The initiators of the Geneva document are, of course, entitled to express their views and publicize them in any manner they see fit. But do they have the right to brazenly lie to the public as to what the document does or does not contain? Here are a few examples:
The initiators present themselves as independent political and intellectual figures from both sides. Not so. Indeed, the Israeli side includes opposition figures and independent intellectuals; the Palestinian side is headed by the former Palestinian Minister of Information, who said the document has Arafat’s blessing. The Palestinian Prime Minister says he personally agrees with the document. The Palestinian initiators do not include any opposition figures – because there is no real opposition in the Palestinian Authority, except for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who, as is known, are not partners to the initiative. This is a document of part of the opposition in Israel and of the Palestinian ruling establishment.
Before the document was made public, the initiators said it contains Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as “the state of the Jewish people.” Not so. The “Jewish people” is not mentioned in the document. What is does say is that “the two sides recognize Palestine and Israel as the national homes of their nations.” Whoever wishes can certainly say that Israel as “the state of all its citizens” is the national home of “the Israeli nation,” which includes Jews and Arabs. It is no coincidence that the word “Jew” doesn’t appear in the document. The Palestinian signators do not include anyone who believes there is a “Jewish people.”
The document’s initiators said the Palestinians have waived the right of return. Not so. The document says United Nations Resolution 194 and other resolutions shall be the basis for the solution of the refugee problem. To be sure, resolution 194 doesn’t speak of the “right” of return – it only determines that the refugees shall return to their former places. As the Arabs see it, Resolution 194 is the basis of the international legitimacy of the right of return.
The document’s initiators said most of the Israeli settlers would remain where they are. This is correct only if the term “settlers” includes not only those living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also the 200,000 Israelis living over the Green Line in Jerusalem. When the explanatory notes say that 300,000 Israelis over the Green Line will remain in their places, it is clear that most of the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be evacuated. How many? It is worthwhile knowing how many, but nowhere do the initiators expressly say how many settlers will have to be evacuated. The reason for this lacuna is obvious.
A careful reading of the document shows that in the matter of the refugee problem and certain other matters Israel will in effect be placed under the supervision of an “implementation” group and a commission comprising not only the U.N., the U.S., Russia and the European Union, but also the Arab states. In effect, Israel will cease to be a sovereign country regarding substantive matters and will turn into a kind of international mandated territory. It is clear why this is not being told to the public.
Not only the Arab refugees will be entitled to compensation, but also some Arab countries – for the expenses they incurred in “hosting” the refugees since 1948. The Israelis public has not been told this. It also has not been told that the agreement speaks of developing “appropriate ways of memorializing the [Arab] villages and communities that existed before 1949.”
Who would by a used car from these people? Not I.
This article ran in Yediot Aharonot on December 1, 2003 and was translated by Moshe Kohn and distributed by imra.org.il
Prof. Shlomo Avineri is Professor of History and Political Science at the Hebrew U Former Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs