic Sea, an exclave separated from the Soviet Union – and then from Russia — by both Poland and Lithuania. They didn’t need it. They wanted it. Again, reason enough.
In 2014, the first year of the Russo-Ukraine War that is still sputtering on, Russia seized and annexed the Crimea, which had formerly belonged to Ukraine. They wanted it. Reason enough.
Yet here is vast Russia instructing minuscule Israel that it must give up every bit of territory it won in a war of self-defense, and allow itself to be squeezed back – by the “international community” — within the armistice lines that only marked where the Jewish and Arab forces stood when the shooting stopped in 1949.
Congratulations, Foreign Minister Lavrov, on Russia winning the Chutzpah Challenge Cup, You and Vladimir Putin must be very proud.
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