OBFUSCATION OF TRUTH
(Reading Mitchell's Report)
By Boris Shusteff
It is hard to believe that nowadays the majority of people are transformed into robot's that digest information without critical thinking. Nothing proves this better then the Mitchell's Report, presented to the public as a "balanced document" that can serve as a "basis for future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs."
Even a brief glance through the report demonstrates how biased it is. Although Israeli government has already sent a letter to Mitchell's Commission with its preliminary observations, it is simply a must for the Jewish state to perform another thorough review of the document and treat it as a biased and distorted one.
The Report contains so many inaccuracies, distortions and deficiencies that it is almost impossible to analyze all of them. Therefore we shall discuss only these issues that make it absolutely unacceptable for the Jewish state. The most important point that was completely missed by the commentators is the fact that for the first time since the beginning of the "Oslo process" an official document, that is suggested for the use of the both parties, includes mentioning of the establishment of a "Palestinian state." In the "Rebuild Confidence" part of the Report one of the paragraphs states: "The GOI [Government of Israel] may wish to make it clear to the PA [Palestinian Authority] that a future peace would pose no threat to the territorial contiguity of a Palestinian state to be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."
Moreover, in the "Why Did It Happen?" part the authors of the Report wrote that "for the Palestinian side, 'Madrid' and 'Oslo' heralded the prospect of a state." These two statements completely distort the essence of the Israeli-PLO agreement. The fact is that neither "Madrid," nor "Oslo" spoke about additional separate "state" for the Palestinian Arabs. By distorting this fact the Report creates an absolutely false impression that the purpose of the "Oslo" accords was the establishment of another "Palestinian state" - thus promoting the Arab position.
Paragraph 4 of Article V of the 1993 "Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles," that started the whole disastrous for Israel process, was included into the agreement, apparently, to allow Israel to reverse the situation if needed. It stated: "The two parties agree that the outcome of the permanent status negotiations should not be prejudiced or preempted by agreements reached for the interim period." That means that Israel has all legal rights to return to any place that was under her control before it was transferred under the jurisdiction of the PA.
Not a single word is mentioned about creating a "Palestinian state" in any of the documents signed between Israel and the PLO-PA. By including these dangerous for Israel wording into the Report the Commission demonstrated that it totally accepted the Arab point of view while completely ignoring Israel's interpretation of the issue. No wonder that Arafat's Palestinian Authority embraced the document unconditionally.
Another extremely worrisome point is the use by the authors of the Report of the terms "Palestinian territories", "Palestinian area" and "occupation." Between the wording "area under Palestinian control" and the terminology of the authors of the Report there is a very significant difference. The Report's terminology implies that the "territory" legally belongs to the "Palestinians," while in reality from the standpoint of the international law it is a disputed territory. The term "occupation" was not used in any of the previous Israel-PA agreements. It is clear that Israel did not allow it to be included.
Since it is a disputed territory, already mentioned Article V of the "Declaration of Principles," allows it to fall under Israel's jurisdiction. By using indiscriminately the ambiguous terminology the authors of the Report make an attempt to prejudice the fate of the disputed land.
Many commentators discussed already the issue of the so-called "settlements" or, to be more precise, the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The authors of the Report accepted without reservations the Arab point of view and declared that "a cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustain unless the GOI freezes all settlement construction activity. Settlement activities must not be allowed to undermine the restoration of calm and the resumption of negotiations." This statement is tantamount to an incitement to violence. Technically, it hinted to the Arabs that they may continue the "violence" till Israel "freezes all settlement."
The commission recommendation to Israel to "freeze all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements" is a blatant attempt to change the international legitimacy of the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. On October 21, 1991 Eugene V. Rostow, a Distinguished Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, clearly explained in "The New Republic" that, "the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan river, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable [by international law]. That right has never been terminated."
The Israeli daily "Jerusalem Post" quoted on May 8 Joel Singer, the Israeli Foreign Ministry legal adviser, a main drafter of Oslo agreement, who wrote that "the PLO tried to obtain a clause prohibiting the establishment of new settlements, but Israel rejected this demand." It is more than obvious that the authors of the Mitchell's Report are unequivocally siding with the Palestinian Arabs by suggesting to stop the development of the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
In the part of the Report entitled "What Happened?" the authors of the Report managed to present the armed confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs as a one-sided use of firearms by Israel against the "Palestinian demonstrators." There is not a single word in this part about the use of the firearms by the Arabs. When in the part "Rebuild Confidence" the authors of the Report for the first time indicated that the Arabs also used guns, they accompanied their statement with an outright lie. The Report stated: "For the first three months of the current uprising, most incidents did not involve Palestinian use of firearms and explosives." It is hard to believe that the representatives of the Mitchell's Commission were unaware of the fact that during the first three months of the "uprising" the Palestinian Arabs had murdered 42 Israelis using only firearms and explosives.
