Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Countering
Item 7

THE UNHRC'S STANDING AGENDA ITEM
TARGETING ISRAEL

Claims

Claim 2: Israel is responsible for the impasse in peace talks

examples

Venezuela, 45th Session

“We reject the colonial policy of the occupying power that appeals to terror, siege and discrimination, and ignores all calls for dialogue and peace made by the community of nations.”

Russia, 45th Session

“We oppose Israel’s unilateral actions that run counter to the norms of international humanitarian law and negatively affect the prospects for achieving sustainable peace in the region.”

Djibouti, 45th Session

“Put an end to the occupation and the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip [which is] seeking to harm the two-state solution…Djibouti urges Israel to come to the table to discuss a two-state solution.”

Our Response

UN Watch

Historically, dating back to the 1947 UN Partition Plan and before, it is the Palestinians who have categorically rejected opportunities for peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution. Since the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s, the Palestinians have rejected outright three peace proposals.[1] In 2000, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians responded to the Camp David Accords with the terrorist uprising knowns as the Second Intifada in which more than 1,000 Israelis were killed and many more injured. In 2008, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, they refused Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan which would have given them control of more than 90% of the West Bank.[2]

Now again, in response to the January 2020 U.S. peace plan, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared: “After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a thousand no’s to the Deal of The Century.”[3] The Palestinian leadership have refused to even participate in negotiations.

In stark contrast, “Israel is ready for negotiations,” stated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I am ready for negotiations, and believe that many Arab states hope we will enter such negotiations with the Palestinians.”[4]

As a consequence of the normalization agreement signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israeli proposals to annex parts of the disputed territories—which had been vehemently opposed by the Palestinians—were indefinitely suspended.[5] From a Palestinian perspective, one of the most immediate stumbling blocks to negotiations was therefore removed. Yet in 2020 the Palestinians still refused to return to the table. According to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi ambassador to the US, the Palestinian leaders are “failures” who have consistently missed opportunities for making peace with Israel.[6]

Rather than posing as an obstacle to regional peace, Israel has, in the space of only a few months, reached peace and normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The United Nations and its member states ought to welcome the Arab-Israeli peace agreements and encourage the Palestinians as well as other Arab states to join the circle of peace.

Furthermore, Israel has demonstrated a willingness to withdraw its citizens from occupied territory for the sake of peace. For example, Israel uprooted some 7,000 Israelis from the Sinai Peninsula in connection with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.[7] More recently, Israel evacuated some 8,500 Israelis from Gaza when it unilaterally withdrew from the area in 2005.[8] Regrettably, the Gaza withdrawal did not bring peace, but paved the way for Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip.

[1] For a timeline of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks see Jeffrey Heller, Long line of Israeli-Palestinian peace bids precede Trump push, Reuters (January 27, 2020), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-plan-history/long-line-of-israeli-palestinian-peace-bids-precede-trump-push-idUSKBN1ZQ0RQ; see also Israel and the Palestinians: Chronology of a Two-State Solution, Congressional Research Service (June 30, 2020), https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/IF11237.pdf.

[2] Mark Lavie, Missed Opportunity: Olmert, Abbas, and Media Bias, Tablet (November 24, 2015), https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/missed-opportunity-olmert-abbas-and-media-bias.

[3] Mohammed Daraghmeh & Fares Akram, Palestinians angrily reject Trump Mideast peace plan, ASSOCIATED PRESS (January 29, 2020) https://apnews.com/article/0dcb0179faf41e1870f35838058f4d18.

[4] Netanyahu: ‘I am ready for negotiations with the Palestinians’, I24 News (June 29, 2020) https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/1593409350-netanyahu-i-am-ready-for-negotiations-with-the-palestinians.

[5] Anne Geran and Steve Hendrix, Trump announces historic peace agreement between Israel and United Arab Emirates, Washington Post (August 14, 2020) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-announces-historic-peace-agreement-between-israel-and-united-arab-emirates/2020/08/13/363f3c54-dd76-11ea-8051-d5f887d73381_story.html.

[6] Saudi former intelligence chief slams Palestinian leadership’s criticism of UAE-Israel deal, Reuters (October 6, 2020), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-gulf-saudi-idUSKBN26Q33U.

[7] David K. Shipler, Israeli Completes Pullout, Leaving Sinai to Egypt, New York Times (April 26, 1982), https://www.nytimes.com/1982/04/26/world/israeli-completes-pullout-leaving-sinai-to-egypt.html.

[8] Israel completes Gaza withdrawal, BBC (September 5, 2005), http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4235768.stm; Anna Aronheim, Gaza Disengagement was ‘absolute mistake,’ says a withdrawal commander, Jerusalem Post (July 31, 2020), https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/gaza-disengagement-was-absolute-mistake-says-commander-who-oversaw-it-636926.

UN Watch