Israel’s Prime Minister has accused the Palestinian President of “blatantly distorting known historical facts” about the Nakba and the 1948 war in an op-ed in the New York Times on 17 May. Benjamin Netanyahu refuted the article’s account of the events that followed the UN General Assembly 1947 partition plan; Mahmoud Abbas wrote that “Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.”
According to Netanyahu, “It was the Palestinians who rejected the [United Nations] partition plan for two states, while the Jewish leadership accepted it.” He said that the article, entitled “The Long Overdue Palestinian State”, was a sign “that the Palestinian leadership views the establishment of a Palestinian state as a way to continue the conflict with Israel rather than end it”.
In his article, Abbas stressed that the Palestinians have met all of the prerequisites for statehood listed in the Montevideo Convention, the 1933 treaty that sets out the rights and duties of nation states. He also said, “Negotiations remain our first option, but due to their failure we are now compelled to turn to the international community to assist us in preserving the opportunity for a peaceful and just end to the conflict.”
MEMO’s Senior Editor said that Netanyahu’s claim is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black: “The Israeli prime minister omits to say that the UN partition plan which, he boasts, ‘the Jewish leadership accepted’, proposed a corpus separatum for the city of Jerusalem to be run by an international body. Israel has ignored that inconvenient fact for decades.” For Netanyahu to make an issue of the nascent Israeli state accepting what the UN proposed, added Ibrahim Hewitt, illustrates his hypocrisy because not only has Israel ignored every other UN resolution in the intervening years since 1948, but the new state also gave an undertaking to abide by the UN Charter and allow the Palestinian refugees to return home prior to being admitted to UN membership. “On that basis alone, since the refugees are still in exile, 61 years later, Israel’s UN membership should be suspended immediately.”