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December 2006 Foreign Service Journal

December 2006 Foreign Service Journal

   The focus of this issue is on "Middle East Peace." I have sent you
the text of my article as published. It required a couple of hours to
correct the copy as published from what I expected to be published--only
a few changes. Editor Steve Honley had earlier done an excellent job of
cutting my original (solicited) essay down to half the length, as I had
included four other possible new foreign policy agendas (Iraq,
non-proliferation, UN reform, and global poverty) which accounts for the
title of my piece, but there was no space for these other
considerations. He is a fine editor and I have no quarrel with his work,
which was superb.
   Included in this issue are other essays on the same subject by Phil
Wilcox, Yossi Alpher,  Ghassan Khatib,  Nadia Hijab,  and Edward
Walker,  all very worth reading.  I haven't checked yet but they are
probably not yet available on the FSJ website, and may not be in their
entirety.
    I want to make one additional point. Steve, or someone else
perhaps, removed the quotation marks around the word "concessions" in my
text in the paragraph that begins "Four years on..." I meant by those
quotation marks that some things that are considered to be concessions
in negotiations to reach a final peace agreement are not concessions at
all. They are so-called concessions. In this case, as I explain in the
next paragraph, they are Israeli obligations under international law, as
codified in UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. These resolutions require
"withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the
recent conflict." American and Israeli officials have argued that the
absence of the word "the" from in front of "territories" can be
interpreted to mean that Israel need not withdraw from all of the
territories occupied in 1967. That is a typical lawyer's quibble that
has no merit, but has been used to argue that Israel satisfied this
requirement by withdrawing from the Sinai, which was returned to
Egypt--thus Israel met the obligation by withdrawing from some of the
territories. The French version of 242 says "from the territories,"
which is the only way it can be said in French. And all languages
prevail at the UN. Furthermore, the preamble to 242 states: "emphasizing
the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war...." Again
the lawyers will argue that the preamble does not have the same force as
the numbered requirements of the resolution.
   We are not talking about semantics here. The long struggle between
the Israelis and the Palestinians has been over possession of the land
of the Holy Land, the land of Palestine. This is the most fundamental
issue at stake. If the international community cannot bring itself to at
the very least insist that the Palestinians receive 22% of British
Mandate Palestine for their sovereign state, leaving Israel with 78%,
then there is no justice in this world.

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Robert V. Keeley
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