Israeli-Palestinian core issues:
Ron Prosorís key messages to the United Nations

Published: 23 February 2012
Briefing Number 308



Click to Printclick here to print page

Summary: Ron Prosor is Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.  He strongly favours a two-state solution, but at the same time tirelessly explains Israel’s context and fundamental rights.  Prosor has delivered two recent speeches at the UN in which he has outlined his perspective on core issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  This Briefing contains his words on those core issues, accompanied by some links to related Beyond Images Briefings.  These are Prosor’s key messages:

Message 1: The Palestinian people have not internalised that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people

Message 2: The core obstacle to peace is not Israeli settlements, but the Palestinian claim of a ‘right of return’

Message 3: Third parties must tell the Palestinians hard truths about their attitudes

Message 4: A culture of incitement against Israel fills the West Bank and Gaza

Message 5: Getting talks started again is the only path to peace, but the Palestinians refuse to do so

Message 6: The future must be built through compromise, pragmatism and education

Beyond Images comment: Some might say – so what?  Surely we just need to press the parties to compromise. Does it really matter how to present the conflict?  The answer is, yes it does – a lot.  You cannot build peace until you have correctly identified the reasons for the absence of peace.  And that is what Prosor has aimed to do.  Ron Prosor’s presentation of the core issues  needs to be widely known and understood.  This Briefing is intended as a contribution to that process.
 

Background

In 2011 Ron Prosor became Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.  He was previously Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and before then Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. 

Here are verbatim extracts from two significant recent speeches which Prosor delivered at the United Nations:

- to the UN General Assembly on 29 November 2011, to mark the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan of 1947;

- to the UN Security Council, on 24 January 2012

In his speeches, Prosor addresses the Iranian crisis, and the political changes in the Arab world.  However, we concentrate in this Briefing on what Prosor said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Both his speeches can be accessed on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at www.mfa.co.il

Ron Prosor message 1: The Palestinian people have not internalised that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people

“The basic question underlying our conflict for 64 years has not changed. That question is: has the Arab world – and particularly the Palestinians – internalised that Israel is here to stay and will remain the nation-state of the Jewish people?  It is still unclear whether they are inspired by the promise of building a new [Palestinian] state, or the goal of destroying an existing [Jewish] one.

Two months ago, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority stood at the podium in this very hall and tried to erase the unbroken and unbreakable connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.  He said the following: “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).”

This was not an oversight.  It was not a slip of the tongue.  It was yet another deliberate attempt to deny or erase more than 3000 years of Jewish history.  The Arab leaders from those two nations that sought peace have offered a different message.  For example, in 1995, King Hussein came to the United States and said (quote): “For our part, we shall continue to work for the new dawn when the Children of Abraham and their descendants are living together in the birthplace of their three monotheistic religions”.  In 1977, President Sadat came to Israel’s Knesset and quoted this verse from the Koran: “We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes and in the books given to Moses, Jesus and the prophets from their lord”. 

President Sadat and King Hussein spoke of THREE monotheistic religions, not TWO.           

The resolution that gives the 29th November significance – General Assembly Resolution 181, which partitioned the land – speaks of the creation of a “Jewish state” no less than 25 times.  We still do not hear Palestinian leaders utter the term....”  

- from Ron Prosor’s speech to the General Assembly, 29 November 2011

Some related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 275 – 20 January 2011
Palestinian denial of Jewish history: An obstacle to peace and coexistence

Briefing 249 – 10 December 2009
The roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the ongoing Arab denial of Israel’s legitimacy

Ron Prosor message 2: The core obstacle to peace is not Israeli settlements but the Palestinian claim for a ‘right of return’....

“The primary obstacle to peace is not settlements.  The primary obstacle to peace is the so-called claim of return [more commonly referred to as the ‘Right of Return’ – Beyond Images]. Let me repeat: the major hurdle to peace is the Palestinians’ insistence on the so-called claim of return.

You will never hear Palestinian leaders say: “two states for two peoples”..... because today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state.  This would mean the destruction of Israel.

The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians will never be accepted.  The international community knows it.  The Palestinian leadership knows it.  But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it.  In a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last November, 90% of Palestinians said that they would not give up the “claim of return”.  This gap between their perception and reality is – and will remain – the major obstacle to peace.....”

- from Prosor’s UN Security Council address, 24 January 2012

Some related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 300 – 5 October 2011
Two states, but neither of them Jewish:
Palestinian moderate leader Nabil Sha’ath explains his “two state solution”

Briefing 298 – 9 September 2011
‘Israel’s settlements block peace.....’

Briefing 290 – 7 July 2011
The ‘right of return’ into Israel: No compromise by Palestinians

Briefing 283 – 13 May 2011
Where’s the Palestinian Arab self-criticism over 1948?..... by Shlomo Avineri

Briefing 34 – 24 October 2003
The Palestinian ‘right of return’

Ron Prosor message 3: Third parties must tell the Palestinians hard truths about their attitudes

“...... Since the Palestinian leadership refuses to tell them the Palestinians the truth, the international community has the responsibility to tell them the truth.  You have a responsibility to stand up and say that the so-called ‘claim of return’ is a non-starter.  Yet, many around this table [The UN Security Council] who never miss an opportunity to tell Israel what to do for peace – mumble, stutter and conveniently lose their voices when it comes to the time to tell the Palestinian people about the basic compromises which they will have to make for peace.....”

