Instead of offering to Buy East Jerusalem, the Arab League should invite Israel to Join It

Shaikh Hamad al-Thani, the leader of Qatar, proposed in his speech to the Arab League the creation of a $1 billion fund to preserve the Arab character of East Jerusalem, which is gradually being taken over by Israelis and its Arab inhabitants gradually expelled. Shaikh Hamad offered to put in $250 million to start off the project.

Palestinians reacted skeptically, since Arab League summits have seen many munificent offers of aid to them that never materialized. Qatar has a better track record on such matters, however, and really does have the money.

Qatar has also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinians in Gaza, to alleviate the worst effects of the Israeli blockade on its Occupied civilians.

This tendency to try to deal with the Palestinians’ problems by throwing money at them is an improvement on the military flailing about of past decades, which never produced any breakthroughs. But it is no substitute for diplomacy.

What would be really radical would be for the Arab League to recognize Israel inside 1949 borders and invite Israel to join the organization. After all, the vast majority of Israelis are either Jews who had lived in the Arab world or Palestinian-Israelis. There is a better case for Israel than for Somalia. And Egypt and Jordan already have extended that recognition, and Qatar and other states have behind the scenes perfectly correct relations with Israel.

While the Israelis are unlikely to change any policies as a result of such an offer, it would at least begin bringing them into the diplomatic system in the Middle East and would be a means of putting diplomatic pressure on them.

I know, it won’t happen soon. Maybe eventually. But it would be more practical than just promising to pour money into Palestinian areas. That won’t work because the pledges often aren’t fulfilled, and since the Palestinians are stateless, they don’t really have firm property rights, so any new property or refurbished buildings can just be usurped by the Israeli squatters at will.

19 Responses

  1. Is not Saudi cooperation with Israel on Syria and Iran enough? How they will cooperate with anti-Shiite juhadists if they will formally cooperate with Israel?

  2. Juan! As you know, after the 2002 peace proposal by the then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut and re-endorsed at the Riyadh Summit in 2007, the entire Arab League declared that it would recognize the state of Israel in exchange for her complete withdrawal from the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem), but the Israeli government swiftly rejected it. Incidentally the Islamic Conference Organization, including Iran, has also endorsed that proposal. Iran’s official policy is that it will stand by any decision adopted by the Palestinians. Ironically, Ariel Sharon said that the new plan could not be accepted because it would replace US resolutions 242 and 338, which in fact Israel has no intention of implementing. Even HAMAS has grudgingly recognized Israel.

    The founder of HAMAS, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was blown up in his wheelchair after morning prayers in March 2004 together with two bodyguards and nine bystanders, had offered a 100-year truce with Israel. HAMAS military commander Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed in an Israeli strike as he was riding in a car in Gaza on 14 November 2012, which started the nine-day Israeli war with Gaza, was reportedly considering another long-time truce with Israel. So there has been no shortage of attempts by the Arabs to recognize Israel in return for her withdrawal from the occupied territories but Israel has officially annexed Jerusalem and has no intention of leaving most of the conquered territories.

    The offer of money to buy East Jerusalem is a non-starter. However, as you say, now with the Palestinian Authority accepted as an observer member of the UN, it is time for all Arabs – and instead of making belligerent comments Iran should also joint them too – to push for the Arab League plan and for the international community to support them to achieve their goal, to ensure that Israel lives in peace with her neighbors, alongside an independent, viable Palestinian state.

    • I always cringe when I hear the term “viable Palestinian state”. Surely you must know the meaning of the euphuism “viable” in this context? The Palestinians and Arabs surely do.

      Will such a Palestinian state have free and open borders with all its Arab neighbors? Will it be allowed to have an army able to stand eye to eye with the IDF to protect it from Israeli incursions? Of course you know the answers to those questions, everyone else does.

      There will be no viable Palestinian state because Israel will not allow it no matter what they say or treaties they sign. The only solution to this problem is to fix Israel. A country that denies its minority population basic human rights will never have peace. Let us not lose sight of that ugly fact in pursuit of gimmicks that we think (hope) will work.

      • So Israel will not allow a Palestinian state, but they will allow themselves to be “fixed”?

    • Ah, but you and the other respondents miss a deeper utility suggested by your review of the history: to spotlight the reality that Israel simple does not care about any such initiatives; only to maintain a nominal facade.

      Its overt and demonstrated agenda since 67 has been to consolidate Israel West of the Jordan, including the entirety of Jerusalem (with a few “Indian Reservations). Whatever eb & flow has occurred in the momentum of this agenda over the years has been due to the logistics of moving out Palestinians and moving in settlers in an orderly manner, with just enough PR consideration to keep the world sufficiently off its back and US financial/diplomatic underwriting to continue.

    • “….Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was blown up in his wheelchair after morning prayers…”

      The death of Sheikh Yassin resulted in the Dow Jones Index dropping 137 points the following day. Israel’s own anti-terrorism experts opined that the killing would result in Hamas’ more moderate political wing losing influence to its military leaders and also leading to greater cohesion and coordination between Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups. All this occurred. Certain Palestinian-Americans felt the Sheikh’s killing would galvanize Gazans into mre strident resistance; this happened as well.

      Yassin’s death created a spike of terrorist and militant activity in Gaza that resulted in increased casualties being sustained by the IDf ans settlers in that area. About a year later Ariel Sharon’s historic disengagement from Gaza occurred.

  3. Great idea, when Israelis will see this kind of Arab initiative it can tilt the scale and create a very positive atmosphere toward peace between Isr/Pls.

    FYI in the last election the only party in the parliament which still did not recognize the two state solution holds only 12% of the votes. This means that 88% of the parties (and the israelis) support two states solution !!!

    • It would not only deal with the “dilution of Israel’s ‘character'” it would also mean a reversal of the Israeli right wing’s long-term policy of “transfer” of all Palestinians out of the land they ultimately aim, and have always aimed, to possess. Each new settlement is another inexorable step forward to that goal and another nail in Palestine’s coffin.

  4. “This tendency to try to deal with the Palestinians’ problems by throwing money”

    Does anyone know how much it cost to rebuild Lebanon, after the last Israeli attack?

    And is there any estimate of amount of money spent repairing the destruction done in Palestinian territories by the various Israeli bombing and military invasions?

  5. Juan, Why bother when a CIA report [link below] states that i$rael will most likely not make it another twenty years. Apartheid etc…

    link to

    I might also add this link from AISH, this as a Sephardi was not a big surprise at all for no one in my family wants anything to do with the middle east-America is our home.

    link to

  6. Just a small correction:
    I meant that the Arab population in EAST JERUSALEm is around 300,000 people. In Israel it’s almost 2 million.

  7. “After all, the vast majority of Israelis are either Jews who had lived in the Arab world or Palestinian-Israelis.”

    Juan, what do you mean by “vast majority” here? It’s my understanding that the majority ethnic composition of Israel is of Eastern European stock, or at least close to it. Do you have a source for your contention?

    • You are wrong. Nearly three million of Israel’s Jews are Sephardim or Mizrahim, i.e. eastern Jews, and there are about 1 million Ashkenazis who came before 1991, and about 1 million ex-Soviet immigrants since then. You could look it up.

      • According to the relevant Wikipedia pages, the Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewry residing in Israel is about 1.4 million each with widely varying estimates of Ashkenazi Jewish population at between 2.8 and 4 million. Palestinian Israelis number about 1.6 million, or slightly more than 20% of Israel’s population of 7.9 million.

        About 23% of the exodus of the Jews from the East into Israel in 1948 came from Iraq. The Iraqi persecution of its Jews has been extreme since 1948 and less than 100 reside in Iraq today, although about 11,000 live in Iran, and tiny Jewish communities exist in Lebanon and Syria. The Royal Air Force’s Eagle Squadron in 1948 tranported significant numbers of Yemen’s Jewish population into Israel. A number of Yemeni-Americans had confirmed to me in the 1990s that there are still substantial numbers of Jews within Yemen – they are known for their thriving involvement in the Yemeni business community.

        The salient aspect of Israeli society is its social stratification of Jewry. The Ashkenazi Jews have largely controlled the political, military and commercial aspects of Israeli society since its inception. The Ashkenazi and Sepharadim had social conflicts in the first ten years of Israel’s existence, especially in such areas as Haifa.

        The massive influx of Jewish immigration into Israel from the former Soviet republics following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 has bolstered the right-wing political parties within Israel and a large number have settled in the West Bank.

        Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was one of the few Mizrahi Jews to hold high office in Isarel and some blame his sexual asssault conviction and prison sentence on prejudice against Mizrahi Jews. Shaul Mofaz, former defense minister, was a Mizrahi Jew from Iran and Amir Peretz a Sephardic Jew from Morocco – he served as defense minister during the Second Lebanon War. Peretz was a Labor Party liberal with a background in the Histadrut labor union and he spearheaded the appointing of the first Arab cabinet minister.

        Less than a half a dozen Knesset members have been American-born since Israel’s inception – one being the slain Rabbi Meir Kahane.

  8. Why should we assume that Israel wants peace? A constant wartime footing has served it very well for the last 60+ years.

    The Palestinian “threat” keeps the Israeli citizens in line and in a state of fear, causes the United States to constantly give large amounts of aid and de facto gifts of weaponry, and provides an excuse for any and all restrictions on the Palestinian people, including unprovoked attacks on civilians, imprisonment, and torture.

    The “need to protect themselves” from disorganized and starving Palestinians serves as a motivator to push them into smaller and smaller zones, taking the best of their land. “Self-defense” is the public rationale behind the “separation wall”, which makes huge incursions into Palestinian territory, appropriating it as well.

    What would Israel get out of peace with the Arab world that in any way compares? Why would they fall back to the 1967 borders – much less the 1947 borders?

    Farhang pointed out some of the several substantial peace offers that Israel scorned and rejected. Peace would cost Israel – endless war (with Israel guaranteed the winner through unconditional and perpetual US support) enriches it.

    • “endless war (with Israel guaranteed the winner through unconditional and perpetual US support) enriches it.”

      “Endless wars” from time immemorial have had a way of ultimately destroying the nations engaged in this madness. Perhaps the future history of the U.S. and Israel will resemble a Greek tragedy.

    • A constant wartime footing has served the Israeli state well by keeping the citizens in line through fear. That sounds a lot like the US, too. More evidence of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine being used effectively.

Comments are closed.