Jewish supporters of the Middle East Peace Process base their argument on an altogether unwarranted assumption, that is, that the Oslo Accords hold the prospect of bringing final resolution to the longstanding "territorial" dispute between Israel and the Arabs. Yet, these Accords link a terrorist organization whose sole aim of negotiation is to supplant the State of Israel with a State of Palestine. Moreover, the dispute is not about territory, as the Jewish supporters still seem to believe, but about God. As any casual reading of the Arab press will disclose, from 1948 to the present, the entire Islamic world's opposition to Israel - including opposition of the P.L.O.- stems from doctrinal hatred of a "cancerous" Jewish state in its midst. Indeed, if the Palestinian opposition to Israel is only about West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza, why were there so many Arab terrorist attacks against Jews between 1948 and 1967, when these disputed territories were in Arab hands?
Some Jewish supporters of the Oslo Accords, disregarding the ever-present Arab image of their country as a pathology, also base their position on problematic acceptance of an historic Palestinian claim to the territories (Judea/Samaria/Gaza). Leaving aside the very questionable nature of the underlying demographic argument (e.g., the commonly stated assertion that current Palestinians are descended directly from the ancient Canaanites), these supporters conveniently ignore the continuous Jewish presence in these lands. They also ignore that almost one million Palestinians are now full citizens of Israel. This is a juridical condition that is hardly mirrored in the Arab world, where 900,000 Jews were slaughtered or expelled from Arab states after 1948. Yet, it is the Palestinians - not the Israelis - who cling relentlessly to the idea of Jihad or holy war. The unchanging struggle to evict the Jews from "all of Palestine" (that is, from Israel as well as from Judea/Samaria/Gaza) is driven by this idea. According to Islamic orthodoxy, the Prophet is said to have predicted a final war to annihilate the Jews. Mohammed, it is reported, had stated: "The hour (i.e., salvation) will not come until you fight against the Jews; and the stone would say, `O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me: come and kill him.'"
Nor do Israel's Oslo supporters, in advancing Palestinian legal claims, seem to recall that the P.L.O. urged Saddam Hussein to launch annihilatory attacks upon Israel during the 1991 Gulf War - at the same time that Arafat embraced Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, sending units of the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) to assist with the inter-Arab killing, rape and torture of Kuwaitis. Following the Iraqi aggression, Arafat and the PLO openly supported Baghdad in different ways. At the Cairo Summit of August 10, 1990, Arafat deflected attention from the invasion toward the crises in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Abul Abbas sent his own paramilitary forces into the occupied state to help "police" the sheikhdom. So, too, did the PFLP's George Habash and the DFLP's Nayef Hawatmeh. Mohammed Milhem, senior aide to Arafat, publicly threatened Fatah-led terrorism "everywhere" in support of Iraq.
Arab critics of Israel speak of Jewish migration to Palestine after World War I, neglecting to mention that there has been a substantial and continuous Jewish presence in the land for over three thousand years, and a steady Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Nor do they care to remember that when, after World War II, the General Assembly proposed to partition Palestine, this followed an earlier (1922) and illegal partition by the British which gave almost 80% of the land promised to the Jews by the Balfour Declaration to create the Arab state of Transjordan. Thus, at the time of the 1947 partition vote in the United Nations, the Jews had already been unlawfully deprived of four-fifths of their entitlement.
How did protracted warfare first arise between Israel and the Arabs?. Not even militant Arab leaders or anti-Zionist historians could conceivably accept the view that the 1948-49 conflict was a war of Jewish origin. On February 16, 1948, the U.N. Palestine Commission reported to the Security Council: "Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein." The Arabs themselves were unambiguous in accepting responsibility for starting the war. Jamal Husseini informed the Security Council on April 16, 1948: "The representatives of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight." As for the British commander of Jordan's Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb, he remarked candidly: "Early in January, the first detachments of the Arab Liberation Army began to infiltrate into Palestine from Syria. Some came through Jordan and even through Amman....They were in reality to strike the first blow in the ruin of the Arabs of Palestine."
Israel came into being on May 14, 1948. The five Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq immediately invaded the new microstate. Their combined intention was expressed publicly by Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."
