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January 13, 2010: For the Record

April 27, 2010

A dear friend has suggested that in the context of my discussion yesterday regarding the very erroneous impression that there is a Palestinian Arab “entitlement” to a state, it is important for me to provide basic facts once again — even though I’ve run this information before. And she is correct. 
Trusting that those of my readers who are already conversant with this information will understand, I proceed here. You may want to retain this material; anyone who wishes additional information is invited to contact me.
By way of background: When I speak of Palestine, I am referring to the area, approximately, of Greater Israel today, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.  With borders that shifted somewhat in different time periods, this roughly circumscribes what had been ancient Israel/Judea.  After the expulsion of Jews almost 2,000 years ago, the Romans re-named the area Palestina — anglicized as Palestine — to eradicate the Jewish connection to the land.  Over the centuries, the region was controlled by a substantial number of occupiers but was always treated as no more than an appendage to a larger empire or holding, administered by outsiders from elsewhere. From the end of the Second Jewish Commonwealth to the establishment of modern Israel, there was never a state known as Palestine.
As of 1922, this entire area was turned over to Great Britain by the League of Nations, for the Mandate for Palestine. Britain was mandated with promoting close Jewish settlement in this land, for purposes of establishment of a Jewish Homeland.  This has never been superseded in international law.  (The UN assumed the obligation of the League in its charter.)
A necessary component for the establishment of a state is a people. 
The Arabs who are known today as “Palestinians,” however, are not legitimately a people.  They have no distinct culture, language, or extended history.  In fact, the Palestinian Arabs who live in Gaza are culturally and linguistically more closely allied to the Egyptians than to the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria. There is no unified “peoplehood,” with which all identify. 
Some Palestinian Arabs give their first allegiance to the hamula, or extended clan. To further complicate the picture, Hamas, which is broadly supported in Gaza, is not a nationalist movement at all, but an Islamist movement that promotes an international Islamic Caliphate.
Until the middle of the twentieth century, those Arabs who lived in Palestine identified as part of the Arab nation or as part of Greater Syria.  NOT as Palestinians.  Palestinians were the Jews who lived in Palestine.
Many of the Arabs who lived in Palestine were actually recent arrivals, having come from neighboring Arab areas to secure work. Their roots were elsewhere, not in Palestine.  As Jews developed their state-in-the-making, job opportunities increased, and Arabs came.  Yes, certainly some had been in the area for extended periods, but the image that is painted of a whole people with roots in the land for millennia is false.  There is an enormous invented history that Palestinian Arabs have promoted to “prove” their ancient existence in the land.
Identification of Arabs in the area as “Palestinians” — subsequent to the founding of Israel, when the Jews became Israelis — was done for purely political purposes. This term served to cement the image that they were the original indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, while the Israelis were interlopers or “occupiers.”
This self-identification caught hold, so that the Arabs of what had been Palestine began to see themselves as “Palestinians” and the world began to perceive them this way.  Literally, a people invented, only decades ago. 
Note: From 1949, after the War of Independence, until 1967, Israel existed within the Green Line, with Gaza to the west and Judea and Samaria to the east.  Israel did not assume control of all of Palestine (even though the Mandate extended to the whole area) because the Jews had agreed to abide by a 1947 (non-binding) UN General Assembly recommendation that Palestine be partitioned for a Jewish state and an Arab state; the Arabs declined to accept their allocated portion. The resolution called for an “Arab” state within partitioned Palestine — there was no mention of a Palestinian state for a Palestinian people.
Sometime after the end of the War, Arabs who had remained inside of Israel were given citizenship.  Legally, Gaza — controlled by Egypt, and Judea and Samaria — controlled by Jordan, were unclaimed Mandate land, or contested land.  Arabs who had lived in these regions continued to do so.  In addition, many of those who fled from Israel during the war (and were termed “refugees”) now also lived there.  When international relief began for the refugees, some Arabs from neighboring areas moved in, as well, to benefit from the assistance.
Again, note: There was no talk of Egypt and Jordan turning over the regions they controlled so that it might become a Palestinian state for a Palestinian people.  Historically, as recently as 43 years ago, the notion of a Palestinian state for a Palestinian people was not remotely on the international radar screen.
In fact, UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the war in 1967 — when Israel gained control of Gaza, and Judea and Samaria — did not mention either a Palestinian people or a Palestinian state.  It was understood that Israel would be dealing with the existing Arab states.   
These rights have several bases, the first of which is ancient heritage. 
Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, form the core of the ancient Jewish presence in the land.  It is here that we find Hevron, with the Cave of the Patriarchs; ancient Shilo, where the Tabernacle rested; Beit El, where Jacob had his dream of the ladder; Shechem, where Avraham first entered the land and where Joseph’s Tomb sits.  In eastern Jerusalem is Har Habayit, where the Temples stood.
Outside the old city, Ir David (City of David) — the original Jerusalem, which is 3,000 years old.  In 3,000 years Jerusalem has never been the capital of any political entity other than Jewish.  It is the quintessential Jewish city.
This makes the Jewish claim to the land very strong. A people does not surrender its own heritage.
A note here:  The claim is often made that eastern Jerusalem and parts of Judea and Samaria are indigenously Arab, but this is fallacious.   It is exceedingly important that people understand that in 1949, when Jordan took over these areas, they were made Judenrein :  Areas where Jews had lived for centuries unending was suddenly forbidden to them, and the Arabs moved in.  (And Jordan destroyed synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.)
A second basis for Israeli rights to the land is physical presence.  Although most of the people were banished, there has been a continuing, unbrok
en Jewish presence in the land.  In Jerusalem, in modern times, Jews have represented the majority since the late 1800s.
Yet another basis is legal. I have already alluded to the Mandate for Palestine, which specified the land for a Jewish Homeland. 
This fact makes charges that we are “occupiers” in Judea and Samaria ridiculous.  Occupation takes place when the army of one sovereign state moves into the territory of another.  Judea and Samaria, however, are not part of a sovereign state, but rather represent part of the Mandate land promised to the Jews.  How, then, can it be said that Jews are “occupiers” there?
And there are other legal factors as well:
The Green Line, which is widely touted as the “proper” border of Israel, was never a border at all:  It was an armistice line from 1949.  When Israel signed the armistice agreement with Jordan, written into that agreement was a statement that the armistice line would not prejudice future negotiations on a border.  In light of this, it is amazing how so much of the world has come to see the ’67 line as Israel’s border.
UN SC Resolution 242, mentioned above, acknowledged that Israel required secure borders and that the Green Line would not comprise such a border — it was implicit in the wording of the resolution that Israel would remain in at least part of Judea and Samaria and not be required to pull back all the way.
Lastly, here, is the fact that Israel acquired control of Gaza, Judea and Samaria in a defensive war. This makes a significant difference and makes Israel’s case stronger.  It happens frequently that nations fighting defensive wars acquire territory and this is accepted: the case is made that to return to the original border would put the nation in a position that was not defensible.  Only in Israel’s case is this so overtly challenged.
The Muslim Arab world simply does not accept the presence of a Jewish state here. The land we sit on is considered by them to be Muslim land, which must be reclaimed.  Consider:
The Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded (by Egypt) in 1964, BEFORE Israel controlled Gaza, Judea and Samaria.  So, what was the PLO going to “liberate”?  Israel within the Green Line. 
Please note carefully: At that time, assurances were written into the PLO charter that there was no claim made on Egypt and Jordan that Gaza and Judea and Samaria should be turned over for a Palestinian state.  After Israel acquired these areas, then the PLO charter was changed, and the demand was made that Israeli give up the land for a Palestinian state.  The true interest was not in the state, but in weakening Israel.
Israel has fought several wars with her Arab neighbors who were intent on her destruction. After multiple defeats, the Arabs recognized that they would not be able to take down Israel in one fell swoop. And so an alternate plan (it is a written plan), called the Strategy of Stages, was put forth by the PLO.  It envisioned weakening Israel one stage at a time, through combined diplomacy and military action. A state on part of Palestine was seen as a stage, not a final goal.  It would provide a base for attacking Israel.
The Palestinian Arabs could have had their state already if this is what they truly wanted. But their demands are always maximalist, and they have turned down two stunning offers (for which we must be most grateful) — made by Barak when he was prime minister in 2000, and then by Olmert in 2009. 
The so-called refugees have been used as a weapon to weaken Israel, as well.  All other refugees in the world are settled as quickly as possible, even in a third country if necessary.  Only the Palestinian Arab refugees have been allowed to fester in a state of limbo for four generations now, because it is said that no solution for them is possible except “return” to Israel.  The goal is to move sufficient numbers of refugees into Israel to make a Muslim majority. This is why the PA won’t acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state.  If there were sincere desire to establish two states for two people, this would not be happening.  Logically, refugees would go to the new Palestinian Arab state.
Once Oslo Accords were signed, the Palestinian Authority devoted itself not to state building but to supporting terrorism and promoting incitement.  This itself is clear evidence of what the priorities are.  To this day the PA supports terrorism and promotes incitement, and it is still lacking the essential underpinnings necessary for a state.
To this day, as well, the charters of both the PLO and Fatah (the controlling party of the Palestinian Authority) call for Israel’s total destruction by violent resistance (terrorism).  This past summer, Fatah held its first convention in 20 years.  It voted NOT to remove the clause on violent resistance.  For Western consumption, the PA alludes to “occupation” as Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria.  In internal documents, “occupation” refers to any Israeli presence in the land.
The PA is not prepared to establish a stable state, never mind one remotely resembling a democracy.  Underpinnings are not in place.  It does not have a vibrant economy, as commerce is stifled severely by corruption and nepotism. (Mahmoud Abbas and his buddies are very rich.)  There is no adequate justice system, and precious little in the way of human rights. Its security forces, in spite of hype to the contrary, are not capable of taking on terrorism. The proposed constitution drawn up in preparation for a state calls for Sharia law, which is exceedingly repressive.  
Palestinian Arabs have received more international support per capita than any people in the world. They maintain  a perpetual welfare mentality, and would continue to hold their hands out for more support, and more, if they established a state.
There is vast likelihood that in due course Hamas would take over such a state, after the IDF (which does the real anti-terrorism work) was required to pull back. This serves the world ill, as it would provide a launching pad for terrorist attacks and further destabilize the area.
Does the world need establishment of a state such as this?  There would be no contribution of a positive nature. The notion that we have an obligation to foster founding of such a state boggles the mind.



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