by Gerald A. Honigman
January 22, 2010
The headline of Avi Yellin’s article in January 22, 2010′s Israel National News/Arutz Sheva read , “Mitchell Pitches a New 5-Point Plan for Middle East Negotiations.”
The story reported that, according to Arab sources linked to alleged “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas’s latter-day Arafatians of Fatah and quoted by the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, President Obama’s Special Middle East Envoy, George Mitchell is unveiling a five-point plan to force parties back to the negotiating table and press Israel to retreat back to the ’49 armistice line–not border– which existed between Israel and Jordan until Israel was attacked by the latter in 1967.
Recall that President Obama had previously endorsed the earlier Saudi “Peace” (of the grave) Plan prior to his election and afterwards as well. He repeatedly stated that Israel would be crazy to reject such “peace.”
In a nutshell, that plan calls for Israel to retreat to its ’49 armistice lines on all fronts (think the Golan Heights, from which Syria bombarded Israeli civilians for decades, as well as Judea and Samaria–aka, only as of the 20th century, the “West Bank), making it 9-15 miles wide in its strategic waist, where most of its population and industry are located, again. Additionally, it must next accept millions of allegedly “returning” jihadi Arab refugees raised on murderous Jew-hatred for decades. Recall that more Jews fled from “Arab” lands than vice-versa after a half dozen Arab states attacked a resurrected, microscopic Israel in 1948. In return, Israel supposedly will get a vague “normalization”–after giving up all the concrete tangibles minimally required just to be able to exist if the Arabs renege for whatever reason they will surely find.
While I didn’t see mention of the returning refugees in the short, new article mentioned above, recall that this stipulation was at first played down years ago as well. Nonetheless, it remains an integral part of that plan to this very day–one which Abbas insists he will never retreat from.
The reality, of course, is that this allegedly “new” Obama initiative is nothing more than the same old Saudi version of the Arabs’ well-known, openly admitted destruction-in-stages “Trojan Horse” schemes as described in direct quotes from earlier Arab “moderates” themselves.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see how we got to where we are today…
At a State Department briefing on January 9, 1992, spokesperson Margaret Tutwiler was asked about accepting the word “Palestinian” when referring to the territories of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. She replied that the U.S. had accepted this usage since 1979, but that it was for “descriptive” purposes only…Typical Foggy Folk gobbledygook.
When later asked, “if it’s a long-standing policy, why wasn’t the word ‘Palestinian’ used in Security Council Resolution 338…or in 242 which underpins the current peace process?,” Tutwiler replied,” I do not know… I’ll be happy to ask somebody for you.”
Some five years later, in a May 21, 1997 briefing, spokesman Nicholas Burns focused on the “settlements” issue…a harbinger of things to come.
Is it not “interesting” that in numerous State Department briefings over the decades–and in all the discussions and elaborations which have ensued to this very day with the Obama/Clinton foreign policy team running the American show–the ties never seem to be made between those settlements and the spirit and intent of UNSC Resolution 242, the basis for peace making between Arab and Jew in the region?
Perhaps a coincidence…most probably, not.
It seems to have taken Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to remind his State Department counterparts in an August 6, 2002 speech, “If you have a country that is a sliver and you can see three sides of it from a high hotel building, you’ve got to be careful what you give away and to whom you give it to.”
Much has been written about 242. Some claim it’s ambiguous…It’s not.
Adopted in the wake of the June 1967 War, started when Arabs blockaded Israel at the Straits of Tiran–a casus belli–and other well-documented hostile acts, 242 is as famous for what it did not say as for what it did.
As anyone who has studied this subject knows, among other things (and besides the references above), there was no mention of a total withdrawal by Israel to the 1949, U.N.-imposed armistice lines…lines which were never meant to be final political borders. This was reinforced by a call for the creation of “secure and recognized”, defensible borders to replace those lines…lines which turned Israel into a 9-15 mile wide sub- rump state–forever at its neighbors’ mercy, an easy target for terror, invasion, and prone to be sliced in half.
A reading of Lord Caradon, Eugene Rostow, Arthur Goldberg, and other architects of the final, accepted draft of 242 (not the French and Russian version) clearly shows that Israel was not expected to return to the deadly, absurd status quo ante.
As Ambassador Dore Gold and others have pointed out, President Lyndon Johnson summarized the situation this way on June 19, 1967:
” A return to the situation on June 4 (the day before outbreak of war) was not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities.”
Johnson then called for “new recognized boundaries that would provide security against terror, destruction, and war. He was then backed up by General Earle Wheeler of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and many others as well.
Recall that on the West Bank, Israel took these lands in a defensive war from an illegal occupant–Transjordan–which subsequently renamed itself Jordan as a result of its 1949 illegal acquisition of non-apportioned lands of the original 1920 Mandate west of the Jordan River that Jews, as well as Arabs and others, were legally entitled to live on.
Indeed, Jews have thousands of years of history connecting them to these lands and owned property and lived there up until their massacres by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s. Additionally, many, if not most, of the Arabs themselves were also relative newcomers, pouring in–as the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, Colonial Secretary and later Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s writings, and other documentation show–from Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere in the region.
