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Shalom Achshav: Israel Should Welcome UN Vote on Palestinian Initiative

Bibi_Say_Yes_Sign.jpg...the correct line of public diplomacy for Israel is to warmly embrace the idea of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel and welcoming the UN vote. The Palestinian bid should be seen as an Israeli achievement because affirmation of its contents would be a de facto historic recognition of the borders of Israel and negation of the historic Palestinian aspiration to wipe Israel off the map."
So wrote APN's sister organization Shalom Achshav --the Israeli Peace Now Movement -- in a letter it sent today to Israel's Foreign Minister and Minister of Information.  Shalom Achshav also sent suggested talking points for Israeli government officials to use in their efforts around the UN initiative.  A pdf of the letter and the talking points is available here and copied below.

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To:

Avigdor Lieberman                    Yoel Edelstein
Foreign Minister                         Minister of Information and Diaspora

November 26, 2012

Dear Sirs,

Public diplomacy material for your use ahead of U.N. vote on Palestinian state

Ahead of the Palestinian bid to the UN General Assembly to receive the status of a nonmember state, we hereby send you important public diplomacy material that can help raise Israel's international status.

We all agree that Israel, like the vast majority of its people, is a peace-seeking nation, which is not interested in the continued conflict or ruling over another people and hopes for the day that we can live in peace with our neighbors. The UN vote is an important opportunity to emphasize this message to the world and present Israel as it is, a peace-seeking nation, and not as the warmongering nation it is sometimes portrayed to be.

Therefore, the correct line of public diplomacy for Israel is to warmly embrace the idea of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel and welcoming the UN vote. The Palestinian bid should be seen as an Israeli achievement because affirmation of its contents would be a de facto historic recognition of the borders of Israel and negation of the historic Palestinian aspiration to wipe Israel off the map.

For your convenience we hereby attach recommended "talking points," which can be distributed to Israeli delegations in the world and used to help raise Israel's international standing.

It is important to point out that according to the situation in the UN, the proposition is expected to be accepted by a large majority anyway (and in this case the US cannot cast a veto). If Israel chooses to oppose the proposition, it will find itself isolated, with the message received in the world being that Israel rejects a two state solution and does not want peace. That is a very dangerous message that must be prevented.

Even if Israel decides not to support the Palestinian resolution, the damage can still be minimized if instead of voting against it, Israel abstains. In any case, it is still important to emphasize that the move is in line with Israel's position.


Sincerely,

Hagit Ofran
Deputy Secretary General, Peace Now

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Talking points about the Palestinian appeal to the UN
 For the use of Israeli delegations in the world

The Palestinian appeal to the UN should be presented as a major Israeli achievement. The Government of Israel has called and continues to call for a two-state solution based on negotiations, and this resolution adopts the approach of the Government of Israel. Likewise, the resolution indicates Palestinian renunciation of the desire to take over the entire historic Land of Israel and grants international recognition, for the first time in history, to the borders of Israel and to Jerusalem as its capital.

Following are several messages for emphasis as part of public diplomacy on this issue:

•    Israel and its people are peace-loving. We do not want to continue the conflict that was forced upon us, we are not interested in ruling another people and we hope for the day we can live in peace with our neighbors.

•    A solution of two states for two peoples is the desirable solution for Israel. The position of the Israeli government and its international undertakings is that the conflict will end with the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. We can use this fine quote from Prime Minister Netanyahu in his Bar Ilan speech:
"We do not want to rule them, to manage their lives or to force our flag or our culture on them. In my vision of peace, two free nations live in this small country of ours side-by-side, with good neighborly relationships and mutual respect. Each has its own flag, its own anthem and its own government. And neither threatens the security and existence of its neighbor."

•    The UN resolution says specifically that the core issues will be decided by negotiation. The motion submitted by the Palestinians says clearly that the borders of the Palestinian state, as well as the other core issues, will be determined in negotiations between the sides. The Government of Israel has called and continues to call for negotiations with the Palestinians for a two state agreement. Here we can quote from the Palestinian motion:
"The General Assembly Expresses the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations [...] for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinians and the Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues."

•    The move is in keeping with the spirit of the Oslo Accords and all other international agreements. The Palestinian bid to the UN is merely a declarative move, which leaves all the details of the final settlement to negotiations between the sides. Therefore, it is in keeping with the spirit of the Oslo Accords, which say specifically that the final status and establishment of the Palestinian state will be agreed in negotiations between the sides.

•    The UN resolution equals recognition, for the first time in history, of Israel's borders. Since Israel was founded in 1948, its borders have not been recognized by the world, which recognizes only the borders of the partition plan. The motion submitted by the Palestinians says specifically that the Palestinian state that will be recognized as a nonmember observer state would be "living side by side with Israel on the basis of the pre-1967 borders with delineation of borders to be determined in final status negotiations" so that in fact this amounts to historic recognition of Israel's borders.

•    The resolution recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians include in the resolution recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of two states, and the need to resolve the status of the city in negotiations.

•    The resolution is a historic renunciation by the Palestinians of the 1948 file and gives it an international seal of approval. The UN is about to recognize the Palestinians as a nonmember state on the basis of the 1967 borders with amendments decided in negotiations between the sides. This amounts to international recognition of the Palestinians' renunciation of all claims beyond the 1967 lines and their desire to wipe Israel off the map. In this context we might use a quote from the words of Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, who expressed his objection to the UN bid, stressing that it would amount to "an official seal confirming a waiver of the 1948 lands" (Al-Quds newspaper, November 25, 2012).

•    Adopting the Arab initiative. The resolution submitted by the Palestinians includes the adoption of the Arab League initiative in which 22 Arab states committed to make peace with Israel when an agreement of two states were reached. This adoption guarantees the support of the Arab countries for the move as well as a strategic change in the Middle East in favor of Israel.

•    The International Court of Justice. Israel is not afraid of the possibility of the Palestinians using their status as a nonmember state and filing claims against Israel to the International Court of Justice. Primarily because Israel is a state of law, which respects all international laws and treaties. Secondly, the Palestinians already submit various claims to the ICJ today against Israel through other countries. Furthermore, with the status of a nonmember state, the Palestinians could be exposed to claims by Israel or other parties, and if need be, Israel will consider resorting to the ICJ.