Palestine – Don’t Repeat the Syrian Fiasco

August 10, 2012 by David Singer
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Australia’s Foreign Minister – Senator Bob Carr – has been visiting Israel and in the time honoured tradition of all such visiting dignitaries – has met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…write David Singer .

The usual motherhood statement that normally follows such meetings was issued:

“In discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Senator Carr underscored the importance of reaching a negotiated two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and emphasised the urgent need for resumption of negotiations.”

Australia – like most countries around the world – has put its credibility, money and prestige on the line in wanting to see this outcome – even though 19 years of fruitless negotiations have failed to get the proposal to first base.

The key to such a solution is that it must be “negotiated” and for that to happen there is an “urgent need for resumption of negotiations”.

The problem is that Israel is ready to resume such negotiations without preconditions – but the Palestinian Authority will not resume those negotiations unless Israel imposes a building freeze in the West Bank for the duration of the resumed negotiations.

A 10 month moratorium imposed by Israel in November 2009 on new residential building in the West Bank proved to be a complete waste of time – as the Palestinian Authority only  returned to the negotiating table one month prior to the moratorium’s expiry – and then tried to get an extension – which was rejected and has been refused ever since.

Australia and other like – minded nations must now actively and urgently engage in  trying to break this impasse by getting Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table as soon as possible – if the two-state solution so earnestly desired is ever to be achieved.

There is no prospect of such a solution whilst Australia  and  many other countries of influence become more frustrated crossing their arms and furrowing their brows in making similar ineffectual statements.

At the same time these same countries are also wringing their hands at the murder and mayhem that has been going on before their very eyes in Syria for the last 18 months. Any action by them to halt the slaughter there – short of military intervention – is apparently beyond contemplation.

These countries can now only sit helplessly by and pray that there will be sufficient defections from the Assad regime to make his continuing grip on power untenable.

Iran, Russia and China – and the Alawite ruling minority – however have different ideas. The end of bloodbath is nowhere in sight.

Faced with this humanitarian tragedy in Syria – Australia and those other countries seeking the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority  need to seriously reflect on the responsibility they will ultimately have to bear should violence shatter the present relative calm and lead to a strong military response by Israel in the West Bank or Gaza.

They should give serious consideration to implementing some of the following measures to try and get Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table immediately:



1.      America could offer to pardon Israeli-American spy Jonathan Pollard after being imprisoned for the last 27 years – in return for Israel agreeing to a limited  moratorium on building in the West Bank.


Pollard has renounced his United States citizenship and is now an Israeli citizen. He would be deported to Israel if he were released from prison.


President Obama has been opposed to such a move – but the deteriorating situation in Syria and the continuing stalemate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could be the catalysts for the President changing his mind – not to mention the boost that such a decision would give to his chances of  re-election in November.


An offer to release Pollard would prove virtually impossible for Israel to refuse.


2.    Australia and the European Union Member States could withhold any further funding to Israeli based non-government organisations financially assisting the 5% of the Palestinian Arabs who presently live in Area C – some 60% of the West Bank.


Much of this money has gone to fund illegal Arab building activity in Area C. Israel is acting through the Courts to end such illegal building  and there is growing confrontation between the civil administration and the Arab residents,


Keeping the money flowing at least for humanitarian – if not building – purposes could be an incentive to the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table.


3.    Some EU member states have  formed an interest group to advocate a change in Israeli policy in Area C including Germany, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden and the EU Commission. These countries could  indicate they will not pursue their agenda whilst the Palestinian Authority remains absent from the negotiating table.


4.     Withdrawing all diplomatic and financial support should the Palestinian Authority continue to pursue its quest to be recognized as a non-member observer state at the United Nations in September in breach of its agreement to not take such unilateral action.


5.     Cutting funding to the Palestinian Authority for use in Areas A and B where the remaining 95% of the West Bank Arab population reside.


6.    Those 87 countries that did not vote to admit Palestine as a member State of UNESCO could begin a diplomatic campaign to terminate Palestine’s membership of UNESCO by securing a resolution requiring UNESCO to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice as to the legality and constitutionality of the decision to admit Palestine as a member state of UNESCO.


Whether any of these suggestions will have the desired effect of convincing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations can only be determined once they have been put in motion.


The real question is – can the world afford to sit by and do nothing but utter platitudes such as those expressed by Australia’s Foreign Minister?


If that is all they continue to do – then the prospect of negotiations resuming again is bleak indeed.


