The Legality of Israeli Settlements in Judea and Samaria – reclaiming the narrative

Reams have already been written about the “brazen flouting of international law” in the aftermath of Secretary of State Pompeo’s declaration that the United States no longer considered Israeli presence in Area C illegal.

There were expected comments from breathless opinion pieces in Ha’aretz about “…desperation in Ramallah…” to ever-reliable hyperbole from PA spokesman that the new US position is “void, unacceptable and condemned”, to the more nuanced but nevertheless predictably anti-Israel Amnesty International’s Phillippe Nassif’s statement that the USA and Israel deemed themselves to be above the law.

After letting the dust settle, a rational and reasoned look at the facts revealed the actual legal position in international law which finally prompted a correction by the US Secretary of State which also took into account the interminable reiteration about “Israeli occupied Palestinian land”.

In 1948, there was no “Palestinian land”. There was an illegal annexation of Gaza by Egypt and Judea by Jordan.

In 1966, there was no “Palestinian land” when Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied Jewish Judea.

In 1967, there was “Palestinian land” when three massive Arab armies lost yet another full scale war against a tiny sovereign Jewish state and where in that same year, a furious Arab League meeting in Khartoum, Egypt voted for “no peace,” “no negotiations” and “no recognition” of Israel.

Also in 1967, Israel took back Gaza and Judea AND the Golan Heights after inflicting a crushing defeat on Egypt, Jordan and Syria whose illegal attacks ignored all prior legal conventions of the Hague and the Geneva conventions to again visit violence on the Jews.

In 1968, the world was introduced to the genus of ancient Palestinians after a discovery of this hitherto undiscovered and indigenous nation in the Levant was first mooted in in an Arab League summit in Egypt in 1964 by PLO leader Arafat in his new attempts to delegitimise the existence of the State of Israel.

In 1970, the world saw the first of the Arab PLO plane terrorjackings in the name of the ancient Palestinian people.

1973 saw the first Arab OPEC economic terror unleashed on America and the West in the name of the disenfranchised Palestinians longing for their ancient lands now occupied by Jews. The OPEC economic terror was aimed as retribution for, and a warning of more to come to, all those European countries supporting Israel.

Europe got the message.

In 1970, for example, after a spate of PLO attacks against Swiss interests including planejackings,, the Swiss government made a secret deal with Arafat for tacit recognition/support of the Palestine issue in its campaign through both terror and, later, lawfare, to rid the land of the ancient Palestinians from illegal occupation by Jews. To this end, the historical record will show that after 1970, PLO terror continued in Europe, but not in Switzerland.

In 1977, after intense political pressure by Arab States, Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions were attached. These Protocols now codified a hitherto non-existent notion that Israeli presence in Judea after a defensive war which it was forced to undertake, constituted a “grave breach” or a “war crime” and was illegal.

Continual condemnation of illegal Israeli occupation by the EU followed the self-serving paradigm pioneered by the Swiss, until today, in response to a generational propaganda campaign to brand Israeli presence in Judea as illegal for European demographic, economic and political reasons, the lie has become the truth of the willing and/or the critically under-read.

In the words of Isa Blagden, “If a lie is only printed often enough it becomes a quasi-truth and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article, of belief, a dogma and men will die for it.”

The allegation of the illegality of Israel in Judea is that lie, for there exist only advisories or self-interested interpretations on articles of international law pertaining to occupation, but not a single article of international law showing any illegality in the presence of Israel in Judea, an area retaken by Israel in a defensive war where the occupiers of that territory previously were not a High Contracting Party (HCP).

In other words, Jordan was not considered by the international community as having attained legitimate sovereign rights over the areas of Judea and Samaria, following its 1950 unrecognized annexation of the areas. As such, from the legal point of view, since there existed no legitimate sovereign power, a unique situation existed in which the classic laws of occupation per the 4th Geneva Convention were not legally applicable.

And it is because there was no legal HCP in a territory illegally occupied by an invading Jordanian army, that the self-interested deceit of Western governments who erroneously repeat a mantra of a “belligerent occupation”, Israeli “illegality” in Area C, is exposed.

Specifically, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the so-called “West Bank” (Oslo II) endorsed by the U.N. agreed that, pending negotiation to determine the permanent status of the area, effective control of Area C where legal Israeli settlements are built, would be under Israeli civil AND military administration. This legal agreement and administration was termed a special legal ruling that overrode any other previously applicable legal framework that may have been applicable, including the Geneva Convention.

It should be stressed that under Article XXXI of Oslo II, signed by the sole representative of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, permanent status negotiations were to include Jerusalem, Settlements and Borders. In other words it expressly acknowledged that existing Settlements were not to be illegal during the interim period, and that ultimate borders would be subject to negotiation. This only reinforces the description of Judea and Samaria as disputed territory which in turn highlights the fact that they are certainly not also “occupied illegally” in any sense.

In 1998, Jordan relinquished any and all claims to this territory and even placed this territory entirely within Israel’s borders in Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Organisations like ICRC which charge Israel with “belligerent occupation” in Judea choose to ignore the legal history of the territory, choosing not to see history before 1967, or “…lasting legal connections that took place between 1920-1949.”

Pompeo’s statement did not change international law. It merely used those relevant articles of law to accurately state what had been obvious, but unsaid publicly, for 52 years: Israeli settlements are indeed not illegal and the narrative of deceit needed to be rectified.

The declared policy of the Trump administration not to refer to Israeli settlements in the so called “West Bank” (of Jordan, no less….) as illegal merely reflects a reading of international law by luminary experts in this field pre and post the Carter administration, and is a public step by a major influencer to redirect a skewed and false narrative towards its actual legal frame of reference and its basic moral underpinnings.

It is this correcting of a 52 year wrong that is behind the US declaration on the inadmissibility of terming Israeli settlements on “Palestinian land” illegal.

Today, because increasing numbers of Arab countries have tired of the tried-but-failed myth of “Palestinian land” and the tired fiction of Palestinianism, leading Arab thinkers are already calling for an end of boycotts and for even more Arab countries to engage with Israel.

In and of itself, that call is a sufficient (and particularly telling) indictment of the infamous Khartoum declaration 52 years ago and spotlights the always-defunct nature of the decision of the Arab League and their supplicant Western supporters using a mythical Palestinianism for differing self-interested reasons, merely as another strategy in the continuing 71 year Arab Israeli conflict.

The controversy about the legality of Jewish settlements in the “West Bank” is not, and has never been, therefore, about legal rights, but about Arab political will to override those rights.

As Ostroff (2011) put it, when all is said and done, the question of whether Israeli presence in Judea as an illegal occupier really needs to be clarified within the framework of the wilful propaganda misdirection that the territory Israel occupies was taken from the “Palestinians” in the first place; a view that prejudges territorial negotiations envisioned in 242 and Oslo II (as alluded to above) and which also provides the emotional excuse of “resisting occupation” through ongoing strategies like terrorism, boycotts, and anti-Israel lawfare.

In the end, the fact remains that Israeli settlements, while they may not be considered desirable by some, are certainly not in breach of any international law.


What crossing ‘red lines’ really mean


al Ata

Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the assassination of PIJ terror mastermind Bahaa Abu al Ata and his wife in an Israeli airstrike, PIJ in Gaza has stated that Israel has crossed a red line and is now at war with Israel.

Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum made no mention that, between 1987 and 2006, the PIJ claimed responsibility for more than 30 suicide bombings. Since that time, the majority of its attacks have consisted of indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire into southern Israel from Gaza seeking to maximize casualties.

