In an address to the Dutch Parliament, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly recognized Israel’s right to exist, and now it is necessary for Israel to reciprocate by recognizing the Palestinian state, “on the borders of the land occupied [by the Israeli military] in 1967.”The call for recognition comes in advance of a unilateral declaration of statehood in the United Nations scheduled for September – although the Palestinian President indicated this week that the United Nations Declaration could be delayed if Israel agrees to talks.
Abbas also stated, ‘Our primary goal is peace negotiations with the Israeli side and I hope the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation succeed in their efforts to resume peace negotiations.’
The ‘1967 borders’ referenced by President Abbas constitute 27% of the original land of historic Palestine in two distinct, non-contiguous land masses: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Although some groups, like the Geneva Initiative, have proposed a two-state solution based on these borders and including a tunnel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel has thus far rejected the initiative.
Many Palestinians are also hesitant to agree to a state based on the 1967 borders, as such a state could negate the internationally-recognized right of return of the nearly 4 million Palestinian refugees, many of whom live in camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
Although the current Israeli government has included a stipulation that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” as a prerequisite to resuming negotiations, no previous administration has required this stipulation, which negates the rights of the 20% of Israel’s population who are non-Jews, and denies the Palestinian refugees their right to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
Although Israel was created in 1948 with a United Nations recommendation that Palestine be partitioned, with half of the land given to create a Jewish state, Israel has never accepted the borders recommended by the UN partition plan, and has continually encroached further onto Palestinian land since that time. In 1967, Israeli forces began a military occupation of all Palestinian areas in historic Palestine, and, since that time, have moved over 500,000 civilians into colonial settlements on what had been Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem.