(June 30, 2020 / JNS) There are multiple rational, cogent and persuasive grounds why no one should be touting the idea of establishing an independent Arab “State of Palestine” in the area of Judea and Samaria, while there are good arguments for extending Israel’s law and administration to parts, or all, of Judea and Samaria.
Firstly, besides the very obvious security threat such a state proposes due to the topography involved, but also the sure probability that Hezbollah and radical Islamic forces and Iranian units would move in, as well as the subsequent erosion of Jordan (Black September will not be repeated), it would become a second such Arab state in Palestine—and that is patently unfair. The Arab Palestinian state of Jordan already exists, as stipulated in Article 25 of the Mandate for Palestine, “in the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined.”
That came about because Great Britain desired that its Mandate for Palestine to reconstitute the Jewish National Home would be geographically restricted to the area west of the Jordan River; it viewed the Zionist provisions as “inapplicable to the existing local conditions” in the Transjordan region, and so they would be postponed or their application withheld there.
England’s policy was a result of the Emir Abdullah’s incursion into Maan in November 1920—a prelude to a march on Damascus as part of a campaign to recover Syria for his brother, Emir Faisal. There he remained for three months awaiting the British reaction. They were worried that Abdullah might complicate Britain’s relations with France, not about any fictional and non-existent Arab Palestinian people.
After all, from the Balfour Declaration to the San Remo decision to the British Mandate, the people living in the area of Palestine were “non-Jews” and “Jews.” Arabs did not exist there as a people. To convince Faisal’s champion to abandon his bluffed intent to foment strife in Syria, Abdullah was offered to head a British-sponsored Transjordanian administration. On March 28, 1921, Abdullah, who had proceeded to Amman, met Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary, in Jerusalem and the deal to create a fictional Emirate was finalized.
It should be stressed that in his talks at the time with local Arab leaders, Churchill made his opinion clear that:
it is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated? We think it will be good for the world, good for the Jews and good for the British Empire. But we also think it will be good for the Arabs who dwell in Palestine, and we intend that it shall be good for them, and that they shall not be sufferers …
Abdullah, however, never ceased to seek control also over territories west of the River Jordan. In April 1950, his Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan illegally annexed what the text of the U.N.’s recommended partition plan of November 1947 called “Judea” and “Samaria,” and creatively renamed it the “West Bank.” Incidentally, if even tragically for him, he was assassinated by, as it turned out, a Palestinian Arab nationalist acting on behalf of the Grand Mufti al-Husseini.
Secondly, both in 1937 and later in 1947, the 25 percent area of “historic Palestine” that the British had left for the purpose of establishing the Jewish National Home was to be reduced further in various partition schemes. Those proposals were rejected by the Arabs. In fact, rejectionism was the standard diplomatic ploy for later negotiations, always started from the last element of their refusal.
Thirdly, the local Arabs never adopted any peace or compromise negotiating stance, but preferred murderous terror that began in 1920. It continued, almost uninterruptedly, through 1921, 1929, 1936-1939 during the Mandate years and after Israeli statehood; throughout the 1950s by the fedayeen; and by actions of the Egyptian Army and the Jordan National Guard. They have and will use any territorial base gained to continue that terror campaign, as we have seen with the results from the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
The 1964 PLO Covenant, moreover, completely rejected Jewish national identity, while on the other hand, excluding the area of Judea and Samaria from its “liberation struggle.” Its text considered Zionism to be “a colonialist movement in its inception, aggressive and expansionist in its goals, racist and segregationist in its configurations and fascist in its means and aims,” and it accepted that it “does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip.”
The fourth point why one should not agree to a Palestinian Arab state flows from the fact that peace is not their end goal; rather, it is the demise of Israel, a presence they do not accept as possessing rightful existence.
Since the failure of the PLO, with the assistance of other Arab states, to eradicate Israel and throw it into the sea in 1967, every effort by Israel to get the Arabs-called-Palestinians to accept a state in any form has been unsuccessful. It is as if they really do not want a state, but prefer that Jews lose their state. As Abba Eban declared in the United Nations:
From 1948 to this very day there has not been one statement by any Arab representative of a neighbouring Arab State indicating readiness to respect existing agreements or the permanent renunciation of force, to recognize Israel’s sovereign right of existence or to apply to Israel any of the central provisions of the United Nations Charter.
On June 19, 1967, Israel’s Cabinet accepted the principle of territorial withdrawal. But it was rejected. Furthermore, the September Khartoum Summit that year fixed the infamous “Three No’s”: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”
Despite this, there came forth from Israel the Allon Plan, Moshe Dayan’s functional arrangement, and in 1977, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin proposed an autonomy while acknowledging the legitimacy of rights for the Arab population. All these would have led to an Arab state of Palestine. So would the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Accords, Camp David II and the Olmert/Livni offers.
Yitzhak Rabin, however, was much more circumspect when in his Oct. 5, 1995 speech in the Knesset, he outlined his vision of peace whereby the
“State of Israel … will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate [that is, including most of Judea and Samaria—YM], and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank … united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev … security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley … the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Betar and other communities. … We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state … [and] The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria.”
But he was undermined by Israeli politicians Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and the Oslo Gang.
In 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the logical outcome of peace negotiations as “a demilitarized Palestinian state”, one that would not “become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza,” one that “must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people’ after “Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people.” He even accepted a 10-month construction moratorium of Jewish residential housing as a come-on. It did not work as all previous offers had failed.
It has been suggested, we should recall at this point, that:
“While all evidence suggests the authority isn’t fundamentally serious about statehood, U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank may help bring it to the table. It would show Palestinian leaders that turning down negotiations weakens their hand.”
There is no historical proof for that nor are there any indications that the future will be different than the past.
U.S. President Donald Trump, when tweeting out the plan on Jan. 28, wrote: This is what a future State of Palestine can look like.
The “can” is, for sure, conditional, as in “perhaps,” “maybe,” “possibly.”
It depends, foremost, on the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to commit to negotiations wherein they may not get all they want or demand. As at this time, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, last elected in January 2005, continues to refuse to negotiate, sticking to his “a thousand times no” and continues to make threats—empty or otherwise. In essence, from the 1968 “Three No’s” to the 2020 “One Thousand No’s,” Arabs of former Mandate Palestine are not interested in peace negotiations but weakening and ultimately eradicating Israel as the physical expression of a Jewish national identity. They will not compromise.
It should be made clear that one need not totally oppose a “Palestinian state” as that already exists: the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. What is to be opposed is a PLO/Hamas state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza that would empower terrorists whose agenda is to deny Jewish national identity and destroy Israel.
How best to prevent a State of Palestine that would represent a real and immediate security threat to Israel?
From all of the above, to embrace it. In the past, multiple times having done so, we have seen them refuse, reject and back away from such negotiations.
In a Hebrew-language interview, Kobi Eliraz—a former settlement adviser to four Ministers of Defense, specifically in charge of dealing with illegal Arab construction in Area C—came out forthrightly for accepting the Trump plan with all its dangers.
“Applying sovereignty,” he stressed, “might stop our weak approach to the P.A. takeover. Who wants the good of settlement, and the good of the area, must accept the plan, even if we cannot fix all the tactical issues that need improvement, some of which must be met at all costs.”
He continues, we “should grasp sovereignty with two hands and without delay. Those who live in a dream of sovereignty on a larger scale will be left with nothing. Maybe after sovereignty is applied we can apply proper governance.”
It is becoming apparent that the two-headed government of Israel is not centrifugal but a centripetal one, a political pushmi-pullyu contradiction. It is self-disintegrating. Time is running out. The opportunity is slipping though fingers. Talk is that there will be only a Phase I of a Plan in Stages (recalling the PLO’s efforts) with only Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim and perhaps Ariel included.
As Eliraz makes clear, “I am aware that there are also insufficiently finalized issues, such as movement, crossings, or the civilian status of Palestinians in the territory when sovereignty is applied to them. What would happen, for example, with family unification? And I still say: take the plan as a whole (and if not, at least to apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley).”
Will Israel embrace a future with sovereignty, or will it slowly but surely make the decision more difficult, if not impossible, in the very near future? Will it trust the P.A. to perform as it has historically (admittedly a gamble), or will it face a gamble on the results of the upcoming American presidential elections?
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and commentator.
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