General Wheeler’s document also envisioned Israel acquiring an adequate buffer zone atop the West Bank mountain ridge, in command of the high ground, giving it at least some semblance of in depth defense.
During President Richard Nixon’s term in office, official U.S. policy seemed to erode somewhat vis-a-vis Johnson’s position. Whether this was due to Nixon himself or the State Department’s Arabists (who fought President Truman and opposed Israel’s rebirth in the first place) reasserting themselves, on December 9, 1969 Secretary of State William Rogers allowed for only “insubstantial alterations” regarding the 1949 armistice lines. This is echoed by the Obama White House and the Foggy Folks today.
After having to answer to the late Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson and others as well, soon afterwards–until recently–the U.S. refrained from such deviation from both the wording and intent of 242.
Moving ahead, and once again utilizing Ambassador Gold’s useful summary, here’s what President Ronald Reagan had to say about all of this on September 1, 1982
“In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10-miles wide…the bulk of Israel’s population within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”
In 1988, Secretary of State George Shultz declared, “Israel will never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders.” A rare exception to the State Department’s typical attitude, Shultz fought his own crew to give Israel a fair shake.
In the 1990s, during the Clinton years (despite the later pressure brought to bear on Prime Minister Ehud Barak to sweetin’ the pot by offering Arafat far more than 242 called for at Camp David and Taba in 2000), official policy, as expressed by Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1997, was that, “Israel is entitled to secure and defensible borders,” a la 242. Yet Clinton undermined Israel from this point forward. While Arafat rejected the offers, the latter became the expected starting point for any future “negotiations”… i.e., Jew arm-twisting.
So, what happened between the days of Reagan and his latter day successors and son of his vice-president?
From Reagan’s 1982 statement that Israel would never be expected to return to its former vulnerable existence, we later came to President George W. Bush’s May 26, 2005 White House statement that the 1949 armistice lines must be the basis of peace between Israel and the 22nd Arab state–second Arab one in “Palestine”– which Bush and his new successor plan to create. Yet, just a year before, he echoed Reagan himself, stating virtually the opposite of his May 26th statement in a much publicized letter he gave to Prime Minister Sharon.
As Rogers and Hammerstein’s King of Siam said, “Tis a puzzlement!”
Yet, there was one constant ingredient that seemed to have constantly been at work for the erosion of support for both the vision and the spirit of 242: James A. Baker, III.
During Bush II’s dad’s days in office, best pal Secretary of State Baker promised the butcher of Damascus, Hafez al-Assad, a total Israeli withdrawal from the strategically important (and once part of the original Palestine Mandate) Golan Heights…his personal idea about what to do with 242.
Baker has been in the background for decades, especially since his close friends, the Bushes, gained ascendancy in American politics. His law firm represents Saudi and other Arab interests in this country and typifies how people move through the revolving doors of businesses tied to Arab interests back and forth into government positions–especially those in Foggy Bottom. Baker’s law partner, Robert Jordan, was appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia by President Bush in 2001. Casper Weinberger and many others have been through these lucrative doors as well. Most often, their influence has spelled trouble for an Israel trying to get a fair hearing and has been involved in eroding such positive developments as Resolution 242 and so forth.
In a Time magazine article back on February 13, 1989, Baker spoke of Israel as being a turkey to be hunted and carefully stalked. He has referred to Jews working for him and doing his bidding (including the recent American Ambassador to Israel) as his “Jew boys.”
But Baker is best known for his following piece of wisdom: ” F _ _ _ the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway!”
And if you believe that Baker is alone among the power brokers with these attitudes, I have two bridges to sell you.
The team running President Obama’s current foreign policy is a Democratic clone of the above when it comes to such issues. Obama’s admiration, friendship, key appointments, and so forth of the likes of Farrakhan, Rezko, Prof. Khalidi, Rev. Wright, Jessie Hymietown Jackson, Zbig Brezinski, Apartheid Israel Carter, Robert Malley, George Soros, General McPeak, Khalid al-Mansour, etc. and so forth have to be beyond the coincidental.
That, indeed, says it all regarding what Israel can expect from such circles. If you wonder why the vision of justice in 242 has been replaced by a constant bickering over settlements instead–never tying the two together–look no further.
President Bush’s winning a second term in office and his appointment of Baker as his Special Middle East Envoy combined with the recharged influence of the State Department’s old and new generation Arabists and the Bush family’s massive oil connections to negate any alleged influence of Evangelical Christians seeking justice for Israel. And since Bush II couldn’t run again, he had nothing to lose.
Things took a turn for the worse with the election of President Obama.
Under his watch, and with Hillary Clinton as his appointed Secretary of State, the assurances regarding key issues such as the return of refugees and no withdrawal to the ’49 armistice lines that George W. Bush gave to Prime Minister Sharon several years back ( in that famous letter which accompanied the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza) have now either been denied as even existing or considered as a joke.
Only time will tell how this will all play out.
But, at this point, Israel will have to depend on the integrity, courage, and fortitude of its own leaders, expecting them to act as the leaders of any other nation faced with the same circumstances would act.
Only they can insist that Israel gets the justice Resolution 242 promised it.
And, while it would be nice to have support from elsewhere, that’s the way it should be anyway. Let’s hope Prime Minister Netanyahu is up to the task.