Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 56

Key to Peace

in the Middle East

t h e E U h o l d s t h e k e y to p e ac e i n t h e M i d d l e E a s t


Acknowledgements and Credits 2


Jan Wijenberg Key to Peace in the Middle East 5

Ludo Abicht Examination of the logical ethical treatise on

the Israeli-Palestine conflict 29

A.A.M. van Agt Israel/Palestine: towards a binational state 37

Leo Kwarten The Ritual Dance of Peace and the New Middle East 41

Paul de Waart International law as a way to peace between Israel

and Palestine 47

Jan Wijenberg Key to Peace in the Middle East - A Summary 54

Biographical notes 55


This publication was made possible by

the kind patronage of Mrs Yetta Goelet.

The Dutch quarterly magazine Civis

Mundi: Journal for Political Philosophy and
Culture dedicated Volume 47, Issue 4,
published in October 2008, to obstacles
and opportunities for peace in the Mid-
dle East, under the title Key to Peace in
the Middle East. The Editor-in-Chief and
the authors graciously agreed to have
the articles translated and published in
this booklet. Civis Mundi is published by
DAMON B.V., Budel, The Netherlands.


Mohammed Omer, independent Pales-
tinian journalist in Gaza, Palestinian Oc-
cupied Territory.

Photograph on front cover:

Palestinian young man running from an Is-
raeli rocket attack, hitting a house in Gaza

Photograph on back cover:

Palestinian boy seen through wired bars in
the borderline between Egypt and Gaza

Helen Gamble Editorial Services, Noot-
dorp, The Netherlands.

Robine, Twello, The Netherlands

The Isreal Defence Forces take a Palestinian child into custody on the West Bank

Key to Peace in the Middle East

Jan Wijenberg

“And history’s fingers never relax their grip, never leave us unmolested, can touch us even when we
would never imagine their presence. Europe and the Middle East, the ‘West’ and the Arab World, are […]
inextricably entangled [...].
The European superpowers [during the First World War] were blind to so many of the realities that they
were creating. […] the empires of [that] day that created our catastrophe in the Middle East.”
Robert Fisk, ‘The Great War for Civilisation’, Fourth Estate, 2005

1 Introduction

The constant barrage of daily news sometimes makes us forget the essence of the Middle East
conflict. To put it simply, it is the (so far unattainable) goal of a just and lasting peace between
Israel and the Palestinians. A millstone is constantly being thrown into the worldwide political
pond and the shockwaves form concentric circles.

The immediate victims are the Israeli citizens and especially the Palestinians. Consequently,
neighbouring areas are affected. The Lebanon is trying to recover from Israeli aggression for the
umpteenth time. Iraq has, partly due to the insistence of Israel (which was later denied), been
reduced to rubble. Iran and Syria are under threat. Political and academic life in the United States
is suffering. Europe – ‘inextricably entangled’ in the Middle East – is experiencing the political
and moral implications of the conflict and, through acts of terrorism, is experiencing physical
consequences as well. The European Union is hopelessly divided and stands powerlessly by.
The violence and obstinacy of the conflict have also roused the anger of 1.4 million Muslims.
And finally, the conflict has a great influence on the political and economic division of power on
a global scale.

Can the course of history and the future direction be put down to just one factor? That may be
implying too much. Nevertheless, the following essay will defend the thesis that the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict has been a dominant factor in recent world history and will be a determining
factor in the near future.

First, it is essential to have an insight into the nature of the conflict. Then we must examine how
the – in modern times often decisive – image of the conflict takes shape. Finally, the holders of the
key to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East will be identified and we will examine which
instruments they have at their disposal to promote peace and, if necessary, to enforce a solution
through peaceful means.

One often hears that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex and impossible to un-
ravel. But closer examination shows that it is not as difficult as it first appears. The question
becomes clearer, and therefore more manageable, when a choice is made on principle. The only
thing that counts, the exclusive key to reaching a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, is in-
ternational law. The discussion that follows avoids quite valid political, religious and ideological
standpoints that exist today.

It seems like an obvious starting point, but in fact it is not. There is no other situation where inter-
national law is so ignored, violated and sidelined as in this conflict. Numerous inhabitants of the
Middle East have died, been mutilated or have lost family and friends as a result of this injustice.
Peace in the region and stability throughout the world are its other victims.

It is time to restore this principle – that of international law – to its rightful place.

2 International law, Israel and the Palestinians

2.1 Israel
On a daily basis and on a large scale, Israel violates a whole host of things set out in International
- the Preamble of the United Nations Charter;
- 39 UN Security Council resolutions on Israel;
- international legislation resulting from the Peace Conferences of The Hague in 1899 and
- human rights, as set out in the Geneva Convention, especially the IVth;
- the many treaties and declarations concerning Universal Human Rights;
- the treaties on the Rights of the Child;
- the treaties against torture;
- the Advisory Opinion on existing international law of the International Court of Justice, July
9, 2004 regarding ‘the Wall’ and other aspects.

Every country sometimes has difficulty applying international law. It happens in our own coun-
try, especially in relation to this conflict. However, Israel’s mistakes are not accidental. The coun-
try has come up with their very own ‘unique’ interpretations of international law that have never
been accepted by the international community. The goal is to make international law inferior
to national interests.1 In this way, judges can give the torture of men, women and children a
so-called ‘basis in law’, against all international accords and declarations on human rights, the
rights of the child and against torture. Due to the extent and reach of these violations, the in-
ternational justice system is being corroded. That is why this type of behaviour is called ‘state

1  Dr. Lisa Hajjar, Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza, University of California
Press, 2005. Acting on advice from Israeli advisors, this system was adopted by the United States regarding ‘the war
on terror’, which resulted in: the removal of rights and legal protection, illegal combatants [change in Dutch], torture,
Guantanamo Bay, Abu Greib, extraordinary renditions.

2.2 The Palestinians
Do the Palestinians violate international law? Of course this is the case when they target Israeli
citizens in terrorist attacks. As this is a violation of international law, these attacks must be con-
demned. However, there is a big difference between this and Israeli terrorism. Palestinian fac-
tions commit these attacks out of desperation and because of the hopelessness of their plight. It
is not the policy of the Palestinian authorities. In this sense, unlike Israel, there is no question of
state terrorism.

2.3 The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague – the highest legal authority in the world
– made history with its Advisory Opinion of July 9, 2004 regarding the ‘Legal Consequences of the
Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. The ICJ took the first opportunity to
concern itself with the conflict, to confirm existing international law and to speak out on several

The Court authorised Palestinian participation in the peace talks on an equal footing and thereby
recognised Palestine as a partner in the conflict. The Israeli desire to erect a wall in Israel for self-
protection is not disputed, but the Court does not agree with the erection of the wall on Palestin-
ian territory. It believes that Israel should take down the wall and pay damages. The Palestinian
territory is occupied and not open to question, as Israel claims. The settlements are a violation
of international law. This takes away Israel’s legal right to negotiate about the annexation of the
occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. International treaties on universal human rights
and humanitarian laws apply.

This finding is damning for Israel and for the Security Council. The latter has failed, according
to the Court, in its foremost task – the maintaining of international peace and security. The Court
believes that the UN must double its efforts for a timely solution and should take these findings
into consideration. The ICJ has thereby reaffirmed the validity of international law and its ap-
plication to Israel.

The US and Israel dismissed the findings even before they knew the outcome. They thereby confirmed that
international law does not apply to them. The EU contented itself with empty gestures.

2.4 Israel’s overdue maintenance

Immediately following the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 on November 22,
1967, Israel was supposed to have pulled out of the Occupied Territories. Right up to the present,
the Palestinians are afflicted by an occupation that has lasted more than 40 years. This makes a
mockery of international law. It is also a gross scandal that the US and the EU have allowed this
to go on for so long and stubbornly continue to do so.

The encirclement of the Palestinians on the West Bank of the Jordan is almost complete. On one
side there is already a wall. On the other side, the Palestinians have almost been driven out of
their territory along the shore of the river Jordan. When this is completed, the killing on small-
scale can be stepped up and the mass killing, as in Gaza, can begin.

It is incredible that in the current situation, the emphasis is being placed on details to isolate Ha-
mas, even though it cannot be denied that Israeli political Zionism is the root of all the political,
economic and social ills being suffered by the Palestinians. This is especially true in Gaza. The
victim is being victimised.

Israel has great disdain for international law. Israel has much overdue maintenance to carry out
before it can call itself a civilised member of the United Nations that conforms to international
law. Israel must:
- desist from any form of aggression against the entire Palestinian population by the military,
as well as the residents of all Jewish settlements;
- desist from murder by any means and using any methods, including targeted assassinations;
- desist one hundred percent from crimes committed by the Israeli military and the secret
service in the entire Middle East;
- withdraw as soon as possible from all Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem and
- carry out the right of return of the Palestinian refugees;
- desist from the violation of territorial integrity of all surrounding sovereign states;
- immediately release the approximately 12,000 kidnapped, illegally arrested Lebanese and
Palestinian citizens, including approximately 48 democratically-elected members of the Pal-
estinian parliament;
- take down the wall on Palestinian territory on the West Bank and compensate the affected
- hold talks with democratically-elected Hamas, who continuously make sensible suggestions
for peace based on international law.

2.5 Delinquents
When international law is violated on such a great scale that it can be considered state terrorism,
it is easy to identify the main perpetrators. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most well
documented cases. Therefore it is not difficult to give a few examples, by means of illustration,
from a long list of violations.

In the Palestinian debate, Ariel Scheierman, alias Ariel Sharon, is often called ‘the certified Israeli
war criminal’.2 Few independent observers will disagree with this. At best he is considered an
uncompromising hawk. A selection from his eventful life:
- in 1956, an unauthorised, provocative, unnecessary and reckless attack in the Mitlapas dur-
ing the Six Day War;
- in 1973, insubordination during the Yom Kippur War;
- in 1978, Sabra and Shatila, Red Cross: 2750 dead. Fired from his position as Minister of De-
fence for ‘indirect responsibility’;
- on September 28, 2000, provocation at the West Wall of the Temple Mount, which resulted in
the Second Intifada;
- the establishment in November 2005 of the Kadima (Forward) Party. The level of ‘demo-
cratic content’ and ‘respect’ for international law were clear from the outset: “Kadima was

2 Khalid Amayreh, The Annapolis Illusion, Occupied East Jerusalem, November 21, 2007

founded on the premise that Israel’s long-term survival depends on safeguarding its Jewish majority
and preventing Palestinian Arabs becoming the majority at any time in the future.” As Sharon had
just left Likud, a party caught up in fascism, this comes as no surprise. Kadima believes that
Jews have ‘a national and historical right to the country Israel in its entirety’, thus including all
Occupied Territories. Included in Kadima’s plans, was the annexation by Israel of the Jordan
valley. In this way, the entire length of the border with Jordan can be controlled, from Golan
in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. These plans are already being translated into

Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert immediately felt at home in this party.

Sharon was accused of war crimes, on the basis of the Belgian law on genocide, As a result to a
great deal of foreign pressure, the law was amended and the case was dismissed in June 2002.

Shimon Peres is seen as an eminence grise by the Western world. He is the spiritual father of the
Israeli atom bomb. The assumption that Iran is seeking a balance of power in the region by also
wanting to develop an atomic weapon does not seem too far-fetched. This Israeli leader has also
led a long and eventful life. Amongst other things, he took final responsibility for operations in
the Lebanon. A small selection:
- in his address at his inauguration as President of Israel, he stated: “On the future map of Israel
four priorities must be marked: Jerusalem, the Negev, the Galilee and the Valley of Peace”. 4 When
assuming command of the highest office in Israel he violated international law, in front of his
people, the Palestinians and the entire world. In any case, Jerusalem and the Valley of Peace
belong only partially to his country;
- partly under his responsibility, thousands of Lebanese were held in the Khiam prison from
1985 to 2000 without any form of trial, many of whom were horribly tortured and some of
whom died as a result. Following the hasty Israeli retreat due to the intervention of the Red
Cross, it became a much-visited place. During the Summer War of 2006 between Israel and
Lebanon, an aerial attack raised it to the ground. It seems that evidence of Israeli crimes had
to be eradicated;
- Qana is a place in south Lebanon. On April 18, 1996, it was the scene of the first mass murder
committed by Israel. The air force bombed a United Nations camp, which had immunity and
which 800 citizens had fled to. 106 of them were killed and 116 were injured. Radio contact
was made several times with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to warn them that the camp was
mistakenly under fire. From a United Nations investigation it seems that technical or proce-
dural mistakes were unlikely, something which was denied by Israel;
- the second mass murder took place in Qana on July 30, 2006. 28 citizens, of whom 16 were
children, were killed.

Ehud Barak also has an interesting background:

- on television he declared that he – in a secret, illegal retaliation campaign against the Pales-
tinian hostage takers at the Olympic games in Munich in 1972 – had personally murdered 13

3  BBC News, Analysis: Kadima’ Big Plans, London, March 29, 2006

4 Ha’artz, July 15, 2007

innocent civilians in the Lebanon. This was not a problem, according to a proud and beaming
Barak, since the world needed to know that Israel would stand for no nonsense;5
- in July 2000 at Camp David, Barak negotiated with Yasser Arafat under the watchful eye of
President Clinton. He claimed that he made the Palestinians the best peace offer ever. Arafat
rejected this. Consequently, Arafat was dismissed by Israel as incompetent and anti-peace.
In reality, not only would Jerusalem remain the ‘eternal capital’ of Israel (with the third most
holy place for Muslims under permanent Israeli control), but the illegal settlements would
continue apace. Robert Malley, who was present as Clinton’s special advisor on Arab-Israeli
affairs, indicated that Barak was lying;6
- “There was an argument between Minister of Defence Barak and Minister of Internal Security, Avi
Dichter, who was in favour of the liquidation of Nasrallah. Barak said that he was involved in the kill-
ing of the former leader of Hezbollah in 1992.” 7

Ehud Olmert has also had an interesting career:

- he was Mayor of West Jerusalem from1993 to 2003. During this time he took east Jerusalem
from the Palestinians. The International Court of Justice judged this to be unlawful on the
grounds of existing international law;
- as Premier of Israel, he was responsible for the destructive Summer War against the Lebanon
in 2006, which was not sanctioned by the UN;
- under his leadership and responsibility, the population of Gaza were collectively punished
in a barbaric fashion, reminiscent of the Middle Ages, through the sealing off of the area,
extensive military aggression including the use of phosphorus bombs, and the cutting off of
fuel, medicines, import and export. The curious official argument is that the population is led
by Hamas, the party that gained the majority in the elections. Collective punishment and the
use of phosphorus bombs are strictly forbidden by international law. Jimmy Carter calls this
“one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth” 8;
- during his premiership, he was responsible for many hundreds of the 754 deaths (including
71 children and 20 women) and many more wounded, as a result of so-called ‘targeted assas-
sinations’, in other words murder, since the start of the Second Intifada9;
- from September 29, 2000, the start of the Second Intifada, until March 27, 2007, a detailed
inventory was kept of how many children under the age of 18, Palestinian and Israeli, had
been murdered. Palestinian terrorists killed 118 Israeli children during that period. Israeli
state terrorism is guilty of at least 927 deaths. The quantative relation is therefore 1:9. The
qualitative relation – terrorism versus state terrorism – is even worse for Israel10;

5 NOVA, December 15, 2005

6 Robert Malley, The Tragedy of Errors, The New York Review of Books, vol. 48, no. 13, August 13, 2001

7 NRC, ‘Israël verliest propagandaslag’, January 21, 2008

8 The Guardian, May 26, 2008

9  Palestine Center for Human Rights, PCHR Publishes a Report on Extra-Judicial Executions of Palestinians, ref. 24/2008,
July 2, 2008

10 Remember these children and countless others…A joint project of: American Educational Trust, Americans for Middle
East Understanding, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, The Parents Circle - Bereaved Families Forum,

- for decades, Palestinian men, women and children have been kidnapped by Israel, held, often
without trial, and tortured. The exact number varies but, with releases and new kidnappings, is
more or less constant at between 10,000 and 12,000. Families must pay for the prisoner’s food,
which is often stolen by the Israeli guards;
- since Israel used millions of cluster bombs in the final days of the Summer War of 2006 against
Lebanon, the number of victims of old and new landmines in south Lebanon has increased
enormously: “The 2006 conflict caused an upsurge in casualties, which data collection is inadequate to
capture.” 11

Benjamin Netanyahu
- leader of Likud, the party that denies the international right of the Palestinians to the Occupied
- on December 4, 1948, 28 American intellectuals, including many Jews, wrote a letter to the
New York Times. They included Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein. They warned against
an accommodating stance towards Menachem Begin, the founder of the Israeli party Tnuat
Haherut, who was visiting America. They wrote “[…] a political party closely akin in its organiza-
tion, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out
of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist
organisation in Palestine.”
This party, later renamed Herut, became the dominating factor in Likud. Many prominent Israelis,
such as Menachem Begin, Yitzak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni amongst oth-
ers, felt (and feel) comfortable with this mindset.

The violation of the territorial integrity of a country is a serious infringement of international law.
Israel seems to consider itself here above the law. If it continues, the land, the waters and the air-
space of bordering countries will be violated: the Palestinian and Syrian Occupied Territories (on
a daily basis), Iraq (e.g. the destruction of the Osirak nuclear power station on June 7, 1981), the
Lebanon (continuous) and Syria (as in 2007 and 2008). Iran is also under threat, even though 16
American intelligence agencies are of the opinion that the country ceased development of nuclear
weapons in 2003.

2.6 “Palestinians are vermin that must be eradicated”

“We must expel Arabs and take their places.”
David Ben-Gurion, future Premier of Israel, 1937.
Ben-Gurion and the Palestine Arabs
(Oxford University Press, 1985)

“Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this coun-
try. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way
than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries - all of them. Not one village, not
11  International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Ninth Annual Report 2007:
“The UN Mine Action Coordination Center South Lebanon accused Israel of laying antipersonnel mines during the July-
August 2006 conflict in Lebanon. Israel denied the charges. […] Clearance of an estimated one million unexploded submu-
nitions left by the Israeli invasion was the primary focus of demining operations from mid-August, almost 129,000 submu-
nitions had been disposed of by end-May. […] The 2006 conflict caused an upsurge in casualties, which data collection is
inadequate to capture. […] Service provision was severely hampered by the 2006 conflict.”

one tribe should be left.”
Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department in 1940.
A Solution to the Refugee Problem

“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan
and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to
undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion,
eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said,
Alexandria and Sinai.”
David Ben-Gurion, speaking to the General Staff, May 1948.
Ben-Gurion, A Biography
(Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York, 1978)

“We must do everything to insure (the Palestinians) never do return.” Assuring his fellow Zion-
ists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes. “The old will die and the young will
David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, July 18, 1948.
Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet
(Michael Bar Zohar, Prentice-Hall, 1967)

“Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly cre-
ated State of Israel of the Freedom Party (Herut), a political party closely akin in its organisation,
method, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.”
Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, members of this party (a precursor to Likud and Kadima), became Premiers.
Albert Einstein, Hanna Arendt and other prominent Jewish Americans, writing in the New York Times,
were protesting against the visit to America of Menachem Begin in December 1948.

“How can we return the Occupied Territories? There is nobody to return them to.”
Golda Meir, Premier of Israel, March 8, 1969.

“There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.”

Golda Meir, Premier of Israel, June 15, 1969.

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social
services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
Israel Koenig, The Koenig Memorandum, also known as The Koenig Report, an Israeli internal and secret
government document of April 1979, leaked to the newspaper al-Hamishmar.

“We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question. What is to
be done with the Palestinian population? Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said
‘Drive them out’.”
Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin’s memoirs.
(New York Times, October 23, 1979)

“[The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.”
Menachim Begin, address to Knesset.
Begin and the Beasts
(Amnon Kapeliouk, New Statesman, June 25, 1982)

“We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel…
Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians
come crawling to us on all fours.”
Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces - Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot, April 13, 1983.
(New York Times, April 14, 1983)

“When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around
like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”
Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces.
(New York Times, April 14, 1983)

“We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.”
Chairman Heilbrun, Chairman of the committee for the re-election of General Shlomo Lahat as Mayor of
Tel Aviv, October 1983.

“The Palestinians would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders
and walls.”
Yitzhak Shamir, Israeli Premier, in an address to Jewish settlers.
(New York Times, April 1, 1988)

“Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when the world
attention focussed on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the ter-
Benyamin Netanyahu, then acting Minister of Foreign affairs, former Premier of Israel, speaking to stu-
dents at the Bar Ilan University.
(From the Israeli Journal Hotam, November 24, 1989)

“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements
because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
Ariel Sharon, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaking to a gathering of militants from the extreme
rightwing Tsomet Party.
(Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998)

“The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, the more they want.”
Ehub Barak, Premier of Israel
(Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2000)

“When 2.5 million [Palestinians] live in closed-off Gaza […] those people will become even big-
ger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. […]. So, if we

want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill.  All day, every day.  If we don’t kill, we
will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to insure that the [Jewish] boys and
men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be
normal human beings.”
Arnon Sofer, Professor of Geography, Haifa University.
(Up Front, the weekend supplement of The Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2004)

“[…] Extremist Rabbi Yousef Falay, who dwells at the Yitzhar settlement on illegally seized Pal-
estinian land in the northern part of the West Bank, wrote an article in a Zionist magazine under
the title “Ways of War”, in which he called for the killing of all Palestinian males refusing to flee
their country, describing his idea as the practical way to ensure the non-existence of the Palestin-
ian race. ‘We have to make sure that no Palestinian individual remains under our occupation.
If they (Palestinians) escape then it is good, but if anyone of them remains, then he should be
exterminated’, the fanatical Rabbi added in his article.
(International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), September 18, 2006)

“He [Matan Vilnai, Junior Minister of Defence for Israel] warned that the Palestinians risked a
‘shoah’. [...] In Israel the term is rarely used to describe anything other than the mass murder of
Jews by the Nazis.”
(NRC Handelsblad, March 1, 2008)

Israel is guilty on a daily basis of state terrorism on a large scale. Out of desperation, Palestinian
groups overstep the mark. The International Court of Justice has unequivocally reprimanded
Israel and the UN.

In Israel, people with a highly dubious past can have a political career. The population does not
have a problem with them becoming Head of State, Premier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minis-
ter of Defence or leader of any number of other strategic posts. The Israeli media give voice to
unpunished, insane calls to genocide.

This conclusion gives rise to the question of how this is possible.

3 The nature of the conflict

Basically we are talking about two conflicting theories:

- is the existence of Israel continuously threatened by the surrounding, enemy Arab environ-
ment and Iran? Is it necessary for Israel to continuously defend itself, including through proac-
tive military violence, in order to survive – the policy of active defence?
- has Israel from the outset been implementing a policy that strives for the complete owner-
ship of the Occupied Territories and for total control over, and eventual total expulsion of,
the Palestinian population, the political-Zionist agenda?
At first glance these two theories seem to be mutually exclusive. But is this a fact?

3.1 The policy of active defence
This is the image that the Israeli regime likes to portray. The Israeli analyst Menahem Klein states:
“Even [Olmert’s] thinking is anchored in the idea that Israel must suppress the Palestinians through mili-
tary and other means because the Palestinians want to destroy Israel.”12 Recent research has shown
that this is not the case, even for Hamas.13 The same fearful notions surround Iran, Iraq (before
the destruction thereof), Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. This calls to mind the ancient sociological
law: What is real in the minds of people, is real in its consequences.

Israel is becoming the fourth most powerful military power in the world, with an air force that
is amongst the largest. At the slightest sign of a threat within the region, there is an immediate
response. Sometimes there are incidental attacks on specific targets that result in many civilian
casualties. Countries and territories are also occupied for years through superior power (the
Lebanon) or shot to pieces and flattened (the Lebanon repeatedly and Palestinian cities in the
Occupied Territories almost constantly).

Neighbouring countries see Israel as their biggest threat and take measures to protect them-
selves. Hezbollah also follows this reasoning. This is not surprising when one looks back at the
relationship between Israel and the Lebanon. This, in turn, fuels Israeli fears and aggression.
Here it is no longer a question of ‘where two are quarrelling both are guilty’. Maarten van Ros-
sum states: “Israel seems to be trapped in a tragic complex of fear and aggression, from which it seems
unable to free itself.”14

3.2 The political-Zionist agenda

Israel strives for the complete ownership of the Occupied Territories, for complete control over
the Palestinian population and their eventual complete expulsion. Israel has thus far been very
successful. The job of total suppression is almost complete. Are there enough facts to substantiate
this theory? They make no secret of it. The party agendas of, for example, Likud and Kadima,
statements by President Shimon Peres (see paragraph 2.5 above) and daily reports of the facts
on the ground in the media provide confirmation. For a graphical illustration, refer to the three
charts included here.

In the international debate on the conflict, certainly in Israel, the United States and Germany,
new terms are appearing to describe and interpret the question. The Israeli sociologist Baruch
Kimmerling defines the term politicide 15 as the “process that has as its ultimate goal the dissolu-
tion of the existence of the Palestinians as a legitimate social, political and economic body”. The
highly respected, learned and special UNHCR inspector of Israeli activities in the Palestinian ter-
ritories, Richard Falk, who calls himself American -Jewish, speaks of stealthy genocide towards
a Palestinian holocaust 16.
12 Salomon Bouman, ‘Olmert wil geen permanente oplossing’, Discussion with Israeli analyst Menahem Klein regarding
the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, NRC, November 17, 2007

13 Jan Elshout, Palestina: meer dan apartheid, daarom oplosbaar?, Internationale Spectator, March 2007, page 164

14 Maarten van Rossum, De 51ste Staat, Walt en Mearsheimer brengen Amerikaanse steun voor Israël in kaart, NRC Han-
delsblad, November 2, 2007

15 Baruch Kimmerling, Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War against the Palestinian People, Verso, 2003

16 Richard Falk, Slouching towards a Palestinian Holocaust, The Transnational Foundation, June 29, 2007

Is there question of politicide and stealthy genocide of the Palestinians? One need do nothing more
to confirm this than to follow the daily news. In addition, notable international and Israeli or-
ganisations, such as the World Bank, UNRWA, the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human
Rights Watch, OXFAM, Gush Shalom, and B’tslem, analyse the developments in the region and
report on them. Their conclusions on the behaviour and policy of Israel are extremely disturbing.
A host of authority figures have also spoken out in no uncertain terms: Bishop Desmond Tutu,
former US President Jimmy Carter, the Special Rapporteur of the UN, J. Dugard, the famous
American journalist Seymour M. Hersch, and the renowned scientist Norman Finkelstein, to
name but a few.

The conclusion that a political-Zionist agenda is being followed is more than adequately supported. It is
also true to say that Israel is a country with an active defence policy. The argument of continued threat is
used extensively to instil fear in the Israeli population. It is also an important tool in the political-Zionist
agenda. Both go hand in hand and strengthen the process of politicide and stealthy genocide.

Aggression based on delusion becomes terrible reality and is justified with an appeal to the Talmud.17 Inter-
national law does not allow the violation of the territorial integrity of a country, nor murder and killing on
the grounds of religious values and standards. Therefore to question whether a Jewish state is admissible is
justified. (In the section below on the democratic deficit of Israel this question will be examined further.)

Israel is led by a criminal regime that is guilty of ethnic cleansing (on the West Bank) and genocide (in
Gaza). State terror is its dominating feature. Following the elimination of Saddam Hussein, Israel remains
as the most criminal regime in the Middle East, with Iran a close second.

If there is ever to be stability in the region, Israel will have to rid itself of its self-inflicted paranoia and free
itself from this policy. However, without outside help and a degree of pressure this seems impossible.

If the above theory is correct, another question comes to mind. Why is it that the image of the
conflict, especially in politics and the media, in the so-called Western world is so different?

