Guardian

Harriet Sherwood inadvertently shows that a Palestinian state wouldn’t end the conflict


One of the reasons why most Israelis are skeptical that Palestinians don’t truly desire peace with Israel is their insistence that any agreement which results in “two states for two peoples” wouldn’t abrogate the “right of return” for millions of Palestinians whose parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents may have once lived within the borders of Israel.  

While, intuitively, you’d think that “Palestinians” living in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere would be encouraged to emigrate to the new Palestinian state, or finally be given citizenship in their country of residence, even the most “moderate” Palestinian leaders insist that any final agreement allow for an influx of millions of Palestinian Arabs into Israel – thus destroying, demographically, the only Jewish state that exists, or will ever exist.

Harriet Sherwood’s most recent post, “Palestinian state could leave millions of refugees with no voice at the UN“, (curiously placed in the less frequented “Palestinian Territories” section of the Guardian site and not in the Israel section) is an exquisite example that Zionists who are skeptical that the creation of a Palestinian state wouldn’t necessarily end the conflict are justified in their concerns.  

Sherwood writes:                            

“If the bid [for Palestinian statehood] succeeds, UN representation of the Palestinian people would shift from the global Palestinian Liberation Organisation – currently recognised as the “sole and legitimate representative” of all Palestinians around the world – to the envoy of a state based in the West Bank and Gaza. Millions of Palestinian refugees who live in the diaspora could be “accidentally disenfranchised”, according to a seven-page legal opinion by Guy Goodwin-Gill. [emphasis mine]

So, Arabs who claim Palestinian lineage currently living in “refugee camps” in countries like Syria and Lebanon, who, for some reason, have never been granted citizenship in those countries, would no longer be deemed “refugees” and thus would lose their moral and legal claims against Israel.  

But, it gets better:

“Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford, concludes “the interests of the Palestinian people are at risk of prejudice and fragmentation”. Palestinians in the diaspora risk losing “their entitlement to equal representation … their ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national governance, including the formation and political identity of the state, and to exercise the right of return.” [emphasis mine]

Thus, the creation of a Palestinian state wouldn’t empower such Palestinian Arabs to emigrate to, and become citizens of, the new independent state of Palestine – thus granting them the “ability to vocalise their views, to participate in…national governance, including the formation and political identity of the [Palestinian] state” – but would deny them their status as victims of Israeli expulsion.

Of note,  Goodwin Gill’s opinion “was commissioned by Karma Nabulsi, a former PLO representative and now an Oxford professor” and CiF commentator.

Sherwood continues:

“[Nabulsi] called for clarity from the PLO in its response to the legal opinion and for reassurances to Palestinian refugees in the diaspora that their “core rights” of representation and the right of return would remain untouched. [emphasis mine]

If you needed any more proof that a two-state solution wouldn’t necessarily end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, this is it.  

Unlike hundreds of millions of refugees throughout the world since the end of WWII (including roughly 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands) who have emigrated and been assimilated into other countries, Palestinians still insist on an immutable status of “refugee” – and the “right” to “return” to a country which most have never stepped foot in and whose influx would mean the end of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East.

What Goodwin-Gill and Nablusi are saying is that the conflict will never cease to exist until Israel ceases to exist.

36 replies »

  1. As if the Guardian would like the conflict to end?

    Then they would have to rely on Seumas writing about how Labor abandoned the Soviet Union and how a new BBC sitcom promotes racial hatred because it lacks a black fire chief as a character.

    • Unfortunately, many people believe the “Right of Return” has legitimacy, including impressionable young people who may not necessarily be otherwise hostile toward Israel. (I don’t count the anti-Zionist stalwarts in this group, as they have a deep-seated animus toward Israel)

      • The name Guy Goodwin-Gill pinged my radar, and I thought “Is that the same BDS cheerleader who threw his hat into the ring in a colorful but completely failed effort to block Israel from entering the OECD?”
        The answer is yes: http://www.bdsmovement.net/files/2011/04/OECD-GGG-legal-opinion.pdf
        Reading about this person makes me better understand why Osama Bin Laden’s family specifically threatened to seek assistance from British attorneys when they tried (and completely failed–funny how that keeps happening to those folks) to threaten an ICJ procedure after their mass murdering relative did the world a favor by dying in a watery grave.

