French Political Gymnastics and How to Help the Palestinians

by Shoshana Bryen
May 23, 2016 at 4:00 am


  • “I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreements with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.” — President George W. Bush, 2002.
  • The Palestinians do not have “a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty,” but erasing Israel evidently remains their goal.
  • Rather than offering the Palestinians no-cost recognition, the French should demand a few changes first.

The French government seems to be falling over itself to undo its craven vote in favor of a UNESCO resolution accusing Israel — referred to as the “Occupying Power” in Jerusalem — of destroying historic structures on the Temple Mount:

  • Prime Minister Manuel Valls apologized. “This UNESCO resolution contains unfortunate, clumsy wording that offends and unquestionably should have been avoided, as should the vote.”
  • Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve apologized. [I do] “not take a supportive view of the text.” The resolution “should not have been adopted” and “was not written as it should have been.”
  • President François Hollande apologized. [The vote was] “unfortunate,” and, “I would like to guarantee that the French position on the question of Jerusalem has not changed… I also wish to reiterate France’s commitment to the status quo in the holy places in Jerusalem… As per my request, the foreign minister will personally and closely follow the details of the next decision on this subject. France will not sign a text that will distance her from the same principles I mentioned.”
  • Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault did not quite apologize: “France has no vested interest but is deeply convinced that if we do not want to let the ideas of the Islamic State group prosper in this region, we must do something.”

It sounds as if they thought they had made a mistake. But the vote was not a mistake. Underestimating the depth of Israel’s anger about it might have been a mistake, but not the vote. The French — who, according to their foreign minister, have “no vested interest” but need to “do something” about Islamic State — could not have thought that a UNESCO resolution that offended Israel would do anything to slow ISIS “in the region” or in Europe. There is no way it could; the two are not connected.

The French however, apparently thought a vote accusing Israel of something, anything, would keep the Palestinian Authority from presenting a resolution on Palestinian independence to the UN Security Council; Ayrault implied in Israel that the UNESCO vote was a quid pro quo. Why? The French have a veto they could exercise in the UN Security Council. But the Palestinians might then object to France replacing the U.S. as the “Great Power” in the “peace process.” They already have experience with a veto-wielding interlocutor — the U.S. — and they do not want another. The price of an elevated status for the French appears to entail not vetoing Palestinian resolutions, voting for them in UNESCO, and sacrificing Israel in a process that will end in French recognition of a Palestinian State, whether Israel agrees to be bound to the altar or not.

French President François Hollande welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, July 8, 2012. (Image source: Office of the President of France)

It should be noted that the Russians immediately put out a statement that the UN-sponsored Middle East Quartet is the “only mechanism” for resolving the Palestinian issue. It is not clear whether Putin was supporting American or Israeli interests. Iran and ISIS are similarly disinclined to see the French ascend on this issue.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, are thrilled to have an international conference where others will make demands of Israel as the Palestinian experiment in self-government degenerates into poverty and chaos by its own economic, political and social choices, looking more like Venezuela every day.

For Palestinians in the street, killing Jews in the “knife intifada” did not take the edge off the popular anger and frustration with their own leadership.

Under the circumstances, the French, and France’s enabler, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, might usefully consider the approach taken in fact by President George W. Bush, which required changes in Palestinian behavior as a prerequisite for support for statehood. Honored mainly in the breach, Bush’s 2002 speech nevertheless remains the best statement of American, and Western, interest in moving the Palestinians toward a functioning state:

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself…

Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreements with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

I wrote at the time that,

“Mr. Bush made one huge leap of faith in the speech when he said, ‘I’ve got confidence in the Palestinians. When they fully understand what we’re saying, that they’ll make the right decisions when we get down the road for peace.’ What, in fact, will the U.S. do if the Palestinian people weigh a new constitution and free political parties and STILL decide that blowing up Jews is better? What if they have transparent government, economic advancement and an independent judiciary, and STILL decide Jewish sovereignty must be eradicated with the blood of their children?”

The Palestinians have answered half the question. They do not have a “practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty,” but erasing Israel evidently remains their goal. Rather than offering no-cost recognition, the French should demand a few changes first.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.

Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

gatestone-logo-1000

The French Peace Initiative: From de Gaulle to Haaretz

by Fred Maroun
May 17, 2016 at 4:00 am


  • France’s peace initiative is French President François Hollande’s equivalent of de Gaulle’s betrayal of Israel.
  • France has already announced that if the peace initiative fails, France will recognize a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rightly concluded that “this ensures that a conference will fail.”
  • France knows that the peace initiative is pointless, but it is using it for theatrical value to embarrass Israel’s government and curry favor with Arab regimes.
  • Those who claim to support peace, but who in fact work to undermine it, are partly responsible for the anti-Semitic campaign against Israel. They should be prominently named and exposed for collaborating with bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorists.

When I hear about the current French peace initiative for Israel and the Palestinians, I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I am not dreaming. After the powerful United States tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to bring peace between these protagonists, what makes the French think that they can do better?

France’s boldness is particularly shocking, since France long ago lost the right to be considered a friend of Israel. In 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle imposed an arms embargo on Israel when the Jewish nation was under threat from a coalition of Arab countries. In doing so, de Gaulle threw the Jews under the bus in order to improve France’s relations with the Arab world. Thanks to Israeli ingenuity and resiliency, Israel still defeated the Arab coalition in the Six Day War and impressed the United States, which then replaced France as Israel’s main ally.

France’s peace initiative, which includes an international summit in Paris on May 30 to discuss the “parameters” of a peace deal, is French President François Hollande’s equivalent of de Gaulle’s betrayal of Israel. France has already announced that if the peace initiative fails, France will recognize a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rightly concluded that “this ensures that a conference will fail.”

France’s peace initiative, which includes an international summit in Paris on May 30 to discuss the “parameters” of a peace deal, is French President François Hollande’s equivalent of de Gaulle’s betrayal of Israel.

It is clear that no solution would be acceptable to Israel unless it protects Israel against continued Arab aggression, and unless it finds a solution to the millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees with which the Arab world insists on flooding Israel.

There is no sign that the Arab world, including the Palestinians, are anywhere close to accepting these conditions. France’s recognition of “Palestine” without any deal would mean that France does not consider those two conditions necessary.

France’s recognition of “Palestine” without any deal would provide no solution for Palestinian refugees. It would provide no solution to Palestinian terrorism. It would not make the concept of a Palestinian state any more real than it is today. It would not provide Israel with secure borders.

France’s unilateral recognition of “Palestine” would simply provide one more moral victory for the corrupt Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and one less reason for him to negotiate peace in good faith or to give his people what they really need: a thriving economy and a functioning civil society.

If France’s initiative had any chance of success at all (which is doubtful considering the U.S. failures under more favorable circumstances, when the Palestinian leadership was keener on negotiations and when Hamas was weaker), France eliminated that chance by announcing that it would recognize “Palestine” regardless of what happens.

Is the French government so naïve that it would play into Abbas’ hands and sabotage its own initiative? Maybe, but the more likely explanation seems to be that France knows that the peace initiative is pointless, but it is using it for theatrical value to embarrass Israel’s government and curry favor with Arab regimes.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which is often more “pro-Palestinian” (read anti-Israel) than the Palestinians, demands that Netanyahu accept the French initiative.

Haaretz takes the position that “there is no reason to reject the French initiative, which, even if it doesn’t resolve the fundamentals of the conflict, will at least put it back on the global agenda.” The theory that the conflict remains unresolved due to it not being on the “global agenda” is mind-boggling, considering the vocal and vicious worldwide anti-Israel movement. The conflict is very much on the “global agenda” — too much so, in fact — compared to other conflicts that are deadlier and get far less attention.

Haaretz claims that the French initiative “may also generate some original ideas and steps toward a solution.” Considering the attention that this conflict receives, the lack of “ideas” is far from being the problem. Pro-Israel and anti-Israel editorialists and bloggers have generated an immense body of “ideas,” most of which are totally impractical, and all of which are unrealistic until the Arab side of the conflict stops promoting hate against Israel and starts negotiating in good faith.

Haaretz’s pathetic defense of the French initiative is followed by wholesale accusations, which have no substance, against Netanyahu. Haaretz, for instance, tries to convince readers that Netanyahu’s willingness to negotiate without conditions is itself a condition! As Haaretz is into the business of redefining words, why not say that the conflict is not really a conflict and be done with it!

Haaretz concludes by saying that Netanyahu “should give it [the French initiative] substance that will ensure the security and well-being of Israel’s citizens.” If this were possible, that would indeed be commendable, but as France, by promising the Palestinians recognition without negotiation, destroyed what little chance of success the initiative might have had. Asking Netanyahu miraculously to give the initiative “substance” is at best naïve, and at worst treacherous.

It could also be a trap to set Netanyahu up for failure, which, considering Haaretz’s antipathy towards Israel’s Prime Minister, is likely.

Contrary to Haaretz’s assertion that “there is no reason to reject the French initiative,” as the initiative is almost certain to fail, its failure will be one more weapon used by anti-Israel activists to demonize Israel, so there is every reason to not lend the initiative a legitimacy it does not deserve.

Israel survived de Gaulle’s betrayal, and it will likely survive Hollande’s betrayal. But one more failed initiative and one more meaningless recognition of “Palestine” will push peace and Palestinian statehood even farther away.

As Alan Dershowitz wrote recently, those who aided the Nazis in killing Jews, even indirectly, hold a part of the responsibility for the Holocaust. Those — in France, at Haaretz, or elsewhere — who claim to support peace but in fact work to undermine it, are partly responsible for the anti-Semitic campaign against Israel. They should be prominently named and exposed for collaborating with bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorists.

Fred Maroun, a left-leaning Arab based in Canada, has authored op-eds for New Canadian Media, among other outlets. From 1961-1984, he lived in Lebanon.

Bron: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

gatestone-logo-1000