Beinart: between banality and tedium

In an article on July 8, 2020 in the New York Times, Peter Beinart confessed, without being asked to, and to whoever happened to read his article, that he no longer believed in a Jewish state.

Fortunately, I couldn’t care less about what Beinart believes, and in this sentiment I would in all likelihood be joined by around 6 million other Israelis.

Moving between flights of fancy and “reasoned” nonsense, Beinart explains that because 640,000 Jews live in what he terms “East Jerusalem”, because Israel controls 30% of the “west bank” and because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, it’s “…time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.”

His solution is a one-state solution of Jews and Arabs where there would now be “…one state that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem…”

In unfanciful language, what Beinart is saying is that he wants an end to Jewish sovereignty in Israel, an end to the Zionism which actioned that sovereignty and a “Beinartian” version of the “Palestinian” right of return argument.

Nobody in their right mind in Israel or America would accept such an outlandish proposal, and nobody in their right mind in Gaza and Ramallah could believe this would ever come to pass.

A child of the seventies, Beinart is either ignorant of Jewish history or far too cosseted in his Cambridge, Masschussets home to understand the realities and nuances of the Arab-Israeli conflict to bother to deal with the issue in an intellectually honest way.

Writing in Algemeiner, Ira Stoll highlights Beinart’s intellectual dishonesty best:

Beinart…describes Zionism as primarily a reaction to the Holocaust, when in fact it long predated that.

“This Holocaust lens leads many Jews to assume that anything short of Jewish statehood would mean Jewish suicide. But before the Holocaust, many leading Zionists did not believe that,” Beinart writes.

Actually, Herzl’s Der Judenstaat was published in 1896, almost a half-century before the Holocaust. For thousands of years before that, Jews prayed for a restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

But more than maintaining that Jews generally get too worked up about the Holocaust, Beinart engages in utterly fanciful projection together with his position that a Jewish state is effectively a travesty of human rights and equality.

Writing in The Tablet, Benjamin Kerstein critiques Beinart thus:

In fact, he (Beinart) assures us, “Palestinians will live peacefully alongside Jews when they are granted basic rights.”

“Israel-Palestine can be a Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home,” according to Beinart, who apparently is acquainted with the history of no other Middle Eastern country besides Israel where Jews, Muslims, and Christians do live peacefully side-by-side. “And building that home can bring liberation not just for Palestinians but for us, too….Beinart fails to grasp one of the central arguments of Zionism: Equal rights are essential, but they are not enough. For the Jews, true equal rights can only be realized in a Jewish state. And the proof is that Jews enjoyed equal rights in Europe for over a century…

 [However] the Holocaust is [the] ultimate proof…that “equal rights” in a secular Western society is no barrier to genocide when the Jews are involved, and that such rights can only be fully realized when the Jews are accorded equal collective rights, including the right to self-defense, which is only possible in a Jewish state.

The ridiculous nature of Beinart’s statement “Palestinians (Muslim Arabs) will live peacefully alongside Jews when they are granted basic rights” flies in the face not only of recorded history in the Levant but in Arab majority countries everywhere.

It is difficult to know why anybody should give this privileged ivy league professor any air time for views which are not new and are not workable.

Perhaps as Daniel Gordis said: “Beinart…knows that for his readers to buy his thesis, it is important that they not know very much. Luckily for him, that is a safe bet.”

The Palestinian Right of Return: a mirage of misunderstanding

The other day, the question was put to me that if the Palestinian “right of return” was taken out of the current Palestinian – Israeli conflict, could one list other major obstacles to a peaceful solution to the conflict

In writing the article below, I relied on the intellectual property of works by Ruth Lapidot, Avinoam Sharon, Dore Gold, Jonathan Halevi, Daniel Taub, Dianne Morrison and Justus Weiner.

Interesting (and timely) as the question was, I considered the two parts of the question and answered the second part first. The bulk of the article, however, deals with the Palestinian (sic) “right of return” (sic). And, as I progressed with the writing of the article, the question required a range of increasingly involved, though legally unequivocal answers. The easy answers to major obstacles to peace first:

  1. Dissolve the Arab-Muslim voting bloc and its automatic majority status in the UN.

The reason is that this voting bloc has expanded its circle of influence in the General Assembly to the humanitarian and human rights institutions of the international community in order to establish legal principles that can be used as tools against Israel and in the effort to harness international institutions as part of that campaign and thus present obstacles rather than solutions to a prospective peaceful outcome.

  1. Withhold all payment/grants to the PA until it can show its school curriculum does not espouse anti- Jew hatred.
  2. Grant incremental monetary aid to the PA for each year it can DEMONSTRATE its re-vamped curriculum is working according to established criteria…
  3. Mandate that the 1967 cease fire lines were never “borders” and thus Israel can never return to what was never there in the first place.

The theoretical effect of the above would be the beginning of education for life and not martyrdom, a vision of economic and social prosperity demonstrated by fiscal and social reform and a letting go of the myths that 1967 or even 1948 are borders to which an additional prospective Arab Muslim state or confederation could aspire.

Defining the Meaning of the Right of Return

Now we can deal with the so-called “right” of return.

MahmoAbbas and the Palestinian Authority that derives its authority from the terrorist-entwined PLO, demands Israeli adherence to UNGA Resolution 194 (December 1948) and UNSC Resolution 242 (November 1967): “…refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return…”

  1. Immediately, we run into a problem, namely that the generational “refugees” have demonstrated time and again, over 72 years, that they have no intention of living in peace with their neighbours. There is little point in cataloguing the sad history of Arab-on-Jew violence 1948 to 2020 and Israeli responses to that ongoing violence.
  2. Ironically, and this escapes Abbas and his supporters, all the Arab states originally rejected this resolution because it assumed recognition of Israel, and only later did they come to come to rely on it heavily and conveniently interpreted it to be recognition of a wholesale right to repatriation.

Additionally, Abbas, in the tradition of his PLO mentor Arafat, has demanded that UN Security Council Resolution 242 remain the pivotal point of reference in all Arab-Israeli diplomacy, and particularly since 1967. Thus, he adheres to the principle that any major Arab-Israeli agreement refer to Resolution 242 as a binding requirement on the Israelis.

Commentary:

  1. Nowhere in either Resolution 194 OR 242 is the word “Palestinian” mentioned. I have quoted verbatim UNGA Resolution 194 above. For its part, Resolution 242 Paragraph 2 (b) states that the parties should “affirm the necessity” for “…achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.”
  2. Unquestionably, words and meaning are of paramount importance when legislating laws for the international community.

UNGA Resolution 194 (1948) Paragraph 2 states: “…The General Assembly… Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date…”

This is a very careful recommendation using the operative word “should” (not shall), and subjecting the recommended return to several conditions.

Apart from not recognising, stating or implying any “right”, the paragraph stipulates that the “permission” is subject to two conditions – that the refugee wishes to return, and that he wishes to live at peace with his neighbours. The violence that erupted as late as June 2020 forecloses any hope for a peaceful co-existence between Israelis and masses of returning refugees. And if further evidence of poor intent was required, the reader is referred to Articles 2, 9, 19 and 20 of the PLO Charter, Articles 12 and 19 of the Fatah Constitution as well as the (unchanged) Hamas Charter…)

As well, conditions were quite explicitly expressed in Resolution 242 (1967) where in Paragraph 2 the Council “Affirms further the necessity… (b) for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem”. The Council did not propose a specific solution, nor did it limit, stipulate or imply the provision specifically to Arab refugees, probably because the right to compensation of Jewish refugees from Arab lands also deserves a “just settlement”. Thus, there is no legal basis, no matter how interpreted, for the Arab claim that resolution 242 explicitly or implicitly incorporates the solution recommended by General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948.

So, with UNGA Resolution 194 remaining a recommendation, what of the Arab insistence on Israeli adherence to, and compliance with, a “legally binding” UNSC 242 ruling?