4 Image and reality

Outside of the so-called Western world there is little or no confusion over the character of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is not the case in the United States and the European Union.
Western politics and our media should realise the importance of fidelity to the image. Disinfor-
mation leads to distorted images. These support conflict and feed suppression and war. More
specifically, the misrepresentation of affairs is an obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the Mid-
dle East.

17 Rabbijn Elisa Klapheck, “[..] An important sentence in the Talmoed is: if someone wants to kill you, preempt him and kill
him first […]”, Trouw, Offers brengen in Uruzgan, December 5, 2007

4.1 A democratic deficit
The opinion that open information, critical debate, and the so necessary checks and balances can
only duly function in a mature democracy, can be readily taken for granted. At the very least,
democracy is understood to mean the separation of church and state, equal rights and obliga-
tions for all citizens of the country and the principle of one man, one vote. Israel claims to be a
democracy, indeed the only democracy in the Middle East. Is this correct? Does Israel conform to
the minimum criteria?

Just like Saudi Arabia and Iran, the country knows no separation of religion and state. “[…] Jew-
ish democracy, with exclusive rabbinical power over birth, marriage and death, is a contradiction
in terms.”18 Since the foundation of the State of Israel, all secular Premiers have – prior to tak-
ing up their post – gone to confession with a member of the clergy, who have disproportionate
political power.19

Amongst Jewish groupings in Israel according to geographical origin (Western Europe, Russia,
the Arab world) there is much inequality in terms of political, economic and social rights. In this
respect, the Bedouins and Arab Israelis are in an even worse position than the Jews at the bottom
of Israeli society.

Complete freedom of the press does not exist in Israel. Alongside censorship of reporting, the
free gathering of news is hampered using every possible method, including murder. (See 4.2 and
4.3 below.)

“The only democracy in the Middle East” is certainly not Israel. The last Palestinian elections
were democratically held, according to observers. Israel and the Western world are doing every-
thing they can to discredit the winners, Hamas. Israeli democracy only exists to a certain degree
for the Jewish contingent of Israeli citizens. They have considerable freedom of the press and the
right to demonstrate. The country has traces of a theocracy and of an – carefully set out in law,
but arbitrarily applied – apartheid regime.

Israel has a serious democratic deficit. Open information, critical debate and the necessary checks and bal-
ances are seriously lacking. Equal political, economic and social rights are non-existent. Countries of this
kind are vulnerable to manipulation of information and failure to live up to election promises.

4.2 True historiography?

We have established above that, under the guise of continuous Palestinian threat, Israel is taking
possession of more Palestinian land and water and stepping up the control and suppression of
the Palestinian population. Both go hand in hand and strengthen the processes of politicide and
stealthy genocide. This is not startling news. Solid research has already established this fact.

18  Salomon Bouman, the power of the Rabbinaat, in ‘Israël achter de schermen, zionisme op een dwaalspoor’, page 22,
Prometeus, 2004

19 Ibid. page 25

Retired Colonel J.C. Mühren has recorded his experiences as a long-serving UN Observer.20 The
suppression of the Palestinian people has been following the same pattern for decades. Israel
begins by provoking the other side in all kinds of ways, so that they are forced to resist. Then
Israel calls it a disgrace, starts killing people and destroying the Palestinian infrastructure. At the
same time, the other side is held responsible and measures by the international community are
called for.

A number of Israeli historians – known as the New Historians, Post-Zionists and Revisionists21 –
have, mostly through the use of government documents that have been made public, examined
a large number of official Israeli versions of events and found these to be inaccurate. In plain
English: the Israeli people and the rest of the world are being led down the garden path with lies
and deceit. It has been shown that the wars that have been started with neighbouring countries
were not carried out in self-defence. They were wars of conquest.

These findings go against the core of governmental ideology and are forcefully disputed. One of
the historians, Ilan Pappé, was so baited that he fled Israel in 2007.

4.3 A cascade of disinformation

Doubts about the trustworthiness of official Israeli historiography do not stand alone. The entire
daily stream of information on the Middle East deserves further investigation. There is a case to
be made for mutually-strengthening phases in the cascade of disinformation.

4.3.1 The first phase

These days, government propaganda is called ‘spin’. ‘Spin doctors’ usually understand that im-
age and reality mustn’t be too far removed from each other. This would be counter-productive
in the long term. But Israel’s special version of ‘spin’ is different, impressive and surprisingly
successful. The first phase of the waterfall of disinformation is called Hasbara (Hebrew for ‘explain’
or ‘interpret’).22 This extensive and refined propaganda machine wants to convince the world that
Israel is right. Israel invests large sums of money, time and energy on building up their image

We are not only talking about information. Training is also one of the many tools applied. The
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts a tailor-made internal four-week course known as The
Ambassador’s Course. 23 Under the heading “Are you the missing piece in Israel’s Hasbara team?”,
Jewish group leaders, educators, students and activists in the Diaspora are given the opportunity
to gain a summarised overview of the conflict, to understand Palestinian propaganda and recog-
nise partiality in the media. It also teaches how to propagate Israeli policy.
20 J.C. Mühren, Colonel b.d., Verscheurd Land, Maximalisten blokkeren vrede in het Heilige Land, Aspekt, 2004

21 The New Historians are a not particularly structured group of historians. They include Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi
Shlaim and (in retrospect) Simha Flapan. (Wikipedia)

22  Oscar Garschagen, Near East Correspondent, NRC Handelsblad: “Victim Israel, Propaganda machine Hasbara must
convince the world that Israel is right; for a long time, Israel has invested much time, money and effort in its own image.
As long as our policy is properly explained, so the country feels, understanding will follow” NRC Handelsblad, August
5-6, 2006, Saturday supplement, page 6

23  www.Israel-mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2003/4/Ambassador-s%20Course www.jaconcact.org/cours-

The Israeli propaganda machine produces distortions of reality that defend and propagate ag-
gression, violence and war. Three themes come to mind by way of examples:
- Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map
President Ahmadinejad has never said this and also not implied it. He anticipates inevitable re-
gime change in Israel without the intervention of Iran, as happened with the Shah of Persia, the
Apartheid regime and the Soviet Union;
- Hamas wants to eliminate Israel
At this time, Hamas is the only potential partner in the conflict that offers long-term peace,
though with the obligations and rules of international law that Israel ignores and breaches;
- Hezbollah attacked Israel with rockets in the summer of 2006. Israel had no choice but to retaliate
Just before the Summer War of 2006, the Lebanese government was preparing a complaint
against Israel to the UN Security Council regarding continuous breaches of their border.24
In reality, Hezbollah, with a view to prisoner exchange, took two uniformed Israeli soldiers
prisoner, which is permissible under international law. Israel needed only one – lame – ex-
cuse to mount, without any justification, devastating attacks on the Lebanon. These had been
meticulously planned in advance. Hezbollah only attacked Israeli targets following this clear
violation of international law.

The Hasbara strategy is to deny us insight into the facts-on-the-ground, the essence of Israeli
policy and of the obligations that international law places on Israel.

4.3.2 The second phase

Impartial information would shoot big holes in Hasbara. Independent media is a threat to the
system and must be stifled. The second phase in the cascade of disinformation concerns, along
with the obstruction of the acquisition of information, outright murder of journalists, camera-
men, interpreters and chauffeurs. News agency workers are an obvious target.

It is very dangerous for local and foreign news agency workers to work on the West Bank and
in Gaza.25 In the period from 1996-2006, no less than 12 people, from various countries, working
for news agencies were killed in Israel, mostly in the Occupied Territories. This puts Israel just
below Indonesia (13 killed) and on the same level as Nepal (12 killed). Many more have been
injured.26 On April 16, 2008, a tank rocket in Gaza killed Fadel Subhi Shana’a, a 23-year-old Pal-
estinian cameraman from Reuters.27 A journalist was wounded on February 16, 2007 during a
peaceful demonstration.

24 Announcement by the Lebanese President to a Dutch delegation, including the author.

25 A protest was submitted by the Committee to Protect Journalists on February 28, 2007

26  The International News Safety Institute Killing the Messenger, Brussels, March 2007, pages 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 59, 70 and

27 Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Press Release, ref. 32/2008, April 17, 2008, PCHR Strongly Condemns Wilful Killing
of a Journalist by IOF; Reuters Cameraman Killed by an Israeli Tank Shell

On June 26, 2008, Mohammed Omer, a 24-year-old independent Palestinian journalist from Ra-
fah, was returning home via the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. He
had just received the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for journalists in London. During
the entrance procedure on the Allenby Bridge, he was taken aside by agents of the Israeli inter-
nal security service, Shin Bet. First they searched for his prize money in English pounds, which
he did not have on him. Then he was subjected for a number of hours to strip searches, internal
searches, kicks, beatings and being dragged over the floor by his feet. Eventually he was taken,
unconscious, to a Palestinian hospital in Jericho by a Palestinian ambulance. This all happened
while his escorts, Dutch diplomats from Tel Aviv, were waiting for him. The ambulance crew
refused to sign a document stating that the Israeli authorities were not to blame and had noth-
ing to do with his physical condition. When they said they would inform the diplomats waiting
outside, they were allowed to take him straight away. On arrival in Gaza, it turned out that,
not only had he lost a watch and a few other possessions, but he also had a damaged larynx,
four bruised ribs on both sides of his body, a damaged groin, other internal bruising and severe
trauma. In the hospital in Jericho he was informed that he had suffered the typical (not obvious
on the outside) injuries.

Following a protest from the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Israeli authorities agreed to
investigate the matter. The media were told that they had found him – naked and unconscious
(!) – on the street and had ensured that he was taken to hospital in an ambulance. At the time of
writing, the outcome of the Israeli investigation is not yet known.

Shimon Peres was Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2001. He said that the carrying of a camera could
be seen as ‘an invitation to be shot at’. By claiming that the presence of a camera could directly
lead to being shot, he basically placed the responsibility on the cameraman. In this way, he un-
dermined the lawful claim by the media for civil status. The conditions for the free gathering of
news were thereby weakened.

During the Israeli Summer War against the Lebanon in 2006, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)
placed restrictions on the use of vehicles in south Lebanon, even for journalists. They were
warned that there were no safety guarantees for journalists, which amounted to a ban on travel-
ling in cars. This would prevent them running the risk of being attacked by the IDF.

Prior to any attack by the IDF on civilian Palestinian targets, they regularly shut down fixed and
mobile telephone communications.

The names of victims are never made public by the IDF. So nobody asks after them. The perpetra-
tors walk away as free men.28

4.3.3 The third phase

Western correspondents play an active role in the third phase of disinformation. Editorial teams
on the home front feel the heat from the large news corporations and from local competition.
They urge their men and women in the field to report immediately, in conformity with Associ-

28 Ibid Killing the Messenger

ated Press, Reuters and other networks. The truth is less important. In the words of Joris Luy-
endijk, former NRC correspondent in the Middle East, his reports were filtered, transformed,
manipulated, biased and simplified. 29

4.3.4 The fourth phase

In the fourth phase of the cascade of disinformation, the ‘pro-Israel lobbies’ – well trained by the
Ambassador’s Course of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – jump into action. They are at work
in most Western countries and always follow similar lines. These loosely aligned Jewish groups
are advocates for the Israeli regime. The influence and sheer power of ‘The Israel Lobby’ in the
United States is unprecedented. Their goals are often in contradiction to the interests of the US
itself, as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have shown.30

The influence of ‘pro-Israel lobbies’ in other Western countries may not be so all-encompassing,
but it is an important factor in politics and the media. From the viewpoint of these lobbies, ‘spin’
is not ‘spin’, but the truth and nothing other than the truth. Facts are not facts but untruths or
impossibilities. The messenger of unwelcome news and analysis is regularly accused of anti-
Semitism and ridiculed. Of course Israel must not be seen as the problem. The problem is “the
Palestinian terrorists, the terrible Arab dictators and the terrifying Iran with its nuclear ambi-
tions”. The goal is always the same, everywhere and always: a critical debate on Israeli policy
and atrocities must be avoided at all cost.

4.3.5 The fifth phase

The local media in the Western world play a central role in the fifth phase of the cascade of
disinformation. The Dutch-language media in the Netherlands and Belgium were monitored in
regard to their reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 2002 to the beginning of 2007. The
investigation31 concentrated on teletext from the NOS, RTL and VRT channels. Thirteen common
one-liners were identified. These gave a false picture, were biased towards Israel, or were nega-
tive towards Hamas and Fatah. Other one-liners were in direct conflict to international law or
lacked the relevant and necessary context. Just a few examples:
- Hamas violates the truce
Israel continuously violates, and has violated from the beginning, their declared truce with
Hamas, after which Hamas has retaliated;
- ‘innocent Israeli citizens’ (victims of Palestinian suicide bombers) and ‘Palestinians killed as a
result of Israeli military actions’
The Palestinian victims are also innocent citizens;
- Hamas is set on the destruction of the State of Israel
Hamas is set on the dismantling of the Israeli Zionist state structure and the ending of Israeli
occupation of Palestinian territory;
- The radical stance of Hamas
The stance of Hamas is based on international law, including UN Security Council Resolu-
29 Joris Luyendijk, Het Zijn Net Mensen, Podium, July 2006 and Natuurlijk, maar praat vooral over de valkuilen van het
vak, NRC, February 24/25, 2007

30 John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby, London Review of Books, March 2006

31 Astrid Essed, Tendentieuze Berichtgeving, 2002 - 2007, NOS, RTL and VRT, February 2007

tion 242 from 1967. This is a legally binding call to withdraw from the territories taken dur-
ing the June War of 1967, including the Palestinian territories (the West Bank, Gaza and East

The Dutch media breached the standards of reporting more seriously and systematically than
their Flemish counterparts. As every one-liner reiterates the same wrong information every time,
these considerably distort the facts. This alone is cause for concern. The thirteen one-liners as a
whole give a heavily distorted view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The media that were investigated failed to comply with minimum journalistic standards and
contribute a great deal to the cascade of disinformation. A complaint regarding tendentious re-
porting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Ombudsman of the NOS led to a serious in-
vestigation and corrective measures being taken.

