The Geneva Initiative is the latest in a long series of documents emerging from the so-called “peace process”which has provided a stalling tactic while Israel has continued to seize Palestinian land and destroy their properties, enabled by US taxpayer dollars and protected from international justice by US vetoes in the UN Security Council. The process has been effectively controlled by Israel and its pro-Israel US representatives in its choices of participants and areas in which negotiation was permitted. The Palestinians, with no power, little effective international support, biased mediators, and with rights of neither their refugees nor diaspora represented in the negotiations, have been badly disadvantaged and compromised. It is absurd to expect a valid agreement to emerge between a party face down in the mud with the other party’s boot on his neck, officially mediated by the boot salesman and polisher.
CRITIQUE OF THE GENEVA INITIATIVE
This sets a disingenuous tone for the entire document, using language that implies a symmetry between the parties in power, responsibility, legitimacy of claims, degree of suffering, and culpability. For example, the Preamble refers to “decades of confrontation and conflict” rather than an accurate account that would describe land seizure, grossly asymmetrical violence, occupation and violations of international law by one side while the other side has exercised its legitimate right of resistance under international law against overwhelming force, including occasional armed resistance. This historical imbalance is reflected in over 100 UN resolutions condemning Israel and none condemning the Palestinians, a fact that remains unacknowledged in the document.
The Preamble includes the following language:
“the logic of peace requires compromise...” False. Crime victims are not required to compromise with the criminals, but resolution is achieved through adjudication in a criminal court and the court determines the requirements of justice. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has objected to the Arabic word, Nakba (“catastrophe”), to refer to the terrorism, massacres and ethnic cleansing of 1948, stating that it should be clearly identified as a crime and called such.
“and the only viable solution is a two-state solution based on UNSC Resolution 242 and 338" fails to make reference to UNGA Resolution 194, reconfirmed often by the UN, and ignores the view of many thoughtful scholars and observers that a single, secular, democratic state with equal rights for all would be a preferable solution without which standards of justice and equality will not be satisfied. The only 2-state model yet considered is a segregated, bantustan model designed to isolate an unwanted population, a model ultimately rejected in South Africa. UNSC Res. 242 simply required Israel to withdraw from the land it invaded and occupied in 1967 and was not proposed as a sole solution.
“after years of living in mutual fear and insecurity...” again implies a non-existent parity. For example, through mid-2012 over 27,000 Palestinian homes had been bulldozed by Israel while Palestinians have lived under a brutal military occupation. Some 8-10,000 Palestinians including several hundred children are imprisoned by Israel at any given time, often without charges or legal protections, subjected to torture and isolated from their families. Palestinians have been attacked by F-16s, helicopter gunships, aerial drones, T67 tanks, massive D9 armored caterpillar bulldozers, naval bombardment and IDF snipers, while able to fight back with primitive methods only, such as Qassam rockets without explosive warheads or directional controls that have killed approximately two Israelis per year, and suicide bombers between 1993 and 2005 that killed 656 Israelis. Israel killed over 3,600 in their 2008-09 and 2014 attacks on Gaza alone and killed 1,656 Palestinian children from Sept 2000 through 2014 during which period 131 Israeli children died. From the time Hamas discontinued suicide bombings in 2005 through 2014, 1282 Palestinian and 24 Israeli children were killed. These deaths have been recorded individually with name, age and cause of death by the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem and other reliable sources, and can be viewed online. The facts hardly support choice of the balance-implying word “mutual.”
“their obligation to conduct themselves in conformity with the norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nations” is language hypocritical in the extreme, since not only has Israel violated the UN Charter, the 4th Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights routinely and flagrantly throughout its history, but the Geneva Initiative continues to do so by denying the right of return and proposing to legalize the annexation of occupied Palestinian land.
“The implementation of this Agreement will settle all the claims of the Parties arising from events occurring prior to its signature. No further claims related to events prior to this Agreement may be raised by either Party” is an outrageous statement exonerating Israel for all the crimes described above, including over 60 documented massacres, and sweeps aside the rights of 4 million refugee and diaspora Palestinians with rightful claims against Israel.
