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Why the UN Should Not Recognize the Proposed Palestinian State

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The United Nations is being asked to grant the Palestinians the status of a "state," for at least some purposes. The question arises what kind of a state will it be? In an effort to attract Western support, the Palestinian Authority claims that it will become another "secular democratic state." Hamas, which won the last parliamentary election, disagrees. It wants Palestine to be a Muslim state governed by Sharia Law.

We know what the Palestinian leadership is saying to the West. Now let's look at what its saying to its own people, who will, after all, be the ultimate decision makers if Palestine is indeed a democracy.

The draft constitution for the new state of Palestine declares that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine." It also states that Sharia Law will be "the major source of legislation." It is ironic that the same Palestinian leadership which supports these concepts for Palestine refuses to acknowledge that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel, in contrast to the proposed Palestinian state, does not have an official state religion. Although it is a Jewish state, that description is not a religious one but rather a national one. It accords equal rights to Islam, Christianity and all other religions, as well as to atheists and agnostics. Indeed, a very high proportion of Israelis describe themselves as secular.

The new Palestinian state would prohibit any Jews from being citizens, from owning land or from even living in the Muslim state of Palestine. The Ambassador of the PLO to the United States was asked during an interview whether "any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?" His answer: "Absolutely"! After much criticism, the Ambassador tried to spin his statement, saying that it applied only to Jews "who are amid the occupation." Whatever that means, one thing is clear: large numbers of Jews will not be welcome to remain in Islamic Palestine as equal citizens. In contrast, Israel has more than 1 million Arab citizens, most of whom are Muslims. They are equal under the law, except that they need not serve in the Israeli army.

The new Palestine will have the very "law of return" that it demands that Israel should give up. All Palestinians, no matter where they live and regardless of whether they have ever set foot in Palestine, will be welcome to the new state, while a Jew whose family has lived in Hebron for thousands of years will be excluded.

To summarize, the new Palestinian state will be a genuine apartheid state. It will practice religious and ethnic discrimination, it will have one official religion and it will base its laws on the precepts of one religion. Imagine what the status of gays will be under Sharia law!

Palestinian leadership accuses Israel of having roads that are limited only to Jews. This is entirely false: a small number of roads on the West Bank are restricted to Israelis, but they are equally open to Israeli Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. The entire state of Palestine will have a "no Jews allowed" sign on it.

It is noteworthy that the very people who complain most loudly about Israel's law of return and about its character as the nation state of the Jewish people, are silent when it comes to the new Palestinian state. Is it that these people expect more of Jews than they do of Muslims? If so, is that not a form of racism?

What would the borders of a Palestinian state look like if the Palestinians got their way without the need to negotiate with Israel? The Palestinians would get, as a starting point, all of the land previously occupied by Jordan prior to the 1967 War, in which Jordan attacked Israel. This return to the status quo that led to the 6 Day War is inconsistent with the intention of Security Council Resolution 242, which contemplated some territorial changes.

The new boundaries of this Palestinian state would include Judaism's holiest place, the Western Wall. It would also include the access roads to Hebrew University, which Jordan used to close down this great institution of learning founded by the Jews nearly 100 years ago. The new Palestinian state would also incorporate the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, in which Jews have lived for 3000 years, except for those periods of time during which they were expelled by force.

It is contemplated, of course, that Israel would regain these areas as part of a land swap with the Palestinians. But there is no certainty that the Palestinians would agree to a reasonable land swap. Palestinian leaders have already said that they would hold these important and sacred sites hostage to unreasonable demands. For example, the Western Wall covers only a few acres, but the Palestinian leadership has indicated that these acres are among the most valuable in the world, and in order for Israel to regain them, they would have to surrender thousands of acres. The same might be true of the access road to Hebrew University and the Jewish Quarter.

When Jordan controlled these areas, the Jordanian government made them Judenrein -- Jews could not pray at the Western Wall, visit the Jewish Quarter, or have access to Hebrew University. There is no reason to believe that a Palestinian state would treat Jews any differently if they were to maintain control over these areas.

An Apartheid, Islamic, Judenrein Palestine on the 1967 borders is a prescription for disaster. That is why a reasonable Palestinian state must be the outcome of negotiations with Israel, and not the result of a thoughtless vote by the United Nations.

The Palestinians and Israeli leaders are now in New York. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to sit down and negotiate, with no preconditions, a realistic peace based on a two-state solution. President Abbas should accept that offer, which will actually get the Palestinians a viable state rather than a cheap paper victory that will raise expectations but lower the prospects for real peace.

A shorter version of this op ed appeared in The Daily News.

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