Friday, February 02, 2007

Israel's Right to Exist

Since Palestinian/Israeli negotiations have been hung up for a couple years over the issue of Hamas refusing to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, international lawyer (and Palestinian advisor) John Whitbeck has written a column what the right to exist means to Palestinians. He points out that Israel has never clearly spelled out its own borders, and Israeli texts show all of Palestine as encompassed within Israel. Moreover, it would be an acknowledgment of the moral justification of the initial expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and for all that has followed since then:
To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the "rightness" of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive. Nor did native Americans have to live under economic blockade and threat of starvation until they shed whatever pride they had left and conceded the point.
Forcing Palestinians to make this concession, Whitbeck argues, is a tactic in bad faith and a roadblock to progress to peace negotiations.

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