“The Parties recognize Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples” is another denial of history and the cultural identity of Palestinians. In fact, all of 1947 Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinians, not the 22% allocated to the new Palestinian mini-state much less the approximate 10% currently remaining outside the Jewish-only settlements and Israeli controlled lands in the West Bank.
And Palestine is not the homeland of the Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, who were a most likely a converted, non-Semitic population originating in the Caucasus, or the Jews immigrating from elsewhere in the world. As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand has written, the original Jews of Palestine were not expelled by the Romans but converted to Christianity and Islam with successive historical changes and descended into the current Palestinians along with numerous other ethnic groups that have populated the Levant throughout the centuries. These Palestinians have generously agreed to allow the Israeli population to stay and make it their homeland as long as they agree to restitution and a system of absolute legal equality.
“relations between Israel and Palestine shall be based upon the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations” again refers to the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of the very force used by Israel to establish and enlarge itself, prohibits force that “endangers justice,” requires “respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” by member states, requires member states to observe “human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion,” and requires member states to “promote to the utmost...the well-being of the inhabitants of (any occupied) territories” as “a sacred trust.” Negation of all these principles characterizes the entire history of Israel, but they now want to paper over the past and start afresh without even going to the penalty box.
Article 4. (Territory)
“The border between the states of Palestine and Israel shall be based on the June 4th 1967 lines with reciprocal modifications...” sounds fair enough until you examine the proposed modifications which give Israel large, heavily populated, centrally located settlement blocks controlling the aquifers and Jordan Valley and surrounding Jerusalem while vacating small, scattered ones, and offering inferior property in exchange. As Arial Sharon said in 1998, “Everyone 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.” Well, there’s been a lot of grabbing in the last decade, and it’s made a 2-state solution increasingly unfair and unfeasible.
“The Parties recognize and respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence, as well as the inviolability of each others territory, including territorial waters, and airspace.” Well, not exactly. Down further, the document allows Israel two “early warning stations” in Palestine, troops in the Jordan Valley, use of Palestinian airspace for training exercises, and “an unseen presence” in passenger terminals for thirty months and for another three years “from a specially designated facility in Israel, utilizing appropriate technology.”
“The states of Palestine and Israel shall establish a corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza Strip...under Israeli sovereignty”which would give Israel a mechanism of control over Palestinian commerce and communication.
The Geneva Initiative map legalizes annexation to Israel of much of East Jerusalem in addition to the settlements described above, violating Article IV of the 4th Geneva Convention that prohibits acquisition of land by force.
Article 5. (Security)
“Palestine and Israel each shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of the other and shall settle all disputes between them by peaceful means” shows breathtaking chutzpah, lifting language literally from the UN Charter that Israel has ignored contemptuously throughout its history. Again, Israel proposes to go to the locker room and freshen up without visiting the penalty box.
Defense Characteristics of the Palestinian State Palestine is to be a demilitarized state with “limitations on the weapons that may be purchased, owned, or used by the Palestinian Security Force” and “No individuals or organizations in Palestine other than the (Palestinian and multi-national security forces), may purchase, possess, carry or use weapons except as provided by law.” No Second Amendment for Palestinians and no such limitations are placed on Israel - the aggressor state - or its citizens. (Palestine is to be protected by a multi-national force.)
Article 6. (Jerusalem)
There are long, detailed provisions about Jerusalem, but in essence: (1) many settlements in East Jerusalem with substantial populations as well as a ring of settlements around Jerusalem would remain Israeli, violating UNSC Resolution 242; and (2) administration of the city would involve a complex blend of Israeli, Palestinian and international authority rather than the full internationalization originally recommended by the UN and pledged by Israel as a condition of its 1949 admission to the UN.
Article 7. (Refugees)
“The Parties recognize that UNGAR 194, UNSC Resolution 242, and the Arab Peace Initiative (Article 2.ii.) concerning the rights of the Palestinian refugees represent the basis for resolving the refugee issue, and agree that these rights are fulfilled” is a statement refuted by its proposed implementation. UNGAR 194 asserts the absolute right of all individuals expelled or forced into flight from their homes in 1948 and beyond to return to their properties of origin, a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applied specifically to the Palestinian refugees by UNGAR 194.
