In the days and weeks following the horrific Negev massacre, it seemed as if the international community would finally allow Israel to take off its proverbial gloves and confront the Palestinian nationalist threat once and for all. But despite the parade of Western leaders coming to Israel to support Israel’s just campaign against Hamas and ISIS, too many international actors are still beholden to the two-state illusion.
Alongside President Biden’s impassioned speeches about his support for Israel and the US administration’s promise to provide all necessary military aid, the Biden administration continues to presume that in the aftermath of war, Israel will return to the path usual for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. regime in Ramallah. At the same time that Israel’s Western allies rightly provide all the diplomatic support necessary to ensure that Israel wins the war, they have actively worked to ensure that Israel “loses the peace” by agreeing to the creation of a Palestinian state which means nothing but disaster for Israel and the Jewish people.
President Biden, for example, clarified that “Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.” French President Macron visited Holocaust denier Abu Mazen in Ramallah, alongside his solidarity visit to Israel. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also visited Ramallah and repeated the hollow mantra of support for the two-state solution.
Even before the dust of war settles, Israel must make it clear to the world that after the terrible massacre we have experienced, all future political negotiations will take place within entirely new limits. This need is all the more acute in light of the Palestinian Authority’s despicable tacit support for Hamas’ war crimes, including providing financial rewards to the terrorists who carried out the massacre.
The time has come to completely deny the fictional Palestinian national narrative and call a spade a spade – the so-called “Palestinians” are only a small fraction of the Arabic-speaking Sunni Muslim world, they are not an ethnic or religious group distinct. , and in any case, the need to create a new political entity for them is not a national imperative but rather a demographic necessity. This critical distinction will expose the Palestinian national movement for the charade that it is – a tool designed to destroy Israel and remove all forms of sovereignty from the Jewish people. One of the Western leaders who has shown signs of recognizing this fundamental truth is the Austrian Chancellor who, in a conversation with Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, said that the song “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be liberated” would be considered incitement to murder in 2017. his country.
Israel should take note of the precedent set by its Eastern Mediterranean neighbor Greece and how it has addressed the issue of the Macedonian national movement which developed, like the PLO, under Soviet influence . As explained on the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairsthe issue arose in 1991 when “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” separated from Yugoslavia and declared independence as the “Republic of Macedonia”.
From the Greeks’ point of view, the very use of the name “Macedonia” was a red flag. According to Greece, the term comes from a Greek word and refers to the kingdom and civilization of the ancient Macedonians who belong to the Hellenic nation and constitute, as they say, “an indisputable part of the historical and cultural heritage of Greece “. . Geographically, as the Greek government explains, the term refers to a larger area that covers the current territory of various Balkan countries, most of which are located in Greece, while only other small parts are located on the territories of northern countries. Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania.
The issue first surfaced after World War II, when Marshal Tito separated from Serbia the area hitherto called Vardar Banovina (i.e. today’s Republic of North Macedonia), gave it the status of a federal component of the Yugoslav Republic and the name “People’s Republic of Macedonia”. At the same time, Tito began to cultivate the idea of a separate and distinct “Macedonian nation.”
According to Greece, these moves were aimed at establishing future territorial claims in the geographical area of “Greater Macedonia” and guaranteeing access to the Aegean Sea. Tito’s ambitions in the region were already confirmed in 1944 when he declared that his objective was to reunify “all parts of Macedonia dismantled in 1912 and 1913 by the Balkan imperialists”.
In response, the U.S. State Department sent a cable to U.S. foreign missions in December 1944, signed by Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, which stated, among other things, that:
“The United States government believes that references to a “Macedonian nation,” a “Macedonian motherland,” or a “Macedonian national consciousness” are unjustified demagoguery because they do not reflect any political reality. He detects the resurgence of a possible appearance hidden under aggressive plans against Greece.“
In this historical context, the Greeks explain, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia declared its independence in 1991 and justified its existence by the artificial concept (according to the Greek government) of the “Macedonian nation”.
