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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ban Ki-moon, "Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel": Ignorance Is Bliss for This Messenger

In a guest op-ed entitled "Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel," Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon begins by asserting, "History proves that people will always resist occupation." But if that's the case, why isn't Ban Ki-moon raising his voice against China, which has occupied Tibet for the past 65 years? Needless to say, unlike the Palestinians who overwhelmingly reject Israel's right to exist, Tibetans have never denied China's right to exist. But I digress.

Ban Ki-moon declares in his opinion piece:

"Israeli settlements keep expanding. The government has approved plans for over 150 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Last month, 370 acres in the West Bank were declared 'state land,' a status that typically leads to exclusive Israeli settler use."

My goodness, 150 new homes! However, Ban Ki-moon forgets to mention that Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has acknowledged, as was reported in a Haaretz article entitled "Erekat: Olmert Offered Palestinians Territorial Equivalent of West Bank" by Jack Khoury, that Israeli settlements have been built on only "approximately 1.1% of the West Bank." In addition, Khoury wrote that former "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had offered a final peace settlement that would include territorial concession equivalent to the entire West Bank, the return of thousands of Palestinian refugees into the West Bank, and the division of Jerusalem." Palestinian Authority President Abbas, now in the twelfth year of a four-year term of office, rejected Olmert's proposal. Can you imagine? The chutzpah of those nasty Israelis!

Moreover, every peace proposal considered by the Israelis and the Palestinians has included land swaps, but Ban Ki-moon fails to indicate whether those 150 homes will be built on land that the Palestinians have agreed will be passed over to Israel as part of a future land swap.

I have often expressed my desire to see a prosperous, democratic Palestine living side-by-side with Israel in peace. On the other hand, there can also be no ignoring the refusal of Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist. It is also hard to ignore that 24 percent of Palestinians support the Islamic State - more than anyplace else in the world. Where does that ultimately lead?

Ban Ki-moon concludes, "The status quo is untenable." However, as observed by Palestinian Authority President Abbas in a 2009 interview with Jackson Diehl:

"'I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,' he said. 'Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.'"

This statement was made after Abbas refused Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's 2008 peace offer. So who is responsible for the perpetuation of the status quo? Ban Ki-moon has yet to figure it out.

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