Israel's critics maintain that the 1967 War was one of Israeli aggression rather than a war of Israeli self-defense. Yet, on May 15, Israel's Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai, massing near the Israeli border. By May 18, Syrian troops, too, were preparing for battle along the Golan Heights, 3000 feet above the Galilee, from which they had shelled Israel's farms and villages for years. Egypt's Nasser ordered the U.N. Emergency Force (UNEF), stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw, whereupon the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed, on May 18, 1967:
"As of today there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence."
Two days later an enthusiastic echo came from Hafez Assad, then Syria's Defense Minister, who proclaimed openly: "Our forces are now entirely ready...to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland....The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation." President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined the chorus of genocidal threats: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear - to wipe Israel off the map." On June 4, Iraq formally joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The Damascus regime's commitment to military final solutions for Israel has been described by Ahmed S. Khalidi and Hussein Agha as stemming from "...an apparently strong conviction that the struggle with Israel is no mere political or territorial dispute, but rather a clash of destinies affecting the fate and future of the Middle East." Moreover, Syria's approach to Israel, say Khalidi and Agha, remains "bound up with the view that force, whether active or passive, is the final arbiter of the conflict with Israel and the ultimate guarantor of any settlement in the area."
Was Israel the aggressor in 1967, as the Arabs continue to maintain? It hardly seems possible. The jurisprudential correctness of Israel's resort to anticipatory self-defense is well-established in longstanding customary international law. The Law of Nations is not a suicide pact. Israel could not have been expected to wait patiently for its own annihilation. Indeed, when the Government of Golda Meir decided not to exercise the lawful option of anticipatory self-defense in October 1973, when Egypt and Syria were preparing to launch yet another war of aggression against the Jewish State, her country almost paid for it with collective disappearance. And although Israel eventually prevailed against the Arab aggressors, it did so at a staggering cost in human life. The Yom Kippur War produced 2326 deaths of Israeli soldiers, nearly ten thousand injuries and hundreds of prisoners. These costs to Israel were the direct results of A'man's (Military Intelligence Branch) failure to predict the Arab attack, a failure known in Israel's intelligence community as the Mechdal, a Hebrew term meaning "omission," "nonperformance" or "neglect."
The Arabs argue that Israel has no claim on Jerusalem beyond power politics. Yet, Jerusalem has long been a Jewish city, and calling for an end to Israel's sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem is simply a call for an end to Israel. When, in 1947, the United Nations called for an international (U.N.-administered) city, it was not the Jews - but the Arabs - who refused. When the Jordanian army seized the Old City during its war of aggression against Israel in 1948, it promptly desecrated all Jewish holy sites in the area, turned Jewish cemeteries and synagogues into urinals and murdered all Jews who remained on the Jordanian side of the 1948 armistice line. During the 1967 War, Jordan's King Hussein - a celebrated man of peace to Israel's Oslo supporters - spoke as follows on Radio Amman: "Kill the Jews wherever you find them. Kill them with your arms, with your hands, with your nails and teeth." Of course, Jordanian control over East Jerusalem from 1949 - 1967 was entirely unacceptable under international law from the standpoints of both the Arab kingdom's method of acquisition and its brutal methods of occupation. Do Israel's Oslo supporters object to these earlier and egregious violations of international law by the Kingdom of Jordan? If they do, they certainly haven't mentioned them.
The statement that Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic religions is now generally taken as self-evident. Yet, for Muslims, even for those who regard the city as theirs because of Canaanite origins, it is not Jerusalem, but the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, that is paramount. It is Mecca, not Jerusalem, to which Muslims must pilgrimage at least once. For Christians, Jerusalem contains some, but not all, of their holiest shrines. For Jews, all main holy sites are within the post-1967 Jerusalem municipal borders or in very close proximity.