On March 19, 1992, replying to a question, the Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said that “[a] resolution not based on Chapter VII is non-binding. For your information, Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) is not based on Chapter VII of the Charter.”

In a statement of clarification it was said that “the resolution is not enforceable since it was not adopted under Chapter VII.”(“action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression.”).

Thus it would seem that the resolution, because it was filed under Chapter VI of the UN Charter which deals with “pacific resolution of disputes”, (made for the Security Council to show its opinion at the time without obligating a party, and thus a legally non-binding classification under international law) was also a recommendation despite its formulation in the Security Council.

  1. To continue, in deciding who is a “refugee”, one is to be guided by the 1951–1967 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees which states that a refugee is any person who

“… owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

Most readers will immediately point out that Israel today holds 2 million Arab Israeli citizens of diverse political persuasions who practice their religion and culture without fear or favour and who are protected by the Israel Defence Force of the State of Israel in the event of attacks by Israel’s Arab neighbours.

The reader will also note that there is no mention in the Convention’s definition of descendants or spouses. This is in opposition to the practice of the UNRWA which has, since 1949, registered the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren born to the refugees while co-consequently not systematically deleting all deceased persons from its registry.

Moreover, the convention ceases to apply to a person who, amongst other things, “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.” Under this definition, the number of Palestinians qualifying for refugee status would be well below half a million.

Does Resolution 242 guarantee Palestinians a right of return?

However, one has to ask whether Resolution 242 recognizes that the “Palestinian” refugees have a right to return to Israel?

According to the Arab point of view, the answer is yes; according to the Israeli opinion it is no.

The Israeli interpretation is based on a plain reading of the text, which speaks of a just settlement, without indicating what that settlement should be.

The Arab interpretation, however, claims that Resolution 242 has, by implication, endorsed General Assembly Resolution 194(III) of 1948(31) which, in their opinion, has recognized a right of return for the refugees.

This Arab interpretation is as erroneous as it is self-serving.

In international law, if there had been an intention to incorporate UNGA Resolution 194(III), it would have been expressly stated. It was not, and any attributed “implication” is self-serving (here with the express stated intention of destroying the Jewish state).

One cannot, post facto, read into a resolution something which is not mentioned nor hinted at in it.

And besides, where UNGA Resolution 194(III) does not confer a right of return and, like most General Assembly resolutions, remained a recommendation, UN Security Council Resolution 242 was, as mentioned above, also a recommendation based on Chapter VI of the UN Charter.

However, what 242 did do was to state clearly its recommendation that the parties concerned affirm the principle of the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.

It also, along with Resolution 338, served as the only agreed legal basis for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict that was acceptable to both Israel and the Arab states (Syria agreed after the 1973 Yom Kippur War to Resolution 242 when it accepted Resolution 338 which refers to a resolution of the conflict that must be based on Resolution 242).

Conclusion

With regard to the right of return, I noted that the Arab adherence to Resolution 194 was an adherence to a recommendation while its adherence to  Resolution 242 remains, per former Secretary General Butros-Ghali, unenforceable.

What remains, after 72 years of often violent intransigence, the refusal of 14 peace offers and three offers of statehood, is the last remaining option currently on the table (per Resolutions 242, 338 and the framework of Oslo): come to the party; negotiate land for peace; or even the little that remains may not be available in any meaningful way as either a state or even a confederation with Jordan.

Israel for its part does not need to bend over backwards any longer to accommodate demonstrably hostile “Palestinian” Arab interests. That mistake was already made back in 1967 with the (well-intentioned) granting of the waqf to Jordan for administering Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

In the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, nothing will change until the Palestinians, along with the larger Arab-Muslim world, come to terms with the fact that they are not uniquely persecuted, that Israel is not uniquely evil, and that compromise is a core pre-requisite for statehood however defined.

Israel remains a state that is dedicated to human rights, civil liberties, and democratic principles. For its part, and in order to answer the national aspiration of the Jewish diaspora, it absorbed Jewish refugees that came from all over the world with the aim of building a nation state through numerous compromises.

Contrast this with the interview with Akiva Eldar from Ha’aretz on July 19, 2007, where Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stated that, because his loyalty was to the ideological legacy of Arafat, he believed that Israel must recognize Palestinian right of return voluntarily or by coercion. No compromise here.

Or this 2009 statement of the party of moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the Sixth Fatah Congress in 2009 that updated the movement’s ideological platform for the first time since its previous convening in 1989.

At the Congress, Fatah determined that one of its fundamental principles was what was defined as “a right to resistance.”:

“The Fatah Movement cleaves to the right of the Palestinian people to oppose occupation with all legitimate means including its right to realize the armed struggle.”

In 2020, much more of the world is coming to realise that the Palestinian demand of the right of return has been used more as a political playing card than a sincere expression of a resolution to the Arab- Israeli conflict.

This realisation becomes especially stark as it sinks in that Palestinians are the only group since the end of the second world war to have kept their refugee status and to have passed this status down to over four generations, creating a problem of millions of “refugees” that are kept as pawns in a political game instead of solving either their humanitarian situation or their stated political aspirations.

I have outlined above why and how both Resolution 194 and 242 are non-binding, and where 242 recommends that any settlement be agreed through compromise and negotiation.

Yet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has never publicly deviated from the PLO’s fundamental position on this matter. Abbas’ attitude is totally identical to that of Yasser Arafat.

For example, at the September 2010 summit meeting in Washington that launched the renewed political negotiations with Israel, Abbas reiterated three times in his short address the importance of establishing a “just peace,” and said that the Palestinian people “need more than anything else, security, justice, and peace.”8

The word “compromise” was never mentioned, and it does not appear at all in his reference to a future agreement with Israel and particularly regarding the refugee problem.

If only for this reason, and for the calculated demographic and political chaos it entails for a sovereign Jewish state, the Palestinian (sic) demand for a “right of return” (sic) does not have its heart in the right place, is not legally viable and can never be the basis for any Palestinian state or confederation building.

And, with the continued thawing of Israeli – Gulf Arab states relations, Israel’s cordial and mutually beneficial relations with the Turkmenic Muslim states, the re-opening of Muslim Africa once again to Israeli diplomatic effort, the increasing scrutiny and defunding of Hezballah and Iran in the international community and Trump’s proposed Deal of the Century, even that diminishing window of opportunity seems to be disappearing after 72 years of a Palestinian (sic) policy of non-normalisation and intransigence towards the Israelis.

Did the British promise Palestine to the Palestinians?

Introduction

On 19 May, 2020, PA President Mahmoud Abbas of the Oslo-devised Palestinian Authority (PA) stated that he henceforth rescinded all security arrangements set in place by Oslo with the Israelis.

The politics and timing of Abbas’ statement notwithstanding, and with the pending application of Israeli law to the Jordan Valley promised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early July, it is timely to consider what the historical background is of the on-paper State of Palestine and whether the Mandate Arabs were promised a state called Palestine in the first place.

Based on the research of Isaiah Friedman, Efraim Karsh, Einat Wilf, Elie Kedourie and extracts from the diary of Robert Meinertzhagen, this article will posit that then, as now, the concept of a promised Palestinian state was a propaganda initiative based on historical revision for a state that was never promised nor intended.

Indeed, the only state which was promised was land for a Jewish state. The “Palestinian Question” is no more than the latest iteration of the 100 year Arab-Israeli conflict cemented into place by a series of British screw-ups which

continue to make peace impossible.

Background

The popular belief that the creation of a promised Arab state in Palestine was based on the false premise that the Arabs would, 1914-1918, rise and eagerly substitute an Arab ruler for an Ottoman Caliphate supported by Britain.

The fact was that the Arabs in almost the whole of the Fertile Crescent remained loyal to Turkey. The common bond was religion and loyalty to the Caliph-Sultan in Constantinople while the British plan of an Arab Caliphate controlled by Britain was a contradiction in terms.