The consequences and repercussions that could follow will bring home to the international community the folly of their inaction and the threat to human life their indecision helped incubate.


Another potential Syria with the world sitting by on the sidelines as the Israeli/Arab conflict spirals out of control – unable to do anything but call for a ceasefire that the international community is unable to enforce – is a horrible scenario.


It hopefully can be avoided – if the international community acts now

 David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


13 Responses to “Palestine – Don’t Repeat the Syrian Fiasco”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Australian politics is, unfortunately, more and more about where votes are likely to be and how best to mollify big business, than the reality of how aid money is used, or misused, and the days are long gone where decisions are made that incorporate any element of real humanity, morality or vision. I almost despair of this. It’s an ugly, banal age we’re living in, this twenty-first century, full of posturing, hypocrisy and pseudo-intellectualism. Bob Carr is obviously enjoying himself being seen to discuss important issues with world leaders, however he skates across the veneer of things and offers mere platitudes as responses. It’s a great shame.

    It will be interesting to see what Carr finally has to say about your discussion of funding illegal Arab building in the West Bank. Of course, to respond in any way adequately he, or the researcher he assigns to check the matter out, will have to face the nitty gritty of the matter – difficult, as nobody is much interested in doing that. I mean, doesn’t everyone simply assume that only Israelis build illegally in the West Bank and that all of the West Bank belongs to the Arabs? !

    • david says:


      Well of course there are double standards at play here – dominated by things such as petrodollars, oil and particularly in the case of Australia – a long sought after seat on the Security Council which requires the votes of the 57 Islamic states.

      If Australia is ever to enjoy the perks of membership of one of the world’s most ineffective organizations – as witness its total impotency in bringing a resolution to the slaughter in Syria – then turning a blind eye to illegal Arab building in the West Bank and pouring Australian taxpayers dollars down the drain in the process is apparently considered a small price to pay.

      I will be surprised if Senator Carr takes the time to answer my letter Let’s wait and see.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Thank you very much for your explanation of the Olympic Charter regarding inclusion of ‘Palestine’ as an independent state in the Olympic Games. I read your articles regarding the FIFA situation and, of course, it is both ludicrous and dangerous that fantasy and/or wishful thinking should take the place of rules drawn-up for administering an important international event. Congratulations on the extensive and excellent work you continue to do across the board, in an attempt to show-up what are sometimes glaring examples of bending rules or blatantly ignoring them.

    • david says:


      Thanks for your generous comments.

      What FIFA is doing is clearly unconstitutional. And so is UNESCO – as I have pointed out in many articles.

      Whether the UN can avoid the same trap come September remains to be seen.

      One thing is certain – whilst the UNESCO decision to admit Palestine as a member state last October stands untested in the International Court – the disbandment of UNRWA should heve been well on the way by now.

      Shake your head in disbelief that it has not started to happen – because that is all I can do.

      If the Palestinian Arabs legally achieved recognition of their statehood in UNESCO – how can any of them still claim to be stateless and entitled to claim benefits as refugees?

      Maybe Angus Houston and his Committee should be retained by UNRWA or the UN to produce a report on the current status of “Palestinian Arab refugees”.

      Those billions of dollars being thrown at Palestinian Arabs who could not possibly now qualify for assistance as stateless refugees could be better spent on genuine refugees who really do need help and support.

      Maybe Senator Carr could even commission such a report. Now that would be a bold gesture indeed. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for an announcement by our Foreign Minister.

      He seems more interested in not intervening to stop taxpayers money being poured down a bottomless pit financing illegal Arab building activity in the West Bank.

      I wrote to the Foreign Minister on 24 July concerning the funding of such illegal buildings. Unlike the Olympic Committee – he has yet to reply.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    It’s important to acknowledge that ‘Palestine’ has only ever been a territory governed by various aggressors since the Roman occupation and the killing and dispersal of the Jews. (It is not yet a country and never has been a country.) The Romans replaced the name Judea with that of Palestina around the second century AD. While there’s hardly room for a full history lesson via J-Wire notices, you could perhaps do well to research what is a considerably more complex situation that your simplistic, and black and white, references to Palestinians and the ‘coloniser’ Israel. The modern State of Israel is in fact a home coming of the Jewish people, added to a population of Jews who already lived in the area. There have always been Jews and Arabs living in the area. However, the fact remains that the people you refer to as Palestinians have in the past been a large part of Jordan’s population. In the 1970s there was actually civil war between the ‘Palestinians’ and Jordan, during which time King Hussein requested Israel’s assistance to contend with it. The Palestinians have designs on Jordan as well. Perhaps you are not rewriting history, but you are twisting facts and need to be more fully informed.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    Carr has gone, quite often actually, beyond the platitudes he enjoys so much. Carr and his people have been participating quite actively in supporting the palestinians in their :quest” for a comfortable status quo, one which sees and treats palestinians as perennial victims worthy – of course – of generous assistance, one that, if legitimate State staus achieved will have to cease, thus forcing the same parasite/terrorist entity to do a bit of honest work for living for a change.