Greece reacted strongly to “the usurpation of its historical and cultural heritage and the creeping territorial claims… of the then new country”, and the issue was taken to the UN Security Council. In the interest of peaceful and good-neighborly relations in the region, the Security Council adopted two resolutions (817 (1993) and 845 (1993)) which recommended finding an early solution to the name dispute and other problems. In 1993, following the recommendation of the Security Council and following the decision of the General Assembly, Greece accepted that its neighbor join the United Nations under the temporary name “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.
The crisis only ended in 2018, when the parties agreed that the country could be called “Republic of North Macedonia”. The agreement included details such as changing the names of airports and roads, agreements regarding the use of ancient Greek symbols and the fact that the modern North Macedonian language is not the language of ancient Greece and does not nor does it confer any affinity with ancient Greece. to clarify that the new state claims sovereignty only over “North Macedonia”, and does not claim sovereignty or attribute cultural affinity with the Greek region of Macedonia.
The final agreement further stipulates that both parties confirm the existing common border as an inviolable international border, emphasize their commitment to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the other party and undertake that Nothing in their constitution, as now in force, in force or to be amended in the future, may be construed or constitute a ground for interference in the internal affairs of the other party “in any form and for any reason.” reason whatsoever, including to protect the status and rights of any person who is not its citizen.” . It was also agreed to take measures to prohibit activities and propaganda likely to incite nationalism and hostility.
It was also agreed to create a joint committee of experts for historical, archaeological and educational issues, which will also examine the school’s textbooks and all reference materials and, among other things, remove content such as maps of “Great Macedonia”. .
North Macedonians never sent suicide bombers to blow up buses in Athens. There were never any North Macedonians who massacred Greek children in their beds. And there have never been North Macedonians sending terrorists to rape and pillage the Greek countryside. However, the Greek government had a minimum of respect for itself and knew where to draw the line with the international community and with its neighbors.
Unfortunately, Israel did not realize in time the existential threat posed by the Palestinian national movement, but it is better to wake up late than to continue sleeping on this issue. Until now, official Israeli policy has mainly focused on minimizing damage on the ground: demanding security control from the IDF in the West Bank, defensible borders, control of airspace, crossings, etc. The horrible massacre of October 7th was a sober reminder that what motivates terrorism is nationalist aspirations, and what will prevent terrorism is putting an end to these nationalist narratives once and for all.
In addition to ending the Palestinian nationalist narrative, Israel must insist that any entity established for Arabic-speaking Muslims in Judea, Samaria and Gaza can only be civil autonomy and must remain under full Israeli sovereignty. As I demonstrated in a recent article I co-wrote with my IDSF colleagues that it is perfectly accepted in international politics, including in Western democracies, for an entity to be under some form of “special sovereignty” of another country. As with the naming issue, Israel has recent international precedent for this request. In 2020, in President Donald Trump’s speech “Proclamation recognizing the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco over Western Sahara», the American president declared that:
“The United States affirms, as previous administrations have stated, its support for Morocco’s autonomy proposal as the sole basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the territory of Western Sahara. This is why, as of today, the United States recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara and reaffirms its support for Morocco’s serious, credible and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a solution. just and lasting dispute over the territory of Western Sahara. . The United States believes that an independent Sahrawi state is not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that true autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only possible solution.
Thus, Israel must begin demanding international recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and call on the Arab groups living there to accept an Israeli proposal for autonomy.
If the international community gave in when Morocco insisted on no longer granting autonomy to Western Sahara and when Greece insisted on forcing the sovereign If the Macedonian nation changes its name, the international community will also accept Israel’s position that the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza accept autonomy and abandon the invented Palestinian narrative. If it turns out that no partner on the other side will accept Israel’s new parameters, then they should not be given any geopolitical entity.
Av. Elie Kirshenbaum is an attorney in Israel and New York, has a private law practice, and is an international law researcher in the area of international dispute resolution.