Systematic investigations have also taken place of the Dutch newspapers. Analyses of ‘Trouw’
and the ‘Nederlands Dagblad’ show corresponding patterns of distortion and bias.32

Other factors also play an important part:

- guilt regarding what happened to the Jews during the Second World War, used as a form of
blackmail and exploited to the full by the Israeli regime;
- religiously rooted solidarity with ‘the Jewish people’;
- the successful illusions created by Hasbara;
- the successful manipulation and indoctrination of the pro-Israel lobbies;
- uncritical, inadequate reporting by the media;
- supposed global balance of power;
- assumed electoral gains of political parties;
- political arrogance and inertia.

Whoever does not see through this age-old pattern of aggression and accompanying public relations cam-
paign, will understand nothing of the Israel problem and the way to a just and lasting peace.

Historical falsification and manipulation of image have in part led to the almost uncritical and uncondi-
tional support of Israel by the Dutch political class. An interesting question is how history will judge this.
Could it be that people, looking back, will come to the conclusion that, in comparison to this support of such
unfathomable injustice, the mass murder of 8000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica on July 11, 1995,
was just a playground incident?

32 Jan Elshout conducted research into reporting of the Near East by Trouw and the Nederlands Dagblad

5 The key to a just and lasting peace

1.1 The rejection of peace

A continuous feature of the conflict is Israel’s obstruction and rejection of every peace initiative.
The preparation, course and aftermath of the Meeting of Annapolis (it wasn’t even allowed to be
called a Conference) in November 2007 is a recent example. Neither the key subjects nor a times-
cale were mentioned in the concluding communiqué. Immediately following the meeting, Olm-
ert already undermined the agreements: no results should be expected.33 Two days later, Israel,
concerned that the Security Council would involve itself with the negotiations, instructed the US
to withdraw a draft resolution submitted to the Security Council that supported the agreement
made by Israel and the Palestinians.34 Israeli power goes so far that the American saying applies:
When I say jump, you jump.

In the view of the Israeli regime, it is not in their interest to make peace. The political-Zionist
project – the conquest of the entire West Bank and complete control and eventual expulsion of
the Palestinian population – is coming along nicely, but is not yet complete. Peace would mean
vacating the Occupied Territories, returning East Jerusalem and an end to the suppression of the
Palestinians. Peace would also entail no longer instilling fear in the Israeli population as a means
to gain broad political support for the regime.

As peace is in the interest of the region and the stability of the world, external force must be ap-
plied to enforce peace.

1.2 One quartet, wrong four times over

The Quartet consisting of the US, the EU, Russia and the UN foster an idea of how peace between
Israel and the Palestinians can be achieved. The ‘Annapolis Initiative’ expands on this. As the
concept does not have anything to do with international law, this idea is already impossible. Be-
cause of the usual Israeli sabotage of any peace initiative, it is already dead in the water.

It is interesting that this foursome also refuses to make room at the negotiating table for Hamas.
Consequently a false picture is formed of the peace intentions of this winner of the last parlia-
mentary elections in Palestine.35

Even more interesting, is the fact that it is not even a quartet. It is a quintet. Israel is fully in-
volved, but the Palestinians are excluded. Talk about impartial negotiators!

Four demands are placed on Hamas, the only party to present meaningful proposals for peace
that are close to the criteria of international law. Each one is a scam:

- Hamas must recognise Israel. Israel has always resisted determining its borders. The question aris-
es: Which Israel, since the country expands, without noteworthy opposition from the West, every day
33 Carolien Roelants, Op naar vrede, maar zonder tijdpad, NRC Handelsblad, November 28, 2007

34 Trouw, VS trekken VN-resolutie in na bezwaar Israël, December 1, 2007

35  Jan Elshout, Palestina: meer dan apartheid, daarom oplosbaar?, Internationale Spectator, March 2007, page 164

at a cost to Palestinian territory;
- Hamas must reject the use of force. Why? Under the Fourth Geneva Convention this party has the
absolute right to defend itself, including through use of weapons, against the occupying power. The
same is not required of the occupying power, Israel, who uses force on a large scale;
- Hamas must recognise the previous accords with Israel. Why? These were extorted by Israel and
are in contradiction to international law. Hamas has every right to reject peace terms dictated by Israel
being imposed on them;
- Hamas must allow Fatah to be involved in the running of the Palestinian areas, especially in
Gaza. Curious. Hamas won a fair parliamentary election, at the cost of a very corrupt Fatah. Their
democratic right to govern was denied them and a coalition with Fatah was imposed on them. No less
than 46 Hamas members of parliament were kidnapped by Israel and to date are still being held pris-
oner. The Western world went along with Israel and Fatah to eliminate Hamas by force. To thwart a
coup by Fatah in Gaza, Hamas exerted by force their democratic right to rule the area.

It is gradually becoming clear that the involvement of Hamas in peace negotiations is unavoid-
able. What has not sunk in is that Hamas has more right to this than Fatah, has better proposals
and are better at representing the interests of the Palestinians than the corrupt and mistrusted
Fatah, undemocratically clinging to power, will ever be able to.

1.3 Shifts in power

The dramatic political and moral power shifts from the United States and the EU to Russia,
China, India, Iran, Venezuela and Brazil have been going on for some time and will continue to
do so undiminished. In addition, the emphasis of the global oil and gas infrastructure is gradu-
ally transferring to the Far East. Important players are Russia, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The
Western world will, partly due to loss of power, eventually be confronted with a diminished
supply of oil and gas. We will become dependent on uncertain outsourcers such as Venezuela,
Nigeria, Angola and Bolivia. The oil-rich former southern Soviet states are politically unstable
and their export routes uncertain.

The big players in the energy field, including Muslim countries, have an interest in political
stability and influence in the Middle East and little concern for the interests of Israel. For the
weakened players, the United States and the EU, the support of Israel will be less important.

The EU member states will, in the coming years, invest millions of Euros in Concentrated Solar
Power (CSP) – massive surface sun centres. A testing station is already in operation in Spain.
Potentially, these could supply all of the future energy needs of Europe and more. The idea is to
build these very vulnerable installations in North Africa. The (Muslim) population of this region
is not enamoured by the virtually uncritical EU support of Israel at the cost to their Palestinian
and Lebanese brothers and sisters. Our anticipated dependence on North Africa could, if policy
remains unchanged, gain an uncomfortable political dimension.

1.4 Cowardice over, values and norms count

The evidence on the Middle East conflict is overwhelming. The difference between the virtual
and false visions of Hasbara and the reality is immense. Political decision makers have no choice

but to view the reality, for some an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth.

Recently, Jimmy Carter called Europe ‘supine’, lazy, and their failure to criticise Israel as ‘embar-
rassing’. He qualified the blockade of Gaza by The Quartet following the 2006 election win by
Hamas as ‘one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth’.
Carter said that the European Union conspired with the United States in this crime and called for
the EU to break with the US over the blockade of Gaza. Why wouldn’t they, he questioned, they
are not our puppet. They take the same position as the US.36 ‘The United States, the Netherlands
and Israel form a sort of unwritten geopolitical axis, says André Krouwel, political scientist at the Vrije
Universiteit in Amsterdam. 37

The key to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East lies with the European Union, and therefore
directly with the Dutch government. The United States cannot have a useful part in the peace
process for at least two reasons: because of the total grip of the pro-Israel lobbies on the decision
makers, the US is mainly seen as the ‘dishonest broker’ and because of loss of power and prestige.
Israel, as the main problem in the Middle East, is more harmful to Europe than the United States.
The EU must – and can – take the initiative and make the difference between chaos and peace.

As long as the EU has global power, they are in a position to bring about peace. Europe has
enough influence and, if necessary, more than enough tools, to enforce peace. The minimum
requirements are:
- the leading principle of international law;
- enough political will amongst EU member states;
- the determination to hold on to the goal until it has been achieved;
- the willingness to continue to withstand the anger and aggression of Israel and the US.

1.5 An EU peace strategy on the basis of international law

Israel has obligations under international law. The country must immediately apply The Hague
rules on warfare of 1899 and 1907 and the humanitarian rights of the Fourth Geneva Conven-
tion. In this way there will be an end to military aggression and the Palestinians will receive the
necessary protection against military violence and the continuous mistreatment by the heavily
armed, illegal, colonisers. Israel must – on the basis of Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 –
give up all Arab occupied territories and honour all stipulations of the Advisory Opinion of the
International Court of Justice of 2004.

In addition, under international law, Israel must:

- in the interest of a nuclear-free Middle East, dismantle their weapons of mass destruction in
a verifiable manner, with internationally-guaranteed security in its place;
- recognise the state of Palestine within the pre-1967 borders, including East Jerusalem;
- evacuate all settlements and hand over the running of East Jerusalem;
- immediately repatriate all settlers who do not want to live under Palestinian rule to Israel;

36 Jonathan Steele and Jonathan Freedland, Carter urges ‘supine’ Europe to break with US over Gaza blockade: Ex-presi-
dent says EU is colluding in a human rights crime, The Guardian, May 26, 2008

37 Thijs Niemantsverdriet, Een jaar Balkenende IV, Het Taboe-Kabinet, Vrij Nederland, February 23, 2008

- dismantle the illegal wall on the West Bank and pay damages;
- release all Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners;
- end the occupation of Gaza;
- refrain from military operations on the West Bank and in Gaza;
- end the identification system for Palestinian citizens and take down the wall;
- refrain from any form of aggression and violation of the integrity of neighbouring coun-

Should Israel fail to comply with the above, the European Union will enforce a massive, but
peaceful, package of sanctions. In the Security Council of the UN, legal sanctions are proposed,
such as the suspension of Israeli membership to the various organs of the UN family38 and the es-
tablishment of an Israel Tribunal in The Hague. The responsible politicians, military officers and
judges who allow torture can then be made responsible in front of the international community
for their deeds from a prison cell in The Hague. The US will, at least in the short term, apply their
veto in order to prevent this from happening. Nevertheless, the sending of a signal is of great
importance. The EU will apply its own series of sanctions: legal, consular, military, financial and
economic. The EU will also demand, as a result of 60 years of material and psychological damage
inflicted by Israel, extensive compensation for the Palestinian people. And of course there can be
no question of the maintaining of links between Israel and the EU, as long as the country has not
joined the community of civilised nations.

Bearing in mind the vulnerability of Israeli society, Israel will listen and comply within two years. The
proposed peace strategy of the EU is the only political instrument through which a just and lasting peace
can be achieved.

The final word

The final word is left to Hajo Meijer, Auschwitz survivor:

“The conscious killing off of the Palestinian people is genocide of the worst kind, but making the people
destroy themselves through occupation, starvation and suppression, places the responsibility on the lowest
possible moral level. The Palestinians are like rats caged too closely with not enough food. This indicates
that they will kill each other. This is also the purpose, so that the Israelis don’t have to do their own dirty
work”. 39 [Quote translated from Dutch]

38 Francis A. Boyle, Palestine, Palestinians and International Law, Clarity Press, Inc., pages 153 - 156

39 Hajo Meijer, Vredesspiraal, March 2007

Palestine Pre-1948 Occupied West Israeli occupation
Bank and Gaza 1967-2006

Funeral in Gaza City as women mourn the death of a Palestinian

Examination of the logical ethical treatise on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Ludo Abicht

In the second half of the seventeenth century, Europe’s Roman Catholics and Protestants had to
come to terms with the Thirty-Years War, during which religious differences were used by both
sides as an excuse to try to acquire more land and power. It was during this period that Baruch
Spinoza wrote his Tracatus Theologico-Poliiticus, in which he not only rationally deconstructed a
number of myths and stories from the Tora, but also tried to bring the essential core of religion
back to “justice and love”. This synthesis between the prophetic Jewish tsedeka and the evangeli-
cal Christian agapè could one day become an excellent basis for an authentic and lasting peace
agreement between the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians.

At the end of the First World War, Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, also
a deconstruction, but this time of nearly the entire metaphysical and epistemological tradition of
the West. The fact that this coincided with the moral fiasco of the Great War was not intended,
but was also not entirely coincidental. When applied to the Middle Eastern problem, we could
rephrase the famous closing sentence of this treatise as: “In issues where we have a lot to say, we
must speak without taboos and metaphors.”

The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and other writers who have described life in Stalinist Eastern
Europe, almost all describe the obvious differences between the official, state-controlled lan-
guage and the more critical, sometimes bitter, openness of private conversations, in some cases
even amongst political leaders. In an undemocratic society, this kind of schizophrenic behaviour
is unavoidable, but what is the reason for a comparable form of self-censorship in the ‘free West’?
A self-censorship that not only means that one knows A to be true but still won’t say or write A,
but also where one refuses to be adequately informed, presumably out of fear that one will be
forced to lie or to jeopardise one’s reputation or career. In short, why is it so difficult to recognise
or admit to the evidence in the Israel-Palestine situation, as it is presented in, for example, the
article by Jan Wijenberg? How do we explain the discrepancy in the policies of Western nations
towards the violation of international accords and human rights in so many countries of the
world, but almost never in the case of Israel?

A justice system and a moral code lose their validity and authority as soon as it becomes obvious
that the rules are applied arbitrarily or selectively. What is the basis for the quasi-immunity of
Israeli politics, especially when it comes to the relationship between those in authority and the
Palestinian population? The reverential reference to the common Judeo-Christian tradition, even
at a time when the majority of European countries are having difficulty reconciling themselves
with the Christian aspects, as if Europe had sprung wholly and exclusively from the head of

Zeus? The sense of guilt for the judeocide and the previous nineteen centuries of anti-Judaism
and anti-Semitism? A subconscious ‘orientalism’ with as an added element the understandable
disgust of terrorism: “of course not all Islamists are terrorists, but the majority of terrorists are Is-
lamic”? (Whereby ‘Islamists’ is nearly always confused with the Arabic minority amongst Mus-
lims). A widespread ignorance, despite unprecedented access to the Internet and other sources
of information, ranging from alternative media to well-documented scientific research, on all
aspects of the now more than hundred year-old conflict?

