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One of the most respected advocates of Israeli rejectionism, Yale Law professor and former government official Eugene Rostow, claims that he "helped produce" UN 242, and has repeatedly argued that it authorizes continued Israeli control over the territories. David Korn, former State Department office director for Israel and Arab-Israeli affairs, responded that "Professor Rostow may think he `helped produce' Resolution 242, but in fact he had little if anything to do with it." He was an "onlooker," like "many others who have claimed a hand in it." "It was U.S. policy at the time and for several years afterward," Korn continues, "that [any border] changes would be no more than minor." Korn confirms that "Both Mr. Goldberg and Secretary of State Dean Rusk told King Hussein that the United States would use its influence to obtain territorial compensation from Israel for any West Bank lands ceded by Jordan to Israel," and that Jordan's acquiescence was based on these promises. Rostow's evasive response contests none of these statements.31
The available evidence indicates that the US kept to the international consensus until February 1971, when it rejected the Jarring-Sadat initiative. US isolation increased in the mid-1970s as the consensus shifted to recognition of a Palestinian right of self-determination. Coincidentally, it was in that month that George Bush became part of the executive apparatus as UN Ambassador. A compliant bureaucrat, Bush has adhered to US rejectionism throughout, and gives no indication of any departure today.
Kissinger's policy of "stalemate" led directly to the 1973 war. Sadat's repeated warnings that he would go to war if the US and Israel blocked his diplomatic initiatives were dismissed during this period of US-Israeli triumphalism, on the assumption that "war is not the Arab's game," as explained by Israeli Arabist and former director of military intelligence General Yehoshaphat Harkabi (now a dove).32 On the same assumptions, the US rebuffed Sadat's offers to drop Soviet patronage and transform Egypt to a US client state.
The 1973 war shattered these illusions. It turned out to be a near thing, and Kissinger realized that policy must shift. The US then turned to the natural fall-back position, accepting Egypt as a US client and moving to exclude it from the conflict. This was the goal of Kissinger's "step-by-step" diplomacy, a process advanced by Sadat's 1977 trip to Jerusalem and consummated with the Camp David Israel-Egypt peace treaty, which returned the Sinai to Egypt and offered the Palestinians "autonomy" for an interim period.
The import of Camp David was evident at once.33 With the major Arab deterrent removed and a huge increase in US aid, Israel would be free to accelerate its takeover of the occupied territories and to invade Lebanon, which it had subjected to devastating bombardment and other attack for years, as part of its terrorist interaction with the PLO. In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon, killing several thousand people, driving out hundreds of thousands more, and placing the southern zone under the rule of a murderous client force. Israel remains in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 425 (March 1978) ordering it to withdraw from Lebanon immediately and unconditionally. In 1982 Israel invaded again after a year of Israeli terror attacks intended (in vain) to elicit a PLO response that would serve as a pretext for its plan to destroy the PLO as a political force and place Lebanon under Israeli suzerainty. Integration of the occupied territories meanwhile continued apace, with lavish US funding.
These consequences of US policies are sometimes called "ironic," a technical term that refers to predictable consequences of policy that blatantly contradict professed ideals. In Israel, again, the facts are frankly acknowledged. Strategic analyst Avner Yaniv writes that by removing Egypt from the conflict, the Camp David agreement left Israel "free to sustain military operations against the PLO in Lebanon as well as settlement activity on the West Bank." Expressing a broad consensus, he adds that the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was intended to "undermine the position of the moderates within [the PLO] ranks" and thus to block "the PLO `peace offensive'" and "to halt [the PLO's] rise to political respectability." It should be called "the war to safeguard the occupation of the West Bank," General Harkabi observed, having been motivated by Begin's "fear of the momentum of the peace process." The US backed Israel's aggression, presumably for the same reasons.34
Sadat's 1977 peace proposal was less acceptable from the US-Israel perspective than his 1971 offer, because it called for Palestinian self-determination. Nevertheless, Sadat is hailed as one of the grand figures of the age for his 1977 efforts, while the 1971 proposal has been excised from history. The reasons are those just reviewed. In 1971, the US backed Israel's rejection of his peace initiative; by 1977, Washington had agreed to accept Egypt as a client state. While dismissing Sadat's proposals, the US could proceed with its own rejectionist project, with Sadat playing his assigned role, thereby achieving heroic stature. As is often the case, history is a tale dictated by the powerful to their servants.
The US mediator at Camp David, Sol Linowitz, commented that Palestinians rejected "autonomy" because it would preclude authentic self-government. Prime Minister Menahem Begin favored the autonomy proposal, Times correspondent Sabra Chatrand added, "because the idea seemed to resolve the Palestinian issue while leaving Israel in fundamental control of West Bank and Gaza." Both Linowitz and the Times regard Palestinian discontent with this outcome as entirely unreasonable. It reveals only that Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," in the oft-repeated formula of Israeli diplomat Abba Eban.
Chatrand observes that "after years of conflict with Israel, uncounted deaths, and even more hardship, Palestinians have abandoned their earlier conditions" -- yet another demonstration of the "salutary efficacy" of terror. She also reports that the United States "tried and failed to get Israel to stop building Jewish settlements in the occupied territories," while vastly increasing US aid for their construction.35 The convention is that the US is a helpless victim, unable to influence the projects it lavishly funds, another "irony."
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31 Rostow, Korn, New Republic, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Nov. 25, 1991.
32 Kapeliouk, op. cit., 281. See my Peace in the Middle East? (Pantheon, 1974), chap. 4.
33 For an ongoing review, see Towards a New Cold War and my articles cited there.
34 Necessary Illusions, 174f., 276. See also Fateful Triangle and Pirates and Emperors.
35 Chartrand, NYT, Nov. 5, 1991.