When the Palestinians presented their bid for statehood at the UN Friday, most news outlets suggested Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was aiming for a state based on 1967 borders covering only the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
A closer look at the actual letter he presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon applying for UN membership reveals the Palestinians are aiming for far more territory.
As reprinted in the Telegraph, Abbas’s letter reads:
"This application for membership is being submitted on the Palestinian people's natural, legal and historic rights and based on United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 as well as the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine of 15 November 1988 and the acknowledgement by the General Assembly of this declaration in resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988.”
Lots of dates are cited here. Let’s take a closer look. Abbas says his people’s “rights” are based on the 1947 UN Resolution. That year refers to the UN Partition Plan, the same plan all Arab states rejected and the Jews accepted for their homeland, after which those Arab neighbors declared war on Israel.
These maps from GBTV reveal the land allotted to the Jewish State under the 1947 Partition Plan was in fact much smaller than that afforded under 1967 borders.
Though President Obama has endorsed Palestinian demands -- stated until now -- that their future state be based on 1967 borders, Israel says borders should be based on the outcome of negotiations. If Abbas’s proposal is accepted by the UN Security Council, gone from Israel is Jerusalem its capital and home to the sites most sacred to Jews and Christians. Also gone: Ben Gurion Airport just outside Tel Aviv, the country’s only major international airport.
The blog Israel Matzav explains the significance:
“It would mean no Jerusalem and no airport. Even more indefensible borders than the 1949 armistice lines. The 'Palestinians' ignore Security Council Resolution 242, which requires that Israel be left with 'defensible borders' and says nothing about a 'Palestinian state.'”
There are other alarming suggestions the Palestinians are not being upfront in stating their intentions regarding the size of the state they aim for.One of the sticking points in restarting negotiations with Israel is the Palestinians’ continued opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. In fact, last week a round of talks aimed at restarting peace negotiations broke up over “Abbas' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.”
Secondly, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s current logo on its UN Observer Mission website suggests it wants the entire state of Israel incorporated into its future state – not just the West Bank and Gaza. The map on the logo appears to suggest the goal is to wipe Israel completely off the map. The Weekly Standard posted this:
Here is the logo:
But Mahmoud Abbas is the “Palestinian Authority” President, not the PLO’s. Not quite. Note how Abbas signed his letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon: “Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
Looking at the moving borders raises the question: are Mideast agreements ever final, and how does Israel ensure its own security if they are not? One indication they are not came over the weekend, when Mahmoud Abbas said he wants to bust open part of the Oslo Agreements with the Israelis called the Paris Agreement and renegotiate. On his plane as he was traveling from New York back to Ramallah, Abbas told journalists:
“We want to reopen the Paris Agreement and make changes to it…The agreement is not fair and there are restrictions on Palestinians that prevent our economy from growing and prospering. The Paris Agreement does not give us the opportunity to develop our economy and our country."
Right now the ball is in the court of UN Security Council (UNSC) members. It will be interesting to see how each votes. Since losing its capital city and main airport as well as other strategic assets would be a non-starter for Israel, the votes on these 1947 borders will reveal if UNSC members are sincere in their desire for peace in the Middle East, if they recognize Israel’s right to security (and honoring UNSC Resolution 242), or if they are paying lip service to the Palestinians.