Irwin Cotler on Israel and the Palestinian resolution

by Aaron Wherry

Irwin Cotler expands on his objections to the Palestinian resolution at the United Nations.

Accordingly, only an immediate return to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – and one based on the principle of mutual recognition of two states for two peoples – will invite the establishment of the just and lasting peace that we all seek. Indeed, it would be the supreme irony if the UN General Assembly were to circumvent the legal and political imperatives of direct negotiations leading to such an outcome precisely on the 65th anniversary of its earlier UN partition resolution, which the Arab leadership rejected then, and the Palestinian leadership, regrettably, is undermining now.




Browse

Irwin Cotler on Israel and the Palestinian resolution

  1. Israel has ensured that won’t happen, so Palestine is doing an end run.

    • Of course it won’t happen. Bibi is on record saying that he doesn’t believe in a two-state solution.

      • Bibi believes in the ‘push them into the sea’ solution.

        • I think that’s actually Hamas’ solution — you know, the Final one.

          • Actually Israelis have been saying it’s their solution for the Palistinians for about half a century now.

  2. Funny that Wherry continues to ignore that Mulcair and the NDP actually came out in support of the Palestinians position on this which of course continues the NDP’s long standing hatred for Israel.

    • I f you click on one of those red linky things[ i'll leave it you to figure out which one] you’ll find another red linky thing to the NDP’s position on this issue…i’ll check back tomorrow shall i?

    • I don’t understand how being for the rights of one group of people automatically means that you hate a different group of people.

      • When the leaders and representatives of the one group of people are committed to the annihilation of the other group of people?

        • Did you believe in the WMD in Iraq, too?

  3. It’s exhausting to listen to the intellectual acrobatics of those objecting to the Palestinian statehood bid – especially those who claim to support a two state solution. There is nothing underhanded or unethical about this bid, It involves no violence and no coercion, and it’s not exactly coming out of left field. The only effect this will have is to potentially strengthen the Palestinian’s hand – perhaps even to the point of having something to negotiate with. Given the abject, decades long failure of “two state” negotiations thus far, and given that the only other card the Palestinians have to play is violence, this should be a welcome move.

    • Matt Ramsden says:”There is nothing underhanded or unethical about this bid”

      Except of course that all other UN resolutions taken on the matter will be violated. But hey, who should care about things like that. And so, according to your reasoning, if it is ok to violate past UN resolutions in order to let this one pass, so that the one passed today won’t mean anything in the long run, because that one too can be violated again. See where that is going?

      • No, that’s not where this is going. The UN resolutions were from the Security Council, and they are almost 40 years old. The Oslo accords, which the Palestinians were actually a party to, are almost 20 years old – four times the intended interim lifespan of 5 years. The Oslo accords have not produced a solution, the actors have changed, settlements have expanded, walls have been built, rockets have continued to fly, Gaza and the West Bank have separate elected governments – if the face of all that, there is absolutely no sense in being bound by previous agreements simply for their own sake. Laying blame for the failure of the Oslo accords on one party or another doesn’t change that – the failure is undeniable – surely if we want peace, we have to keep searching for a way to get there.

        • Ok, so if we go with your kind of reasoning, we will have to come to conclusions that this new resolution, if voted in favour of, will not mean anything within a few years, correct?

          • A “few” years?

            If it results in nothing? If the Palestinian ‘state’ looks like it does now, is ruled by different factions, is blockaded, etc. etc. etc.? Of course it won’t mean anything! People will still be looking for solutions, and an ineffective effort will lose support, and eventual die.

            If it does accomplish something – if the collective wisdom of the international stage is that the situation is better than it was or, let’s dream here, the situation is actually *stable* – then it will become more accepted, and defended.

          • So the UN’s resolutions are always within a state of flux? Nothing fundamental to count on, and so forth.

          • I’m sorry if this is the first you’ve heard of this.

            Perhaps that’s uncalled for, but I think you know full well that everything in life is in a state of flux. And I also think you know full well that it doesn’t render our efforts useless, or mean that nothing can be counted on, etc. etc.

