by Louis René Beres
1st and 2nd part of 3
It's farewell to the drawing-room's civilized cry,
The professor's sensible whereto and why,
The frock-coated diplomat's social aplomb,
Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb.
— W.H. Auden, Danse Macabre
PART I: HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH ENEMIES WHO MAY PREFER WAR TO PEACE
From the very start, from its imperiled beginnings in May 1948 — and indeed, even before statehood —
Although ultimately settling upon Operation Cast Lead, a manifestly correct policy choice, previous Prime Minister Olmert, of course, had determined to seek
The key disputing Palestinian factions (Fatah or Hamas, it makes little effective difference) and
Toward the end of his corrupted and ill-fated regime, then Prime Minister Olmert had released several hundred Palestinian terrorists as a "goodwill gesture." Together with then U.S. President George W. Bush, he had aided Fatah against Hamas with outright transfers of weapons and information. Soon after (surprise, surprise) the American and Israeli guns were turned against
Let Prime Minister-Designate Netanyahu take note. Regarding formal diplomacy, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Rooted deeply in Jihadist interpretations of Islam, there is an obvious and enduring inequality of objectives between
A truly fundamental inequality is evident in all expressions of the Middle East Peace Process. On the Palestinian and Iranian side,
For no identifiable reason, it would seem,
Left unchallenged by its new prime minister,
To be sure, the new prime minister should not become the best ally that
What does this really mean? In the language of formal logic, invalid forms of argument are fallacies. The basic problem with
PART II: AGREEING TO A TOOTHLESS STATE WOULD BE NO LESS OF A DANGER
When I first wrote about problems of Palestinian demilitarization in February 1998, Binyamin Netanyahu was prime minister. Today, he is again and — once again — he is on record against full sovereignty for "
From a domestic political standpoint, of course, Netanyahu's position on this issue is quite sensible. Internationally, however, it is clear that neither main Palestinian faction (Hamas, Fatah — it makes no difference) would negotiate for anything less than complete statehood. This is because full statehood would be widely supported throughout the world, and because such support could arguably be enhanced by authoritative terms of (1) the Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (the 1933 treaty on statehood, sometimes called the Montevideo Convention) and (2) the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
Any expected Israeli arguments for Palestinian autonomy or restricted sovereignty would be certain non-starters. It is only the actual Palestinian position that will need to be acknowledged by the prime minister before Palestinian statehood can be effectively countered.
The most likely scenario in this matter will confront Prime Minister Netanyahu with a seemingly stark decision: to agree completely to creating a Palestinian state, or to reject it outright. But as neither polar prospect could work easily — one option would create intolerable strategic threats while the other would elicit intolerable global condemnation — a "compromise" position is apt to emerge. This position would involve
LEAVING aside expected pressures from US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Netanyahu should understand that demilitarization could turn out to be a very problematic compromise. There are hidden and significant dangers to the demilitarization route. The existential threat to
There is another, less obvious, reason why a demilitarized
What if the government of a new Palestinian state were willing to consider itself bound by the pre-state, non-treaty agreement? Even in these relatively favorable circumstances, the new Arab government would have ample pretext to identify various strong grounds for lawful treaty termination. It could, for example, withdraw from the "treaty" because of what it regarded as a "material breach" (a violation by
THERE is another factor that explains why a treaty-like arrangement obligating
Any treaty is void if, at the time it was entered into, it was in conflict with a "peremptory" rule of general international law (jus cogens) — a rule accepted and recognized by the international community of states as one from which "no derogation is permitted." Because the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces essential to self-defense is certainly such a rule, "
Netanyahu should thus take little comfort from the legal promise of Palestinian demilitarization. Should the government of any future Palestinian state choose to invite foreign armies or terrorists onto its territory (possibly after the original national government had been displaced or overthrown by more militantly Islamic anti-Israel forces), it could do so not only without practical difficulties, but also without necessarily violating international law.
The overriding danger to Israel of Palestinian demilitarization is more practical than legal. In the final analysis, this Oslo/road map-driven pattern of intermittent territorial surrender, and also the freeing of terrorists, stems from a very deep misunderstanding of Palestinian goals.
While Israeli supporters of
For the PA, as for most of the rest of the Arab/Iranian world,
Mr. Netanyahu, Palestinian demilitarization wouldn't make a Palestinian state any less dangerous. If you plan to oppose Palestinian statehood, as indeed you should, "
Louis René Beres