Will the real Palestine please stand up?
Despite having control of Gaza and parts of the West Bank, the Palestinian Arabs seem unable to govern themselves, preferring instead to demonise Israel. But demonising the enemy is not the same as nation-building. With each passing year, they lose more and more ground (literally) and yet seem incapable – or unwilling – to stop the rot.
The notion of a distinctive Palestinian people has gained a lot of traction since the 1960s. The PLO has readily admitted that Palestinian nationalism is a faux ethnicity designed to juxtapose and undermine Jewish claims to the land of Israel. In an interview with a Dutch newspaper in 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said: "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity.” This is why some people refer to the Palestinian Arabs as "Pseudostinians."
It is well documented that many of the Palestinian Arabs who fled in 1947 and 1948 were recent economic migrants to the Holy Land. Even the UN, which is no friend of Israel, has acknowledged that many had only lived in Israel/Palestine for two years prior to Jewish independence.
The Palestinians declared independence in 1988, and in 2011 formally submitted a request to join the United Nations as a full member state. Following the 1993 Oslo accords, the Palestinians were given full control over 55% of the West Bank population and administrative control over a further 41% of the population. Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005 but still supplies electricity to the enclave and provides massive amounts of aid to the Gazans. The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied because the Jewish state does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip. However, because of Hamas’ refusal to make peace with the Jewish state and the repeated rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, Israel controls Gaza Strip's airspace and territorial waters. In effect, Gaza is a failed state and should be annexed by Egypt.
The situation in the West Bank – or Judea and Samaria – is more complicated. There has been no sovereign power over the territory since the days of the British mandate. The legal status of the West Bank has been in limbo since the Arabs rejected the 1947 partition plan. In 1948, the Jordanians invaded the territory and dispossessed the Jewish communities and destroyed their holy sites. Jews were forbidden to worship at the Western Wall until Israel’s victory in the 1967 war. Instead of formally annexing the territory in 1967, the Israelis left the final settlement of the land undecided. The West Bank is technically unclaimed land and should be referred to as “disputed” territory and not “occupied” territory. The Balfour Declaration intended for the Jewish people settle what is now Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. The appeasement of the Arabs led to the creation of Transjordan (modern-day Jordan). The land on the west side of the Jordan River was further divided in the hope of creating two states – one for Jews, the other for Arabs.
If the Arabs had accepted the UN partition plan of 1947, the Palestinian Arabs would have had as their homeland the West Bank and parts of current-day Israel. Instead they appealed to Arab armies to invade tiny Israel. And had Yasser Arafat accepted the Camp David agreement of 2000 they would have had nearly the entire West Bank, plus East Jerusalem as their capital. Instead they resorted to terror tactics. Eight years later, the Israelis presented a comprehensive plan to annex the major Israeli settlements and give equivalent Israeli territory to the Palestinians. The Palestinians would have been given 97% of the West Bank and been given East Jerusalem. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas turned it down. The Palestinians are, in the words of Milton, “with blindness internal struck”.
Instead of agreeing to any of these proposals, the Palestinian leaders have carried out - or sponsored - terror attacks against Israeli civilians. They have repeatedly called for the destruction of the Jewish state and have manipulated Western guilt over the Holocaust by casting themselves as the ‘new Jews’ who deserve sympathy and foreign aid. Palestinian textbooks espouse anti-Semitism and claim that the only ancient inhabitants of Israel were Arabs. Hamas, which rules Gaza, acts as a proxy for Iran and is responsible for rocket attacks in southern Israel.
If this is how the Palestinians behave now, what would they be like if they had all the trappings of a state, including an army and secret service? Many Israelis fear that a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be a launching pad for the destruction of Israel and would serve as a base for terror groups. Israel would no longer have control of the Jordan valley, which serves as a natural defensive border against hostile Arab regimes. Moreover, a Palestinian state would leave Israel with a ‘narrow waist’ of only nine or ten miles, which means the Jewish state could easily be cut in two by Arab armies. The Palestinian leadership has also said it would implement a policy to make the West Bank Judenrein(Jew free).
All this presents a dilemma for Israel and its supporters. On the one hand, we assert the belief that Palestinian rejectionism is to blame for the ongoing crisis. On the other, we understand the dangers of a Palestinian state on the West Bank.
There are three main reasons why the two-state concept should be dropped
1. The Palestinian Authority, operating under the absurd belief that the State of Israel will soon be dismantled, has so far rejected every offer of an independent homeland.
2. A Palestinian state on the West Bank would constitute a very real threat to Israel’s security.
3. The Jewish people have always had a strong emotional, spiritual and physical connection to Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian state would be Judenrein.
So what is the solution?
The claim by the Palestinians to be a nation without a land is a sham. The Palestinian Arabs were given their own state in the early 1920s. The name of that state? Transjordan, i.e. modern-day Jordan.
A quick history lesson
· Until 1917, the Ottoman Empire occupied vast swathes of the Middle East. After losing in World War 1, the Ottomans relinquished their 500-year control to the Allies, who decided to divide the empire into countries. British foreign minister, Lord Balfour, recognised the Jewish people’s historical right to their homeland. In 1917, a small area, about 0.5% of the Middle East, was designated for this purpose. The original plan was for the Jews to settle both sides of the river Jordan.
· The UK received a mandate from the League of Nations to establish a Jewish homeland, but in 1923 the British partitioned the land to appease the Arabs. The east side of the Jordan River became Transjordan.
· The Palestine Liberation Organization has declared Jordan a part of Palestine. When the Palestine National Council met in early 1971, they asserted: "What links Jordan to Palestine is a national bond and a national unity formed, since time immemorial, by history and culture. The establishment of one political entity in Transjordan and another in Palestine is illegal." In 1965, the king of Jordan said, “Palestine has become Jordan, and Jordan Palestine."
· Around 70% of the population in Jordan is Palestinian.
· The Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank are not ethnically or culturally different from the Palestinian Arabs living in Jordan.
· According to Jordanian writer Mudar Zahran, “despite decades of official imposition of a Bedouin image on the country, and even Bedouin accents on state television, the Palestinian identity is still the most dominant—to the point where the Jordanian capital, Amman, is the largest and most populated, Palestinian city anywhere. Palestinians view it as a symbol of their economic success and ability to excel.”
What is particularly strange about the situation in Jordan is that the Palestinian majority is discriminated against by the ruling Hashemite dynasty, which favours the Bedouin minority. The US and Europe have been silent about this because it does not want the Western friendly Hashemites removed from power. Jordanian writer Mudar Zahran believes it is “historically perplexing” that the West is loath to ask the Hashemites to leave a country “to which they are alien”.
Removing the Hashemites and developing democratic institutions in Jordan would greatly benefit the Palestinian majority. Once the groundwork for democracy is laid down, the Palestinian majority would, by right, have the greatest say in how the country is governed. No longer would be they be discriminated against by the Bedouin minority.
Developing Jordan as the Palestinian state par excellence would allow Israel to unilaterally annex the Judea and Samaria (thereby retaining control of the strategically important Jordan Valley), and give the Palestinian Arabs the option of either swearing an oath of allegiance to the Jewish state or giving them Jordanian citizenship. Those Palestinians that wish to leave the West Bank would be free to move to the original Palestinian state – Jordan.
The ‘Jordan-is-Palestine’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is unlikely to happen any time soon. Israel is in a state of inertia regarding Judea and Samaria, and the Hashemites are bound to resist a political solution which involves their removal.
But the two-state solution is obviously dead. Even many Palestinian Arabs have come to the same conclusion. Even if a Palestinian state was established on the West Bank, it would effectively mean they have four states: the West Bank, Jordan, Gaza and Israel, which is home to more than 1.5 million Arabs.
This is plainly unfair to the Israelis who are begrudged even one state. Establishing another Palestinian state on West Bank would leave Israel virtually indefensible. Moreover, a Palestinian state on the west side of the Jordan would result in the ethnic cleansing of the Jews already living there.
The only solution, then, is for Israel, the US and Europe to press for a Palestinian state on the east bank of the Jordan River. The Palestinian myth of a 'right to return' to Eretz Israel needs to be debunked in the process. Refugees would have to accept Jordan as their country. This would ensure (a) Israel’s security, (b) enable the Palestinians to integrate among their fellow Arabs and (c) provide the Palestinians with an economic, political and cultural base.
Western Palestine = Israel
Eastern Palestine = Jordan