Washington, Sept. 17 - Last night, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that when he comes to the U.N. next week, he is not just going to ask countries to vote for a Palestinian state; he is going to ask them to vote for the exact physical boundaries of that state.
He said: "We are trying to get a full membership in the U.N., on the 67 borders, so we will be able, afterwards, to go back to negotiations…during which we will discuss final status issues, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, security, settlements and the issue of our prisoners, that by that stage will be prisoners of war, not terrorists or criminals. Even if this won't be the case, they will be our top priority."
At that point, what would be left for the Palestinians to negotiate? And then later, how can Abbas go to his people and tell them to take less than what the U.N. promised them? He’d once again be up a tree without a ladder.
If such a resolution passes, the entire idea of peace talks under the "land for peace" concept will be destroyed because the U.N. already will have given the land to the Palestinians, but Israel won’t have received peace.
Israel would be left with zero leverage in any peace talks.
Additionally, Abbas told his people that the resolution will call for the Palestinian state to be established on the "1967 borders" – not the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps that President Obama recently called for. This would reduce the width of Israel just north of Tel Aviv to about nine miles (15 km) at its highest population areas of Tel Aviv, Netanya and Herzliya, leaving Israelis and their international airport just beneath the hills from which Palestinian terrorists could shoot rockets at Israeli civilians.
We already saw what happened in Gaza when Israel withdrew: Palestinian terrorists used the area as a launching pad to fire thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Those attacks have continued as recently as last week. People are still dying but still Abbas has been unwilling to come to the negotiating table. Even now the Palestinian people answer to two leaders: Abbas and Iran-backed Hamas. Hamas is recognized by the United States, the European Union and other entities as a terrorist organization whose very charter calls for the destruction of Israel and to "kill the Jews." Polls shows that the vast majority of Palestinians who support a two-state solution see it merely as a step toward doing away with Israel.
The "1967 borders" formula that Abbas spoke of last night, in addition to his calling for East Jerusalem as their capital, implies Israel ceding control of the Old City including the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall to Palestinian control. This is unacceptable. Every peace negotiation has recognized the need for the city to remain united with some form of shared sovereignty, with holy sites administered by each separate religion.
All peace plans have recognized the need to adjust these borders. Leaving out key phrases such as "mutually agreed-upon swaps" or "1967 lines with demographic adjustments" renders the Palestinian resolution totally unacceptable. In previous peace talks, Israel has offered all of Gaza plus 94% of the pre-1967 lines, the West Bank AND other land swaps. But the Palestinians rejected these offers.
Again, in the Abbas plan announced last night, the Western Wall and key Christian sites would be out of Israeli control, and 500,000 Jews would be left in "Palestine." And we still won’t know who will lead this new Palestinian country a few months later - Abbas or Hamas. So we need to ask:
- Will a future Palestinian state be a peaceful neighbor that will work with Israel, or will Israel continue to face daily rocket attacks on Israeli citizens – this time with rockets coming from the Judean Hills onto Tel Aviv, Netanya and Herzliya?
- Will it be controlled by the Palestinian Authority or Iran-backed Hamas?
- Will it be a durable and democratic state that will contribute to peace in the Middle East or be controlled by Iran?
Israel wants a Palestinian state, and so should the rest of the world. But lasting peace can only be achieved through negotiations that settle all outstanding issues to the satisfaction of both sides with mutual respect and security. Israeli and Palestinian relations are very complicated, with shared power, water and security issues affecting both sides. Borders and refugee issues need to be resolved through mutual agreements. Peace cannot be imposed, it can only be negotiated. By definition, peace is an agreement, and it takes two to reach such an agreement.
The only way to get answers is to vote against the U.N. resolution and get the parties back to the table so there can be a real two-state solution with enduring homelands for the Jewish and Palestinian people - not a state of endless war. The Palestinian resolution, if passed, will provide the world a dangerous illustration that the U.N. stands for terror, not for peace.