Jews at prayer anywhere in the world face towards the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Muslims, even those praying on the Mount, face away from it, towards Mecca. When they pray on the Mount, Muslims have their backs toward the Dome of the Rock, while those praying in the Al-Aqsa mosque also look away from Jerusalem and toward Mecca. In the Hebrew bible, Jerusalem is mentioned 656 times; Jerusalem's well-being is central to all Jewish prayer. In the Koran, Jerusalem is never mentioned, not even once. With the brief exception of the Crusader period, no conqueror of Jerusalem made the city a capital. Driven into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E., the Jews returned fifty years later and rebuilt Jerusalem as their capital. It was the capital of the Jews, again, under the Maccabees.
The rights of both Jews and Christians were trampled on by the Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem. Churches were made into mosques. Slaughterhouses were deliberately established near Jewish places of worship. Mosques were built next to churches and synagogues so that their minarets could literally overtower them.
In the 2554 years between 587 B.C.E. and 1967 C.E. Jerusalem was conquered more than twenty times, and as part of many empires, was ruled from different and distant capital cities. Only for the Jews (for more than 650 years), for the Crusaders (for 188 years) and for the State of Israel (since 1949) has Jerusalem served as a capital city.
The newly official map of "Palestine" issued by the Palestine Authority (PA) shows the State of Palestine as comprising all of the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), all of Gaza, all of the State of Israel and a slice of the Kingdom of Jordan. Additionally, it excludes any reference to a Jewish population, and lists holy sites of Christians and Muslims only. The official cartographer, Khalil Tufakji, has been commissioned by the PA to design and to locate a proposed Capitol Building, which he has now drawn to be located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, on top of an ancient Jewish cemetery.
On September 1, 1993, Yasser Arafat reaffirmed that the Oslo Accords are an intrinsic part of the PLO's 1974 phased plan for Israel's destruction: "The agreement will be a basis for an independent Palestinian state in accordance with the Palestinian National Council resolution issued in 1974....The PNC resolution issued in 1974 calls for the establishment of a national authority on any part of Palestinian soil from which Israel withdraws or which is liberated..." Later, on May 29, 1994, Rashid Abu Shbak, a senior PA security official, remarked: "The light which has shone over Gaza and Jericho will also reach the Negev and the Galilee."
Speaking of maps, it will be instructive to consider the following: The Arab world is comprised of 22 states of nearly five million square miles and 144,000,0000 people. The Islamic world contains 44 states with one billion people. The Islamic states comprise an area 672 times the size of Israel. Israel, with a population of fewer than 5 million Jews, is - together with Judea/Samaria and Gaza - less than half the size of San Bernardino County in California. The Sinai Desert alone, which Israel transferred to Egypt in the 1979 Treaty, is three times larger than the State of Israel.
What about Palestinian compliance with the so-called Peace Process? Incontestably, the PA/PLO is guilty of multiple material breaches of the Oslo Accords. For example:
1. The PA has failed to confiscate arms and to disarm militias. The PA police are obligated to disarm all militias acting in areas under its jurisdiction, to confiscate all weapons other than pistols, and to license pistols in accordance with regulations to be established by the two sides (Annex I, Art. II, 1 and art. XI). In fact, all of the militias which were operating when the PA assumed control over Gaza and Jericho - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah - remain armed. In total violation of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is now establishing a military industry in Gaza. According to information gathered by Israeli security forces, the PA has even established factories for manufacturing ammunition.
2. The PA has refused to present Israel with lists of Palestinian policemen. To enable Israel to prevent terrorists from joining the Palestinian police force (an expectation that Israel has thus far been unable to satisfy), the PA is obligated to submit the list of all potential recruits for Israel's approval (Annex I, Art. IV, 4). This requirement is especially critical regarding those Palestinians who were recruited from the territories, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad influence is strong. Notwithstanding, the PA has not submitted any of the names when it recruited forces for Gaza and Jericho. The PA repeated its commitment concerning recruitment for the additional areas governed by the Interim Agreement, but it has continued its policy of systematic noncompliance.
3. The PA has exceeded the permissible number of policemen. The Gaza-Jericho Accords of May 1994 limited the number of Palestinian policemen to 9000 (Annex I, Art. III, 3), but during the period when the PA controlled these two areas they enrolled approximately 20,000 people in their so-called security forces. The Interim Agreement expanded the PA's jurisdiction to additional parts of Judea/Samaria and increased the permissible number of policemen to 24,000 in areas A and B, including Gaza (Annex I, Art. IV, 3). Already, however, the PA police have signed on more than 30,000 men and perhaps as many as 40,000 or even 50,000. This would suggest that the PA police are effectively being recruited not as a police agency, but as an army.