    Carr is incredibly irrelevant in the entire peace process – whatever that means -. He may have, however, some long term plans for his private life/ego. Considering that in less than 16 months he will be political history, a cute comfy UN post/title would be nice…..
    Noticed how, in certain situations, Mrs. Carr herself is sitting at the official talks table !!?? Howzat !!!

  5. david says:

    To Liat

    I endeavoured to get to the bottom of this anomaly in correspondence I had with the IOC in 2010.

    The response I received was as follows:

    “You are right in saying that Rule 31 of the Olympic Charter states: ‘In the Olympic Charter, the expression ‘country’ means an independent State recognised by the International Community’.
    Please note however that before 1996, the date when the Rules of the Olympic Charter regarding the recognition of new NOCs were amended, there were some NOCs which had been recognised as territories not enjoying the status of an independent State recognised by the international community. This would be no longer possible under the Rules of the Olympic Charter currently in force.”

    The Palestine Olympic Committee (POC) had apparently became a member of the IOC in 1993.

    The POC could not have become a member had it applied after 1996.

    The further view expressed by the IOC was that “.the modification of the rule that was introduced in 1996 did not apply retroactively.”

    That is the IOC view. It has been consistently applied.

    Hope this helps clarify the issue for you.

    So the POC and a number of other Committees such as Guam, the Cook Islands and the British Virgin Islands still continue to remain as members of the IOC having been admitted prior to 1996.

    You might find it interesting to see how FIFA deals with the issue of Palestine by reading the following two articles written by me on the subject :

  6. Liat Nagar says:

    The world will continue to express empty, ineffectual platitudes, such as Bob Carr’s. A question here: what actually motivates ‘the International Community’?
    Another question, separate from the content of your comprehensive discussion on ‘Palestine’: I was astonished to see Palestine as a country represented at the 2012 Olympic Games. Not that I begrudge any athlete participation generally speaking. However, how does Palestine make it as a country when it actually isn’t one?

    • Shirlee says:

      My sentiments exactly Liat.

      I was floored when I heard them announce the country of “Palestine” in the opening ceremony and equally as floored when I saw a contestant.

      • Ben says:

        Well There was Palestine before it was colonised and there is the PA holding empty power in a country being annexed by Israel. Well let me leave that for a while, Israel can continue this only so long as the US supplies funds, weapons and UN vetos. But the Us has suffered a trillion dollar loss in two unwinnable wars and is now turning its attention to the Pacific rim to surround China with arms. It cannot afford to fund and support Israel indefinitely, and Israel will have the millstone of extended territories and a unproductive occupation force around its neck. No amount of rhetoric can make that vanish.

        • Shirlee says:


          Read some history of the area.


          Item 3

          The book totally contradicts any post-modern theory claiming a “Palestinian heritage,” or Palestinian nation. The book strengthens the connection, relevance, pertinence, kinship of the Land of Israel to the Jews and the absolute lack of belonging to the Arabs, who robbed the Latin name Palestina and took it as their own.

          • Ben says:

            Hello Shirlee

            You forgot to mention Joan Peter’s From Time Immemorial. As I said, all re-writing of history and expansion of settlements – for a land without people, they are having to kill a lot of people to colonise it – will work only as long as the US is powerful and supports Israel with money, weapons and UN vetos. The US has already spent over a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is under enormous load of debt and economic recession. In a few years time, its power will be only a faint shawdow of itself. ANd Israel will have to arm and finance its enrmous and unperoductive machhinery of occupation over an expanded territory.

            No amount of historical re-writing can change facts on the ground.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          I assumed all this time that Ben is Muslim. As such, one would not expect him to be drunk. Yet the above text belongs to someone heavily inebriated. I may be wrong ,in which case “Ben” is not simply drunk but, most definitely, then, in the business of carting marbles and, on the way to the JWire web-site, his cart overturned and Ben lost his load of marbles.

          Sorry Ben, you’ve burnt your bridges here so, if pitty is what you are begging for, read my lips, you got gurnisht from us !

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