The International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians, in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Israeli Knesset, promotes dialogue, the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Its membership includes legislators from across the globe, acting to support Israel and promote “enduring peace in the Middle East.” To foster its Jerusalem originated resolution to bring international attention, “express concerns” and mobilize public awareness regarding dangers of the Palestinian Authority’s anticipated attempt to seek a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), ICJP members are meeting with leaders of the international diplomatic community in New York and Washington, DC, to discuss the issue and emphasize the importance of, and need for, direct negotiations to create “Two States for Two Peoples.”
“It is” Canadian legislator Professor Irwin Cotler told the Algemeiner, “ urgently necessary to oppose the UDI – which will serve only to undermine the peace process and is an assault on international law, the United Nations, the Palestinian people and Israel. Bringing such a resolution to the UN prejudices Palestinian rights.”
“President Obama has registered opposition to the UDI,” says Cotler, and has said “a negotiated solution is the only responsible path. The UDI is dangerous, and is opposed by Steven Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, the Secretary General of the Arab League, and even the Hamas leadership, each of whom have referred to the proposal as a ‘shame.’”
The unwillingness of Mahmud Abbas to enter direct negotiations with Israel appears to indicate that the (currently) unelected president of the Palestinian Authority does not want to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders, says Cotler. His move towards the UDI is “an end run away from any obligations to try to get the UN to do what the PA cannot. Further, the UDI “would end up being in violation of existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian people, as well as with both the members of the Quartet and the EU.”
Cotler pointed out that there are more than 40 existing agreements in areas of security, commerce, and civil administration. “The PA would not only not secure an independent state, but it will put all existing agreements in jeopardy. Nothing good will come of it – just a lot of negative outcome, including the possibility of a third intifada, as a result of the artificial raising of expectations that cannot be realized.”
Asked by the Algemeiner how the efforts of the ICJP could affect the possible UN vote, Cotler spoke of the opportunity to have an exchange of views and correct misrepresentations promulgated by the PA. “European countries almost obliged to oppose the terms and conditions of the UDI that have been sent out. The PA does not have a democratically elected government, there is no rule of law or human rights established,” said the Canadian. Cotler says that the PA has “not exhibited conditions for statehood and has no effective lay leadership able to control terrorists.” Hamas does not recognize Israel – and is sworn to its destruction. Such an entity does not deserve entry and representation at the United Nations, noting that there have been no elections and no legitimate authority for 2 years.
The Canadian position is clear, he says: two states for two peoples, a status to be achieved only through direct negotiations. This position has been publically stated and conveyed directly to the Palestinian Authority. Canada has engaged with countries in Europe and Latin America to mobilize support for the two state solution and stand actively against UDI.
Also in New York for the ICJP meetings is Fiamma Nirstein, a member of the Italian Parliament. The Italian position, she says, is identical to that of Canada, reminding that Italy was the first European nation to declare against UDI. In recent meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Italian PM Berlusconi declared “You can count on us!” Nirenstein reminds that Italy has always taken a very special position vis a vis Israel among the members of the EU, having pulled out of “Durban II” and voted against the now discredited Goldstone Report. Italy, says Nirstein “is the best European friend of Israel.”
The work of the ICJP involves lobbying on Israel’s behalf and significantly more, including open discussion of issues and attempts to achieve consensus. It has encouraged several countries, including Russia, to move towards what Nirenstein termed a “better positive.” She lists Holland, Poland, and several eastern European states among those nations she anticipates will take a “good position” towards Israel, noting that the stance Britain may take remains in question.
Italy has made its position on Hamas clear. Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, has said that the Gaza based organization’s kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit “breached all international rules and shows the terrorist nature of Hamas,” continuing “EU countries cannot consider (Hamas) as a political interlocutor.” Despite Italy’s long standing relationship with the PA, (including the provision of significant financial support) in only two days’ time, 150 of the 600 members of the Italian Parliament, from across the political spectrum, signed on to a letter against UDI. This action, says Nirenstein shows that Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi “is in favor of a peace process, two states for two people, and no relationship with Hamas.”
Nirenstein voiced strong criticism of the PA, noting that it continues to honor terrorists by the “naming of squares” and teaching children to glorify their actions “not compatible with any civilized attitude.” The MP suggested that hate speech should be more seriously regarded, and “international laws, statements and conditions should be established.”