4. The PA continues to refuse to extradite suspected terrorists. The PA is obligated to turn over to Israel for trial all individuals for whom Israel provides an arrest warrant and proof of terrorist activity (Annex IV, II, 7). Yet, to date, Israel has requested several dozen suspects in mass murder, murder or attempted murder of Israelis, not one of whom has been handed over to Israeli authorities. Leading PA officials have made it perfectly clear that they have absolutely no intention of honoring the extradition provisions of the Oslo Accords.
5. The PA has failed to use its court system for the punishment of terrorists. The PA police are obligated to "arrest and prosecute individuals who are suspected of perpetrating acts of terror and violence." (Annex I, Art. II, 1). Yet, for the past two years, not one of the top leaders of the military wings of Hamas or Islamic Jihad has been sentenced - a policy of Palestinian law-violation that continued even after the February-March 1996 wave of terror bombings against Israeli men, women and children.
6. The PA leadership has been complicit in incitement to terror. The leadership of the PLO and PA are obligated to refrain from incitement to terrorism (Art. XXII). Yet, there have been many statements by Yasser Arafat, Nabil Shaath, Faisal Husseini and others calling for Jihad and praising those who have brought bombs to Israeli men, women and children. This includes specific praise for those Hamas terrorists who carried out mass murders of Israeli civilians.
The list of PA/PLO violations of Oslo goes on and on. There is the failure to prevent incitement (codified at Annex 1, Art. II, 35); harassment of suspected former collaborators (codified at Art. XVI); failure to provide information on Israeli MIAs (codified at Art. XXVIII of the Interim Agreement and at Art. XIX of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement); the failure to change the PLO Covenant (codified at Art. XXXII), a failure that means that the PLO/PA has still not renounced its intent to annihilate the Jewish State; the abuse of human rights and the rule of law (codified at Art. XIX); the failure to hold democratic elections and establish a democratic regime (codified at Art. 3 of the Declaration of Principles); the failure to control PLO police activity in eastern Jerusalem (codified at Annex I of both agreements - the Gaza-Jericho Accord and the Interim Agrement - which carefully delineate the areas in which the Palestinian security forces may operate); the opening of PA offices in eastern Jerusalem (codified at Art. I, 7), in defiance of the obligation to locate all PA offices outside of Jerusalem; and the conducting of foreign relations. The PA is explicitly prohibited from carrying on foreign relations. In numerous places in the major codifying documents, it is agreed that the issue of the PA's foreign relations will be dealt with only in the final status negotiations.
There are other PA/PLO violations of Oslo, any one of which could comprise an entire magazine article. They include unilaterally halting security cooperation with Israel, in contradiction to Art. II(2) of Annex I to the Oslo Accords; failing to coordinate movement of Palestinian police (under Art. V(6) of Annex I to Oslo 2; the movement of Palestinian policemen between Area A and Area B, or in Area C, must be coordinated in advance with Israeli security officials; detaining Israeli citizens (according to Art. XI (4d) of Annex I to the Oslo Accord: "Israelis shall under no circumstances be apprehended or placed in custody or prison by Palestinian authorities."); failing to enforce restrictions on Visitor's Permits (under Art. 28 (13b) of Annex III to the Oslo 2 Accords, "The Palestinian side will notify Israel of any extension."); and constructing, without authorization, a Gaza strip sea port and the Dahaniye airport (the first in violation of Art. XIV (4) of Annex I to the Oslo 2 Accords - the second in violation of Art. XIII(3) of Annex I to the Oslo 2 Accords).
Generally, Israeli and Arab proponents of "peace" feel that, for Israel, the Oslo agreements represent a pretty good bargain. Ignoring the entire history of genocide against Jews that led to Israel's statehood in the first place, they neglect to consider that this "bargain" involves nothing less than another Jewish diaspora. But there is no more indefensible component of the pro-Oslo argument than the one that goes like this: The accomodation with the Palestinians opens the way to peace treaties with Syria and Lebanon, which, along with peace treaties already signed with Egypt and Jordan, will leave Israel in a state of peace with all its immediate neighbors for the first time. Looking at the aforementioned map of Palestine (which incorporates the current State of Israel), at the aforelisted PA/PLO violations of Oslo - especially the refusal even to abrogate a codification of genocidal intent - and at the incessant Arab and Islamic calls for Jihad - is there any reason to believe that Israel's enemies will now yield their doctrinal and religious expectations to the diametrically opposite expectations of international law?
Regarding these doctrinal and religious expectations, it will be instructive to consider the following hadith, an Arabic term which refers to the oral tradition by means of which sayings or deeds attributed to the Prophet Mohammed have been handed down to Muslim believers: "Verily, the word of God teaches us, and we implicitly believe it, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty." Indeed, have Israeli supporters of Oslo forgotten that Sadat defended his 1979 Treaty with Israel in the Arab world by identifying it as no more than a needed tactical expedient? President Sadat claimed that the Treaty was "founded upon Islamic rules, because it arises from a position of strength, after the holy war and victory Egypt achieved on 10th Ramadan 1393"(October 1973). The Treaty itself provides a legally permissible rationale for abrogation by Egypt. A minute to Article VI, paragraph 5, of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty stipulates: "It is agreed to by the Parties that there is no assertion that this Treaty prevails over other Treaties or agreements or that other Treaties or agreements prevail over this Treaty."
Al Da'wa (The Mission), a prominent Islamic publication, identifies the status of Israel with the status of the individual Jew. Here, Israel is merely the Jew in macrocosm: "The race (sic) is corrupt at the root, full of duplicity, and the Muslims have everything to lose in seeking to deal with them; they must be exterminated." Following are some recent statements by senior PA officials, all of which are flagrantly anti-Jewish and several of which incorporate sordid anti-Jewish stereotypes: (1) "Five Zionist Jews are running the policy of the United States in the Middle East: Madeleine Albright, William Cohen, Dennis Ross, Miller and Martin Indyk. It is not possible that the American nation, which consists of 250 million people, can not find anyone other than five Zionist Jews to conduct the peace process with the Palestinians." PA Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein, Yediot Ahronot, April 13, 1997 (2) "We are fighting and struggling with an enemy who is Shylock. We must know that he is Shylock." Othman Abu Gharbiya, PA Chairman Arafat's Adviser on National Political Guidance, in a radio interview, Voice of Palestine, March 15, 1997 (3) "The Jewish lobby is working very hard to jeopardize the process." PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, in an interview, Beirut Daily Star, March 25, 1997, Agence France Presse, March 26, 1997 (4) "Israeli authorities...infected by injection 300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus during the years of the intifada." Palestinian representative Nabil Ramlawi at a session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Jerusalem Post, March 17 1997.
The theme of Palestine as the grave of Israel and of the Jews in general is a persistent motif in Arab orientations toward Israel. Here the following claim, made by Dr. Yahya al-Rakhawi in Al-Akhbar, the organ of Egypt's Liberal Party, on July 19, 1982, is typical: "When the State of Israel was established and...was recognized by many, in both East and West, one of the reasons for this recognition was the desire of the people in the East and West to get rid of as many as possible of the representatives of that human error known as the Jews. Behind this motive was another, secret purpose: to concentrate them in one place, so that it would be easier to strike at the right moment."
At this very moment, Israel's Islamic enemies are making preparations for just such a strike. To assist in these preparations, an ongoing war of terror and attrition against the Jewish State is laying the foundations for the planned war of annihilation. Although it may no longer be possible for Israel to prevent such a war entirely, a war that would involve various unconventional weapons, the Government may still diminish expected harms by recalling the true history of Arab-Israeli conflict and by extricating the beleaguered country from the lethal consequences of Oslo.
Louis Rene Beres is a Professor of International Law, Department of Political Science Purdue University E-Mail: BERES@POLSCI.PURDUE.EDU