- from Ron Prosor’s address to the UN Security Council, 24 January 2012

At the UN General Assembly on 29 November 2011, Prosor had stated:

“For decades this body [the United Nations General Assembly] has rubberstamped nearly every Palestinian whim, no matter how counter-factual or counter-productive.  What has this accomplished?  The lip service of this body has only done a disservice to peace. 

True friends of the Palestinians have a responsibility to tell them the truth.  They will stop promoting the distorted version of history .... and start delivering the real lessons of history that the Palestinian leadership now refuses to heed. ....”   

- from Prosor’s speech to the UN General Assembly, 29 November 2011

Some related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 299 – 13 September 2011
Building an independent state: six steps the Palestinians still need to take
 
Briefing 288 – 24 June 2011
Recognising Israel as a Jewish state: why it’s a Palestinian self-interest, by an Israeli dove

Briefing 280 – 26 March 2011
“The international community must pressurise Israel more on settlements.....”: David Horovitz and Alan Dershowitz respond

Ron Prosor message 4: A culture of incitement against Israel fills the West Bank and Gaza.....           

“Incitement continues to fill the West Bank and Gaza, where the next generation of Palestinian children is being taught that suicide bombers are heroes, that Jews have no connection to the Holy Land, and that they must seek to annihilate the State of Israel.  From cradles to kindergarten classrooms; from the grounds of summer camps to the stands of football stadiums; from the names of public squares to public pronouncements of Palestinian leaders, these messages are everywhere....

.... Terrorists released under the Gilat Schalit prisoner exchange are being held up as role models for the next generation of Palestinian children.   Palestinian Authority TV broadcast President Abbas’ remarks to these released terrorists last October.  He said: “You are people of struggle and Jihad fighters for Allah and the homeland.... Your sacrifice and your effort and your actions were not in vain.....”  

- from Prosor’s speech to the UN General Assembly, 29 November 2011

And before the UN Security Council weeks later, Prosor added:

“The Palestinians’ refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state goes hand-in-hand with a culture of incitement in mosques school and media.  Day after day, children are taught to pursue violence – and to hate, vilify and dehumanise Israelis and Jews.

“Let me be clear.  I am not only talking about Hamas in Gaza – but also about the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, where you can’t turn a corner without seeing terrorists and terrorism glorified.

This month – on January 9th – Palestinian Authority television broadcast the proceedings of an event celebrating Fatah’s 47th anniversary.  It featured a sermon by the Palestinian Authority’s most senior religious leader – Mufti Muhammad Hussein – who presented the killing of Jews as a sacred goal of all Muslims.

His comments were deeply disturbing.  But what was even more disturbing is that no-one from the Palestinian leadership stood up and condemned his comments, denounced his actions or disassociated themselves from his message.  Their silence speaks volumes.....”

- from Prosor’s speech to the UN Security Council, 24 January 2012

Some related Beyond Images Briefings:

Briefing 292 – 22 July 2011
Palestinian incitement against Israel and its impact on peace prospects

Briefing 270 – 9 October 2010
Palestinian incitement against Israel: The goals of Palestinian Media Watch, and why this matters to peace

 
Ron Prosor message 5: Getting talks started again is the only path to peace, but the Palestinians refuse to do so

“The path to peace is clear.  The international community must tell the Palestinians unequivocally that unilateralism is a dead-end – and that direct negotiations are the only way forward. ..... It’s time to stop negotiating about negotiating.  It’s time to stop meeting about meeting. It’s time to stop talking about talking....

Yet, instead of taking steps towards peace with Israel, President Abbas continues to flirt with the dangers of unity with Hamas.  The Quartet has long applied three principles that Hamas must adopt to become a legitimate actor in the peace process. It must renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by prior Palestinian agreements.

The bar could not be set any lower. Yet, at no point has Hamas satisfied these three conditions – or indicated any intention to do so.  It says no to negotiation.  It says no to recognition of Israel.  And it continues to carry out violence against Israel, day after day.......”

- from Prosor’s speech to UN Security Council, 24 January 2012

 
Some related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 307 – 22 February 2012
The goals of Hamas’ leader in Gaza in 2012: No Israel.  No compromise. No end to “armed resistance”

Briefing 295 – 2 September 2011
Hamas leaders’ extremism, in 2011

Briefing 294 – 19 August 2011
“The Palestinians are entitled to a state. Why not support a UN declaration of statehood....?”     

Ron Prosor message 6: The future must be built through compromise, pragmatism and education for peace

“Sustainable peace must take root in homes, schools and media that teach tolerance and understanding so that it can grow in hearts and minds. It must come from a Palestinian leadership willing to tell its people about the difficult compromises that they will have to make for statehood.  It will come through the hard work of state-building, not the old habit of state-bashing.....

.... I call on each and every delegate in this hall to embrace pragmatic solutions, not automatic resolutions; to speak with candor, and not slander; to grapple with a new vision, and not old divisions.  I call on this General Assembly to glean truth from this historic day, nourishing the seeds of peace in our region that can blossom into a brighter future.....”
    
- From Prosor’s speech to the UN General Assembly, 29 November 2011

Some related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 266 – 29 July 2010
‘Happy Independence Day, Israel’.... from a Palestinian conflict resolution expert

Briefing 284 – 13 May 2011
Israel: a progressive cause by Robert Philpot

Briefing 263 – 19 July 2010
Support Israel: if it goes down, we all go down..... by Jose Maria Aznar