But under Choice of Permanent Place of Residence, refugee return to Israel - which contains 78% of their homes of origin - “shall be at the sovereign discretion of Israel and will be in accordance with a number that Israel will submit to the International Commission. This number shall represent the total number of Palestinian refugees that Israel shall accept.” The right belongs to each refugee, not to Israel, and a fundamental human right cannot be abrogated by force, majority vote or opinion, or negotiation - especially by unelected quasi-representatives collaborating under coercion and/or corruption with the occupiers.
Following calculation of the value of Palestinian properties “at the time of displacement” and application of an “economic multiplier,” this amount “shall constitute the Israeli ‘lump sum’ contribution to the International Fund” rather than compensating the individual claimants. It continues, “No other financial claims arising from the Palestinian refugee problem may be raised against Israel” sealing off forever the rightful claims of individual victims. Moreover, it continues, “The value of the Israeli fixed assets that shall remain intact in former settlements and transferred to the state of Palestine will be deducted from Israel’s contribution,” substituting townhouses with swimming pools for the ancient villages, orchards and olive groves for which the Palestinians may not wish to substitute modern suburbs. Again, this violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by denying Israel’s victims their legal right of choice.
Compensation for refugee suffering is addressed by a “Refugeehood Fund” that “shall be established in recognition of each individual’s refugeehood. The Fund, to which Israel shall be a contributing party...” proposes to distribute partial responsibility for compensation to international donors rather than rightfully assigning full responsibility to Israel. Other expenses associated with oversight and administration of the transition are also assigned to an “International Fund” rather than born exclusively by Israel.
Article 15. (Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees)
“all persons imprisoned prior to the start of the implementation of the Declaration of Principles on May 4, 1994, administrative detainees, and minors, as well as women, and prisoners in ill health shall be released immediately upon the entry into force of this Agreement" acknowledges Israel’s incarceration and long-term imprisonment of children, and continues, “all persons imprisoned after May 4, 1994 and prior to the signature of this Agreement shall be released no later than eighteen months from the entry into force of this Agreement.” Thus, Israel proposes to immediately release only prisoners it has held for 15 years and delay the rest for 18 months. Release of another category of prisoner, defined arbitrarily by Israel, can be delayed for 30 months. Many of these incarcerations - some 11,000 including hundreds of children at any given time - were extrajudicial and political in nature, violating the 4th Geneva Convention, and no compensation to these victims are proposed.
The “2-state solution is a segregationist model resembling the bantustan system in South Africa that permitted the white government to forcibly transfer blacks to separate semi-autonomous mini-states to avoid a black majority population. Israel’s agenda is the same, aimed at protecting the Zionist vision of a “Jewish” state privileging Jewish over non-Jewish citizens that can only be maintained with a Jewish majority and a lack of the constitutionally protected equal rights pledged by Israel’s founding document. Thus, the Geneva Initiative:
Does not prohibit involuntary transfer of Israeli Arabs to the new mini-state
Leaves intact the inequality and systemic legal discriminations against non-Jews in Israel
Crowds 50-75% (assuming the return of perhaps 2 million refugees) of the worldwide Palestinian population into (probably) 10-15% of the land that was once 94% theirs
Provides no equality in size, resources or autonomy between the proposed states
Violates Palestinian sovereignty as a matter of “agreement”
Allows annexation of Palestinian land including much of East Jerusalem
Provides no restitution for the massive infrastructure and personal property damage, killing of civilians, illegal imprisonment and other international crimes against Palestinians throughout Israel's 44-year land confiscation and occupation
Proposes exchange of lands of grossly unequal value
Fails to identify Israel’s responsibility for the Nakba, its terrorism, numerous massacres and brutal ethnic cleansing of 1948, other than compensation for land lost
Evades Israel accountability under international law by superceding all previous UN resolutions, which is beyond the authority of either party
Legitimizes the product of negotiations between parties of grossly unequal power, responsibility, vulnerability and bargaining leverage
Legitimizes the product of negotiations that excluded the millions of Palestinian refugees and diaspora who hold the rights being negotiated away
Illegally denies basic human rights that are not subject to negotiation under international law
Incorporates abrogations of international law into the agreement itself
Demand Freedom, Justice and Equality in the Holy Land