In this examination, I will endeavour to handle this problem as ‘logically and ethically’ as pos-
sible. ‘Logical’ does not mean that there is only one irrefutable truth, as already implied by
the well-chosen title of the essay written by the Middle East expert Alain Gresh, Israël-Palestine:
Vérités sur un conflit (2001). What it does mean is that we can reach a certain degree of scientific
probability, detached from a one-sided and biased position and also from the easily held and
therefore unconvincing notion that this concerns two opposing, but otherwise equal, viewpoints,
which would render further examination of the problem pointless. ‘Ethical’ in this case should
be understood from the universal standpoint that human rights and respect for international
law are indivisible and cannot be selectively applied without jeopardising the foundations of
our civilisation.

First I will investigate which historical facts and theories can be adopted with the greatest degree
of certainty. Only then can we respond to the solution (the ‘key’) to the conflict that has been put
forward in Wijenberg’s treatise. Finally, I will respond to the serious allegation that anti-Zionism
or criticism of Israeli politics are the same as anti-Semitism, one of the most reprehensible and
immoral stances of modern times. If this allegation is believed, any critical discussion of the situ-
ation in the Middle East will be definitively impossible.

What do we know?
Starting with the Hebrew Bible, we know, partially thanks to the pioneering book The Bible Un-
earthed (2001) by biblical archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, that there
is no historical evidence for the existence of the Patriarchs, for the reality of the Exodus (and
therefore for the historicity of Moses), for the violent conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews, or for
the glory of the Israeli kingdom under David or Solomon. By comparing the biblical texts with
other written sources from the same era and through examination of the most recent results of
archaeological research, they, along with today’s most influential archaeologists from the region,
have concluded that there is historically-speaking no question of a chosen race or a promised
land. The authors have set the Bible into the historical and political context of the seventh cen-
tury BC and make a distinction between the important ethical message, as well as the high liter-
ary value of many biblical texts, and the historical probability of the stories contained therein.
For historians and enlightened theologians their findings are not new, but they become relevant
when these myths are misused as political arguments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not only
to support Zionists, but also a significant group of fundamental Christians, and legitimise the
Jewish claim to the land and the simultaneous expulsion and suppression of the indigenous
Arab population.

We know that this divine favouritism and claim to the land have played a role in the vulner-
ability of the Jewish people in relation to their powerful neighbours in the Middle East, although
other, less theological, reasons no doubt played a greater part. During the sixth century BC, both
Hebrew states, first Israel and then Judea, were conquered and the Jewish elite were deported to
Babylon. When they were allowed to return to Jerusalem two generations later, they may have
been granted permission by Cyrus to rebuild the ruined temple, but they had lost their political
sovereignty. This loss of independence was amplified by the Greek and Roman conquests in the
fourth and first century BC respectively. It is therefore no surprise that a people with an outspo-
ken national and religious consciousness, with a literary tradition and a widespread mythical
and historical awareness, developed messianistic expectations and the hope of eventual libera-
tion from their banishment and suppression. It is also no surprise that this messianism mobilised
various social groups at various points in time, such as was the case with the followers of Rabbi
Jesus of Nazareth and other messianistic figures of the time, but also the so-called Sabbatianists
in the seventeenth century or, on a secular level, the Zionists at the end of the nineteenth cen-

This liberation messianism had everything to do with the discrimination suffered by the Jews
for thousands of years, with the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, the banishment by the
Romans up to the Spanish Catholic Reconquista, and, in the whole of Christian Europe, the
discrimination and persecution in the name of religiously inspired (and mostly economically
motivated) anti-Judaism. Once again it is not surprising that the memory of the Golden Age of the
biblical kingdom of Israel and the desire to recreate it took up a central position in the conscious-
ness of the disadvantaged and humiliated Jews.

At the end of the eighteenth century, following the legal emancipation of the Jews in the United
States, France and the Batavian Republic, it appeared that the Jews would henceforth be allowed
to take part in society as equal citizens in the various countries of the Diaspora. The theory of
Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialektik der Aufklärung (1947), which suggests that the rise in Euro-
pean anti-Semitism was a by-product of the Enlightenment, is convincing. In any case, it seems
correct that political Zionism can be considered the Jewish variant of the nineteenth century
liberation nationalism, but especially as a secular and political movement that could rely on the
centuries-old messianistic expectations: “This year we celebrate Pesach in exile, but next year in
Jerusalem!” Unlike other national liberation movements, it was necessary, for geographical rea-
sons, for Zionism to use the dominant colonial discourse for its own purposes.

Regarding the success of Zionism, we know that the propaganda slogan “a land without people
for a people without land”, even though historically inaccurate, set the tone for a continued
strategy of movement, as clearly formulated by Vladimir (Ze-ev) Jabotinsky and carried out by
his political opponent David Ben Gurion. Palestine was either an empty country or it had to be
made empty. Without this demographic shift, whether it was intentional (Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic
Cleansing of Palestine, 2007) or instrumental (Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee
Problem Revisited, 2004), the result was the same: the displacement of more than 700,000 Palestin-
ians from around 400 villages and cities. The findings of the so-called New Historians, a Jewish-
Israeli group that includes Zionists as well as anti- or post-Zionists, can no longer be considered

marginal, despite claims by the Israeli government that they very rarely take their views into
account. Military regulations, especially the ‘Law on Return’, in which ironically the ban on the
return of Palestinians was set out in 1950, prove that the goal was to support the Zionist position
of acquiring as much land as possible, containing as few non-Jews, i.e. Palestinians, as possible.

Even if one takes only this principle into account, one can understand the subsequent sixty-year
history of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians (see, for example, Avi Shlaim’s
The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, 2000). This explains the confusion amongst Israeli politi-
cians when, following the Six-Day War, it transpired that the Palestinians would not flee in large
numbers this time (see Tom Segev’s 1967: Six jours qui ont changé le monde, 2007) and Israel was
faced with the difficult choice of giving up the recently acquired biblical homeland (Judea and
Samaria) or occupying an area with more than one million, obviously hostile, Palestinians. By
the same principle it also becomes clear why the so-called Security Fence (or Apartheid Wall)
around the Western shore of the river Jordan is twice as long as the border itself and entirely
covers Palestinian territory, which is thereby shrunk by another 10% (René Backmann, Un mur
en Palestine, 2006). From all of this one can certainly deduce that there is no question of a genuine
peace process as long as Israel continues its expansionist and colonialist vision. In front of the
cameras the negotiators can go on for decades about side issues and symbolic gestures but, un-
der these circumstances, a genuine and open discussion about, for example, the internationally
recognised right of return of the refugees and their descendants (now numbering more than 3.5
million), the setting up of a democratic bi-national state that has equal rights for all its citizens,
or even the creation of the promised sovereign and livable Palestinian mini state in Gaza and
the West Bank, which would entail the retreat of the occupying forces and an end to suppressive
politics, would be impossible.

Does this mean that the responsibility for the impasse and the consequent human misery can be
placed solely in the Israeli camp and that the Palestinians have not made any serious mistakes or
committed any crimes? Does it mean that, for example, the terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens or
even Jews in general, are being condoned? Is intellectually offensive and immoral anti-Semitism
not widespread amongst the Palestinian population and is it not true that the well written but
perverse Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1909) is enormously popular in Palestinian areas, even
amongst the political leaders of the Palestinian authority and Hamas? Whoever denies these
facts or glosses over them out of some misplaced loyalty to the ‘disenfranchised of the world’
is no less ideologically narrow-minded or dishonest than their propagandist Zionist opponent
who, for example, uses the collaboration between the Mufti of Jerusalem during World War
II as ‘proof’ of the deep-seated and irrefutable hatred of Jews by all Palestinians (and Arabs)
without distinction, a hatred against which Israel arms itself to the teeth and regularly strikes as
a preventative measure. These Palestinian reactions, however despicable and futile, are not the
result of some inbuilt anti-Semitism, but a reaction to the inhumanly high price that they and
previous generations have paid for the success of the Zionist project. Palestinian political and
social scientists, like those who contribute to the prestigious Journal of Palestine Studies, add that
the continued occupation and discrimination are too often used as an excuse to delay or put a
stop to urgent reforms that would be possible to implement immediately. While this is a fact, we
shouldn’t allow this to make us lose sight of the truth at the core of the matter. And this truth is

that it is not the Palestinians who have taken over Jewish land and treated the Jews as second-
class citizens within their own land, but the opposite.

What can we do?

In his article, Jan Wijenberg places the “key to a just and lasting peace” primarily in the hands
of the EU, partially because it is unrealistic to expect the US to change its pro-Israeli political
stance. Statements made by nearly all the serious contenders for the American presidency in
November 2008 confirm this. This can be attributed to the great influence of the powerful Jewish
(and fundamentalist Christian) pro-Israeli lobbies, but also to the geo-political interests of the
US in the Middle East, where only Israel can be seen as a reliable ally. According to Wijenberg,
the minimum requirements for a successful intervention on the part of the European Union are
“the guiding principle of international law, sufficient political will amongst EU member states,
the determination to pursue the end goal until it has been achieved, and the willingness to resist
the anger and aggression of Israel and the US”. I am certainly in agreement with this, but the dif-
ficult development of, and sometimes-painful crises in, a common and independent European
policy, especially when the EU is confronted with American “anger and aggression” make me
doubt the feasibility of the peace strategy rightly suggested by Wijenberg. This does not mean
that we should forget the central role that the EU will have to play at a later stage in the peace
process, or that we should not do everything in our power as European citizens to influence EU
policy makers in this direction in the meantime, but it forces us, at the same time, to focus on
three promising developments in the region itself: the role of a number of critics and dissidents
in Israel, the increasing political enlightenment of the Arab (or Palestinian) Israelis, and the slow
but sure shift in the political standpoint of Hamas.

In Le monde diplomatique of May 2008, Israeli expert Eric Rouleau writes: “By determining the
truth about the injustice that occurred in 1948, the ‘new historians’ are serving the cause of
peace.” The debate about the expulsion of the Palestinian population has, since the 1990s, not
been limited to a small circle of New Historians and the fragmented Israeli peace movement, but
is a central theme in the Israeli media, as was seen recently by the reaction to the stance of Avra-
ham Burg, a former leader of the Labour Party, Chairman of the Zionist movement and President
of Parliament. As a convinced Zionist he argued for the solution of “two sovereign states for two
peoples” and as a Jew he rejects the “ghetto mentality” of current Israeli politics that, according
to him, poses a threat to “universal Jewishness” that represents the core of the biblical-prophetic
and the humanist Jewish traditions in both the Diaspora as well as in Israel itself. Many of his
ideas coincide with those of the religious orthodox philosopher Jesjahoe Leibowitz in the 1970s,
with the crucial difference being that Leibowitz was a lone voice in the desert, whilst Burg can
count on the increasing agreement of many Israeli intellectuals.

Over time, the defenders of an ethnic-Jewish nation state, who are still in power, are losing the
battle of ideas, despite all the propaganda and indoctrination. In a conflict situation, this usually
means that resistance to these dangerous ideas from traditional and extreme-Zionist corners, to-
gether with ultra-orthodox fundamentalism, will increase and the tensions within Jewish-Israeli
society will rise. But purely intellectually, the insights of the critics can no longer be rooted out.
In the campaign for a “just and lasting peace” these people are allies who have every right to

our interest and support. At one and a half million, the non-Jewish citizens of Israel – Islamic
and Christian Arabs, Druze and Bedouins – today form more than 20% of the total population, a
number which continues to rise due to greater fertility and the drying-up of the last migrations
from the former Soviet Union. For sixty years they have lived with judicial, social and educa-
tional forms of discrimination, but due to increased development, they have, especially since
the beginning of the Second Intifada (2000 to the present), in the Occupied Territories, realised
their potential political might. They resist the definition of Israel as an ethnic Jewish state and
increasingly explicitly defend the idea of a “democratic state of all its citizens”. Their battle for
complete civil rights is only just beginning, but is slowly becoming a factor that the ruling class
must take into account. That is why the call for deportation of these non-Jews from the ethnic
Zionist camp is getting louder, even though this demand goes against the Israeli Declaration of
Independence and the claim that Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East. Here the
international community, in particular the EU, has a positive role to play, even if it is just by sup-
porting the democratic and legitimate demands of this non-Jewish population. Not against Israel,
whose existence is hardly questioned by anyone in the West, but for an Israel that treats all of its
citizens equally as a normal democratic state should. In a certain sense this option corresponds
with the historical “cultural Zionism” of Martin Buber and his like-minded contemporaries, who
dreamed of a land in which Jews and non-Jews could live together with equal rights and in
peace. If, as was suggested by Shimon Peres, Israel wants to take up its legitimate place as a
bridge between the West and the Arab world, it will have to prove that it first fulfils this function
in respect of its own Arab citizens.

Amos Oz and many other moderate Zionists argue for a dialogue with Hamas. Not because
they want to negotiate with ‘terrorists’, but because they can no longer ignore a party that, ac-
cording to all international observers, came to power in democratically held elections. Especially
now that most non-ideologically-blinded observers – Israelis and Palestinians, as well as foreign
diplomats – admit that the leadership of Hamas, in spite of its militant rhetoric, recognises the
two state solution and therefore indirectly recognises the right of Israel to exist. The fact that they
couple this recognition to the end of the occupation and suppressive politics is no more than can
be expected and also complies with nearly all United Nations resolutions passed since 1976. The
ending of this structural violence, the armed protest and ultimately the end of terrorism are inex-
tricably linked. The real danger is that a new movement of irreconcilables will outstrip a moder-
ate Hamas, if it proves that even these careful approaches hit an iron wall of unwillingness. The
current boycott of the Gaza strip, with the subsequent worsening of living conditions for more
than one and a half million Palestinian citizens, is the ideal breeding ground for this new wave of
fanaticism that most probably will be able to count on the support of foreign enemies of Israel. It
is therefore unimaginable and unforgivable that the EU lets itself be tied by the US and Israel and
doesn’t resist an embargo that will only make a peaceful solution to the conflict more difficult.
If the EU lets itself be guided by international law, something which should be self-evident, it
will have to take into account all local developments in both camps, even if only because a “just
peace” put forward from the outside can never be sustainable if it is not supported by the major-
ity of the local population.

Who and what is an anti-Semite?

Anti-Semitism is an historic and contemporary problem. It is a specific form of racism and there-
fore goes against all the principles of a modern democratic society, amongst other things the Uni-
versal Declaration of Human Rights. It is no surprise that genuine anti-Semites, or Jew-haters,
will often refer to other streams, for example historical negationism or anti-Zionism, as long as
they can inflict harm on Jews. It is the job of all those who strive for a peaceful solution to the
conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to unveil these streams and show them for what
they really are. Whoever denies or talks down the impact of judeocide (Shoa, the Holocaust) or
applauds the potential destruction of Israel is no ally of the Palestinians, even if they will find
a number of Palestinians who are in agreement. On the other hand, whoever believes that any
form of criticism of Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians is open or disguised anti-Semitism,
is no friend of the Jews. The universal Jewishness of Buber, Leibowitz, Arendt, Burg and their
supporters has become influential through the constant discussion and self-examination that are
an essential part of humanist Jewish culture. When the merciless fight against all forms of anti-
Semitism, a task that concerns all human beings, is narrowed down to unconditional defence of
an ethnically motivated Jewish nationalism, any reasonable debate on the issue is not only falsi-
fied, but also made impossible. Whoever lets themselves be intimidated by this, for the reasons
mentioned in the introduction, and avoids the critical debate on the conflict between Israel and
the Palestinians, plays into the hands of the extremists in both camps who ‘live off’ the conflict
and is, despite all arguments to the contrary, an anti-Semite.

Nearly 750.000 Gazans cross to Egypt to buy essential food and fuel

Israel/Palastine: towards a binational state

A.A.M. van Agt

The State of Israel recently celebrated its 60th Anniversary. A large number of world leaders and
other dignitaries, mostly from the United States and Europe, hurried to Jerusalem to congratulate
Israel on the many inroads it has made over the last few decades in reinstating the country into the
world’s history books.

They also came to pay homage to the undaunted way in which Israel had survived the trials it
faced as a result of its sudden establishment within a formerly Arab region. In The Netherlands,
prominent politicians also joined in the celebrations. Not only did the Prime Minister send a warm
message of solidarity, but Deputy Prime Minister Bos and the Minister of Foreign Affairs also gave
laudatory orations at events organised to celebrate the anniversary. Not once did a visiting digni-
tary say anything that would have been unwelcome to those celebrating. Nonetheless, at exactly
the same time, the Palestinians were remembering their Naqba – the tragedy of being expelled
from their homes and land, which was a consequence of the establishment of Israel on their terri-
tory. Even the mantra of ‘the critical dialogue’ with Israel fell silent during those days. Reports on
the continuing oppression of Gaza and the continued occupation of East Jerusalem and the West
Bank of the River Jordan were drowned out by the festivities.

Renunciation of constitutional mandate

The Netherlands has a constitution that requires the government to promote the international rule
of law (Article 90). Few nations will have a constitution that includes such an obligation verbatim.
That we in fact ignore this obligation, however, is undeniable. The Netherlands, just like other
member states of the European Union, is resigned to the fact that Israel ignores binding UN resolu-
tions, breaches international humanitarian laws on warfare and decrees on human rights, ignores
the pronouncement by the International Court of Justice regarding the building of a wall on oc-
cupied Palestinian territory and the colonisation thereof, and, in short, completely disregards in-
ternational law.

This reprehensible passivity makes Europeans partially responsible, not only for the maintenance
of the immeasurable injustice that is done to the Palestinian people, but also for the erosion of the
authority of (and therefore the willingness to observe) international law that comes about and is
perpetuated whenever this law is only obeyed arbitrarily – even by members of the international
community who label themselves as lawful, but only apply the law in situations that are conven-
ient to them.

The disgraceful behaviour of the United States regarding the Israel/Palestine question needs no
further discussion. The American patron not only tolerates the fact that Israel repeatedly, and seri-

ously, violates international law, but Washington even encourages the unlawful practices of the
state by continuing to support and protect Israel come what may, by providing considerable mili-
tary and financial support and political protection. We cannot expect this position to change in the
near future. Should we then look to Europe for a solution?

Failure of EU policy
Since the (then nine) government leaders of the European Union released a Declaration in Venice
on June 13, 1980, regarding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, the EU has not issued
another firm word or bold deed that might in any way inconvenience Israel. Even though, in the
years since 1980, there have been more and more reasons to get tough with Israel (between then
and now, the number of settlers has seen a thirty-fold increase, an annexation wall is being built,
and a lot more besides), Europe has not hurt the State of Israel with gritty questions. Wijenberg
rightly points out that, in an economic sense, Israel is heavily reliant on the European market.
The EU-Israel Association Accord gives Israel substantial preferences in the European market’s
purchasing power. These advantages can be suspended, according to this accord if, and as long
as, Israel violates human rights. Already in 2002, former EU Commissioner, Hans van den Broek,
urged for this clause to be applied, but so far it has not happened.

It gets worse. In mid July, the Council of Ministers of the EU took the principle decision on Isra-
el’s proposal to broaden and strengthen the relationship with Israel in several areas. There are no
conditions attached to this promise. Along with Frans Andriessen and Hans van den Broek, both
of whom are former portfolio holders for external relations in the European Commission, I put
forward an argument as to why it would be preposterous to offer Israel new privileges instead
of reprimanding, if not chastising, it for its misconduct with regard to the occupied Palestinians
(Volkskrant, June 12, 2008). Nevertheless the EU continues to embrace Israel. My dream, that the
EU will use her power to discipline the State of Israel in order to maintain the prospect of a just
peace, has been shattered. The former satellite states of the Soviet Union that now belong to the
EU have made Europe even more servile towards America than it was before.

In mid July an ironic coincidence took place, an absurdity that I cannot fail to mention. On the
day on which EU ministers intensified their promise of loyalty to Israel, Gideon Levy wrote the
following in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “Europe must come to its senses this week. It must
make the upgrading of relations with Israel conditional on a series of practical steps Israel must
take, in the spirit of its declared values. Want an upgrade? Please conduct yourselves according
to international law, please respect the most basic human rights, please lift the siege on Gaza.
That is how the EU behaves toward the rest of the countries knocking at its door. An uncondi-
tional upgrade will be a prize for settlements, a medal for siege, closures and starvation. Is that
the way Europe wants to see itself? Lavishing gifts on the occupier, boycotting the occupied, and
becoming an American puppet?”

Two state solution torpedoed by Israel

We cannot expect a strong initiative that will lead to a just peace from partisan America, nei-
ther can we expect one from the politically decrepit Europe. Both have even blocked the way
to negotiations that could lead to a good solution, by boycotting the winner of the most recent

parliamentary elections and by allowing Israel to lock up tens of Hamas parliamentarians and
a number of ministers in Israeli prisons. The negotiations that have been taking place since An-
napolis (November 2007) between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, in prac-
tice restricted to Fatah, cannot result in a viable Palestinian state.

In November 2005, the diplomatic representatives of the EU member states in Tel Aviv and Ram-
allah issued a report on the situation in East Jerusalem (annexed by Israel by law, but without
any international recognition). It stated that East Jerusalem has for centuries been the pre-em-
inent centre for political, commercial, religious and cultural activities on the West Bank of the
River Jordan. It is pointed out that its splitting off from the rest of the West Bank will seriously
damage the prospect of a two state solution. It describes how drastically the ‘Jewification’ of
East Jerusalem is being asserted. However, it seems that those commissioning the report found
it too critical towards Israel, which is why it was quickly shoved under the carpet. Luckily it was
leaked and made public by The Guardian newspaper. At the same time, Israeli politicians have
not ceased to declare that Israel will not give up an undivided Jerusalem.

The West Bank is becoming more and more constricted. In 2006, the Jordan valley, which makes
up around a quarter of the West Bank, was already inaccessible. The roads to the valley were
closed off. Sharon and his successor Olmert repeatedly stated that Israel would never abandon
the valley. In this way, the area that would become the principal part of the Palestinian state is
reduced to an Israeli courtyard, without any borders to the outside world. What is left of the
principal part of Palestine is not one single area, but separate fragments, rightly called Bantus-
tans. Israel is not planning to end this fragmentation by evacuating the settlements and open-
ing up their network of ‘Israeli-only’ roads. I do not have to expand on the invalidity of a Gaza
sealed off on all sides.

The creation of a viable Palestinian state has become a mirage, a hallucination, a fairytale that no
one who knows anything about the issues can believe in any more.

What next? We cannot avoid choosing a drastic alternative. If it proves impossible to bring the
Jewish Israelis and the Palestinians together in one bi-national state, then the process of de-
Palestinisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank will go on unchecked, while the inhabitants
of Gaza will remain locked in their open-air prison. The Israeli Professor Ilan Pappe describes the
behaviour of Israel towards Gaza as genocidal and in other occupied areas as ethnic cleansing.
Equally forceful is the verdict of Jewish-American Professor Richard Falk, Emeritus Professor at
Princeton University and world-famous expert on international law. In his article ‘Slouching to-
ward a Palestinian Holocaust’ of June 29, 20071 he writes: “The recent developments in Gaza are
especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel
and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost
cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a
rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to
act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in collective trag-

1 See www.transnational.org/Area.MiddleEast2007

edy.” And: “The Israeli approach to the Palestinian challenge is based on isolating Gaza and
cantonizing the West Bank, leaving the settlement blocks intact, and appropriating the whole of
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel […]. To persist with such an approach under present circum-
stances is indeed genocidal […].”

Psychological mutilation of the Palestinian people by Israel

How do we achieve a bi-national state? One absolute prerequisite is that the position of the Pal-
estinian negotiators must be considerably strengthened. Shock treatment must be used to put the
moribund negotiations onto a different footing. Without spectacular action, the current impasse
cannot be broken. However, to do this, it is of course necessary for the Palestinians to rediscover
their unity. Eruptions of hate and violence, that are even showing signs of fratricide, are making
the Palestinians even weaker and more vulnerable than they were before. It goes without saying
that the followers of Fatah and Hamas are responsible for this in the first place. However, there
are a few things to note. Just as we might question the responsibility of an individual who com-
mits a crime, we can also ask the same question when we are talking about groups of people.
In our country, that has been free from the violence of war for generations and has a high level
of prosperity, there are very good provisions for psychological health, including victim support
and trauma teams. There is no sign of such provision for the Palestinian people, afflicted by war
and expulsion, abject impoverishment and immeasurable suffering, who have been living for
decades under an increasingly hostile occupation. To what extent have these people become
psychologically mutilated? That is the question I never hear anyone ask.

Another thing to note is the manipulations that the (information services of the) occupying pow-
er have carried out in order to recruit collaborators amongst the impoverished Palestinian popu-
lation and the efforts that America and Israel have made to stoke up the smouldering discord
between Fatah and Hamas. A lot has become known about the provisioning of Fatah militias
from outside and also about the methods used from abroad in March 2007 to make the efforts
of collaboration between these two rivals run aground as quickly as possible. See for example
the end of mission report by UN envoy Alvaro de Soto (mid 2007), that luckily was not able to
be kept a secret and the revelations in the article ‘The Gaza Bombshell’ by David Rose, both of
which can be found on my website www.driesvanagt.nl (under ‘Artikelen’).

However brave the call for an own state seems, the Palestinians must find an escape route. After
all, their situation cannot become any more miserable than it already is.

The Ritual Dance of Peace and
the New Middle East

Leo Kwarten

“Peace and cooperation will bring the Dead Sea to life again and change it into an enormous source of in-
come, from which Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians will profit […]. I am convinced that the Red Sea can
be a springboard for a good arms control agreement […]. We can build long roads along her beaches, dig
tunnels for the transportation of water, lay oil and gas pipelines, connect electricity and communications
networks and make the Red Sea a blossoming trade area.”
Shimon Peres, ‘The New Middle East’, Holt, 1993 [Quote translated from Dutch]

“Our goal is to reform and reconstruct buildings, to replant trees, to flourish our people economically,
to keep the mood of the Palestinian people anti-occupation, to move towards a new strategy: co-operation
with the Arabs, not co-operation with the Israelis,”
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar in an interview with The Times, 14 April 2005

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always had a great attraction for dreamers. Peace initiatives
generally go hand-in-hand with the presentation of visions in which not only the former Man-
date territory of Palestine, but the whole Middle East, will be delivered from its problems. Wars,
arms races, poverty and radicalism will, by messianic decree, disappear and make way for a fu-
ture of progress, peace and democracy. The alternative, i.e. no solution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, will, as the visionaries point out, be catastrophic. As the Israeli President and Nobel
Prize winner, Shimon Peres, once said: “There are two alternatives: Benelux or Yugoslavia.”1

What is noticeable is the centrality that most politicians and other concerned parties give to the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as if all wars in the region, and even international terrorism, are a
by-product of it. Thus Jan Wijenberg, in his article in this edition, maintains that the conflict has
“aroused the anger of 1.4 billion Muslims (sic).” Even someone like former American President
Jimmy Carter, nowadays a self-styled mediator in the conflict, is of the opinion that the situation
in Palestine poses “a persistent threat to global peace. It is also the incubator of much of the ter-
rorism that is of such great concern to Americans and citizens of other nations”.2

It is a remarkable point-of-view which is demonstrably inaccurate. The major conflicts in the

Middle East that, in the last thirty years, have led to international tensions were mainly domi-
nated by Iraq (and to a lesser extent by the Lebanon). Through the war against Iran (1980-1988)
and the Kuwait Crisis (1990-1991), the world became evermore closely involved with the confla-
gration in the oil-rich Gulf, which reached its climax in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq. In these
wars, Israel played no part or, at most, only a secondary role. Even international terrorism has

1 Interview in World Monitor, December 1992

2 Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Simon & Schuster, 2006, pp. 11-12

drawn relatively little inspiration from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bin Laden is carrying out
a worldwide jihad, but the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not a priority in it. Of course, in his mes-
sages, he makes use of ‘the intrigues of the Jews and the Crusaders’ in legitimising his acts of terror,
but it comes across as somewhat perfunctory. In reality Al-Qaeda seldom, if ever, carries out attacks
in Israel and the movement has hardly any support on the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip.