          • But if there is nothing fundamental to count on, the risk of sinking into a quagmire is real. That’s my worry. That’s the difference I am referring to.

          • Fair enough – I guess I feel like quagmire is where we are now.

          • Your argument is nonsensical. If circumstances change, you adjust, rather than blindly following precedent. Is the US Supreme Court worthless because Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson?

      • Genuinely curious. What prior UN resolutions will be violated by this move?

        • Colter mentions a few. Pick the one you like best.

          • Well, Cotler (you might want to get his name right) cites all those UN resolutions because they “reject unilateralism”. But he conveniently forgets to mention that Israel has been unilaterally building settlements in the West Bank for 45 years — in contravention of some of the very same resolutions he mentions.

            For an expert in international law, he’s pretty thick.

          • I apologize for getting Cotler’s name wrong.

            Yes, the fact that Israel has been unilaterally building settlements in the West Bank for 45 years — in
            contravention of some of the very same resolutions he mentions, should be dealt with at the UN as well. Perhaps the UN has no backbone after all.

    • “the only other card the Palestinians have to play is violence”

      Perhaps because the Palestinians don’t really want a two-state solution but want to wipe Israel off the map? Who speaks for the Palestinians? Hamas?

      • If the Palestinians really don’t want a two-state solution then why are you, or anybody else, defending any previous agreements at all? Clearly none of them matter in the slightest if the collective Palestinian goal is the annihilation of Israel. Certainly criticizing them for breaking the Oslo accord won’t amount to much, since you’re saying they fundamentally don’t believe in the aims of the accord. And, even more curiously, if the Palestinians don’t want a two state solution, why are they seeking statehood? A much faster route to wiping Israel off the map would be to join, say, Iran.

        As to your question of who speaks for the Palestinians? Well, it’s largely irrelevant if you are suggesting that the entire Palestinian people want to wipe Israel off the map. But if don’t believe that (which, as I said, would make all this discussion moot anyway), then the answer probably depends on whether we engage with, or shut out the Palestinian leader who is currently pursuing a non-violent, diplomatic course.

        • “the Palestinian leader who is currently pursuing a non-violent, diplomatic course.” But does that leader recognize the state of Israel to exist?

          I’m thinking that you do know the answer to that question. My question is why so many Palestinians can’t come to the conclusion that the recognition of the state of Israel is a must before anything of substance can change. Why are the Palestinians not aware of the fact that such statehood needs to be recognized? Why beat around the bush, time and again? Why remain in a state of poverty, remain in a state of upheaval if they themselves don’t want to overcome the main obstacle? Why can the Palestinians not move forward by wanting to become a recognized state besides another recognized state?

          • Yes, that leader does recognize the right of Israel to exist. What he’s said – what I assume your referring to – is that he doesn’t recognize Israel as a *Jewish* state. I assume he objects to the fact that non-Jewish Arabs who live in Israel are denied the right to vote, or become full citizens. Others might assume he’s simply anti-Semitic. I can only guess what his opinion would be on the desirability of Palestine being a religious versus secular state.

            His position is problematic. Though I abhor the idea of religious states, Israel has a right – within reason – to govern itself as it sees fit. Problematic as his position may be, however, I don’t see Abbas fitting your description above. As for “so many Palestinians”… if what you mean is some sort of majority, then I think you should provide some evidence, rather than a sweeping generalization. I don’t know if there is reliable polling. I can imagine quite a wide range of possible results if there is.

          • So if there is no (polling) evidence of majority of Palestinians, why then have the Palestinians remained, for so long, within such plight of playing the victim card, if they could have done so much more for securing prosperity and well being for their own people, rather than concentrating on a neighbouring state (Israel) which has done so very well for its people under their particular sets of circumstances? What then do the majority of Palestinians want? War or well being?

          • I expect that our assumptions about whether a majority of any particular group wants war or well being says something about our view of humanity.

