Letter to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General, United Nations, May 11, 2011
Dear Mr. Ban Ki-Moon,
In September this year, the United Nations General Assembly is likely to recognize the State of Palestine.
As an Israeli, I would like my country to be the first to welcome the Arab State of Palestine among the nations, living peacefully alongside the Jewish State of Israel.
While in his 2009 talk at Bar-Ilan University, PM Netanyahu recognized the principle of two states for two peoples, Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine, his speech was not supplemented by measures on the ground, that would give credibility to his words.
Reluctantly, the present Israeli government accepted a ten month settlement freeze as an incentive to renew stalled negotiations. Unfortunately, this did not bring the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) and/or the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.
Also, the similar good will gesture asked of the Arab side, that Saudi Arabia allow civilian Israeli air traffic to make use of its air space, was quickly dismissed and dropped.
I would like my government to take further confidence-building steps. This is, in fact, the position held by most Israelis; according to a recent poll, in desire of peace and neighborly relations, a majority favors diplomatic initiative, far-reaching Israeli concessions and recognition of a Palestinian state.
I would like my government to implement a full withdrawal of all settlements beyond the security fence, which, besides reducing the many deadly terror attacks, serves as a temporary border, based on the 1949 cease-fire lines.
Israel’s Security Barrier, compared to the Green Line (Shaul Arieli; http://www.shaluarieli.com/, by permission)
This would give credibility to Israel’s decision to withdraw from Arab territories.
But I would like to see some additional gestures as well. I would like incitement against Israel, in schools, media and mosques be restrained. Incitement, and repeated claims that there is no connection between Jews, Judaism and the Land of Israel, is not conducive to peace-making. The cartoons, for instance, appearing repeatedly in Palestinian and Arab media, are, to say the least, appalling.
Incitement contradicts, as well, the accords between Israel and the PLO, which is chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, who also serves as President of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
In fact, unilateral declaration of statehood also contradicts those agreements. My criticism of my government’s dangerous passivity, is paralleled by skepticism as regards the PA’s reluctance to negotiate.
President Sadat, who was the instrumental leader in achieving a breakthrough in Israeli-Arab relations, claimed that seventy percent of the conflict is psychological.
Israelis and Palestinians construct their identity according to history and its interpretation, based on fear, war and persecution, threats of exile and annihilation, with roots in the past – both a century of Holocaust and violence, and a distant past, rooted in the archetypal images of the Bible and the Koran. Mutual projections impair the reconciliation that can take place in face-to-face negotiations.
But just like we, respectively, are called upon to scrutinize our psychological shortcomings and distorted projections, I would call upon you, as the United Nations’ Secretary General, to lead your organization to do likewise. Goldstone’s retraction of his own copy-and-paste produced report, and the fact that Syria is (was?) expected to replace Libya on the UN Human Rights Council, make the farce that has been going on for years, during which the main pre-occupation of the Council has been the demonization of Israel, apparent.
Yet, my main request of you, at this moment in time, concerns the following: Before the United Nations recognize the Arab State of Palestine which, as I have said, I am in favor of, the declared aims of that state cannot be the destruction of another member-state of the United Nations (or any state, for that matter). At the UN website (http://www.un.int/), the page of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations (http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine) informs us about the Palestine National Charter (http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/pid/12361), which states that their aim is “the elimination of Zionism in Palestine” (meaning the destruction of Israel), by means of “armed struggle” (i.e., war and terror). Furthermore, Article 19 says that, “The partition of Palestine in 1947, and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal,” and in article 20, “Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.”
I thus urge you, in the name of honesty and decency, history and Israel's right to exist, to review the Palestine Charter, demand it be revised to include recognition of Israel rather than the call for its destruction. Otherwise, you, the United Nations, and all nations voting in favor, sign the death-sentence of Israel, making you responsible of ethnic cleansing of the Jews in Israel.
Dr. Erel Shalit
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