Some day weâ€™ll recall these tranquil months of Israeli newspaper headlines devoted to road accidents and minor scandalsâ€”the headlines of a society free from existential caresâ€”as a foolâ€™s paradise whose fools turned a blind eye to the erupting volcano threatening to bury us all. There was another summer like this one preceding Yom Kippur in 1973, but this time the surprise attack is being readied from within, and the calamity will be diplomatic.
Iâ€™m referring to the ritual sacrifice being prepared for us this November that goes by the name of a â€œpeace conference.â€ The role of the sacrificial lamb will be filled by Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, hundreds of Jewish communities, and hundreds of thousands of Jews who will become refugees in their own land â€“ all this on the backdrop of national, societal, and diplomatic collapse.
The kindling and the fire for the sacrifice will be brought by Shimon Peres and his perpetual partner Terje Larsen [UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process]. Serving them are Haim Ramon, Ehud Olmert, and Abu Mazen. Spurring them on are two ambitious women who, like the most destructive tornadoes, are called by cute nicknames: Tzipi and Condi. On the tombstone the gravediggers will engrave the words â€œThe Diplomatic Horizonâ€ and/or â€œPrinciples for the Final Status Agreementâ€ and/or â€œFramework Agreement for the Establishment of a Palestinian State.â€ The conference will deal with â€œcore issues,â€ that is to say it will uproot the core and the heart of our hold on our land: Jerusalem, borders, refugees, destruction of the settlements.
Discussions on these matters are being held continually in order to bring the sacrificial lamb to Washington on time, already bound and readied for slaughter. There are those who are working to ensure that the sacrificial feast will be well attendedâ€”from Morocco in the West to the Gulf States in the East. Israelâ€™s enemies have waited 40 years for this moment when Israel will be forced to regurgitate all that she swallowed during the Six Day War. Their eyes will finally merit seeing the ceremony of subjugation whereby the Jews will return to the Arabs their lost honor and resume their proper places. To our enemiesâ€™ good fortune, manning the helm of Israelâ€™s ship of state is a man supremely appropriate to the task of self-administering this coup de grace to the Jews — a man dogged by failures and accusations of corruption, whose personal attributes embody all that is weak, rotten and foundering among the Jews in their land at this hour.
At this â€œpeaceâ€ conference, the enemies of Israel from the East and from the West will dictate the decree that Olmert and his friends are writing now in secret together with the Americans and the Arabs while the Israeli public, including the national camp and the settlers, twiddle their thumbs. Itâ€™s comforting to tell ourselves soothing tales such as how Olmert is weak and Abu Mazen is even weaker, and that both of them lack the standing and support among their people to undertake such far-reaching diplomatic initiatives. There are no lack of such rationalizing yarns. Whoever calms himself in this way doesnâ€™t understand the nature and quality of the liquidation ceremony thatâ€™s being prepared for us.
This ceremony doesnâ€™t require any strength; in fact it doesnâ€™t require anything at all except for a declaratory statement, ink on paper, an exhalation of breath, an effort that even a dying man could make without difficulty. However, a declaration like this is enough to bring about, in the words of Shimon Peres, â€œthe concluding chapter of the conflict with the Palestinians,â€ and, in truth, the concluding chapter of Israelâ€™s independence. After this, Israel will be a state in name only. In reality Israel will become a protectorate of the United Nations, whose foreign policy and security are given into the hands of the Quartet, and whose security, that is to say our lives, are entrusted to international forces in the north, center, and south of the country.
At the sacrificial peace conference in Washington, Israel will likely obligate itself to establish a Palestinian state on its ancestral inheritance. The capital of the new state will be Jerusalem, and not even one Jew will be allowed to live within its boundaries.
It doesnâ€™t matter that the conference will not determine on which street in Jerusalem and over which hill or through which valley the border will pass. It is of no significance that the conference wonâ€™t decide how many Arab â€œrefugeesâ€ weâ€™ll be forced to swallow. What will be determined, irrevocably and eternally, this coming year or next year at the latest, is Palestinian sovereignty as a diplomatic, international, factâ€”with finality. The rest truly isnâ€™t important. So too when they signed the Oslo Accords with only the â€œDeclaration of Principles.â€ In its wake, as thunder follows lightning, we were hit by the â€œinterim agreementâ€ with all its details that demanded actualization: areas A, B, and C, the Palestinian â€œpoliceâ€, inserting a terror state infrastructure from Tunis into our borders, and all the rest of the insane arrangements that buried 1,500 Jews in their land and prepared the state for its final act of self-immolation in the guise of a Palestinian state that will turn life in this land into a living hellâ€”an irrevocable living hell.
Itâ€™s not important that the governmental apparatuses of the Palestinian state will be weak or even non-existent. It doesnâ€™t matter whether a prime minister or the head of some terrorist faction will rule. Itâ€™s not important if this state has no economy and will live on the handouts that Israel, the Europeans, and the Americans pay to the gangsters as protection money for a modicum of quiet. The world contains a number of such non-functional states. Somalia, for example, is ruled by gangs of tribal thieves and thugs, but that doesnâ€™t in the least detract from Somalian sovereignty and from the land remaining the land of Somalia according to international law.
Herzl had a vision of a Jewish state arising with international legal recognition. Now this vision has been turned on its head, and a foreign entity is achieving international recognition as sovereign over the Land of Israel. And who is promoting this travesty? The Jews themselves.
What is the irredeemable, eternal meaning of Palestinian sovereignty? When Israel liberated Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in the Six Day War, she didnâ€™t conquer land that belonged to any sovereign power. Neither Jordan in Judea and Samaria nor Egypt in Gaza had any sovereign rights in those territories. Both had invaded those territories in 1948 in order to frustrate the League of Nations decision of November 29, 1947 recognizing Israel. Egypt never claimed sovereignty over Gaza and established military rule there from the beginning. Jordan, in contravention of international law, attempted to establish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, but renounced this aspiration on its own initiative in 1988.
Only because of this vacuum in sovereignty was Israel authorized to utilize state lands to settle Jews in Judea and Samaria or to settle the lands in any way. Had there been a legal sovereign before Israelâ€™s takeover of those territories, the Hague Convention would have forbidden Israel from making fundamental changes to the status quo, including the utilization of state lands. International law views the conquering military administration as custodian over the occupied territories until they are returned to the original sovereign in a future peace agreement. Until then, the conquered lands are held in trust by the occupying power. In the same way, the conqueror is forbidden from excavating antiquities located in occupied territories. They too are held in trust for the conquered power that will eventually regain sovereignty. Therefore, coins from the Great Revolt or the Bar Kochba Revolt, bearing images of the Holy Temple and other Jewish symbols, will belong to the Palestinians the moment they became sovereign over Judea and Samaria; Israel will be obligated to give up all the Jewish antiquities that sheâ€™s excavated since 1967. All this we will bring upon ourselves the moment a Jewish hand signs an agreement granting Palestinian sovereignty over the Land of Israel.
For the Palestinians to win sovereignty over our homeland, it doesnâ€™t matter that Abu Mazen today happens to be weak, or if the day after signing an agreement he resumes his alliance with Hamas, or that he resigns, or is assassinated. From the moment that Palestine is declared a state, what is done can never be undone. The Palestinians, of course, will instigate terror and wars. The IDF might conquer Shechem over and over again, but will always be forced to leave and return the land to the Palestinian sovereign. This is because the land has become Palestinian land according to international law from the moment that Palestinian sovereignty is officially recognized. Just so was Berlin conquered and destroyed and divided, but in the end returned to Germany as its capital. Just so the Nazis came and went, but Germany remained.
Iâ€™ve already described how this scenario is viewed under international law. The giants in the field, professors Stone, Rostow, and Schwabel, have proven how the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine, granted by the League of Nations to Britain over the Land of Israel, are in force in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza until this day. According to the Mandate, the area of the Land of Israel is allocated under international law as the national homeland of the Jewish nation â€œin recognition of the historic right of the Jewish people to reestablish their national home in Palestineâ€ (including, of course, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza).
Why are the provisions of the Mandate in force to this day despite the fact that the League of Nations has passed from the world and been replaced by the United Nations, and despite the fact that England is no longer here? The professors have explained that although a part of the lands of the Mandate have become the internationally recognized State of Israel and although another part of the lands of the Mandate east of the Jordan River have become the internationally recognized State of Jordan, a third part of the Mandate lands, that include Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, were left without a recognized sovereign. As long as international law doesnâ€™t officially recognize any other sovereignty, theyâ€™ll continue to be governed by the provisions of the Mandate, which states, inter alia, that state lands are to be used for intensive Jewish settlement, to encourage aliyah, and names the Jewish Agency as a tool to serve those ends.
When will these Mandate provisions cease to apply? When another sovereign will be declared over Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem. In the first stage, Israel abdicated her right to declare her sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and left those lands undefined and ownerless. Now she is moving to the next stage, the stage of the historic terminus of Jewish rights over the Land of Israel, the stage of voluntary relinquishment of sovereignty and of transferring her rights to an alien power. In all the years of our exile and persecution, there was not found among the Jewish people any authority willing to sever the people from its beloved land. We had to return and persevere here for 120 years, undergoing difficult and bitter trials, in order to establish a state authorized under international law to give the Land of Israel a decree of divorce in the name of the Jewish People, now and forever.
Intensifying the heartbreak is the fact that Judea, Samaria, and Gaza are the only remaining territories on the entire earth (excepting the South Pole) which remain ownerlessâ€”as if an invisible hand guarded the ancient Jewish home for the Jewish people. And now that peopleâ€™s representative is pushing away this hand in an act of historic betrayal that will resound throughout the generations. Now the more we ground and strengthen our claim that weâ€™re the real and legal owners of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem, the more weâ€™ll ground and strengthen the newly acquired right of the Palestinians to those lands. After all, who is most authorized to gift and grant ownership over land if not the rightful owner? He and only he can legally effectuate the transfer!
When this despicable act will be final, all else will flow from it. Whether the Israeli army drags the Jews out by their hair from their homes on land that has become â€œPalestine,â€ or whether it will be left to the Palestinian murderers in uniform to do the job by themselves, from the moment land comes under Palestinian sovereignty, that will be the end of all Jewish life there.
One can almost hear the destroyers talking, from Ramon to Livni and from Olmert to Peres: Soon the Palestinians will come and sweep away everything with a giant broom, the legal and established cities together with the â€œillegalâ€ outposts and hilltops. Nothing will remain of the hated settlement enterprise, and together with its disappearance will come the collapse of those that bore it, the religious and national camps that endanger leftist rule. Our rulers are an elite that sprouted from what used to be called â€œthe rule of the proletariat,â€ in whose name they meant to appropriate the state in perpetuity. While the Socialist rationalizations have passed from the world and the elites represent no one but themselves, the socialist heirs still intend to rule in perpetuity.
I donâ€™t bother to ask, â€œWhere is Netanyahu?â€ or â€œWhere is the Likud and its Knesset members?â€ at this fateful hour. Neither am I asking where Avigdor Lieberman [leader of the nationalist party Israel Beiteinu, now in the government] is or what Rav Ovadia and his Shas party [also in the government] are doing. Iâ€™m asking the settlers whose lands will be the first the Palestinian bulldozer overturns: â€œWhere are you?â€ â€œGoing up to Homeshâ€? [Homesh was a Jewish community in northern Samaria evacuated in the 2005 â€œdisengagementâ€. In Sept 2007 7-10,000 marchers converged on Homesh to urge Jewish resettlement of the community.] The return to Homesh isnâ€™t taking place in a void. Homesh is not suspended in thin air. This enterprise only makes sense and has purpose as part of a struggle for our continued existence in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem that is now in immediate danger of destruction.
We need to gather all the Jewsâ€”all those who remain Jewsâ€”while thereâ€™s still time and embark on a struggle to the bitter end in order to prevent at any price taking the one step from which thereâ€™s no return, the one additional step that will pull the ground from under us and fling us into the abyss of Palestinian sovereignty.
Elyakim Haâ€™etzni is a former Knesset member. An attorney, he lives in Kiryat Arba in Judea. This was a talk given on Arutz 7.