Even during the first three WEEKS the Arabs heavily used the firepower. On October 1, 2000 the border policeman Madhat Yousef, 19, of Bet Jon, was killed while defending Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. He bled to death over a four-hour period during a non-stop Arab shooting. On October 19, 2000 Rabbi Binyamin Herling was killed in the shooting at mount Har Eval. He was wounded and bled to death over five hours, since the gunfire from the Arabs was so intense that the IDF was unable to approach him. Just this two examples are more than enough to prove the pro-Arab bias of the Mitchell's Commission.
The Report is replete with this kind of bias. For the first time in the English language document associated with the Israeli-PLO conflict, the authors of the Report use the Arab name Haram al-Sharif together with the internationally recognized name Temple Mount. Moreover, in two instances out of three, the Arabic name is written first as if it is a common thing in the English language literature.
It is extremely important to pay attention to the way the opinions of the Israeli and the Arab parties are presented in the Report. In the part "Why Did It Happen?" one can find only the Arab interpretation of the Camp-David events:
"Israel's proposals at Camp David provided for Israel's annexation of the best Palestinian lands, the perpetuation of Israeli control over East Jerusalem, a continued military presence on Palestinian territory, Israeli control over Palestinian natural resources, airspace and borders, and the return of fewer than 1% of refugees to their homes."
The reader will not be able to find the Israeli position no matter how hard he tries. The Mitchell Commission somehow "forgot" even to mention the unprecedented concessions offered to Arafat by Barak in Camp David. The Report also takes Arafat's stand on the issue of the Arab shooting at Israelis from populated areas. One may even decide that Arafat's words were included in the report verbatim. The paragraphs in the part "Rebuild Confidence," pertaining to this issue is written in the following way:
"Palestinian gunmen have directed small arms fire at Israeli settlements and at nearby IDF positions from within or adjacent to civilian dwellings in Palestinian areas, thus endangering innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike. We condemn the positioning of gunmen within or near civilian dwellings."
Instead of condemning the use of gunfire itself the Report condemns "the positioning of gunmen." Such wording can encourage the Arab shooting from areas not "within or near civilian dwellings." This conclusion does not sound unrealistic taking into account that in the Recommendations the Commission again speaks only about preventing "gunmen from using Palestinian populated areas to fire upon Israeli
populated areas and IDF positions." One will be hard pressed to find condemnation by the authors of the report of the drive-by shootings which led to the majority of the Israeli deaths. Actually the drive-by shootings are not mentioned in the Report at all.
The pro-Arab tilt of the Report is more than obvious. Even when the Mitchell Commission speaks about Holy places it can't force itself to present the truth. The paragraph pertaining to the matter is worded in such a "neutral way" that it is absolutely impossible to find out what is really happening. The Report states:
"It is particularly regrettable that the places such as the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem have been the scenes of violence, death and injury. These are places of peace, prayer and reflection which must be accessible to all believers. Places deemed holy by Muslims, Jews, and Christians merit respect, protection and preservation."
The authors of the Report hide under the word "violence" the outrages scenes of destruction committed by the Arabs at the Joseph's Tomb. They completely ignore the burning to the ground by the Arabs of the ancient synagogue in Jericho. Not a word is said about the irreparable damage that was inflicted by the Arabs to the Solomon's Stable on the Temple Mount and the destruction of the priceless archeological artifacts pertaining to the time of the Second Temple.
Even the semantic subtlety of enumerating "Muslims" prior to the "Jews" speaks for itself. The places that are mentioned became first holy to the Jews and only because they were holy to the Jews they became holy to the Muslims as well. Although it is still not clear since when the Rachel's Tomb is considered holy by the Moslems? Is it because everything that Arabs simply want to call holy for them automatically becomes unquestionable for the authors of the Report?
There are numerous other instances of Report's obvious inaccuracies, flaws, pro-Arab biased statements, omissions, etc. The only thing the authors of the Report succeeded at, was the attempt to make it look
even-handed. Even when they were talking about "incitements" they tried to place an equal blame on both sides, which is absolutely outrageous. Obfuscation of truth - is the only proper subtitle for the Report. It is a must for Israel to reject it. It is honorable for the United States to dissociate from it. 05/20/01
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.