New self-awareness in the Middle East

It is obvious that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very important and has far-reaching conse-
quences for the lives of millions of people. Nevertheless, it must not be seen as the all-determin-
ing factor with regard to stability in the Middle East, or to the future of international terrorism.
It can be maintained, however, that the conflict, or rather the absence of a peaceful solution, has
contributed to the creation of a new self-awareness in the Middle East. This awareness has ma-
terialised in the rise of Iran and the political success of Islamic movements such as Hamas and
Hezbollah, which have introduced a new élan amongst a broad section of the population of the
Middle East.

For these parties, peace in Palestine is not a priority. There are more important matters – even
threats – which demand attention; matters such as the realisation that the democratic vision
introduced by President Bush after the invasion of Iraq apparently does not apply to Islamic
movements like Hamas, whose electoral victory in 2006 was not recognised by the international
community. The same applies to Iran and Hezbollah, which have realised that the USA seems
unable to accept empowerment by Islamists and, if necessary, is ready to take military action to
prevent it. Also the fact that, in the meantime, the USA enjoys so little trust in the region that it
can no longer play its traditional role of honest broker in the peace process, especially not since
it has embraced Israel as a partner in the War on Terror and only perfunctorily opposes Israel’s
colonial ambitions in the Palestinian territories.

Millions of Arabs are mentally arming themselves against a new Middle East, which, according
to the plan, will be dominated by American-style democracy, in which there is no place for them,
and against a secular free-market system in which they do not feel at home; and where a sustain-
able solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for the moment not in sight. “The region is not
‘desperate’ for peace,” writes Alastair Crooke, British expert on relations with Islamic move-
ments and former negotiator. “It would welcome it, of course; but much of it is also preparing
and judiciously expecting the worst.”’3

The Ritual Character of Western Involvement

Western governments have been deprived of a view over this trend – “peace but not at any
price” – by their preoccupation with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as if a peace accord were a
miracle cure for all evils in the region. It is remarkable that the verbal weight that Western poli-
ticians give to the conflict is not supported by sound initiatives. Both the Roadmap for Peace,
launched by President Bush in April 2003, as well as the Annapolis Declaration of November
2007, were launched with great fanfare but have remained dead letters. The negotiations be-

3 Alastair Crooke, ‘But what if nobody takes notice?’, Conflicts Forum, 11 May 2008. http://conflictsforum.org/2008/

tween Israel and Palestinian President Abbas in 2008 following on from Annapolis should have
delivered an agreement in principle – not a solution, but a kind of framework – but even that goal
was not reached.

Western ‘involvement’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has acquired the characteristics of a ritual
dance of peace, in which all participants neatly take the steps that are expected of them.4 Ameri-
ca’s traditional role as honest broker in the conflict has been completely eroded. The involvement
displayed by Clinton, with Dennis Ross as his tireless special envoy, has been replaced by the
black-and-white vision of Bush Junior, in which Israel figures as a partner in the War on Terror
and Hamas as a branch of Al-Qaeda. The fact that the Palestinians have accepted the Roadmap in
its totality, while Israel has demanded as many as fourteen pre-conditions, makes no difference.
Peace initiatives resemble optional talking-shops, which are supposed to create the impression
that the USA is positively engaged, but in reality disguise its geo-political interests.

On such occasions, Israel always devoutly expresses its readiness for peace. However, this is
never without pre-conditions. Officially, one may not talk to Hamas (although indirectly, through
Egypt, Israel does talk to Hamas) because of the demand that the Islamists must first recognise Israel,
renounce violence and respect current peace accords. The fact that Hamas was excluded from the
outset from the Oslo Accords of 1993 (Western politicians, including those from the Netherlands,
merely called upon PLO leader Arafat “to deal harshly with the terrorists”) makes no difference. That
also goes for the fact that Hamas came to power in 2006 through free elections. The introduction of
democratic reforms in the Palestinian camp was once an Israeli pre-condition for an accord with the
Palestinians, but when Hamas appeared to be the winner, the result was rejected and Gaza, with the
agreement of the international community, was subjected to a dehumanising embargo.

The will for peace in Israeli politics is meaningless

A deeply rooted will for peace is lacking in too many Israeli politicians. Israel has a fragmented
political spectrum with too many parties for whom peace is naturally desirable, but who allow
nationalistic or religious interests to prevail. The consequence is weak coalition governments
that are ambivalent towards peace initiatives, let alone towards territorial concessions. In the ab-
sence of international pressure, the temptation is great for every Israeli prime minister to extend
the settlements or to bring troublesome ministers on board by conniving at still more Palestinian
land being stolen and extremist colonists being put above the law.

Political division that translates into an unwillingness and inability to make concessions for
peace means that, for the time being, Israel is not desperate to sit down with a Palestinian peace
partner. As far as that is concerned, the division in the Palestinian camp suits Israel just fine. It
can tighten its grip on large parts of the West Bank, so that in fact Israel is in an even stronger
position when it comes to real negotiations. The talks taking place at the moment with President
Abbas are mere window dressing, something that puts the Israelis in the position of keeping the
illusion of a peace process alive at the same time as putting off difficult decisions to an indefinite
time in the future.

4  The same optional policy on the part of the West can be seen in the Lebanon. See i.e. Leo Kwarten, ‘Ritueel verstikt
Midden-Oosten’, Financieele Dagblad (Optiek), 23 februari 2007

Crossing into Egypt as Egyptian shopkeepers receive customers

President Abbas also realises this himself, in addition to the fact that the negotiations are very
poorly regarded by a large number of his supporters. But what choice does he have? His view
of a definitive peace and a Palestinian state are obstructed by a forest of short-term goals. His
most important goal is to stay in power since his Fatah movement, after a bloody fight in 2007,
had to surrender the Gaza strip to Hamas. Fatah, once the champion of the Palestinian masses,
has become a corrupt, unpopular and divided faction. Abbas pins his hopes on foreign coun-
tries, namely the USA and the European Union, who regard him as the last surviving moderate
Palestinian leader.

So Abbas does his ritual dance in the knowledge that a peace process – and the billions which the
USA and Europe have promised him in exchange – is the only lifeline for a leader who hardly
still inspires his supporters and who long ago lost the streets to Hamas. Nobody has put into
words the crisis within Fatah better than Qadura Fares, former minister in the Palestinian Au-
thority (PA) and critical spirit within Fatah:

“The negotiations with Israel give us nothing. Every day he negotiates, Abbas loses credibility.
Political reforms within the PLO? Forget it. Nothing happens. There are only slogans. No, time
is on the side of Hamas. They are working while we are speaking. Moreover they are a much
younger movement. Some time ago I attended a meeting of the Central Committee of the PLO.
You should have seen all those old men on crutches and in wheelchairs. When you looked into
the bar you had the impression that you were not in a hotel but a hospital.” 5

Only dialogue with new forces in the Middle East offers any perspective
Israel, the Palestinians, the USA and Europe – everyone seems to be under the spell of a ritual
dance of peace which produces nothing. Israel cannot and will not take any bold steps for peace,
the Palestinians no longer have a unified leadership, and for the USA under Bush the Promised
Land has no priority. That leaves Europe, which plays along with the ‘peace game’ but which
cannot formulate a policy operating independently from that of the USA, for example by forcing
Israel, through sanctions, to give up its settlement policy. All are holding themselves and each
other in a diplomatic vice-like grip, so that the conflict is stalemated and will continue to be so
for the time being.

What is even more serious is that the Western preoccupation with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
and its false involvement with it, which for years now has maintained the illusion of the central-
ity of the conflict, actually disguises the fact that we have no idea what to do about the rest of
the Middle East. More than five years after the invasion of Iraq, the West still cannot formulate a
consistent policy with regard to the rise of Iran as a regional power and of Hamas and Hezbollah
as self-confident movements. In other words, the West seems unable to accept empowerment by

The problem with these forces is that we cannot dismiss them as ‘extremists’ or branches of
Al-Qaeda, but we must regard them as a precursor of a growing movement in the Middle East,
which, in the future, the West will have to do business with politically if we wish to do some-

5 Personal interview with Qadura Fares, Ramallah, April 2008

thing about the anti-Western sentiment in the region. To remain in the Palestinian-Israeli context:
refusing to involve Hamas in a peaceful solution will mean that every peace initiative will fail
and will alienate the West further from the reality in the Middle East.

Two Gulf wars, two intifadahs and a stack of loose peace initiatives in the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict have given rise to a new Middle East. It will not be a Middle East of Western democracy
and the greatest economic cooperation between archenemies, but rather a region which invites
the West to seek common interests. Many will continue to oppose an American Diktat and will
demand political recognition, while a definitive solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be
put on the back burner. People will indeed remain critical of the West, but pragmatism will gain
the upper hand if the West reads the signs and is prepared to enter into a real dialogue with these
new forces. History, however, does not lead to optimism.

International law as a way to peace between
Israel and Palestine
Paul de Waart

Former Ambassador Jan Wijenberg believes the key to peace in the Middle East lies with an EU
peace strategy based on international law. The core of his proposal is that Israel, under interna-
tional law, must:
- dismantle its weapons of mass destruction;
- recognise the State of Palestine within all areas pre-1967, including East Jerusalem;
- hand over all settlements within these areas to Palestine;
- repatriate all settlers who do not wish to live under Palestinian authority.

If Israel is unwilling to comply with the above, sanctions must be applied, such as the suspen-
sion of Israeli membership to the UN and the setting up of an Israel Tribunal in The Hague to
try Israelis who are believed to be responsible for serious international offences, such as torture
and (stealthy) genocide. Should the US block such measures in the Security Council, the EU
should enforce its own sanctions. Professor Ludo Abicht agrees with him wholeheartedly, but
has doubts about the feasibility of the peace strategy put forward by Wijenberg. He pins his
hopes on three developments within the region itself:
- the role of the critics;
- increasing political awareness;
- shifts in the standpoint of Hamas.

The hard lesson of the past sixty years is that the effectiveness of these unmistakeable develop-
ments and of the proposed EU peace strategy are hampered to a great extent by the differences
of opinion regarding the interpretation and application of international law between Israel and
Palestine and within the Quartet – the EU, Russia, the US and the UN. The fundamentally sound
recommendation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has not been able to change this, as
it allows for the notion that the Partition Resolution of the General Assembly (GA) of 1947 has
been superseded by Resolution 242 of the Security Council regarding the principles of a lasting

In other words, the Advisory Opinion about the Wall creates the impression, in contradiction to
earlier recommendations regarding the mandate area of South-West Africa (Namibia), that the
authority to decide the status of the Palestinian areas occupied in 1967 does not rest with the GA

1 GA Resolution 181 (II) of November 29, 1947 aimed to split the League of Nations Mandate Palestine into an Arab State
and a Jewish State and Jerusalem as a corps separatum. SC Resolution 242 (1967) of November 22, 1967, established amongst
other things that Israeli forces should evacuate [the] areas that were occupied in the most recent conflict. See my ‘Jewish Oc-
cupation and International Law’ [Joodse nederzettingen en het internationaal recht] in Robert Soeterik’s (ed.), The Destruc-
tion of Palestine [De verwoesting van Palestina - Stichting Palestina Publikaties 2008, pages 80-81]. Both resolutions are included
as supplements to the book on pages 402 and 414.

Palestinian national forces patrolling along the border with Egypt

but with the SC, and if they fail to agree, then with the permanent members, either as a whole
or as individuals.2 The Declaration of Annapolis on November 27, 2007 is telling. In it, the Israeli
Premier Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas obligate themselves to
“continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace
treaty. (…) Until otherwise agreed by the parties, the implementation of the future peace treaty
will be subject to the implementation of the peace treaty, as judged by the United States” [italics
added]. The three other members of the Quartet guiding the Road Map to Peace are satisfied
with this further marginalisation.3 The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council of
June 16, 2008, even spoke out unanimously that the EU would continue to apply itself to “make
the Annapolis process be successful”.4 Even within Israel itself there is astonishment that the EU
has not been more critical when advancing their relationship with Israel. 5

Mandate/Partition Resolution
The GA partially has itself to blame for the uncertainty regarding the status of the Partition Reso-
lution. It speaks of a Plan of Partition for Palestine as a recommendation for the United Kingdom,
the mandate power for Palestine, and an appeal to the SC to take any necessary measures for the
implementation of the plan. The GA seemed to rely on the authority of the League of Nations
regarding mandate areas. The Mandate for Palestine rested on an agreement between the League
of Nations and Great Britain signed on July 24, 1922. The GA was seemingly not yet aware that
the authority of the League of Nations in the UN Charter was not transferred to the SC but to
itself.6 This twilight situation is a characteristic of transitory law, whereby representatives of the
status quo and of the new order try to ensure that their ideas are safe. This is why the British
Minister of Foreign Affairs, James Balfour, was convinced in 1917 that the United Kingdom, as
victor in the First World War, according to the international law of the day, was authorised to set
up a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Great Britain was able to include this notion in the League
of Nations Mandate for Palestine and thereby paved the way through international law for the

2 Art. 106 states: “Pending the coming into force of such special agreements referred to in Article 43 as in the opinion
of the Security Council enable it to begin the exercise of its responsibilities under Article 42, the parties to the Four-Nation
Declaration, signed at Moscow, 30 October 1943, and France, shall, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 of that
Declaration, consult with one another and as occasion requires with other Members of the United Nations with a view to
such joint action on behalf of the Organization as may be necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and

3 See my ‘Israel-Palestine: Annapolis a ghost town on the road map to peace?’ [Israel-Palestina: Annapolis spookstad op
routekaart naar vrede?] UN Forum, June 2008-2, pages 20-28.

