As parliaments in more and more European nations vote to recognize "Palestine," European politicians insist they are doing so to promote the objective of an independent Palestinian state living in peace beside a secure Israel. But both the declared aims of Palestinian leaders and the pattern of European policy vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians give the lie to European averments of benign intent.
Neither party of the divided Palestinian leadership has, to say the least, demonstrated an interest in peace with Israel. Hamas, now controlling Gaza and enjoying extensive popularity in the West Bank, openly trumpets its objective not only to destroy Israel but to annihilate all the world's Jews. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly insists it will never recognize Israel's legitimacy as the national homeland of the Jewish people and will never give up its demand for implementation of the so-called "right of return" of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel - thereby demographically destroying the Jewish state. In the same vein, it conveys it will never sign an end of conflict agreement with Israel no matter what territorial concessions the latter offers.
Palestinian Authority media, mosques and schools, like those of Hamas, incessantly indoctrinate their audiences in the message that the Jews are colonial usurpers and their presence, and their state, must be expunged, that Palestinians who attack and kill Israeli civilians are heroes, and that it is the responsibility of all to emulate those heroes in the struggle for Israel's annihilation. Abbas, like Arafat before him, has made clear his goal in seeking recognition of "Palestine" by European nations and by others is to force the establishment of a Palestinian state without any bilateral agreement with Israel that would require Palestinian foreswearing of additional claims against the Jewish state.
While declaring its support for a two-state solution, European leaders, in promoting their parliaments' recognition of "Palestine," are actually advancing the Palestinian leadership's goal of a single, Muslim Arab, state comprised of the West Bank, what is now Israel, and Gaza. But then, the policies of the European nations have long been to advance the Palestinian agenda and to undermine any possibility of a genuine, durable two-state agreement. Consider the issues touched on below, what stance on them would be taken by those truly dedicated to achieving a viable two-state accord, and what stances European nations have actually taken:
1) Palestinian insistence on the "right of return" obviously precludes an agreement that allows for Israel’s continued existence. Any genuine peace would require whatever resettlement there is of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to take place within the territories allotted to the Palestinians. If the Europeans were truly interested in a two state solution, they would insist that some of the largesse they now lavish on the Palestinians be dedicated to creating decent, permanent housing for those Palestinians residing in "refugee camps" within areas already under Palestinian control. But they have not done so.
2) The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has provided for Palestinian refugees and their descendants for sixty-five years. Every other refugee population in the post-World War II era has been cared for by another UN organ, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In addition, with all other refugee populations, whose total numbers over the decades have been orders of magnitude greater than the Palestinian number, "refugee" is defined as an individual actually displaced by hostilities or related events, not his or her descendants as well. The special status accorded the Palestinians has obviously been orchestrated by the Arab states and their allies to use as a permanent weapon in the fight for Israel's annihilation.
Were Palestinian refugees defined in the manner of all other refugees, they would now number at most less than 50,000 and Israel might even entertain offering those individuals the option of return in the context of a peace settlement. But the Europeans continue to support and generously fund the unique UN treatment of Palestinian "refugees" and continue to help Palestinian leaders wield this cudgel against Israel's continued survival.
Moreover, UNHRW schools, often employing Hamas-affiliated and PA-affiliated teachers, contribute to the indoctrination of Palestinian children in the cause of pursuing Israel's annihilation, and UNHRW facilities have served as recruiting, training and logistical centers for Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. Yet this, too, has elicited virtually no objection, or curtailment of support, from European nations.
3) As noted, PA media, mosques and schools are focused on indoctrinating their audiences in anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred and on the necessity of pursuing Israel's destruction. Yet many of the relevant PA institutions enjoy European financial support.
4) The PA provides extensive financial support to the families of Palestinian terrorists- both of those killed and of those imprisoned by Israel - and the European states have done little to prevent the use of European funds for this purpose.
5) Genuinely moderate Palestinian voices, those who would support a viable two-state solution, are an endangered lot. After twenty years of indoctrination by PA and Hamas media, mosques and schools, the great majority of Palestinians, according to opinion polls, support anti-Israel violence and the objective of Israel, and its Jews’, annihilation. What moderates remain in the territories are either cowed into silence by the PA and Hamas, or are subject to harassment, assault and arbitrary arrest. This has been the fate, for example, of Palestinian journalists who have dared to report on PA corruption or to question PA policies that preclude a peaceful settlement with Israel. European nations have done virtually nothing to come to the aid of Palestinian moderates, to support the different, often genuinely peace-promoting, course they seek to advance, or even to pressure the PA to end its abuse of them.
6) European states directly finance a plethora of anti-Israel NGO’s, including NGO’s that openly call for Israel’s destruction. (The proliferation and broadened reach of such organizations, particularly in the wake of the openly anti-Semitic, ironically titled, 2001 "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, has been most extensively chronicled by Gerald Steinberg’s "NGO Monitor.")
7) Areas Israel has not already ceded to the Palestinians - either via agreement, as in Areas A and B now governed by the PA, or unilaterally, as in Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza - have the status in international law of disputed territory. UN Security Council Resolution 242, unanimously passed in the fall of 1967, calls for the negotiation of new "secure and recognized boundaries," and the authors of 242 argued that the pre-1967 lines were merely armistice lines, were indefensible, and left Israel vulnerable to future aggression. Yet many European states insist on referring to those lands as Palestinian, precluding the negotiated agreement on boundaries envisioned in Resolution 242 and seeking to deprive Israel of defensible borders.
In a similar vein, European states routinely attack any Israeli construction in the disputed territories. One can argue that creating such facts on the ground does prejudice ultimate agreement on the land’s disposition. But the same European states are not only silent on no less prejudicial Palestinian building in the disputed areas but actually support and fund it. Since Palestinian construction has largely been focused on reinforcing claims to areas that would leave Israel more strategically vulnerable, European states are in this manner as well working against the Jewish state’s achieving an agreement that would provide it with defensible borders.
8) The recognition of "Palestine" by European parliaments obviously violates prior endorsement by European states and the European Union of agreements calling for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via bilateral negotiations. At the same time, in a further demonstration of shameless European anti-Israel hypocrisy, Europe threatens measures against Israel if it does not re-engage in bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians. In fact, it is Israel that has most sought to advance such negotiations and the Palestinians that have shunned them. It is Israel that has - in, for example, 2000, 2001, and 2008 - made repeated concrete offers of a territorial settlement and the Palestinians that have rejected all of them without providing any counter-offers. Rather, they have sought to pursue an agenda of advancing their cause - the cause of replacing Israel - by means other than bilateral negotiations, as in their seeking recognition of "Palestine" by European states and international bodies. And the Europeans at once help them move forward on their alternative path while excoriating Israel for ostensibly rejecting direct negotiations.
For all the self-righteous doubletalk from Europe about seeking to promote a peace that will serve both the Palestinians and the Jewish state, what the Europeans are promoting by their actions is the exterminationist agenda of the Palestinian leadership and reeks of age-old, murderous European anti-Jewish bias.
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege.