Article 22.2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the international treaty defining a framework for diplomatic relations between countries, stipulates that the “receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of [a visiting] mission against any intrusion or damage[.]”
Accordingly, last week’s decision by the head of Egypt’s ruling Supreme Military Council, Mohammed Tantawi, to ignore Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plea for intervention while the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was being ransacked constitutes a gross violation of international law. And, as Article 3 of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty requires that the “Parties apply between them…the principles of international law governing relations among states,” and that “each Party undertakes to ensure that acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence do not originate from and are not committed from within its territory,” Tantawi, in effect, conveyed to Israel a powerful message: The peace treaty is over.
If this was ever in question, Egypt’s acting Prime Minister, Issam Sharaf, alleviated all doubts shortly thereafter by affirming that “the peace agreement with Israel is not sacred and is always open for discussion.”
Coupled with the fact that Israel last week was forced to evacuate its embassy in Amman, Jordan—in response to an organized march under the banner of “No Zionist Embassy on Jordanian Territory”—and that Jordanian King Abdullah II this week blamed Israel uniquely for the impasse in peace talks with the Palestinians, accusing leaders in Jerusalem of “sticking their heads in the sand,” and a frightening reality emerges: peace treaties are transitory.
Proponents of Israel’s pacts with Egypt and Jordan invariably retort with the following: “At the very least, was it not worth 30 years of security?” They have a point, as any length of tranquility is preferable to war. However, ultimately, the assertion is myopic. The reason being that peace and security, although inter-connected, represent two distinct states. Peace is long-term, a by-product and benefit of which is security; whereas security is short-term and cannot usher in peace, but rather acts in the manner of a temporary ceasefire.
As such, Israel’s treaties with both Egypt and Jordan must be redefined to reflect their present nature and utility: they are finite security arrangements, not immutable peace agreements.
Peace cannot be said to exist when, after more than thirty years, Egypt’s state-controlled media continue to promote a genocidal hatred of Jews; its leading presidential candidates’ platforms all include the plausible renewal of armed conflict with Israel; the Egyptian military remains idle while Islamic militants utilize Egyptian soil to launch a terrorist attack on Israel’s south; and when the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ progenitor, is poised to become “democratically” empowered by the Egyptian electorate. (N.B.: In a subtle move epitomizing Egypt’s simmering disdain for Israel, Cairo this week implemented a ban on the export of palm fronds to the Jewish state and Diaspora communities, leading to fears of a lulav shortage for the upcoming Sukkot holiday. This despicable act amounts to concerted religious warfare.)
Likewise, peace cannot be said to exist when Jordan’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, is presently calling for the complete severing of ties with Israel, “in light of continued Zionist violations against the sovereignty and interests of Jordan;” nor when the kingdom’s illegitimate monarch, Abdullah II, encourages Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to reconsider his upcoming UN statehood bid not out of concern for his “partner in peace,” Israel, but rather “to protect Palestine’s future, and to safeguard…the refugees’ ‘right of return.’” In other words, to reserve the “right” to destroy the Jewish state through demographic subversion.
The failure to differentiate between genuine prospects of enduring peace and political opportunities to temporarily enhance security has given rise to the fallacy of our time—the Land for Peace formula. For conceding tangible assets in exchange for true peace, one that is based on mutual respect and a commitment to fostering normalization and successful bilateral relations between peoples, may indeed be worthwhile, however, compromising strategically imperative territory in exchange for relative calm, ephemeral promises, or out of conviction to higher-order principles, is not.
Land might only be exchanged for peace, in the real sense of the word.
But it never is. Instead, treaties are crafted, hope springs eternal, the “international community” pockets the goodwill before reneging on its commitments, and then Israel, alone, suffers.
And suffer it has. For upon the Land for Peace model has been built the equally delusional belief that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved via Israeli concessions, as opposed to the recognition by Palestinians of Israel’s legitimate existential right.
The Oslo process has caused nothing but damage to the Jewish state. This will continue, as evidenced by the Palestinians’ upcoming UN debacle, which will serve only to intensify the global delegitimation campaign being waged against Israel, until such time that Jerusalem re-evaluates the fundamental principle guiding its policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians. And as Egypt and Jordan descend into madness, and the Palestinian Authority obstinately bases the resumption of negotiations on Israel’s unconditional surrender to Palestinian demands, the time for analysis is now.
When a house crumbles, its foundation’s instability is almost always to blame. For this reason, one can only hope that as Israel’s house of cards—peace with its southern and eastern neighbors—exhibits further signs of faltering, its constructors will finally summon the courage to examine the root cause.