Chutzpah: Russians Warn Israel Against “Annexation” In Judea and Samaria (Part 1)

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Here is the story at the Jerusalem Post:

The Russian Foreign Ministry [Sergei Lavrov] said on May 21 that Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank may lead to an escalation of violence in the region.

“May lead to an escalation of violence”? Yes, that is a possibility. But it could also lead to a de-escalation of violence by the Palestinians. For once it becomes clear to them that Israel will not budge, will assert its legal, moral, and historic claim, as recognized and enshrined in the Mandate for Palestine, to the West Bank, the Palestinians are more likely to relinquish their irredentism and be willing to discuss what they have been offered in the Deal of the Century.

Such expansionist moves by Israel may provoke a dangerous wave of violence across the Palestinian territories and de-stabilize the Middle East as a whole,” the ministry’s press office said in a statement.

“The Russian side has warned its Israeli partners about carrying out unilateral plans that do not adhere to the international framework of Middle-Eastern de-escalation.”

Israel’s plans are “unilateral” because the Palestinians have refused every offer made to them, including those by Ehud Barak, offering Arafat 97% of the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, and by Ehud Olmert, offering Mahmoud Abbas 95% of the West Bank and an “internationalization” of the Old City. And now, with Abbas having declared the Oslo Accords and all other agreements with Israel a dead letter, how can Israel be faulted for acting “unilaterally” if the Palestinians refuse even to discuss even the possibility of a future agreement and have ripped up all past ones made with Israel?

According to the ministry, an Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and other areas in the West Bank will “undermine the territorial integrity of the West Bank, which is crucial for the sustainability of a future Palestinian states based on the [pre-]1967 borders.”

The annexation or, more exactly, the extension of sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Jewish villages and towns (“settlements”) by Israel will help the Jewish state defend itself. It has had to fight three major wars (1948-1949, 1967, 1973) for its survival. It is not only the Israelis who believe that control of the Jordan Valley is essential to their defense. After the Six-Day War, President Johnson had the Joint Chiefs send a military mission to Israel to report on what, in the view of its members, were the territories that Israel would have to retain for its defense. The American military men put first the need for Israel to keep the Jordan Valley.

The Russian reference to a “future Palestinian state based on the [pre-] 1967 borders” misleads. First, it ignores the fact that according to the Mandate for Palestine, all of what is now called the “West Bank” was included in the territory assigned to the fuure Jewish Natironal Home. Second, it ignores U.N. Resolution 242, by which Israel was allowed to keep some of the territories it had won in the Six-Day War. Resolution 242 spoke of “the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”:

The chief drafter of Resolution 242 was Lord Caradon (Hugh M. Foot), the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations from 1964-1970. At the time of the Resolution’s discussion and subsequent unanimous passage, and on many occasions since, Lord Caradon always insisted that the phrase “from the territories” quite deliberately did not mean “all the territories,” but merely some of the territories. Here is what he later said about Resolution 242:

Much play has been made of the fact that we didn’t say “the” territories or “all the” territories. But that was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if we had put in the “the” or “all the” that could only have meant that we wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend.

On another occasion, to an interviewer from the Journal of Palestine Studies (Spring-Summer 1976), Lord Caradon again insisted on the deliberateness of the wording. He was asked:

The basis for any settlement will be United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, of which you were the architect. Would you say there is a contradiction between the part of the resolution that stresses the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and that which calls for Israeli withdrawal from “occupied territories,” but not from “the occupied territories”?

Here is his reply:

I defend the resolution as it stands. What it states, as you know, is first the general principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. That means that you can’t justify holding onto territory merely because you conquered it. We could have said: well, you go back to the 1967 line. But I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line. You couldn’t have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It’s where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948.[1949] It’s got no relation to the needs of the situation.

“Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong.”

The Russians know all this perfectly well; the Soviet Union voted for Resolution 242. How then can they pretend that it means exacrtly what its chief author, Lord Caradon, says it most emphatically did not mean?

Notice, too, that Lord Caradon says that “you can’t justify holding onto territory merely because you conquered it,” with that “merely” applying to Jordan, but not to Israel, because of the Palestine Mandate’s explicit provisions allocating the territory known now as the “West Bank” to the Jewish state. Note, too, the firmness of his dismissal of the 1967 lines as nothing more than “where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948,” that is, nothing more than armistice lines and not internationally recognized borders.

Bad as those armistice lines were, with Jordan occupying large parts of Judea and Samaria, and in 1950 renaming those occupied parts as the “West Bank” in order to efface the Jewish connection to the land, Israel nonetheless still hoped to make peace with its Arab neighbors, and in 1949 it offered to make those armistice lines into permanent borders. The Arab states turned Israel down flat. They wanted everything to remain in a state of impermanence, a sign that the Arabs were not accepting Israel’s existence, no matter how small the Jewish state would be. Besides, following the catastrophe of defeat at the hands of the despised Jews, they were sure that the next assault on the Jewish state, whenever it came, would be successful. They just needed to wait, build up their militaries, and when ready, go in for the kill. That’s what they attempted in-June 1967, with the spectacular results — for Israel — that we all know.

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