Israeli Foreign Ministry Plans New Hasbara Effort Against Palestinians | Sabbah Report

By Maggie Sager * | Sabbah Report |

Rafael Barak

Haaretz reports that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has officially launched a diplomatic campaign to dissuade the international community from recognizing an independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders and possibly catalyzing the passage of a UN Security Council resolution against settlement building.

Efforts will include “an immediate public relations campaign on the matter at the bureaus of the premiers, foreign ministers and parliament in each respective country” as well as the dissemination of a “legal position paper” expressing that “only direct negotiations could end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not unilateral actions that subvert past accords.”

According to Director-General Rafael Barak, “[Seeking a UNSC resolution on settlement activity] can only hurt attempts to renew talks.” Seemingly unbeknownst to Barak are the myriad of pre-existing Security Council resolutions aimed at settlement activity. From a previous post:

  • Operative paragraph one of UNSC Resolution 242, in which the Security Council unanimously “affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of…the following principles: Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”
  • UNSC Resolution 446 explicitly denouncing settlement activity (three abstentions)
  • UNSC Resolution 452 explicitly denouncing settlement activity (one abstention)
  • UNSC Resolution 465 explicitly denouncing settlement activity (unanimous)
  • UNSC Resolution 471 explicitly denouncing settlement activity (one abstention)
  • Portions of UNSC Resolution 252, passed with two abstentions, in which the Security Council “considers that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status; [and] Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem”
  • UNSC Resolution 267 explicitly denouncing annexation and settlement of East Jerusalem (unanimous)
  • UNSC Resolution 298 explicitly denouncing annexation and settlement of East Jerusalem (one abstention)
  • UNSC Resolution 476 explicitly denouncing annexation and settlement of East Jerusalem (one abstention)
  • UNSC Resolution 478 explicitly denouncing annexation and settlement of East Jerusalem (one abstention)

Frankly, another UNSC resolution condemning settlement activity would merely be a drop in the bucket.

With these new efforts, Israel makes the claim that Palestinians are illegally sabotaging the entire peace process. This is utter hyperbole. Outside of allegations that the PA has surpassed the legal limitations imposed by Oslo, which can be more thoroughly examined once the Ministry’s position paper is made public, even Barak himself admits that Palestinian actions are “processes that could take place alongside negotiations and a settlement freeze.”

The fact of the matter is Palestinian jockeying in the international community cannot unilaterally end the conflict on Palestinian terms. Since the Palestinian National Council’s 1988 declaration of statehood, more than 100 countries have recognized an independent Palestine. To think that recognition of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders by the majority of the international community will substitute for Israeli withdrawal of the occupied territories is a ridiculous position. Israel knows this. So why go to such lengths to subvert recognition?

Barak plainly states the reason Israel is embarking on its hasbara effort. In his words, “Palestinians were hoping that their proceedings would encourage Barack Obama’s administration to take certain steps in their future, including dealing with the 1967 borders and increasing pressure on Israel.” To the Ministry, the realization of such hopes is simply unacceptable. In Barak’s view, all issues must be settled through negotiations which pressure Israel and Palestinians to make equal concessions. This is because Palestinians already have legitimate, established rights to almost all of their demands –rights that Israel is unwilling to accept, and therefore hopes to escape the burden of by “negotiating.”

  • Palestinians are already entitled to their Right of Return as enshrined in UNGA Resolution 194, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • Israel has never been legally allowed to settle any land in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, as evidenced by the numerous UNSC resolutions mentioned above as well as the decision rendered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Geneva Conventions
  • Israel’s siege of Gaza was already determined illegal by a UN Fact Finding Mission and must be lifted without condition
  • Portions of Israel’s partition wall that cut into the West Bank (85% of the wall) should already be demolished or re-routed per the ICJ’s decision
  • Palestinians’ (unilateral) right to self-determination is already guaranteed by the UN Charter, the UDHR, the ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

There are in reality very few issues which could not be settled by Israel simply adhering to established international consensus. The Israeli government is plainly aware of this fact and is consequently trying to trap Palestinians into making concessions to gain what they should already have. This is why the Foreign Ministry is trying to block another resolution. This is why Israel does not want to face extra pressure from the Obama administration. This is why Israel fears further solidification of diplomatic ties between Palestine and other countries.

If the international community would simply enforce its decisions, the negotiation process would be a very different one. Palestinians would negotiate only on issues that are not already settled, e.g. the sharing of natural resources and security arrangements, or on the best application of internationally recognized principles rather than arguments about whether they are even valid. In this way, Israel would stand to lose much more than in the current situation. Consequently, the Foreign Ministry will fight with all of its power to maintain the status quo.

* Maggie Sager is currently a student at Mills College in Oakland, California. You can find her work at Resisting Occupation.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Plans New Hasbara Effort Against Palestinians | Sabbah Report.

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