“Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). “Hear, ye deaf, and look, ye blind, that ye may see” (Isaiah 42:18).
The Anatomy of a Peace Treaty – On the morning that the Knesset was to vote on the Egyptian-Israel “peace” treaty, it was discovered that the copies of the document that had been given to the members of Parliament were not those of the final, official version. The picture of the Knesset members about to vote without having seen an accurate, final version, is mirrored in the general, gleeful Jewish belief that peace is underway. It is a belief by Jews who TO THIS DAY have never read the text of either the treaty or the Camp David accords that gave birth to it. It is because of this that we so utterly fail to comprehend the dangerous reality of the Sinai withdrawal and the true implications of the autonomy plan of Mr. Begin. Worse, because of our ignorance of the agreements so solemnly signed by the Prime Minister of Israel, we fall prey to the illusions spread by official government sources, notably the Prime Minister himself, illusions based on the premise that we have taken a major step towards peace.
When Mr. Begin says that there will never be a “Palestinian state,” a careful look at the agreements he signed reveals something not quite as certain. When he defines his autonomy as being a mere grant of “administrative” power to the Arabs, a cursory study of the accords shows this to be untrue and that persistence in this claim must lead to collapse of talks with blame for this collapse leveled directly at Israel. When we are told by a smiling Prime Minister that the signing marks a great day and that peace is at hand, the hollowness of the statement is seen by merely reading the agreements that Israel signed. It is my contention that a careful reading and study of the various agreements will make it abundantly clear that no possible real accord can be reached unless Israel does the unthinkable – give up the liberated lands in their entirety (including Jerusalem) and set up a “Palestinian” state (and even this will prove to be only a temporary lull until the next step); that since Israel will never agree to this, the “peace” with breakdown will occur AFTER Israel has given up most of the Sinai with attendant strategic importance and vital oil and other natural resources; that the breakdown will be blamed on Israel; that the reason for this will have its roots in the agreement by Prime Minister Begin to various concepts and concessions, an agreement that was originally planned as an evasive maneuver to escape pressure, and that was purposely couched in vague and foggy terms in the belief that it is possible to evade problems through deception and deliberate imprecision. It may be a well-meaning policy but it is one that will cost us dearly.
And so, because Jews should know what they are talking about; because they should understand the unfortunate deviousness of government policy and statements; because the fate of people and state are at stake – we must study the words and paragraphs agreed to by the Prime Minister of Israel. For they are obligations that no one – neither Washington, Cairo, the American people nor American Jewish leaders will allow Israel to ignore. It is crucial that we know the course we are taking so that we can change it, lest we pay heavy penalties for hopeless deviousness.
I. “Palestine” and Autonomy Prime Minister Begin has been adamant in stating that there will “never be a Palestinian state” and “we will never speak with the PLO.” Yet in the Camp David Accords, Mr. Begin agreed to the following: “Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the representatives of the Palestinian people should participate in negotiations on the resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects.” And again: “The solution from the negotiations must also recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements.” The “Palestinian” people. For decades, Israeli leaders were careful never to speak of or recognize a “Palestinian people.” For if there exists a “Palestinian people,” what is a more just requirement and a more legitimate right than a state of their own? What is the most basic right of any people if not the right to its own state? How can we speak of a “Palestinian people” and then say “but they cannot have their own state!” And if we speak of the “representatives of the Palestinian people,” what will be if these “people” choose as their representatives, the PLO? And any Israeli leader who tells us that the majority of the “Palestinians” do not accept the PLO as their leaders, lies to us, and proof is his for the asking by simply allowing free elections in which the PLO is allowed to participate.
Indeed, there is ludicrousness in the repeated pledges against speaking with the PLO even as there is daily contact and cooperation with the PLO mayors of Hebron, Ramallah, Shchem and other towns. When Begin signed an accord which had in its official English translation the concept of a “Palestinian people” and its “legitimate and basic rights,” he set the stage for a confrontation with the entire world, a confrontation which is of his own making. Instead of having cleaved to a staunch, open and honest disclaimer of any “Palestinian people,” he, for the countless time, chose the path of deviousness by which he signed an accord that speaks of a “Palestinian people” and then stated in a letter to President Carter that he construes “Palestinian people” to mean “Palestinian Arabs.” It is, once again, the tortured legalism that Begin uses so often to evade confrontation but which is so meaningless to the world. The official version speaks of a “Palestinian people” and its legitimate rights, the most basic of which is clearly the right to the same kind of state that Jews have.