With both friends and enemies of Israel exercised over the latest incarnation of what we know as the “two-state solution,” it’s worth remembering that the very first such solution was enacted in infamy nearly a century ago.
In 1920, Great Britain was given the responsibility by the League of Nations to oversee the geographical territory known as Palestine, with the express intention of reconstituting within it a Jewish national home. The territory in question stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern boundary of Mandatory Palestine, a border that would separate it from what was to become the future British-created state of Iraq.
The League of Nations drew up a number of articles to this end, which were in line with the original intent of the Balfour Declaration of Nov. 29, 1917. At the last minute, however, a new article was introduced by the British Colonial Office: Article 25.
At first the sudden addition of this article was not cause for alarm, but gradually it became apparent that its inclusion directly enabled Great Britain in 1921 to tear away all the territory of geographical Palestine east of the River Jordan and give it to the Arab Hashemite family; the territory to become Transjordan, led by the emir Abdullah. That took place some 99 years ago.
Britain presented this gift to Abdullah, the son of the Sherif of Mecca, as a consolation prize for its awarding of the Hejaz territory and Arabia, which included Mecca, to the rival Saud family: That vast territory is now Saudi Arabia.
British officials also claimed that the gift was in gratitude to the Hashemites for their contribution in helping defeat the Turks. However, even T.S. Lawrence later described the Hashemite role in derisory terms, as “a side show of a side show.”
This then was the first partition of Palestine, and it created a brand new entity nearly a century ago covering some 35,000 square miles, or nearly four-fifths of the geographical territory of Palestine. Immediately, Jewish residence in the territory was forbidden and it became in effect Judenrein—the odious German term for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from a territory. In other words, their forced expulsion and death.
This betrayal, by none other than Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary at the time, was a devastating blow to the Jewish and Zionist leadership, which now saw the promised Jewish homeland reduced to the remaining narrow territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan—an area barely 50 miles across at its widest point.
Shortly after, in 1923, the British and French colonial powers also divided up the northern part of the Palestine Mandate. Britain stripped away the Golan Heights (ancient biblical Bashan) and in a squalid colonial deal gave it to French-occupied Syria.
The Balfour Declaration issued by Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, never envisaged that the Jordan River would be the eastern boundary of the reconstituted Jewish homeland. Indeed, the Zionist leadership had put forward in February 1919 its first submission that the eastern boundary would run well east of the Hejaz railway. The incorporation of the railway would be an economically essential requirement for the Jewish community living east of the River Jordan as well as providing it with vital security.
Much of the land east of the River Jordan was known as Gilead, the biblical Jewish homeland of three of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Manasseh, Gad and Reuben).
The squabbling by the French and British colonial powers over the final frontiers of the Palestine Mandate had earlier led the London Times to urge Paris to accept sensible and rational frontiers in both the north and east of Jewish Palestine. As early as Sept. 19, 1919, it had thundered in an editorial:
“The Jordan will not do as the eastern frontier of Palestine … Palestine must have a good military frontier east of Jordan … Our duty as Mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling state but one that is capable of vigorous and independent life.”
But Jewish aspirations were inevitably dashed as a new British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, took the place of Lord Balfour. This new British official made it clear within weeks of succeeding Balfour that Britain was intent upon separating Transjordan from Palestine: the first two-state solution.
The subsequent history of the remaining one-fifth of the original territory promised to the Jewish people by Lord Balfour and the British government was one of continuing British betrayal as each successive Mandatory administration displayed pro-Arab and anti-Jewish policies.
During its administration up until 1947, Britain severely restricted Jewish immigration and purchases of land while turning a blind eye to massive illegal Arab immigration into the territory from neighboring failed and stagnant Arab states. These illegal alien Arabs were, to a large extent, the originators of those Arabs today who call themselves Palestinians.
Britain’s sorry record of appeasement of the Arabs, at the expense of Jewish destiny in the remaining territory, culminated in the infamous 1939 White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration to just 75,000 souls for the next five years. This onerous and draconian policy, coming as it did on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, was a death blow to millions of Jews attempting to flee extermination by Nazi Germany.
Britain’s mismanagement of the Mandate finally led to the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947. The Jewish Agency reluctantly accepted this additional dismemberment of what was left of the promised Jewish national home in Mandatory Palestine.
They did this to provide a refuge for the surviving Jewish remnants of the Holocaust and for the growing numbers of Jewish refugees being driven out of their homes throughout the Arab world. In contrast, the Arab regimes rejected the Partition Plan. Then, as now, they worked against the existence of an independent Jewish state.
Israel was officially reconstituted as a sovereign nation in 1948 and its 600,000 Jews fought to survive the massive Arab onslaught, which was intended to wipe out the Jewish state.
In 1948, Transjordan, renamed the Kingdom of Jordan since 1946, joined the other Arab nations in invading the Jewish state, and illegally annexed the biblical and ancestral Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria, renaming it the “West Bank.” Only Britain and Pakistan recognized the annexation.
The war ended in tortuous armistice lines resulting in an Israeli border a mere nine miles wide at the most densely populated area, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordanian-occupied West Bank. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban described these dangerously vulnerable armistice lines as the “Auschwitz borders.”
Nineteen years later, the Arab states declared again their imminent intention to destroy Israel. In the June 1967 Six-Day War Israel liberated Judea and Samaria from Jordan in a defensive war. Israel then foolishly offered to give away the newly liberated “West Bank” to the Hashemite regime in Jordan and the Gaza Strip to its erstwhile Egyptian occupiers in return for a full and lasting peace.
But the Arab League, meeting in Khartoum in August 1967, delivered the infamous three nos: No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.
Since that time, it is within the narrow territory remaining for the Jewish state, if one includes Judea and Samaria, that the world has demanded the establishment of yet another Arab state. Hamas-controlled Gaza would be included in this future state, to be called Palestine; a state which has never existed before by that name in all of recorded history—certainly not as an independent Arab state.
Israeli leaders should never have withdrawn from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and should never have accepted even one missile fired from Gaza at its citizens in southern Israel. To let thousands fall with relative impunity for so many years has led the world to believe these attacks were acceptable. After all, if Israel wasn’t apparently that interested in safeguarding its own civilians, why then should the world be? It has thus been accepted as business as usual.
Hamas aggression from Gaza and Hezbollah violence from Lebanon resulted in Israeli responses which were regrettably launched by Israeli leaders too late and ended too soon, leaving both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon free to wreak future havoc upon the Jewish state, which they have done and do.
The disputed “West Bank,” and Gaza, which are the ancestral and biblical patrimony of Israel, are now the source of much hopes and fears in the new document titled, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” aka “the deal of the century.”
President Donald J. Trump is surely the most pro-Israeli U.S. president ever. He has led the world in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and has restored biblical Golan to Israeli sovereignty. But much of the Trump peace plan remains unclear and, perhaps, ambiguous. It stands, however, in marked contrast to the malign behavior of past U.S. secretaries of state, such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who were unambiguously pressuring Israel to give away to the Arabs most of the Jewish heartland and birthright. It was always Israel that had to take risks for peace!
It is instructive to remember that upon the granting of the Palestine Mandate to Great Britain, an eminent British celebrity and supporter of Zionism, Josiah Wedgwood, addressed a Jewish crowd of thousands at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he urged the audience to stand up for Jewish rights in its homeland. According to the late Shmuel Katz in his groundbreaking biography of the great Zionist leader Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, titled “The Lone Wolf,” Wedgwood said:
“This lesson I want the new Jewish nation to learn and to get by heart: Stand up for your rights. Let us have more of the spirit in the Jewish movement of my good and gallant friend Jabotinsky.”
Sadly, too many Israeli governments, especially those on the left, have become notoriously fearful of rejecting outright the deadly trap inherent in the so called “two-state solution.” Their muted responses merely encouraged world leaders to repeatedly breathe new life into the discredited plan. I have always feared that adopting any two-state solution could presage yet another Final Solution.
The fact is that though the endless Arab aggression may always appear to be a dispute over borders, in reality it is a religious war and the Arabs, so long as the overwhelming majority remain Muslim, will never accept the existence of a non-Muslim state in territory previously conquered in the name of Allah—whatever the size or shape of its borders. This is especially so of the fraudulent Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.
Muhammad Dahlan, speaking on behalf of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, once declared on P.A. TV that the P.A. will not recognize Israel—one of the primary demands made of the Palestinian Arabs in the failed and deeply discredited Oslo Peace Accords. Indeed, Dahlan admitted that the only reason they ever agree to meet with Israelis at all is in order to continue receiving the immense flow of international funds, which end up in the corrupt pockets of the crime bosses who run the P.A.
One wonders if those past secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, ever knew or even cared that the original “two-state solution” was enacted in infamy. If they did, it is unlikely that they cared—any more than did earlier U.S. administrations or State Departments.
And so now, armed with knowledge of past attempts at a “two-state solution” we watch in hope and trepidation the fate of “the deal of the century.”
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of the acclaimed four-volume work titled “Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish State.”