Barhoum also omitted to mention that the PIJ is viewed as a terrorist organisation by the governments of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States in addition to being listed by the European Union for the purposes of its anti-terrorism financing measures.

Thus, the PIJ statement that Israel has declared open war on them because it has crossed a “red line’ is meaningless given their history. Taken together with their stated objectives per their “political document”, it is clear that any crossing of any lines was long ago objectified and crossed by PIJ and not Israel.

The Australian Parliament’s Statement of Reasons regarding the PIJ is satisfied that

“PIJ’s goal is the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state within the geographic borders of the pre-1948 British mandated Palestine. It promotes the military destruction of Israel as the only viable means to attain this goal. Accordingly, PIJ refuses to participate in the political process and rejects the possibility of a negotiated settlement to the Israel/Palestine problem.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was founded in 1979 in Gaza by two members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (the same Muslim Brotherhood allegedly supported by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s staffer in the White House, Huma Abedin) who,  believing the Muslim Brotherhood to be too moderate, created PIJ as a radical militant alternative focused on the liberation of Palestine.

In case the full import of what precisely liberating Palestine and winning the peace involves per the PIJ formula, Bassam Tawil, a contributor to the Gatestone Institute explains:

“This “real peace,” according to the jihadi group, can be achieved by eliminating Israel after “liberating Palestine, from the river to the sea, and after the original owners of the land return to their homes.”

This genocidal “peace” plan appears to be shared by other Palestinian terror groups, such as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and even certain parts of Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.”

And, right on cue, Abbas and the PA put out the following statement of solidarity with the PIJ: “…The presidency (sic) holds the occupation government fully responsible for the repercussions and the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip…”

PIJ’s current claim that Israel has crossed a red line and that the PJ is “now at war” with Israel remains meaningless because, the historical record will show that it has been the PIJ which has, since 1987, crossed several extremely bloody and crimson-red red lines in its genocidally driven war against Israel as this detailed chronology illustrates:

August 1987: The commander of Israel’s military police is shot to death by PIJ in the Gaza Strip.

February 1990: PIJ terrorists attack an Israeli tour bus in Egypt, killing 11 people, including nine Israelis, and injuring 17.

December 1993: A PIJ shooting kills Israeli army reservist David Mashrati aboard a bus.

April 6, 1994: PIJ militants explode a car bomb next to a public bus in Afula, Israel, killing nine and injuring 50.

September 4, 1994: A PIJ drive-by shooting in Gaza kills one and injures several others.

November 11, 1994: A Palestinian riding a bicycle detonates explosives strapped to his body at an Israeli army checkpoint at Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip, killing three Israeli soldiers and wounding six Israeli soldiers.

January 22, 1995: Two consecutive bombs exploded at the Beit Lid junction near Netanya, Israel, killing 18 Israeli soldiers and one civilian. PIJ claimed responsibility.

April 9, 1995: A PIJ suicide bomber blew up his vehicle next to an Israeli bus in the Gaza Strip, killing seven Israeli soldiers and 20-year-old American college student Alisa Flatow.

March 4, 1996: A PIJ suicide bomber killed 13 and injures 75 at a Tel Aviv shopping mall.

November 6, 1998: Two PIJ suicide bombers blew themselves up in the crowded Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, wounding 20 people.

October 26, 2000: PIJ claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Kisufim settlement, which wounds one soldier. The attack marked the first suicide bombing of the second intifada.

November 2, 2000: Two people are killed in a car bomb explosion near the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. PIJ claimed responsibility.

March 27, 2001: A car bomb exploded in the Talpiot industrial/commercial zone in Jerusalem, wounding three people. PIJ claimed responsibility.

November 29, 2001: A suicide bomber blew himself up on board a bus on a main highway in northern Israel, killing three passengers. PIJ and Fatah claimed responsibility.

June 5, 2002: A PIJ suicide attack at Israel’s Megiddo Junction killed 18 and injured 50.

October 4, 2003: A PIJ suicide bomber blew himself up at Maxim restaurant in Haifa, killing 22 and injuring 60.

October 26, 2005: A bombing at a market in Hadera, Israel killed five people. PIJ claimed responsibility.

April 17, 2006: PIJ and the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near Tel Aviv’s old central bus station.

January 2007: A suicide attack at an Eilat bakery killed three. PIJ and the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade claimed responsibility.

March 2008: PIJ and Hamas jointly claimed responsibility for an explosion that killed two IDF soldiers patrolling the security fence in the central Gaza Strip.

April 2008: PIJ fired 216 rockets and mortar shells at various Israeli towns.

June 2008: PIJ claimed responsibility for firing a Grad rocket (from Iran) that hit a shopping mall in Ashkelon, Israel, wounding 15.

January 8, 2011: PIJ fired two mortars into southern Israel, killing two Thai nationals.

August 20, 2011: PIJ fired a volley of rockets into southern Israel, killing one civilian and wounding seven.

October 29, 2011: PIJ fired a number of rockets into southern Israel, killing one civilian and wounding two.

March 2012: PIJ fired almost 200 missiles into Israel from Gaza.

November 2012: Hamas and PIJ are credited for bombing a Tel Aviv bus that wounded 30 people.

November 2012: PIJ took credit for a rocket fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv. The rocket exploded in an open field, causing no casualties.

June 24, 2013: Six rockets fired from Gaza exploded in southern Israel. No casualties were reported. Israeli intelligence believed PIJ fired the rockets as an act of defiance against the Hamas authorities in Gaza.

December 22, 2013: An Israeli police sapper was injured when a bomb he was trying to defuse on a Bat Yam bus explodes. Four PIJ members were arrested a month later for coordinating the attack.

March 2014: PIJ fired a round of mortars from Gaza into Israel, prompting an Israeli strike. In retaliation, PIJ launched at least 130 locally made rockets into Israel. The operation was reportedly in coordination with Hamas.

July 8, 2014: Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, aimed at striking Hamas and ending rocket fire from Hamas and PIJ in Gaza. PIJ took credit for firing a further 60 rockets into Israel.

July 28, 2014: Seven Palestinian children died after a rocket struck a playground in Gaza’s al-Shati refugee camp, while another rocket hit al-Shifa Hospital. The strikes were the result of misfired rockets by PIJ.

  August 8, 2014: After a three-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas expires, PIJ fired three Grad rockets at Ashkelon and promised to continue firing until Israel acceded to all of Hamas’s demands.

August 20, 2014: According to Iran’s state-run network Press TV, PIJ fired 3,000 rockets at Israel during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.

September 4, 2014: After the 2014 Israel-Gaza war ends, Al Jazeera broadcast a video of PIJ’s tunnel systems. In the video, a PIJ militant declared that the group was preparing for its next war with Israel and that the tunnels would be used to launch attacks and fire mortars on Israel.

October 29, 2014: Moataz Hejazi shoots and critically wounds prominent right-wing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem, Israel. After the shooting, police track and killed Hejazi. The following day, PIJ published an obituary for Hijazi on its website, saying that he had been a member of the organization.

October 3, 2015: PIJ claimed responsibility after 19-year-old Mohannad Halabi stabbed two Israeli men to death in Jerusalem’s Old City.

December 1, 2015: Palestinian Authority police arrest a six-member PIJ cell transporting grenades, firearms, and other explosives in the West Bank. The cell reportedly planned to use the weaponry to attack the IDF.

October 30, 2017: Israel destroyed a tunnel beneath the Gaza-Israel border, killing 14 militants, including the head of PIJ’s armed wing in central Gaza. PIJ admitted that the tunnel was meant for “kidnapping soldiers in order to free prisoners [from Israeli prisons].”

November 30, 2017: PIJ fired 12 mortar shells from northern Gaza at an Israeli army post northeast of Gaza, causing minimal damage and no casualties.

December 12, 2017: Two PIJ operatives were killed “while carrying out a jihadist mission,” according to a PIJ statement.

December 29, 2017: PIJ fired three mortar shells into southern Israel. Two of the mortars were intercepted while the third struck the Israeli community of Sha’ar Hanegev,

May 28, 2018: PIJ fired 28 mortars at Israel from Gaza.

October 26-27, 2018: PIJ fired dozens of rockets into Israel. Israel responds by bombing multiple targets in Gaza.

November 12-14, 2018: PIJ and Hamas fird more than 450 rockets into Israel, killing one and wounding dozens. The groups agreed to a ceasefire on November 13. PIJ claimed victory after then Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned on November 14 in protest of the ceasefire.

May 3-5, 2019: On May 3, PIJ snipers wounded two Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border during weekly protests. Israeli forces retaliated with a strike on a Hamas post near the border. PIJ and Hamas launched almost 700 rockets into Israel over the course of three days, killing four Israeli civilians and wounding dozens more. At least 50 rockets reportedly hit Israeli population centres.

November 12, 2019: PIJ fired 200 rockets into Israel.

With their current claim that Israel had declared “open war” on the PIJ in Gaza and that Israel displays “…a continuation of the aggression and crimes against our people…”, the PIJ, together with Hamas and Fatah, continue to hold true to the Middle East Arab adherence to the Doctrine of Limited Liability.

The Doctrine of Limited Liability theorises that an aggressor may reject a compromise settlement and gamble on war to win everything in the comfortable knowledge that, even if he fails, he may insist on reinstating the status quo ante.

The PIJ has been at war with Israel since 1987.

With regard to PIJ’s claim that it was Israel which had crossed a ‘red-line, and with reference to the chronology of PIJ attacks against Israel since 1987 as marked out above, I offer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recent appraisal of Bahaa Abu al-Ata that he was a “ticking bomb.”

It is entirely appropriate, and timely, that this man’s clock stopped ticking.

From Arab ummah to homeless Palestinian: why, when and how

The name Palestine was specifically created at the San Remo Conference in April 1920, as a mandated state, to be the Jewish National Home.

The connection (legal and ethnological) between “Jews” and “Palestine” existed because both Palestine and the Jewish national Home were created for each other at the same time under international law. This understanding was supported explicitly by Article 7 of the Mandate for Palestine (a LEGAL document) which stated:

“The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law, provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine (emphasis mine).”

No such right or obligation existed in favour of foreign Arabs.

As an aside, Palestine was named “Palestine” by the British and the Zionist leaders of the time simply because that was the name that the Zionist programme adopted in 1897 in Basle and was the name of the area most prevalent at the time…. Would that they had listened to loyal Herzl supporter Israel Zangwill’s preference to call the area Judea instead. Perhaps today the “Judeans” would be fighting the Jews of Israel…😊

So, today’s “Palestinians” therefore have the Jews to thank for even their “national” name and aspirations of “peoplehood”!!

That Palestine was implicitly and explicitly tethered to Jews was also explicated in stamps of the period which supported the abbreviation “E.I.” for Eretz Israel and was supported by Herbert Samuel, British High Commissioner, who stated that he “…was aware that there was no other name in the Hebrew language for this land except Eretz Israel.

It is interesting that the Arabs challenged the use of the word “Palestine” on stamps and other Mandate documentation as an “…offense to the Arab nation…”. This challenge was rejected on legal grounds (Article 82, 1925 Law Reports of Palestine) because it was adjudged to be a political sentiment and not one of legal ruling.

It is important to note here that the failed legal challenge referred to offense being given to the “…Arab nation…” and NOT Palestinians who were Muslims and Arabs. The concept of the ‘ancient and indigenous’ Arab “Palestinian”, as the Arabs now want to call themselves had not yet been invented.

What is equally important to know is that the nationality law I referred to in paragraph 2 above was explicated in Article 129 of the Treaty of Sevres which stated that

“Jews…who are habitually resident, on the coming into force of the present Treaty, within the boundaries of Palestine…will ipso facto become citizens of Palestine…”

What that meant was that Palestinian citizenship was to be granted to foreign Jews on entry into Mandated Palestine.

As Feinberg (1979) pointed out, Arabs living outside Palestine had no legal right to opt for Palestinian nationality even though there was an illegal mass influx of hundreds of thousands of Arabs into the country during the years of the British administration. Census figures show that of 565,000 Arabs in the Mandated territory in 1920, that number swelled to around 1,225,000 in 1947.

In other words, the principle of nationalities was applied to the Jewish people and not to the local Arab inhabitants in the specific case of Palestine per the Balfour declaration, the Treaty of Sevres and the Mandate for Palestine.

However, in the first of many British about-faces which led to the current intractable conflict, the Churchill White Paper of 1922 abruptly changed the term “nationality” to be as broad as possible and no longer recognised the former connection existing between Palestinian nationality and the Jewish nation. In turn, this now meant that Palestine in its entirety was no longer the exclusive Jewish National Home, but a home to be shared with the Arabs.

As most readers in this field know, the Jews accepted this startling re-interpretation of the Balfour Declaration, the Treaty of Sevres and Article 7 of the Mandate for Palestine.

For all that, it was customary throughout the Mandatory period to call all the Jews who lived in Palestine between 1920 and May 1948 by the distinctive name of “Palestinians”.

The non-Jewish Arab residents of Palestine were referred to as Arabs rather than Palestinians.

The Arabs referred to themselves as Syrians as exemplified by the all-Arab Palestine (not “Palestinian”!!!) Arab Congress of February 1919 which supported the country’s inclusion in an independent Syria and where they denied any specific “Palestinian” national identity.

This was explicitly stated by their leading spokesman George Antonius in his testimony before the Palestine Royal Commission of 1937 where he ties the future of the Mandate Arabs to the Arab nation of Syria:

“It is very important to note that the sacrifices made…were common and shared in common by Syrians and Palestinians…There was no distinction between Syria and Palestinian (Moslem and Christian)…. The country was one, it acted as one, and its future was one.” (emphasis mine)

In case the reader does not fully appreciate the import of what Antonius is saying regarding the concept of the Arabs in Mandated Palestine as always being that of an Arab identity and NOT a “Palestinian” one, Antonius explains:

“I want to emphasize…that Palestine has always been an integral part of Syria and that what was common to Syria is common to Palestine (Note: NOT “Palestinians”!!!)…The country is one in every way… and what we see in Palestine is not a local movement…but [one of] the Arab world which it followed in common without any distinction between its component parts” (emphasis mine).

Antonius thus emphasizes, in 1937, the Arab concept of qawmiyya, pan-Arabism, and NOT the sudden and mysterious appearance of the wataniyya (state-based nationalism) the PLO later dreamed up for an Arab group undifferentiated in any nationalistic way from ANY of their immediate neighbours. I attempt to highlight below the significance of this difference in the quest to further expose the myth of a ‘Palestinian’ “nation”.

There isn’t much more to be said on this point though I must point out that Arabs who lived in Palestine during the Mandate were indeed called “Palestinian Arabs” in terms of their citizenship and place of residence to distinguish them from Arabs living French-mandated Syria or British-mandated Iraq….

BUT, why and when and how did the Palestinian Arabs or South Syrians or Mandate Arabs of what became the State of Israel become the ancient “Palestinians” (and “indigenous” ones to boot) of the Holy Land now replaced by “foreign Jews”???

If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, read on.

To answer the first of the questions: why. The term “Palestinian” was a switch of national identities and names for fraudulent use since no such nation ever existed. Proof of this is that not once in the literature of the ancient world does the word “Palestinian” ever appear as a proper noun to describe either a nation or a member of that nation. Additionally, the word “Palestinian” is a Hebrew root word used by the ancient Israelites with whom the Arabs never had any historic, cultural or racial affinity. Thus, this Hebrew root does not appear in Arabic, but does in other Semitic tongues such as Ge’ez (classical Ethiopic) where it is (still) called fellashas (Ethiopian Jews) after the root Pe-Lamed-Shin (פלש) of the Hebrew.

The term “Palestinian” to describe the Levantine migrant Arabs in today’s Israel was chosen as part of an overall strategy of inversion and plagiarism by the PLO out of an ancient hatred of Jews as witnessed by the Arab ploy of adopting as their national name, one that is directly traceable to a Hebrew source.

But, more importantly, the ploy was also aimed at convincing Christian nations that Palestine was really the home of ancient “Palestinians” thus hoping to win sympathy for their cause where it was no longer the Jews against 21 Arab states arrayed against them, but actually a militarily strong Jewish state visiting calumny upon a “desperate, homeless ancient Palestinian people”.

The extent to which they succeeded in co-opting a receptive Christian world can be seen in Palestinian propaganda utterings that Nazareth is an Arab city, that Abraham, Adam, Job and Moses were prophets in Islam and that Jesus was a Palestinian.

Thus, as part of the strategy of inversion and plagiarism in order to de-legitmise Jewish history in the land, and particularly after 1963 (more on this later), the PLO abrogated (that would be the most suitable word…) early Israelite history and culture and transformed Hebrew Patriarchs, prophets, judges and kings into Arab ones.

They did this at the same time as denying Jewish genealogy while at the same time adopting a name applied ethnologically and legally to the Jewish people of Palestine 1920-1948 in order to legitimise themselves using a Hebrew root word not found in Arabic.

To this end the Arabs of the PLO era even went to the extent, in some instances, of copying the very programmes and texts of the Zionist Movement, using the same language, as in the case of their so-called Declaration of Independence (from whom??) in Nov 1988 imitating the very words and style of the Israeli Declaration of Independence of May 14, 1948……

But, as Harkabi (1979) put it, the PLO declaration of independence glossed over the need to discuss the problem of the historicity of the “Palestinian” people, noting that in their report (p 130), the self-same 1937 Palestine Royal Commission referred to the Arabs in Palestine only as “Arabs” and summarised their claims under the heading of Arab Nationalism, not Palestinian nationalism.

Ten years later, the UN Partition Resolution of November 1947 divided the mandate territory into “a Jewish state’ and “an Arab state”……

It had not yet dawned on anybody in the Arab world to call the projected Arab state a “Palestinian” state. That would come later.

To summarise, the Arabs now living in what became Israel used, from 1964, identity theft and inversion of history in order to dispel the notion of Jewish historical connection and sovereign ownership over the Land of Israel.

With regards to when and how the name change happened, I think one can firstly keep in mind that Arabs who lived in Palestine during the Mandate period were “Palestinian” only in the legal sense of citizenship.

Together with this, it should be remembered that, outside of the Arab world, nobody had ever heard of the historic Arab “Palestinians”. The term surfaced in Cairo, June 2, 1964 when the Palestinian National Covenant (PNC) was adopted and the PLO was founded with the blessing of the Arab League.

It only came into fashionable broader use in 1969 when Arafat became Chairman of the PLO. After all, UNSC Resolution 242, in November 1967, called Arabs who fled what became Israel ‘refugees’ and not ‘Palestinians’ despite the fact that 3 months earlier, the Arab Summit Conference referred to the rights of the “Palestinian people”.

This shows that the UN and the international community did not, as late as November 1967, consider the fleeing Arabs a nation.

But even the PNC did not talk about a completely separate “Palestinian nation” as evidenced by the introductory part of its own Covenant which repeatedly referred to “We, the Palestinian Arab People”.

As mentioned earlier, this loose focus on who the Levantine Arabs really believed they were (or wanted to be…) changed in the vocabulary they used in their Charter/Covenant as also the politics of the Middle East changed.

In 1964, the Charter spoke of the Palestinian Arab people, but by the time of their revised (sic) Charter in 1968 (after the Six Day War…) they were now talking about the Palestinian People, the Palestinian masses and the Palestinian identity. In 1964, the term used in the Charter was qawm (pan-Arabism). Four years later it had changed to watan or state nationalism…….

Startlingly, the amended (sic) 1968 Charter amended retroactively stated that Jews too could be considered “Palestinian” where Article 6 of the Covenant stated that only

“The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians.”

The Zionist invasion was considered to be the date of the Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917.

The problem with this “revised” PLO Covenant was that all Jews who arrived in Palestine after 1917 were to be evicted and that the idea of mass transfer of Jews to their “countries of origin” was thus written into the very text of the “Palestinian National Covenant” to make it, as Harkabi (1969:47) pointed out, into “an Arab land purified of the alien population. Otherwise it would not be Arab and the Palestinians could not be its full masters” (italics in the original).

Fortunately, none of that ever happened.

Unfortunately, on 10 December 1969, United Nations terminology (with the memory of the first 1967 Oil Embargo still fresh in their minds) referred, for the first time (with considerable Arab pressure…), to the “people of Palestine” and their ‘inalienable rights’.

Then, in a quantum and inexplicable jump, in December 8, 1970, the UN declared the right of “Palestinian” self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations as demanded by the Arafat-led PLO delegation to the UN. Inexplicable because a nation does not come into being on demand, through propaganda or based largely on hate of other. A distinct nation differs from other peoples in customs and language and a distinctive culture with its own national literature, traditions and customs. The Arabs who were now calling themselves “Palestinians” differed little from Syrians, Jordanians and Egyptians and Iraq and were essentially created in an executive meeting of the Arab league in Cairo.

Finally, on November 22, 1974, the UNGA granted observer status to the terror group PLO which entitled it to participate, as Palestinians, in UNGA sessions and any international conferences convened under the auspices of General Assembly.

For its part, during these years, the State of Israel did little politically and diplomatically to stem the proliferation of this, the greatest lie and invention of the twentieth century, and thus allowed the astounding award of Israel’s inherited rights and title of sovereignty through millennia over Judea, Samaria and Gaza through lack of successful/ effective challenge of UN resolutions, to an Arab “nation” hitherto unknown in the annals of history, ancient, medieval or modern.

Arguably, in the Arab world, the end has historically always justified the (oft brutal) means.

With the PLO as proxies for an Arab League frustrated by devastating military losses to the Jews, the end point was always the removal of the Jewish state from the ME.

The means was the fraudulent identity switch and the inversion and transformation of documented Israelite history and culture in Judea and Samaria, into an Arab one.

Why do the Arabs continue to want the demise of Israel even after 71 years of failing to do so militarily?

As we will see, the major cause for the continuing conflict today was the refusal of the Arab leadership, dominated by the Husseini family in Jerusalem, to be pragmatic, as well as their intimidation of more moderate Arabs in Jerusalem into refusing any resolution whatsoever.