          • Oh, humanity tells me that most people would prefer well being over war. And I would say, because I most honestly think, that most people, including the people of Palestine and including myself, prefer humanity over anything else. Still, that being the case, why have the Palestinian people not found a way for demanding a state of their own in which to create the well-being while simultaneously wishing such state of well being to the citizens of Israel?

          • Isn’t that what they just did?

          • No.

            Palestinians may now be under the illusion (?) that full statehood is secured for them but their full acceptance of a Jewish state named Israel has not been touched upon, once again.

          • How would full acceptance of a Jewish state named Israel be “touched upon” ? Would you be satisfied if it had been included in the text of the Palestinian bid? Or if International observers spent time in the West Bank and issued a report saying that they really felt good about Palestinian acceptance of Israel? Or maybe you want Israel to give their permission? How then would we stop some individual or group of Palestinians from changing their mind? Would Israel maintain a veto on the Palestinian state? No. The only meaning acceptance of Israel is future action – not words.

            Your line of questioning could just as easily be turned around – how is it that Israel has enjoyed so many prosperous decades of statehood, without wishing that for their neighbours? Why do so many want to oppress the Palestinians and refuse them the self determination that Israel enjoys?

            That questioning, like yours above, leads inevitably to blaming one side or the other – a ridiculous approach if the result is a continual violent stalemate, and the aim is peace.

            So I come back to my original point. You can twist and turn your way through point after point after point – past failed agreements, who said what when, Palestinians don’t like Israel. But none of that changes the fact that Abbas just accomplished something – and it wasn’t with rockets.

          • You say:”The only meaning acceptance of Israel is future action – not words.”

            Future action indeed. My predictions are as follows:

            Now that the Palestinian resolution has been approved, they will further use the UN to side-line reality. All Palestinian tactics will be used to try and convince the rest of the world, by means of further UN resolutions and such, that Israel is the suppressor and that no blame rests in the hands of the Palestinians. By means of the UN, the Palestinians will be able to play the victim card a little stronger, thereby not helping the Palestinian people in any way for securing a true homeland in which they can prosper.

            It is my opinion that Palestinian people have learned to create an innate hatred towards the existence of a Jewish state. Such created innate hatred outweighs any move towards founding and building a prosperous state of their own. In other words: the Palestinian leaders are more concerned about there not being a Jewish state than they are concerned about creating a well functioning state of their own. Palestinians are their own worst enemy.

            Another one of my predictions would be that the approval of this resolution and the effect it will have on the ability of Palestinians to further demonize Israel on the international stage, will mean a slow demise of the UN itself.

            Only bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people can secure a workable solution. And only the refusal of the Palestinian people to recognize the existence of Israel stands in the way. Once the innate hatred against Israel has been removed out of the negotiation process, will the real world open up to the people of Palestine, because once Israel is recognized by them, Israel’s main card to play will have been lost. And only then will Israel be forced to make major concessions toward Palestine when negotiations start about the formation of boundaries etc.

            I’m tired of that conflict. And I’m tired of the world cozying up to the people of Palestine in such a way that the real truth may not be told lest it would insult the Palestinians.

  4. Sorry but did I miss the OpEd where Cotler speaks against Israeli settlements?

  5. Much as one might agree with Harper, Baird, Cotler, USA et al’s reasoning for opposing the now successful U.N. motion (i.e. that the only real solution will come from negotiation between the two parties), it is basically negated by the bellicose (and only growing more so) position of the Likud government.

    Fmr. Amb. to Israel Bell makes a good point when he suggests that negotiations w. the Abbas end of the Palestinian nexus will likely serve to enhance that camp’s stature and so mitigate against the embrace of Hamas by the bulk of the Palestinian people.

    Abbas has to gain the political nads to negotiate with and recognize Israel. Perhaps this motion will give him the backstop to do so. Likud has to walk it back.

    So, same as it ever was. The only glimmer is the patina of statehood that the UN has given Fatah/PLO.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *