In a remarkable shift, neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has recognized that the Palestinians are willing to accept a Palestinian state consisting solely of lands occupied by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967 — the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians’ position today, writes Krauthammer, is this: “The 1967 lines. Period. Indeed, in September the Palestinians are going to the United Nations to get the world to ratify precisely that — a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines.”
Unfortunately, Krauthammer now insists that this is simply too much for the Palestinians to expect.
“Exactly what bold steps for peace have the Palestinians taken?” Krauthammer asks. Well, for starters, how about relinquishing claims to 78 percent of Palestine? This is precisely what they did in 1993 when, in an exchange of letters between Yassir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) formally recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security,” and accepted United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which call upon Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967 and an end to the state of belligerency.
This was, as Hussein Ibish noted recently, “The mother of all compromises.” And it is a compromise that is being reaffirmed by the Palestinians seeking international recognition for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.
It’s also very much worth remembering that, in exchange for the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel and relinquishing Palestinian claims to 78 percent of their homeland that this represented, Israel did not in return recognize “the right of the State of Palestine to exist in peace and security.” It only recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Almost 20 years, no state, and some 200,000 more Israeli settlers later, there is a fairly strong feeling among Palestinians of all stripes that this blatantly asymmetric bargain was a bad one.
Getting back to Krauthammer’s complaint, it’s quite revealing of his own deep-seated rejectionism that he refuses to see the Palestinian effort to gain U.N. recognition for a state along the 1967 lines for what it is: a(nother) sign of Palestinian acceptance of two states, Israel and Palestine. He thinks it is outrageous that the Palestinians should expect all of the remaining 22 percent of their homeland. And he is — prepare yourself for this — quite angry that President Obama should have had the gall to affirm the overwhelming international consensus regarding the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.
Krauthammer suggests that, by refusing to act as Israel’s hack lawyer, Obama “is undermining not just peace but the very possibility of negotiations” — two things for which, it should be noted, Krauthammer has never shown much enthusiasm. In other words, there’s not much to Krauthammer’s complaint beyond the familiar brute chauvinism and comically tendentious rendering of history. Except it’s maybe pitched a little higher than usual now that it seems to be dawning on Krauthammer that history is getting away from him.