      • “…wanting to maintain Jewish supremacy in Israel…”

        Only if a multicultural “state of all its citizens”—the Marxist vision of replacing the nation-state with a free-for-all hostel where members of the nation are just one among so many groups—is taken as the reference point. In the context of nations’ rights, foremost of them the right to safety and security in a state of their own, this isn’t “supremacy” any more than making your house exclusive to members of your family is “supremacy.”

        Behold Lebanon. Behold Yugoslavia. Behold post-Saddam Iraq. Behold a host of examples why putting multiple nations under the same political framework is an idea ranging from stupid to atrocious in its badditude.

        Don’t bother replying, Jewish-nation-denier. I wrote this mainly for the other readers, including lurkers.

      • You’re quoting JCPA? “[A]n independent, non-profit institute for policy research and education serving Israel and the Jewish people” ???

        Was there no one less impartial available? Maybe Danny Ayalon can come on and give us his opinion.

        • dubitante if you can cite where the document is wrong in law then please give the chapter and verse.
          Don’t waste my time with your stock answer “because the UN says so”

          Where and when did the UN say so? i.e. the UN body that took the decision, the date of the meeting, and number of the resolution.

          Have you any verifiable sources from the ICJ that prove the document is wrong in law? Again date and time of the ICJ hearing, and ref. no. of the decision.

          So far your claims about what IHL says have been either unsubstantiated or wrong. Which leads me to believe you are either ignorant or biased or both.

          • You’re a puzzling one Gerald. Your capacity to ask for precise citations, then dismiss them out of hand is most impressive.

            I think the best thing to do with you is give you the least amount of room to manoeuvre. So we will take it 1 teeny weeny point at a time, and see where it leads.

            Point 1.

            Do you, or do you not accept that “deportation or forcible transfer of civilians” is strictly prohibited under IHL?

            • LOAC/IHL articles clearly stipulate that if one willfully gives succor to combatants in any substantive manner that person loses his noncombatant forthwith.

              Peruse the Fourth Geneva Convention.

                • I did it. Sounds like you don’t like the answer.

                  The Arabs can’t have it both ways-farmers by day and combatants by night.

                  You store hardware and ammo in your backyard or you willfully let others store military contraband there, you are no longer a civilian.

                  Read the Fourth Geneva Convention.

                  I said it already.

              • The unwillingness of the “pro-Israel” crowd to answer a trivially simple question is precisely why I am trying to keep individual questions small, then it becomes very apparent when someone tries to dodge it, as you just did.

                    • In accordance with LOAC/IHL, protected persons should not be forced to remain in a war zone or treated as human shields.

                      During ensuing military hostilities, if protected zones cannot be adequately established, it is incumbent upon non-combatants to seek safety elsewhere.

                      That being said, any civilian who willfully aides combatants loses his noncombatant [status] forthwith.

            • dubitante your inability to answer the questions, or provide verifiable citations, when asked confirms my belief that you are biased.
              However I have yet to decide whether your lack of knowledge, and inability to give chapter and verse, about IHL is caused by ignorance or stupidity. I hope it is ignorance as that can be cured, but, stupidity is forever.

  2. Not only has the right of return been upheld from a legal standpoint on more occasions than you can shake a stick at, history has shown that it is a crucial part in solving conflicts where expulsions have taken place.

    No one says that it isn’t a difficult problem. And I suspect that a great many refugees *would* return to Palestine, as opposed to Israel.

    The first step needs to be that Israel must accept the right of return as a reality. Israel must then be free to talk about the very real political difficulties in implementing this right. The PA should acknowledge these difficulties.

    Israel can then openly start talking about compensation packages.

    But more kudos to CiF Watch for accepting that Israeli opposition to the legally mandated right of return is based on wanting to maintain Jewish supremacy in Israel at the expense of the rights of Palestinians.

    • @dubitante

      Your comment is full of selective and often erronious detail that it leads one to believe that from the start, you are less interested in the resolution of a conflict, but are here to advance a different agenda.

      You say: “But more kudos to CiF Watch for accepting that Israeli opposition to the legally mandated right of return is based on wanting to maintain Jewish supremacy in Israel at the expense of the rights of Palestinians.”

      It has absolutely nothing to do with “supremacy” and I sense that you have adopted the deligitimiser’s charter here,when using such insulting terms to describe concerns regarding Jewish survival as being supremacist and by implication racist. The reality is the opposite of your assertion. Indeed EVERY Arab country in the Middle East ensures its supremacy over any minority that lives in the region, but alas I hear no protestation from you in this context. Nor do I hear any protestion as to the lack of decency that the Arab leadership has shown to its own bretheren by maintaining and denying Arabs full rights within the confines of where they have settled, preferring instead to fuel a conflict and blaming the Jews for their predicament. As for Mr Abbas’ decency,I hear no protest from you as to what he has said , on more than one occasion that he has asserted that no Jew will be permitted to live in Palestine, under any conditions. Pakistan does not have a SINGLE Jewish citizen. Saudi Arabia likewise. There appears to be a very sorry pattern don’t you think dubious dubitante? It’s a 2-way street mate, for anything to work.

      Israel for all its faults cannot be compared to the kind of overt supremacist/racist theology that is so espoused in the Middle East and in many predominantly Muslim societies, much to the chagrin of those decent inhabitants in those societies who seek better lives and many of whom who have recently tried to seek a new kind of Order and to be able to live in freedom. The proverbial jury is out on this one and will have to stay out for some time before any judgment can be passed and whether there is likely to be improvements in the long term for the average family.

      Whilst you say that the first step needs to be that Israel must accept the right of return as a reality, what you are effectively saying tis hat the reality you seek is that Jews should consider handing over land to people who do not recognise them and have not recognised them (ever). It is an absurd condition to impose as it would be absurd to seek reparations in trillions from the Arab countries that harassed and persecuted Jews who were ousted from Arab countries and for the acts of illegal warfare it has committed and continues to commit.

      No dubitante, the first condition is that the Israelis need to make clear, in negotiations what is unegotiable and what is negotiable, which has already been discussed ad nauseum. The second condition is for the Arabs to renounce violence and its “hidden” aspirations of acquiring “Palestine” and talk directly regarding the formation of a new polity on Israel’s boundaries and to agree to those boundaries. The third condition is that on final terms, this becomes accepted in the Arab world and that they too will recognise a new Polity on their boundaries and that the Arab World will renounce its Jihadi claims over all of Dar-al- Islam. Then maybe , just maybe, we’ll have made some progress.

      • “you are less interested in the resolution of a conflict, but are here to advance a different agenda.”

        You are entitled to an opinion of course.

        I don’t claim to be Amnesty International. I can’t do everything. It requires significant effort to be informed on a subject to a level where I can contribute significantly. My area of interest is primarily Israeli propaganda, which means I also know a decent amount about the Israel Palestine conflict.

        Israel isn’t the worst place on Earth, far from it. Whilst I have voiced support for the no-state and the one-state solutions, I do think that Israel has a positive role to play both regionally and globally. To start playing this role, it must confront its past, and its present for that matter, as part of a truth and reconciliation process.

        I am confident that the *right* of return can be recognised without destroying the state of Israel. It’s important to note that Jews have a right to self determination, they do not have a right to an ethnic majority.

        The existence of Israel is currently predicated on injustice and criminality. There are those of us who are genuinely concerned for Israel’s future. I for one would be very happy to see Israel at peace, with itself and its neighbours.

        “the first condition is that the Israelis need to make clear, in negotiations what is unegotiable and what is negotiable”

        We’re very familiar with Israel’s list of extreme preconditions, they are one of the primary barriers to a negotiated settlement.

        Israel wants to suspend international law for the duration of any negotiations. It is a demand so extreme that no negotiator could accept it.

        Israel needs to be open and honest. It should recognise the rights of the refugees, then offer compensation to all of them, with extra compensation to those who have a right to return to Israel but choose to go elsewhere.

        • “You are entitled to an opinion of course.”

          Thanks master.
          We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy…

        • “It’s important to note that Jews have a right to self determination, they do not have a right to an ethnic majority.