In 1936, in response to the Arab Revolt against the British mandatory government and repeated Arab violence against Jews, the British government appointed a commission of inquiry headed by Lord Peel to assess the cause of endemic Arab on Jew violence.

The reasons for this violence lay in the aftermath of WWI and the creation of the British Mandate as a mechanism to administer the geographical area of Palestine after the disappearance of the Ottoman Turks.

In a series of 10 letters between Sir Henry McMahon (the British High Commissioner to Egypt) and the Sharif of Mecca (Hussein al-Hashimi), McMahon promised Saudi Arabian Hussein that if he and his sons joined in the fight against the Ottoman Turks and allied with the British, they would get a self-governing Arab state. In this correspondence, McMahon never defined the area of Arab independence. Yet for Hussein, Palestine fell within this area.

Thus in 1916, Hussein al-Hashimi began fighting for the British against the Ottoman Empire with the aim of ending Turkish Ottoman rule in Arab-speaking areas.

In 1917, the Jewish Legion, five battalions of Jewish volunteers who fought against the Ottoman Empire during World War I as part of the British Army, was formed.

In 1917 too, the Balfour Declaration recognized the right of the Jews to a home in Palestine.

Then the British made a fatal error.

While one leading Jerusalem clan, the Nashashibis, was in favour of a more conciliatory policy with regard to Jewish migration and peaceable co-existence, their main rivals, the al-Husseinis, were agitating for violent conflict with both the Jewish community and the British.

In 1919, Haj Amin al-Husseini, member of the Jerusalem Arab al-Husseini clan, began organizing small groups of terrorists to harass and attack Palestine’s Jews. In 1920, al-Husseini instigated the anti-Jewish Passover attack: six Jews were murdered and more than 200 wounded during an Arab orgy of destruction.

The British arrested and jailed him. And it was then that they made the fatal mistake.

One year later, in 1921, newly-installed British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, eager to appease the Arabs, released and pardoned al-Husseini and appointed him to the post of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

It was this single decision that effectively led to the origin of the single most important obstacle to peace in the Middle East: the Arab refusal to accept Jewish sovereignty and even physical presence in any part of the Land of Israel.

As a direct consequence of Britain’s empowerment of him as Mufti, al-Husseini was emboldened in pursuing the aim of violently removing the Jewish presence in Palestine. Over the following two decades, al-Husseini’s hardened anti-Semitic worldview, together with his determination to extinguish any prospect of the Balfour Declaration’s promise from being realized, made him a natural Middle Eastern ally of Germany’s Nazi regime once it launched its war of conquest and genocide in 1939.

al-Husseini was a fervent anti-Semite, the most important Nazi collaborator in the Arab world, and a political activist who worked tirelessly for the ethnic cleansing and physical destruction of the Jews in Palestine and in the Middle East as a whole.

This Mufti defined and epitomised the Mandate Arab ideology of absolute rejectionism and even genocide. In effect, the Mufti denied that the Jews had any national rights whatsoever, and especially not in the historic Land of Israel.

As an example of the influence of this vicious anti-semitism legacy on following generations of Arabs, if we fast-forward to 2013, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti parrots the old Mufti’s claim anew: “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian…. will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

Once you understand this, you understand why the “Palestinians”, despite numerous opportunities to do so, still refuse to make peace despite being offered 91% of the “west bank” in July 2000 and then 95% of the “west bank” in December of the same year AS WELL AS East Jerusalem as their capital…….

So, in July 1937, the Peel Commission recommended for the first time a partition of the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state alongside an international zone, stretching from Jerusalem to Jaffa, that would remain under British mandatory authority. The Commission also recommended an exchange of land and population between the two states.

The Peel partition plan was rejected by the Arabs, but it was widely considered by the Jewish community and leadership as a possibility.

That brings us to 1947 and the Partition Plan.

By this time, and amongst onging violence, both parties rejected the 1946 recommendation by an Anglo-American committee to establish a bi-national state in Palestine under UN trusteeship.

However, while the Jewish community accepted the 1937 and 1947 partition plans, the Palestinian Arab leadership, dominated by the Husseini family, rejected both plans categorically even though it designated only 20% of Palestine to the proposed Jewish state. Furthermore, the Palestinian leadership even rejected the 1939 British White Paper, which had promised them an independent state within ten years while limiting Jewish immigration and turning the Jews into a minority in an Arab Palestinian state.

So, reminiscent of the 1964 three “No”s of Khartoum, the Arabs, influenced by an aggressive al-Husseini clan, refused partition if it meant Jews having a state in a historical homeland they had lived and worshipped in 1,800 years before the birth of Islam.

It would not be unreasonable to posit that the Jewish community in Palestine might well have aspired to obtain a larger share of the country. However, it realistically considered partition as a minimal or tolerable solution.

The Arabs could not agree to be this minimistically realistic or pragmatic even though shortly, after losing a full-blown war of aggression, they would then blame the Jews for causing them to have a “catastrophy” or “Nakba” and losing territory they could have kept had they agreed to the Partition Plan in the first place……

Since then, both sides have been engaged in a bitter conflict which will only end when an unmistakeable victory has been won.

Today, with changing Middle East allegiances and alliances as internecine Muslim hatreds draws lakes of blood, the “Palestinians” have been relegated to the back burner as BDS and other forms of lawfare have failed to make much impact on the Jewish state.

In the end, none of this matters.

The sad irony is that after 71 years of the lie being repeatedly told, the Levantine Arabs in Gaza, Judea and sSmaria, eventually came to believe the tale that their Arab League brethren had woven around them as reference to a history that never was, in order to assuage the ego of a non-existent and fractured Ummah.

Israel is here to stay, and the Levantine Arabs in Judea and Samaria can choose the future they want for their children.

They would do well to take a leaf out of the book of the Jewish state.

Shabbat Shalom

Giving Gantz a Chance: what would change?

With Israel going to an election for the second time in five months, what would change for the Israeli citizen by replacing Netanyahu?

While the average Israeli citizen currently appears to care about economic change, the Israeli voter seems to want to examine the Netanyahu government’s reliance on the ultra-orthodox parties where the current suggested lead held by Gantz’s Blue and White may be signalling a backlash against a sector of the Israeli economy with traditionally low participation rates—ultra-Orthodox men.

While, in terms of Knesset seats, Gantz may get over the line, the fact remains that his party has not offered anything substantial in terms of a party platform on the economy.

The reason for this, of course, is that the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict overshadows all else.

Giving Gantz a chance will not change this because, on the day after the election, Hezballah, Hamas and Iran will still be there. The “peace-process” and the 2SS will remain dead in the water, and the PA will continue to hate on Hamas to the satisfaction of the Israelis.

It is difficult to see how Gantz would change the current Israeli strategy of keeping Hamas on a low flame in Gaza while focusing on the more serious threat on the northern border. That then, would count as a “no change” as well despite the name change.

The question of annexation of “west bank” settlements and securing the Jordan Valley may be shelved for the time being, but it is not an issue which will disappear. Quite the opposite, with increasing Israeli frustration at overcrowding, annexation of the settlements in Judea and Samaria would provide living space for millions more Israelis while also putting non-hostile population on the ground in a sensitive border area.

The Arab Joint List is currently crowing about a possible 13 parliamentary seats making it potentially the 3rd largest party in the Knesset. The Arab MKs are allegedly happy to have “anyone but Bibi” but that may be a premature elation if the next PM is the man who was chief of army command in the 2014 Gaza war and who may, in the future, face trial (in absentia??) for alleged war crimes against Arabs in that war. The Arab voter may feel a measure of success in playing her/his part in trying to replace the “right-wing government” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the Arab street remains deeply dissatisfied with the performance and representation of several of its Arab members of parliament and may revert to (traditional clannish) type by shooting itself in the foot in the days and weeks ahead.

Giving Gantz his chance will also have implications for Israeli reception of trumps peace plan once the numbers after the results have firmed up.

So far, Gantz has remained largely silent on the latest US-sponsored peace plan during his campaign and avoided questions about his favoured solution to the conflict. It is worth remembering that in February 2019, his election campaigns ads talked about “returning” parts of Gaza to the stone ages and that his party’s slogan “Israel before everything” may give Arab Knesset members and his co-rotational PM-elect Yair Lapid, food for thought, not least because Lapid’s Yesh Atid party platform has criticized Israeli settlements in the “west bank” and has advocated a two-state solution to solve the Palestinian issue, issues I believe will cause considerable intraparty discord going forward.

Add to this the challenge Blue and White laid down to Netanyahu’s national security credentials, criticizing him for seeking temporary agreements with Hamas rather than destroying the group in the Gaza Strip, and you have an unlikely coalition of Lapid and Gantz at professedly polar ends of a workable strategy in the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict.

It would not be reasonable to suggest at this stage that Gantz will nix the American peace initiative which has so far been rejected out of hand by the PA, and this will put him immediately on a combative path with the Arab “anyone but Bibi” bloc as well as the more left-wing elements in his newly-formed party.

Between Gantz and Lapid, Yair Lapid would be the weak link of the two. Gantz has avoided meaningful scrutiny of any kind by opting to be a small target by shutting his mouth. Lapid on the other hand seems to find it more challenging to control himself. As evidence, I offer Yair Rosenberg’s Tablet quote from  Lapid’s desire to teach Israelis to understand American Jews: “Anytime I have something to think about, I always do the same thing,” Lapid says. “I fly somewhere…”

For me, this does not augur well. Real politics will not allow you to accrue frequent flyer points at will.

But, these are early “days” yet – hours actually; and there are significant question marks about what a new government will do about the recently (narrowly) passed nation-state law, not to mention that there is a better than average chance that a national unity government (Lieberman’s baby) could well lose focus and direction given the “robust” nature of Israeli politics……..

With Gantz and Lapid scheduled to dance in and out of the PMship, the latest 2019 election results might well become a case of Gantzing the right away.

All the same, no matter the eventual outcome, the ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” is currently front and centre in the State of Israel.


Israel annexing the Jordan Valley: is that even legal?

Jordan Valley

A country’s borders are determined in accordance with the borders of the previous legal political entity in that area. In Judea and Samaria, that entity was the British Mandate whose borders of the stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River (Kontorovich, 2018).

Less than 24 hours after Israel declared its independence on May 15 1948 after the British absconded in confusion, the regular armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the country.

Here are the borders of the Jewish state, nicknamed the “Auschwitz borders”, per the 1947 Partition Plan which the Jews accepted:


The fighting lasted some 15 months and claimed over 6,000 Israeli lives (nearly one percent of the country’s Jewish population at the time; 60,000 Jewish lives in 2019 numbers….).

By early 1949, an armistice was agreed upon and Israel’s borders looked like this:


It should not be forgotten that the defeated Arabs demanded that this armistice line (the “Green Line”) be recognised as a military line ( could the Arabs possibly have been contemplating further military violence back in 1949????) and should not prejudice ultimate political settlement between the the Jews and and the Arabs (shades of Oslo accord 50 years later….).

Needless to say, “Palestinian” Arabs played no part in this scenario, and there was, of course, no mention of a “Palestinian” “state” in the agreement…..

Nevertheless, the map above shows that Egypt illegally occupied land slated for the (undeclared) second Arab state, and Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, land also slated for the (undeclared) Arab state in addition to Transjordan.

Between 1949-1967, the ICRC’s Hague Regulations/ 4th Geneva Convention seemed to have no problem with either Egypt or Jordan’s disregard of Article 42 of the said 1907 Hague Regulations where Article 42 of the Regulations, falling under a category titled, “Military Authority Over the Territory of the Hostile State” stated that land taken in war was illegally occupied.

In other words, the ICRC, which was quick to brand Israel’s acquisition of the territory in 1967 as an “occupation,” made no such appellation during the 19 years of illegal Jordanian rule.

That land only became “occupied” when Israel reclaimed the territory in the 1967 Six Day War!


To clarify, the 1949 armistice – and the armistice line it established – was breached by Jordan in 1967 when it attacked Israel. In legal terms, it then no longer existed.

In the course of fighting a defensive war, Israel freed Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from an illegal Jordanian occupation .

Israel could not be an “occupier” in that Land, as 1) it was part of the original Mandate land, 2) the doctrine of customary international law in Uti Possidetis Juris states that emerging states presumptively inherit their pre-independence administrative boundaries, and 3) there was no legitimate sovereign in the land before Israel moved in ( Jordan was illegitimate and nobody had heard of the ancient “Palestinians”….).

With regard to uti possidetis doctrine, it is interesting that with the exception of the Jewish State of Israel, such a concept of international law regarding new states was applied absolutely without ANY issues to other countries.

As a rule of customary international law, it is applied to all cases of state formation, from decolonization in Africa to the collapse of the Soviet Union to the separation of Czechoslovakia. Moreover, the doctrine trumps claims of self-determination, and any other kind of equitable objection to the former administrative boundaries.Thus, for example, the borders of Lebanon are the borders of the French Mandate over Lebanon, whether that state is largely Christian, as originally intended, or Shiite or Sunni. The borders of Jordan are the mandatory borders whether the state is Hashemite, Palestinian or otherwise (Kontorovich, 2016).

So, with regard to Israel’s currently proposed annexation of the settlements in the Jordan Valley, there should be no issue with any possible “criminality” re the ICC as Bob (Jerusalem Post, 11 September, 2019) has stated, because the ex iniuria principle [unjust acts cannot create law] means that Jordan has never had any legal title in the West Bank, nor does any other state even claim such title. This because, as explained above, where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title. And because there was never any mention of a “Palestinian state” or “people”, Israel remained committed to the principle ensconced in UN res 242 (and reaffirmed in UN Security Council Resolution 338 of 1973), that it was the right of every state in the area to “live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.

As Prof. Eugene Rostow, former US undersecretary of state for political affairs, wrote in 1991: “The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the local population to live there.”

Currently, Israel is engaged in an armed conflict short of war in Judea and Samaria.

This is not a civilian disturbance or a demonstration or a riot.  This includes live-fire attacks on a significant scale, both quantitatively and geographically—around 2,700 such attacks over the entire area of the West Bank. The attacks are carried out by a well-armed and organised militia, under the command and encouragement of the Palestinian political establishment, operating from areas outside Israeli control.

In repulsing those attacks, Israel has acted within the parameters of Article 51 of the UN Charter. Article 51 of the UN Charter clearly recognizes “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence” by anyone. That is, the language of Article 51 does not identify or stipulate the kind of aggressor or aggressors against whom this right of self-defence can be exercised … and certainly does not limit the right to self-defence to attacks by States!

Organisations like the ICJ/UN ignore repeated acts of terrorism from ‘Palestine’ because they conveniently posit that they emanate from “non-State” entities (ie because Israel does not claim that the attacks by Palestinian terrorists against it are attributable to a foreign “State,” it loses its right to act in self-defence.…). However, Article 51 of the UN Charter is quite clear: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations…”

The ICJ/UN also biases its deliberations against Israel in Judea by ignoring the fact that Palestinian warfare is “Strictly regulated by the customs and provisions of the law of armed conflict, referred to here as international humanitarian law (IHL)” as well as by ignoring the Palestinian Authority (PA) violations of their assumed responsibility, such as the Oslo Accords, that required the Palestinians to abide by internationally recognized human rights standards.

Israel’s right to self-defence under Article 51 cannot be more apparent according to both international humanitarian law and the ‘Oslo Accord.’

I would like here to add that Article 5, paragraph 3, of UN GA Resolution 3314 support the case to annex the Jordan Valley to minimise aggression and violence from Palestinian terrorists. It states that “No territorial acquisition or special advantage resulting from aggression is or shall be recognized as lawful (italics mine).”

Clearly, Israel in Judea and Samaria today is not the consequence of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians or the Arab League. Arab countries acted aggressively against Israel in 1948 and 1967. Israel was not the aggressor in either the 1948 War of Independence or in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel is engaged in an armed conflict short of war in Judea and Samaria, though it is not one of Israel’s making or choosing.

It should be remembered that in Oslo (1993), the stated goal of the Accord was a “permanent status” agreement to be achieved via bilateral negotiations. It said nothing about a Palestinian state.

It was understood that the issue of Israel “settlements” in Judea and Samaria would be resolved in the final negotiations, that is, there was no prohibition on Israeli building. This was ratified in 1995 when Oslo II was signed.

Oslo II established Areas A (under full PA administration), B (PA civil administration and Israeli military administration), and C (under full Israeli administration) in Judea and Samaria. Thus, as a result of these divisions, Israeli building was restricted to Area C, but that is where all the “settlements” are located in any event and is the bulk of the territory that Benyamin Netanyahu speaks of applying Israeli sovereignty to.

Israel should annex/ apply sovereignty/apply Israeli law (take your pick, the outcome is mostly the same despite semantic differences…) to Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley because, in line with UNGA Resolution 2625, Israel’s presence in Judea is lawful per the interpretation of Article 51 of the UN’s own Charter because illegal Arab aggression against the territorial integrity, political independence civilian security of Israel cannot be rewarded.

Palestinian terrorism is an act of aggression. Self defense should be used against all such perpetrators whoever they are.

There is absolutely no need for Israel to continue to face Arab terror and continual violence over 71 years and lack the right to appropriate self-defense.

Article 3(a) of UN Resolution 3314 clearly covers aggression emanating from the Palestinian Authority, an internationally recognized autonomous, national political entity established by international treaty – the Oslo Accords. Moreover, Article 3(g) cites specifically that this includes:

“The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed hands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.”

Palestinian terrorist cells, with command centres and support in places such as Ramallah, Jenin, and Jordan using areas under the civil and security responsibility of the Palestinian Authority as organizational and staging areas to commit terrorist acts, clearly fall within the confines of this Resolution.

Applying Israeli sovereignty to settlements in the Jordan Valley will increase unfettered (by biased lawfare…) Israeli presence to more effectively counter this terror and right a political wrong 71 years in the making.

Let us not forget that contrary to popular opinion, there was no legal decision made in 1947 to ‘partition’ the land called Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. There was merely a recommendation by the UN General Assembly (Resolution 181). The Arabs refused to accept this and Judea and Samaria then remained, without change, part of the territory that the original Mandate for Palestine had established for a Jewish homeland.

In line with the understandings contained in Article 51 of the UN Charter and Articles 3 and 5 of Resolution 3314, Israel is within its rights to legally annex territory it has taken in a defensive war for the reasons of protection of its sovereign land and inhabitants I have outlined above.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Invention of the Palestinian People

The other day the question was put to me why so many keep saying that Palestinians are an invented people.

A simple question with a complex answer.

Until the late nineteenth century, the term Palestinian was used as a regional term.

Residents living in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean identified themselves primarily in terms of religion: Muslims felt far stronger bonds with remote co-religionists than with nearby Jews and Christians. Living in that area did not imply any sense of common political purpose or sense of discrete peoplehood or nationhood.

An identity as a people is one precursor to nationhood. And nationhood is the presence of common identity together with the three key elements of sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

The “Palestinians” have never had this, and they still don’t have it. The concept that such a people exists is being forced on the world to achieve a base political goal.

In actual fact, the deliberate creation of the “Palestinian people” as a discrete entity in 1967, and the political group known as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964 was for the political purpose of destroying a sovereign and legally mandated Jewish state.

Till that point in time, nor, it will be shown, after that time, was there ever ANY sense or mention of a “Palestinian” people or nation.

The term Palestinian was ALWAYS followed by a descriptive noun – Arab;  ie Palestinian Arab.

According to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, during the entire 400 year period of Ottoman rule (1517-1918), before the British set up the 30-year-long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine.”

When the Islamic armies conquered the Levant, they adopted the administrative name used by the Byzantines and dubbed part of Palestina Prima (“the first Palestine”) – more or less today’s Jerusalem area and the Shfela [coastal plain] – as “Jund Filastin.” Jund means “army;” Jund Filastin means “the Palestine military command.” In other words, the name did not signify the national identity of a “Palestinian people” who lived in the land, but instead, a military district, in line with the Byzantine nomenclature.

Until Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948, Palestine was the term for the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The word Palestinian was applied to anyone living in that area.

As late as 1909 the first recorded Arab to use the term “Palestinian” was Farid Georges Kassab, a Beirut-based Orthodox Christian who, in 1909, espoused sympathy for Zionism. Kassab’s 1909 book stated that “the Orthodox Palestinian Ottomans call themselves Arabs, and are in fact Arabs.” Even Kassab decried the use of the term “Palestinian” Arab. Nevertheless, apart from the ancient indigenous Jews in the Levant, the largely Muslim Arab population identified only as Arab and ONLY with the start of the British mandate, was the term used to describe both Jew and Arab. So, the term Palestinian did not take on its current popular meaning until the mid-20th century and was used as a regional reference.

On a related tangent, in 1948, the invasion of Israel by 6 pan-Arab armies had NOTHING to do with creating an Arab Palestinian state but ALL to do with a classic imperialist Muslim scramble for Palestinian territory. Had they succeeded, as the first secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdel Rahman Azzam, admitted to a British reporter, Transjordan “was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine with access to the Mediterranean at Gaza. The Egyptians would get the Negev. The Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to Lebanon.”

Had Israel lost the war, its territory would have been divided among the invading Arab forces. The name Palestine would have vanished into the dustbin of history.

So, are the “Palestinians” an invented people for purely political (anti-semitic) purposes?

Well, even Mandate Palestinian Arab leaders during the British mandate era (1920-48) who, as products of the Ottoman imperial system where religion constituted the linchpin of the socio-political order of things, had no real grasp of the phenomenon of nationalism. Hence, they had no interest in the evolution of a distinct Palestinian nation, or acknowledging a Palestinian “people”, because there simply wasn’t one.

As an example that there was no concept of “Palestinian” nationhood or peoplehood, the April 1920 pogrom in Jerusalem was not in the name of independence of the “Palestinian people” of the Mandate area, but under the demand for its incorporation into the (short-lived) Syrian kingdom, headed by Faisal ibn Hussein of Mecca….

In 1926, the Arab Executive Committee still referred to Palestine as the unlawfully severed southern part of “the one country of Syria, with its one population of the same language, origin, customs, and religious beliefs (emphasis mine), and its natural boundaries, as I pointed out earlier.

In July 1937, the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) justified its rejection of the Peel Commission’s recommendation for the partition of Palestine on the grounds that “this country does not belong only to [the] Palestine Arabs (that qualifying noun again….) but to the whole Arab and Muslim Worlds (emphasis mine).”

And finally, as late as August 1947, three months before the passing of the U.N. resolution partitioning Mandate Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, the AHC’s mouthpiece, al-Wahda, advocated the incorporation of Palestine (and Transjordan) into “Greater Syria (emphasis mine).”

No, there was no concept of “Palestinian people” but rather, always one of Palestinian Arabs who were part of the wider Arab Muslim ummah.

How did they then suddenly appear as homogeneous ethnic group in 1967 when not even the Arab High Commission had ever heard of them?

There are undereducated misconceptions too that pan-Arabism was of no consequence in the dialogue surrounding the authenticity of the “Palestinian” “people”. This is untrue.

Even the younger generation of post 1948 Arab activists supported this ideal as evidenced by Ahmad Shuqeiri, a Lebanon-born politician of mixed Egyptian, Hijazi, and Turkish descent who served as the Arab League’s deputy secretary-general. As he put it, “Palestine is part and parcel in the Arab homeland.”

Asked to clarify which part of the “Arab homeland” this specific territory belonged, he added that Palestine “is nothing but southern Syria.”

And so, it is no surprise that Yasser Arafat, the (Egyptian born and educated) father of the “Palestinian people” followed this pan-Arab line. The 1964 PLO charter defined the Palestinians as “an integral part of the Arab nation”, rather than a distinct nationality (emphasis mine) and vowed allegiance to the ideal of pan-Arab unity – that is, to Palestine’s eventual assimilation into “the greater Arab homeland.”

In 1996, even that bastion which proclaims itself as the leader in the “struggle” for the Palestinian “people”, Hamas, said this, “Islamic and traditional views reject the notion of establishing an independent Palestinian state … In the past, there was no independent Palestinian state. … [Hence] our main goal is to establish a great Islamic state, be it pan-Arabic or pan-Islamic… This…land…is not the property of the Palestinians…. This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world.”  (senior Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, 1996)

And finally, on this line of reasoning, it is not possible to go past the words of Azmi Bishara, founding leader of the nationalist Balad Party (with seats in the Israeli parliament since 1999). In a statement he made in 2002 he said: “My Palestinian identity never precedes my Arab identity…. I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation, there is [only] an Arab nation…. “

Not much more needs to be said; the concept of a Palestinian “people” engaged in a struggle of “liberation” from a colonial Jewish “oppressor” is a purposely misleading one, invented solely for the purpose of de-legitimising the Jewish state and its people.

The Levantine Arabs, up to and including 1948 , ALWAYS identified firstly on the basis of religion and secondly on the basis of ethnicity. Thus the Levant contained Christian ARABS, Muslim ARABS but only and always, Jews. In other words, the identity of those Arabs who today would like to be known as an ancient “Palestinian “people” have in actual fact NO distinguishing markers of a discrete peoplehood (ever) given that their identity is mostly based on shared customs and beliefs of their Arab Muslim brothers, ALL of them mediated by Islam.

Till 1967, nobody had ever heard of the “Palestinians” as a people, let alone a “people” steeped in antiquity. Its subsequent use is merely a political tool to delegitimise the Jewish claim to what was left of the division of the British Mandate into two projected Arab Muslim entities and one Jewish one.

However, there are those who will use meaningless terms like endogenesis and ethnogenesis in an attempt to pointlessly philosophise with words that have no concrete impact on the issue to hand.

Besides, the concept of a homogeneous, ethnic and disparate “Palestinian people” (endo/ethno genesis) is frankly ludicrous when one considers that through centuries of Muslim imperialism right down to the end of Ottoman Empire in 1918, caliphs and other rulers brought in hundreds of thousands of soldier slaves loyal to their pay masters.

The Tulunides brought in Turks and Negroes.

The Fatamids introduced Berbers, Slavs, Greeks, Kurds, and mercenaries of all kinds.

The Mamelukes imported legions of Georgians and Circassians.

Saladin brought in 150,000 Persians who were given lands in Galilee and the Sidon district for their services.

In the fourteenth century, 18,000 Yurate Tartars from the Euphrates were brought in, soon followed by 20,000 Ashiri and 4,000 Mongols who occupied the Jordan Valley and settled from Jerusalem south!! Mongols…

In 1830, as a further example, Mehemet [Muhammad] Ali colonized Jaffa and Nablus (Jewish Schem before the arab invasion and occupation…) with Egyptian soldiers and their Sudanese allies. So much so that british estimates of the 13,000 inhabitants of Jaffa, for example, ran at 8,000 Turco-Egyptians, 4,000 Greeks and Armenians, and 1,000 Maronites. The british did not consider that there were any Arabs at all in that city. ….

For her/his part, it would be a brave soul who would deny the constancy of the presence of the Jewish PEOPLE in the Levant over the past 3,000 years.

No, the whole concept of a “Palestinian people” is a base political strategy invented not to build a state but to destroy a neighbouring one. For this reason, many who are knowledgeable on this issue will continue to say they are an invented “people”.

Today, while the term Palestinian is applied to the Arabic-speaking residents of what is largely the State of Israel, this usage is purposely misleading because for most of human history, a “Palestinian” was simply a person born or living in that land with no connotation of being a “people”.

When used in reference only to non-Jews, it implies an historical claim to the territory in opposition to Israel. In reality, the concept of Palestine as a nation-state in opposition to Israel or as a racial group ( a “people”) predating the presence of Jewish inhabitants is historically false and is currently pushed as part of a broader strategy of delegitimising Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

The tactic of the myth of a “Palestinian people” is simple yet sophisticated: preaching and dispersing lies and distortions of reality. History proves that the bigger the lie and the more common its reiteration, the more it is accepted as authentic and genuine.

After all, who can believe that an entire national leadership would dare to totally distort and fabricate history in full?

But the notion of a “Palestinian people” has been forced on Europe and America through the ploy of telling all players what they want to hear.

To a guilty Europe, where there is a high level of guilt and remorse about its own colonialist past, the creation of Israel is pitched as an excess of a bygone European colonialist era where Europe is directly blamed for the creation of the Jewish state.

To the Americans, where many feel guilt and remorse over historic racism, the Palestinians depict Israel as a racist state, which treats them in the same way as African Americans were treated.

And for the broader international community and for human rights organizations, Israel is a cruel occupier that violates all human rights and freedoms of the Palestinians.

But no matter the myth of a Palestinian “people”,  ANY Palestinian national identity is overwhelmingly founded, and heavily predicated, on the negation of Jewish and Israeli identity, rather than on positive attributes or real history.

Arguably, the international community’s enabling and legitimizing of the wishes of a group of people with such an open hatred of a neighbouring sovereign state may be down to simple things: Oil, wilful naiveté, anti-semitism, and a politically correct unwillingness to offer any challenge to such falsehoods.

In the end though, it matters little. The modern re-constituted Jewish State of Israel and the Jewish people are celebrating 71 years of existence as contributing members of the family of nations; without the need to revise, falsify or fabricate its 3000 year old history.

The same cannot be said for the Palestinian “people”.