4 http://www.minbuza.nl/nl/actueel/brievenparlement,2008/06/Kamerbrief-inzake-Verslag-van-de-Raad-Algemene-

5 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/992688.html: Gideon Levy, ‘A dubious spring in Europe’, June 15, 2008: “Eu-
rope must come to senses this week. It must condition the upgrade of relations with Israel on a series of practical steps Israel
must take, in the spirit of its declared values. Want an upgrade? Please conduct yourselves according to international law,
please respect the most basic human rights, please lift the siege in Gaza.”

6 Covenant of the League of Nations, Article 22, paragraph 8: “The degree of authority, control, or administration to be
exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, be explicitly defined in each
case by the Council. UN Charter, Article 85, paragraph 2: “The Trusteeship Council, operating under the authority of the
General Assembly shall assist the General Assembly in carrying out these functions.”. The International Court of Justice
determined in its recommendation on the international status of the C-Mandate South-West Africa of July 11, 1950, on page
136: “It cannot be admitted that the obligation to submit to supervision has ceased to exist [the League of Nations-PdW]
when the United Nations has another international organ performing similar, though not identical, supervisory functions”
[the GA-PdW].

establishment of the Israeli state there.7
Israel considers the Partition Resolution of the General Assembly as null and void due to the
Arab/Palestinian rejection thereof and places no value on the Palestinian claim to (at the very
least) the territory occupied in 1967, the West Bank of the River Jordan (including East Jerusa-
lem) and the Gaza Strip that had been, until then, managed by Jordan and Egypt respectively.
The official website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaks of this in no uncertain terms:
“Resolution 181 has never been part of the agreed foundation for the peace process between
Israel and the Palestinians. The letters of invitation to the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, and
the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians expressly provide that permanent
status negotiations are to be based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. No other United
Nations Resolution is referred to. The Palestinians have thus affirmed that permanent resolution
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be achieved by negotiated settlement in West Bank and
Gaza Strip territory that is the subject of those Security Council Resolutions.”8

Israel is even convinced that the establishment of Jewish settlements in the 1967 occupied territory
is not in contradiction with international law.9 However, this is in fact the case. The ending of the
mandate has ended the duty of the mandate holder contained therein to promote Jewish immigra-
tion to Palestine under the international supervision of the Council of the League of Nations. This
supervision was intended to prevent any violation of the civil and religious rights of all the inhabit-
ants. Furthermore, the ending of the mandate did not mean an end to international supervision.

The Geneva Convention regarding the protection of civilians at times of war does not exclude
sovereign claims to Palestinian territory occupied in 1967.10 It is however the result of the GA
Partition Resolution of 1947 in conjunction with the SC Resolution of 1967 regarding the prin-
ciples for a just and lasting peace. The rejection of the Partition Resolution by the Palestinian
people and the Arab nations did not block the legality of Israeli membership of the UN in 1949.
The admission to the UN did, under international law, block, once and for all, the Zionistic goal
of re-establishing a Jewish homeland, Eretz Israel, in the whole of Palestine and thereby the an-
nexation of the Palestinian territory that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Lawsuit against Israel

Israel and the US are declared opponents of international criminal jurisdiction. There will never
be an Israel Tribunal in The Hague. But this is not the last word on the matter. In 2007, the Special
Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard,

7 See my ‘Nationality and land in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ [Nationaliteit en grond in het Israëlisch-Palestijnse
conflict], in Gr. Van der Burght’s Vorm en Norm, bundel opstellen aangeboden aan prof. Mr. J.K. Moltmaker ter gelegenheid van zijn
emeritaat, Kluwer Deventer, 1998, pages 285-289.

8 ‘The Status of General Assembly Resolution 181 (II)’. This anonymous examination is dated March 30, 1999 but is still
available on the following website: http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa.

9 ‘Israeli settlements and international law’, May 20, 2001. This examination still makes up part of the ‘Guide to the Mid-
east Peace Process’ on the website of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs [http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/

10 The main issue of the treaty is the protection of civilians in times of war. According to Article 1, the Main Parties to the
Treaty – in this case Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – commit themselves to honour this protection, and ensure it is
honoured, under all circumstances. See also Michael Bothe’s ‘Occupation, Belligerent’, in Rudolf Bernhardt’s Encyclopedia of
International Law, Volume III, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1997, page 762.

advocated a new request for advice by the GA to the ICJ regarding legal matters11 such as:
What are the legal consequences of an occupation lasting more than forty years?
What are the legal consequences when this kind of power has the characteristics of colonialism
and apartheid?
Has the occupying power become unlawful, especially since actions have been taken that are
focussed on the interests of the occupier?
If this is the case, what are the legal consequences for the population in the occupied area, the
occupier and third-party states?

We could add to this the explicit question what the legal meaning is of the Partition Resolution
for the international legal status of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967 in the
extension of the ending of the mandate in light of the finding by the ICJ that12 “in its Advisory
Opinion on the International Status of South West Africa, speaking of mandates in general, it
observed that ‘The Mandate was created in the interest of the inhabitants of the territory, and of
humanity in general, as an international institution with an international object – a sacred trust
of civilization’ (ICJ Reports 1950, p. 132). The Court also held in this regard that ‘two princi-
ples were considered to be of paramount importance: the principle of non-annexation and the
principle that the well-being and development of peoples [not yet able: to govern themselves]
form[ed] a sacred trust of civilization’ (ibid, p. 131).”

The disadvantage of the advice procedure is that once again it is probable that there will be no
breakthrough in the peace process because neither Israel nor the US will be willing to act ac-
cordingly. This would be different if there were a case against Israel pending in the ICJ. The only
treaty that presents a possibility for this to happen is the treaty to prevent and punish the crime
of genocide of 1948 (Genocide Convention). Article IX of the treaty states: “Disputes between
the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present
Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or any of the
other acts enumerated in Article 3, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the
request of any of the parties to the dispute.”

In 1951, the ICJ determined that states were allowed to place provisos on this article. Of the 133
states that ratified the Genocide Convention, provisos still apply for 16 states. Israel and the
member states of the EU, with the exception of Spain, do not belong to this group.13 Therefore
Israel cannot withdraw from the legal obligations of the Court that are included in that treaty.

The February 26, 2007 verdict of the ICJ in the dispute between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-
Montenegro regarding the application of the Genocide Convention underlines that states can
violate the accord by applying a false interpretation and application of the obligations that are

11 UN document A/HRC/4/17 (2007), paragraph 62. See also my ‘Israel’s Settlement Policy Stumbling Block in the Middle
East Peace Process’, in Thomas Skouteris’ en Annemarieke Vermeer Künzli’s ‘The Protection of the Individual in International
Law – Essays in Honour of John Dugard’, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pages 835-837.

12 Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion of July 9,
2004, [2004] ICJ Rep.136, paragraph 70.

13 The sixteen states are: Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Rwanda,
Singapore, Spain, Venezuela, Vietnam, United States and Yemen.

based on it to avoid genocide, as described in the accord, and therefore make it punishable. It
is not necessary that persons, on a national and then on an international legal level, have had a
conviction for genocide.14

Golden opportunity for The Netherlands

According to Wijenberg, solid research has already shown that the control and oppression of
the Palestinian population represents a process of stealthy genocide. The Israeli historian Ilan
Pappe, author of the sensational book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, published in 2006, is on
his side. Pappe qualified the recent behaviour of Israel in the Gaza Strip as “genocidal policies”.15
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in both Israel and Palestine, for example B’tselem,
Hamoked (Israel); Sabeel (Jerusalem), Al Haq (West Bank), Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
(Gaza Strip) can be asked their opinion on this matter. On the basis of this and other information
from the media and from international organisations, we can determine if the Israeli manner of
dealing with the population in the Gaza Strip violates the obligations of the Genocide Conven-

Neither the EU nor the UN can be party to the Genocide Convention, since only nations are
able to be. The situation in Gaza presents The Netherlands with a golden opportunity to
show that it takes its legal obligation to promote international law seriously, regardless of the
nation. As party to the Genocide Convention it can ask the UN and/or EU to objectively de-
termine whether the facts in the Gaza Strip justify a case against Israel for violation and mis-
representation of the Genocide Convention. In so doing, The Netherlands must make clear
that it is willing, even without the other members of the EU, to take the dispute to the ICJ. It
is important that it is considered a legal case between nations and not a criminal case against
individuals. In a criminal case it is difficult to prove whether there was an intention to, par-
tially or wholly, destroy a population. For violations against an accord amongst nations, the
issue of proof is different. This has been shown by the judgement of the ICJ in the disputes
between the US and Iran regarding the hostage taking of diplomats at the embassy in Teheran
and between Nicaragua and the US regarding American aggression against Nicaragua.

The significance of an eventual court case between The Netherlands (and other states) and Israel
reaches further than the promotion of a correct interpretation and application of the Genocide
Convention. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg made this clear with regard
to the protection of human rights in an emergency situation: “Nonetheless, Contracting Parties
do not enjoy unlimited discretion. It is for the Court to rule whether, inter alia, the States have
gone beyond the ‘extent strictly required by the exigencies’ of the crisis. The domestic margin
of appreciation is thus accompanied by a European supervision. In exercising this supervision,
the Court must give appropriate weight to such relevant factors as the nature of the rights af-
14 The ICJ first confirmed (in paragraph 179) that “ the Contracting Parties are bound by the obligation under the Conven-
tion not to commit, through their organs or persons or groups whose conduct is attributable to them, genocide and the other
acts enumerated in Article III. Thus if an organ of the State, or a person or group whose acts are legally attributable to the
State, commits any of the acts proscribed by Article III of the Convention, the international responsibility of that State is in-
curred.” The Court then concluded (in paragraph 182) that “State responsibility can arise under the Convention for genocide
and complicity, without an individual being convicted of the crime or an associated one.”

15 Ilan Pappe, ‘Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank’, The Independent of January 28, 2008 [http://www.

fected by the derogation and the circumstances leading to, and the duration of, the emergency

The case will show Israel and other nations that there are limits to power and that international
law is an important factor in attaining a just and lasting peace, even in an intractable and com-
plicated dispute such as that between Israel and Palestine. States have a considerable margin of
interpretation in protecting the safety of their citizens, but there is a limit in international law.
Then international law will not lead away from peace but towards it.

16 Aksoy v. Turkey, December 18, 1996, Reports 1996-VI, paragraph 68-70. See regarding “the margin of appreciation”
Clare Ovey & Robin C.A. White, The European Convention on Human Rights, 4th edition, Oxford University Press, 2006, pages
232-239; Alastair Mowbray, Cases and Materials on the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford University Press, 2004,
pages 449-453.

Key to Peace in the Middle East - A Summary

Whereas Palestinians, out of desperation and the need for resistance, commit terrorism, which in
itself is to be condemned, Israel, on a large-scale and on a daily basis, is guilty of state-terrorism.
If the country wishes to become a civilised member of the United Nations, it must carry out a
great deal of internationally and legally overdue maintenance. We can expect little or nothing
positive from key political figures in Israel. They are recurrent delinquents who uphold a long
tradition in which Palestinians are seen as vermin that must be exterminated. For the discerning
newspaper reader this is not a surprising statement, but a daily fact. The political class combines
their agenda of active defence with the dominant, fascist, ideology of political Zionism. These are the
basic ingredients used to instil fear amongst their own people, a fear that is then used to gain
political support for the terrorising of the Palestinians, neighbouring Arab countries and Iran.
Israel is suffering from a huge democratic deficit and the regime commits systematic historical
falsification. In addition, there is effective worldwide disinformation, which takes place in five,
mutually supportive, phases, including the murder of international news agency workers. The
image of the conflict, especially in the West, is therefore fundamentally flawed. In short, Israel
forms the main obstacle to peace and stability in, and outside of, the Middle Eastern region.

Whereas the Israeli leadership rejects peace in whatever form and the so-called Quartet (the US,
the EU, Russia and the UN) employs a fundamentally flawed – and therefore useless – policy
in terms of international law, the EU holds the key to peace in the Middle East. The EU should
split from the US, the dishonest broker, and should rely on its decisive own weight to force Israel
to the end goal of a just and lasting peace. Requirements for this are: using international law as
the guiding principle, common political will and the determination to reach this goal, and the
willingness to resist the anger of Israel and the US in the long-term. Should Israel be unwilling
to carry out the overdue maintenance with regard to international law, which is extremely likely,
then the EU has a number of political, economic, legal, political/military and consular tools at its
disposal to force Israel into decent and reasonable behaviour in a very short space of time.

The rapid caving in of the power and status of the EU (and the US) force us into action. Should
the EU remain in its state of inertia, then Russia, China, India and Iran will solve the Israel prob-
lem on their terms and according to their interests.

J. Wijenberg

Biograpgical notes

Prof. dr. L. Abicht

is emeritus professor of Philosophy at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and expert on Mid-
dle East issues, specializing in the Israeli-Palestine conflict..

Prof. A.A.M. van Agt

professor of Criminal Law at Nijmegen University, was Netherlands prime minister, Queen’s
Commissioner, head of delegation of the European Union to Japan, EU ambassador to the USA
and, for many years, closely involved in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

L. Kwarten, MA,
is an Arabist and anthropologist. He serves as consultant for Western world companies operat-
ing in the Middle East, and Arab companies operating in Europe. In addition, he is a publicist
and a lecturer at the Clingendael Institute, a think tank in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Prof. dr. P. de Waart

is emeritus professor of International Law at the Free University of Amsterdam, The Nether-

Jan Wijenberg, MA
was a staff member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands from 1970 until retire-
ment in 2003. He served in various positions related to financial, economic, administrative affairs
and banking, as well as in multi- and bilateral development cooperation at home and abroad.
He was Netherlands ambassador accredited to a number of countries, among others Yemen and
Saudi Arabia. Wijenberg is a board member of Gretta Duisenberg’s Foundation Stop the Occupa-