          “The existence of Israel is currently predicated on injustice and criminality. There are those of us who are genuinely concerned for Israel’s future. I for one would be very happy to see Israel at peace, with itself and its neighbours”.

          It is telling that you consider the rights of palestinians have supremacy over the rights of Israelis in heir own land.

          You are fully aware that without an ethnic majority, the Jews would lose their nation state and with it their right to self determination.

          Their right to it exists in the international law which created the nation state of the Jewish people – a fact on the ground that your own race hatred prevents you from accepting and which is responsible for the continuation of this conflict which you revel in.

          If the arabs had one tenth of the openness and honesty you so hypocritically demand of the Israelis this mess would have been sorted out years ago.

          You words are sly and you speak with forked tongue.

        • Infidels demand a Right of Return to Mecca.

          Mr. Mohammed, take down that “Muslims Only” road sign.

        • @dubitante
          (From wikipedia-worth a look)
          During the 1949 Lausanne conference, Israel proposed allowing the return of 100,000 of the refugees as a goodwill gesture prior to negotiation for the whole refugee population, though not necessarily to their homes, and including 25,000 who had returned surreptitiously and 10,000 family-reunion cases. The proposal was conditional on a peace treaty that would allow Israel to retain the territory it had taken, and on the Arab states absorbing the remaining 550,000–650,000 refugees. “The Arab states rejected the proposal on both moral and political grounds”

          You see dubitante, details like this get forgotten in history. Then, it was not Gaza, or the West Bank or East Jerusalem that the Arabs were complaining about, but the whole of Israel. Even when offered an olive branch, the Arab world finds a way to turn it down. Now the Arabs seek the return of 5 million “refugees”. Is this really an Arab success story or a total failure dubitante?

    • I believe you have been asked to support with evidence by Gerald.

      I also recall you are saying you have all the time in the world…

      Until you prove yourself we shall assume you are wrong or lied.

        • Were you aware that some of the refugees from 1949 were allowed to return to Israel?
          Did you know that some that fled their villages settled down in other arab villages inside Israel?

          Do you have a figure as to how many which were forced returned?
          Do you know how many were forced to begin with?

          do you know how many Jews were forced from their homes and their nationality and assets stripped in the ME?

          Are you an advocate for their rights as well?

  3. They have a major problem here. One much more serious than “losing their voice at the UN”.

    If they have a Palestinian State, they can no longer be refugees, at least in the West Bank (who knows if Hamas would agree to join a “Palestinian State”???).

    That means UNRWA would no longer have to support them, and they would lose a lot of the money they loot from the US and Euros. Perhaps those in the Arab countries would still be considered refugees, getting fed, clothed and housed by UNRWA.

    I could imagine a mass exodus of these parasites from the West Bank to the easy life in refugee camps in the Arab countries rather than trying to build a working economy on their non-viable patch of land in the West Bank, with their leaders decamping to Monaco or Luxemburg to live of the millions or billions they have ticked away in friend Swiss and Israeli banks.

    • “If they have a Palestinian State, they can no longer be refugees, at least in the West Bank (who knows if Hamas would agree to join a “Palestinian State”???).”

      That’s what we call a non-sequitur.

      Just because a state is recognised at the UN doesn’t mean it has sovereignty. It won’t have sovereignty until it has the monopoly on the use of force inside its borders, and it won’t have that until every last Israeli military and paramilitary person has left or been disarmed.

      “I could imagine a mass exodus of these parasites from the West Bank to the easy life in refugee camps”

      That’s what we call hate-speech. And it is, it would seem, to be encouraged by on this website as long as it is directed against Arabs,

      • This is normal talk against corrupt politicians.
        You chose to take this out of context.

        Good for you big boy.

        I have seen many people in many countries calling politicians parasites and not one was a hate speech.

        In fact a film calling for the chaining of lawyers at the bottom of the ocean won an Oscar.

  4. dubious,

    I ask you once again to present evidence of Prime Ministoer Netanyahu demanding DEATH for “palestine” as the little furher president of the Islamofascist regime of iran demands DEATH for the US and Israel.

    I believe what your furher is engaging in is Hate Speech.

    I wish for the Islamofascist regime what it wishes for America and Israel.