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Alan Dershowitz


by ALAN DERSHOWITZ, posted October 3, 2011

If and when the General Assembly of the United Nations accords the Palestinians the status of a state, for at least some purposes, the question then arises, What kind of a state will it be?
We know what the Palestinian leadership is saying to the West; the Palestinian Authority claims that it will become a "secular, democratic state." Now let's look at what it's saying to its own people, who will, after all, be the ultimate decision makers if Palestine is indeed a democracy.
The draft constitution for the new state of Palestine declares that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine." It also states that Sharia law will be "the major source of legislation." It is ironic that the same Palestinian leadership that supports these concepts for Palestine refuses to acknowledge that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Israel, in contrast to the proposed Palestinian state, does not have an official state religion. Although it is a Jewish state, that description is not a religious one but rather a national one. It accords equal rights to Islam, Christianity and all other religions, as well as to atheists and agnostics.
According to statements by the Palestinian Authority leadership, the new Palestinian state would prohibit any Jews from being citizens, from owning land or from even living in the Muslim state of Palestine.
The Palestinian ambassador to the United States was asked during an interview whether "any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave." His answer: "Absolutely."
After much criticism, he tried to spin his remarks, saying that Jews who are "amid an occupation, who are in my land illegally" would be excluded. Whatever he meant, one thing is clear: Jews will never be welcome as equal citizens in an Islamic Palestine.
In contrast, Israel has more than 1 million Arab citizens, most of whom are Muslims. They are equal under the law, except that they need not serve in the Israeli Defense Forces.
The new Palestine will have the very "law of return" that it demands that Israel should give up. All Palestinians, no matter where they live and regardless of whether they have ever set foot in Palestine, will be welcome to the new state, while a Jew whose family has lived in Hebron for thousands of years will be excluded.
To summarize, the new Palestinian state will be a genuine apartheid state. It will practice religious and ethnic discrimination, will have one official religion and will base its laws on the precepts of that religion. (Imagine what the status of gays will be under Sharia law.)
It is noteworthy that the very people who complain most loudly about Israel's law of return and about its character as the nation-state of the Jewish people are silent when it comes to the new Palestinian state. Is it that these people expect more of Jews than they do of Muslims? If so, is that not a form of racism?
And what would the borders of a Palestinian state, as recognized by the General Assembly, look like? Were the Palestinians to get their way, they would get, as a starting point, all of the land occupied by Jordan prior to the 1967 war, in which Jordan attacked Israel. This return to the status quo that led to the Six-Day War is inconsistent with the intention of Security Council Resolution 242, which contemplated some territorial changes.
The new boundaries of this Palestinian state would also include Judaism's holiest place, the Western Wall. It would also include the access roads to Hebrew University, which Jordan used to close down this great institution of learning founded by the Jews nearly 100 years ago. The new Palestinian state would also incorporate the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, in which Jews have lived for 3,000 years, except for those periods of time during which they were expelled by force.
It is contemplated, of course, that Israel would regain these areas as part of a land swap with the Palestinians. But there is no certainty that the Palestinians would agree to a reasonable land swap. Palestinian leaders have already indicated that they would hold these important and sacred sites hostage to unreasonable demands. For example, the Western Wall covers only a few acres, but the Palestinian leadership has indicated that these acres are among the most valuable in the world, and in order for Israel to regain them, it would have to surrender thousands of acres.
An apartheid, Islamic, Judenrein Palestine based on the 1967 borders is a prescription for disaster. That is why a reasonable Palestinian state must be the outcome of negotiations with Israel, and not the result of a thoughtless vote by the United Nations.
Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School, is author of "The Trials of Zion."
This article first ran in the Jerusalem Post and New York Daily News
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