The Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not erupt in 1967, nor in 1948.
In November 1917, the Balfour Declaration called for the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish People” in Palestine, which was the accepted international name of the Land of Israel since the fifth century BCE. The declaration, by the British foreign minister, stated that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities [Arabs] in Palestine.” The declaration acknowledged the ancient national Jewish roots in the Land of Israel (Palestine), and that Jews were indigenous in Palestine, returning to—not colonizing—their homeland.
In April 1920, the post-World War I San Remo Conference reaffirmed the Balfour Declaration and laid the legal foundation for the creation of 22 Arab states and one Jewish state. It was signed in the August 1920 Treaty of Sevres between the Allied Powers and the Ottoman Empire.
Arab terrorism erupted in Jerusalem, Jaffa and the Galilee in response to the emerging reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East, which is considered by Muslims as the abode of Islam, divinely ordained for believers and off-limits to “infidel” sovereignty.
In July 1922, the League of Nations entrusted Britain with the Mandate for Palestine, which was authored by the San Remo Conference and signed by all 51 members of the League. The Mandate highlighted “the historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine, and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The sole purpose of the Mandate was to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine, referring to the Land of Israel. The Mandate for Palestine has been included, since 1945, in Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, which preserves the inherent Jewish national rights in the Land of Israel.
In September 1922, the League of Nations and Britain transferred three-fourths of Palestine to the Hashemite Emirate of Transjordan, which gained independence in 1946.
In July 1937, intimidated by an unprecedented wave of intra-Arab and anti-Jewish Arab terrorism, the Peel (British) Commission recommended the partition of Palestine. The Commission proposed to reduce the area of the Jewish state to 18 percent of Palestine west of the Jordan River (parts of the coastal plain, the Galilee, Jezreel Valley and Beit Shean Valley), while establishing an Arab state over 75 percent of the area, in addition to an international zone between Jerusalem and Jaffa.
The plan was vehemently rejected by the Arabs, who intensified anti-Jewish terrorism.
In November 1947, the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine recommended the establishment of Jewish and Arab states, joined by economic union, with the Jerusalem-Bethlehem region as an international enclave. Once again, the Jewish side accepted the U.N. plan, but the Arabs rejected it and launched a campaign of terror, bolstered by the military forces of five Arab countries (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon). The Palestinian leadership—which collaborated with Nazi Germany and later on with the Soviet Bloc, Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein and North Korea—threatened to transform Palestine into a land soaked in blood and scorched by fire.
In 2020, the Western foreign policy establishment tends to accord much weight to peaceful Palestinian diplomatic talk, overlooking the centrality of the Palestinian walk.
In 2020, Western political correctness observes the Palestinian issue through an oversimplified prism of human rights, ignoring history and the well-documented Palestinian vision, as highlighted by the (pre-1967!) 1959 and 1964 Fatah and PLO annihilationist charters, Palestinian hate-education and well-documented Palestinian track record of intra-Arab and anti-Jewish terrorism (prior to 1967!), as well as their methodical rejection of all peace initiatives since the first part of the 20th century.
Will the Western foreign policy establishment overcome the temptation to persist in sacrificing complex, unpredictable, intolerant and frustrating Middle East reality on the altar of a make-believe Middle East coupled with well-intentioned eagerness to achieve peace now and in a convenient manner?
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.