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"If I were a Palestinian I'd learn from Ben-Gurion"

Sternhell on Mid-East negotiations

Netanyahu, Kerry and Abbas, graphical editing

Netanyahu, Kerry and Abbas, graphical editing Giornalettismo

Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell stepped in on 2 January in the debate on the peace deals between his country and Palestine and gives some ironic suggestions to a hypothetical Palestinian negotiatior. First of all, to learn from David Ben-Gurion, whose political stature seems to be far higher than the one of current politicians lacking "long-term vision". Because of his conciliating views, Sternhell was targeted and heavily threatened by some of the most extremist Israeli settlers.

What was the principle guiding David Ben-Gurion from the very outset? He points out.  - Take anything you are handed. He accepted the Peel Commission partition proposal of 1937 and the UN partition plan adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 29 1947, out of conviction that something is always preferable to nothing. He wanted to obtain, at any price, some breathing space and a territorial base upon which to establish an independent state and obtain international recognition.

Then the reasoning goes: 

Secondly, I would respond favorably and without hesitation to two main unconditional demands that the Jews are posing, since they are merely symbolic tokens without any substance. I would instantly agree to Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. As far as this concerns the Palestinians this demand is meaningless. This is an internal Israeli affair and if Israel insists on eliminating democracy and equality on its own turf why should it be our concern?

Other points include declaring 

that I relinquish the right of return of Palestinian refugees, since only delusional people really believe that they will one day return to Haifa, Ramle or Tiberias. What rational person would hesitate in granting the Jews some hot air in exchange for removing the last obstacle standing in the way of resuming serious negotiations over the establishment of a Palestinian state, settlements and final borders? 

And then the hypothetical Palestinian negotiator would have to learn a third lesson from David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the State of Israel. 

always to ensure the support of a world power. At this point the United States, other than on its campuses, is lost to the Palestinians – right-wing Jews have too much money and influence there. However, a real opportunity has opened up in Europe. Interestingly, the hostility toward Arabs and Islam there doesn’t benefit Israel’s right wing, and European parliaments are proving this every week. Israel’s colonial rule is becoming increasingly detested in Europe.

The final resort in Sternhell's view is Europe. As we witness increasing problems in the integration of Muslims in the Old Continent, we will see what 2015 will bring us in terms of international role and Middle-East involvment of this continent. 

7 January 2015

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