The Lies of Geneva by Shlomo Avineri
(The writer is a veteran professor of history and political science at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a former director-general of Israel's
Foreign Ministry, and a moderate-left activist. This article appeared as an
OpEd in the December 1, 2003 afternoon daily "Yediote Aharonote." Translated
by Moshe Kohn.)
The initiators of the Geneva document are, of course, entitled to express
their views and publicize them in any manner they see fit. But do they have
the right to brazenly lie to the public as to what the document does or does
not contain? Here are a few examples:
The initiators present themselves as independent political and intellectual
figures from both sides. Not so. Indeed, the Israeli side includes
opposition figures and independent intellectuals; the Palestinian side is
headed by the former Palestinian Minister of Information, who said the
document has Arafat's blessing. The Palestinian Prime Minister says he
personally agrees with the document. The Palestinian initiators do not
include any opposition figures - because there is no real opposition in the
Palestinian Authority, except for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who, as is known,
are not partners to the initiative. This is a document of part of the
opposition in Israel and of the Palestinian ruling establishment.
Before the document was made public, the initiators said it contains
Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as "the state of the Jewish
people." Not so. The "Jewish people" is not mentioned in the document. What
is does say is that "the two sides recognize Palestine and Israel as the
national homes of their nations." Whoever wishes can certainly say that
Israel as "the state of all its citizens" is the national home of "the
Israeli nation," which includes Jews and Arabs. It is no coincidence that
the word "Jew" doesn't appear in the document. The Palestinian signators do
not include anyone who believes there is a "Jewish people."
The document's initiators said the Palestinians have waived the right of
return. Not so. The document says United Nations Resolution 194 and other
resolutions shall be the basis for the solution of the refugee problem. To
be sure, resolution 194 doesn't speak of the "right" of return - it only
determines that the refugees shall return to their former places. As the
Arabs see it, Resolution 194 is the basis of the international legitimacy of
the right of return.
The document's initiators said most of the Israeli settlers would remain
where they are. This is correct only if the term "settlers" includes not
only those living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also the 200,000
Israelis living over the Green Line in Jerusalem. When the explanatory notes
say that 300,000 Israelis over the Green Line will remain in their places,
it is clear that most of the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will
be evacuated. How many? It is worthwhile knowing how many, but nowhere do
the initiators expressly say how many settlers will have to be evacuated.
The reason for this lacuna is obvious.
A careful reading of the document shows that in the matter of the refugee
problem and certain other matters Israel will in effect be placed under the
supervision of an "implementation" group and a commission comprising not
only the U.N., the U.S., Russia and the European Union, but also the Arab
states. In effect, Israel will cease to be a sovereign country regarding
substantive matters and will turn into a kind of international mandated
territory. It is clear why this is not being told to the public.
Not only the Arab refugees will be entitled to compensation, but also some
Arab countries - for the expenses they incurred in "hosting" the refugees
since 1948. The Israelis public has not been told this. It also has not been
told that the agreement speaks of developing "appropriate ways of
memorializing the [Arab] villages and communities that existed before 1949."
Who would by a used car from these people? Not I.