The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has provided the following information for your consideration and use. In summary, we have highlighted the following key points as essential to understanding why the Palestinian Authority’s current move is dangerous and sets back the cause of peace:
- It avoids direct negotiations.
- It violates international agreements.
- It destroys peace by attempting to obtain statehood without a peace accord.
Points to Consider
1) Palestinian statehood is entirely compatible with Israel’s pressing security concerns, but only if the aspirations of both sides remain unified as core elements of a peace agreement.
- UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) is the only internationally-accepted framework for peace in the region, providing a clear path for both peace and Palestinian statehood. Under Resolution 242, Israeli withdrawal from territories (such as the West Bank) is contingent upon the Palestinian and Arab leadership providing Israel with full recognition, security guarantees, and lasting peace.
- For over four decades, the Government of Canada has supported UNSC Resolution 242 and international law in this matter, and upheld the principle that Palestinian statehood and genuine peace cannot be divided from one another.
2) The Palestinian leadership is using the UN as a cover to violate international treaties that require direct negotiations between the two sides.
- Reaffirming UNSC Resolution 242, UN Security Council Resolution 338 (1973) calls for direct talks between both parties as the only solution to the conflict.
- Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (then the PLO) agreed to uphold this approach upon signing the Oslo Accords in 1993, with both sides declaring their support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict only through direct negotiations, as per 242 and 338.
- Any efforts on the part of the Palestinian leadership to obtain statehood without negotiating peace are in violation of signed international agreements. It is only via direct talks and a comprehensive peace accord between the two parties that we can achieve the goal of two states for two peoples.
3) The current move by the Palestinian leadership is aimed at creating a state without peace with Israel â€“ and as such it is a prescription for permanent conflict.
- In principle, the establishment of a Palestinian state without peace would not only contravene international law, it would remove every incentive for the Palestinian leadership to negotiate a peace agreement at all â€“ condemning future generations of Israeli and Palestinian children alike to further violence.
- In practice, even should the current bid succeed at the UN, a Palestinian state will fail to be established absent a final peace agreement. As such, many analysts predict a resurgence in Palestinian violence this fall, due to incitement by the Palestinian Authority and defeated hopes following the UN vote.
- Moreover, Hamas and its violent affiliate groups in Gaza have been taking advantage of instability in the Arab world in an attempt to undermine the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and its upcoming UN bid. The terror attacks of mid-August, which saw 9 Israelis killed and dozens more wounded, were a vicious reminder that a large part of the Palestinian leadership remains committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of it civilians. This comes just months after Fatah signed a unity agreement with Hamas.
- If moderate Palestinian leaders refuse to crack down on extremists and return to direct talks with Israel as the only path to statehood, thereâ€™s little hope that Hamas and their affiliates will cease their violent campaign against Israelis. The Palestinian people deserve leaders who will make peace and build a prosperous state â€“ and not two factions committed to endless war with Israel.
4) One cannot unilaterally declare peace. The Palestinian Authority must immediately return to direct talks with Israel, in order to negotiate a peace agreement which will serve as the foundation of a Palestinian state.
- Israel has taken great risks for the cause of peace, signing agreements with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. In both cases, Israel gave up land for peace, most notably when Israel handed over the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, an area 3 times the size of Israel.
- In 2000, Israel proposed a Palestinian state on the entire Gaza Strip and 95% of the West Bank, with compensating land swaps and shared sovereignty in Jerusalem. The Palestinian leadership refused, made no counter-offer, and incited a wave of suicide bombings that killed over 1,000 Israelis. In 2008, Israel offered a similar statehood proposal to the Palestinians in top-level behind-the-scenes talks. The Palestinians rejected it.
- Israel has repeatedly stated that it is prepared to negotiate without precondition, for the express purpose of creating an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.
- The Palestinian Authority has refused to enter into direct talks since the fall of 2010, effectively abandoning peace negotiations.
- Today, Canada (including the government and opposition), along with the United States and a number of European countries (Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands – amongst others), opposes Mr. Abbas’ effort at the UN as counter-productive to the cause of peace and Palestinian statehood. As Barak Obama observed in his May 19th address: “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”