It was also Britain’s mistaken assessment that the Arabs, given certain inducements, would be willing to join the Allies in the war against Turkey.

However, the fact remained that a British-planned general Arab insurrection in all the Fertile Crescent, while planned, never took place. It was mainly the soldiers of Britain, the Commonwealth, and India who played a part in the overthrow of Ottoman rule, not the Arabs. The latter by and large remained loyal to Turkey throughout the war. About 300,000 Arabs fought dutifully in the Ottoman army against the British.

Hussein and the “State of Palestine”

Hussein of the Saudi Arabian Hejaz, was essentially loyal to Turkey and when the War broke out, who offered assistance to the Turks, both military and political while concurrently negotiating with the British. However, the Ottomans distrusted Hussein and dispatched a squad to assassinate him. Fortunately for Hussein the squad was caught. It was only then that Hussein burned his bridges with the Turks and threw in his lot with the British who were completely unaware of Hussein’s involvement with the Turks.

Thus, Hussein’s revolt against Turkey was not in consequence of British promises of a “Palestinian” homeland, but a “revolt” primarily concerned with his own physical survival as the only way of saving himself and his family from the Turkish gallows.

As Friedman pointedly states, “It was completely devoid of struggle for liberation, statehood or Arab independence as erroneously portrayed in historiography.”

Additionally, the British expectation that Pan-Arabism would form an antidote to Turco-German–inspired Pan-Islamism also proved to be a miscalculation.

The Arabs did not regard Turkish rule as alien and did not feel oppressed. As Muslims, they had no desire to separate themselves from a Muslim Empire.

William Yale, the American Intelligence Agent at the time, familiar with the East, stated unequivocally that the Muslims preferred the tyranny and despotism of a Muslim government to the benevolent just rule of a Christian power. He assessed that “the so-called Arab Movement” was essentially and fundamentally a religious, not a national, movement. He predicted that “A strong Arab Empire would be a menace to the peace of the Western World” and that “Pan-Arabism will turn into fanatical Islamism.”

By the early twenties, Philip Graves (1923, 92–3.) stated that the Levantine Arabs were far more interested in Islam than in nationalism and that nationalism centred around a negative hate of Jews and foreigners rather than a desire to create a Palestinian state.

In 1997, Rashid Khalidi (1997, 153), and no friend of Israel, concurred, saying that “local loyalties have never been completely superseded…and they still retain their vitality in the cities and villages of Palestine.” In other words, the Levantine Arabs were loyal to their clans and were not interested in notions of Palestinian Nationalism, even if they supported a non-divided Muslim entity in the region.

Time and again, following the incorporation of the Balfour Declaration into the Mandate for Palestine, the legal position in international law reiterated the recognition of the “Jewish people” in international law.

Never was such a legal ruling made or intimated about the “Palestinian people”.

The Mandate also recognized the historical connection between the Jewish people and Palestine because they had never renounced their claim to their ancient homeland. It was their titledeed.

No such argument can be advanced in favour of the “Palestinian people”.

Throughout their history in the Levant after the Arab conquests and colonisation, the Levantine Arabs remained a kaleidoscope of races and creeds, and national history, tradition, and sentiment were practically absent. Palestine did not constitute a separate administrative unit and its Arabic-speaking population was not a recognized entity.

Even by end November 1917, it was still under Turkish sovereignty and the Palestinian Arabs did not have the status of hosts whose approval of the Jewish National Home had to be solicited. And it was only in 1922 that Turkey renounced sovereignty over her former provinces in Asia and accorded, by standards of international law, legal validity to the decisions that had been taken at the San Remo Conference in April 1920.

With Regard to San Remo, the Conference, 1920, assigned the entire land mass between the Jordan River and the Sea to the Jewish people and this was reiterated by the League of Nations, 1922, and incorporated into the UN Charter, Article 80, which prohibited the UN to tamper with the League of Nations decisions related to Israel’s legality in the area.

Thus, 1967 “borders” for a proposed Palestinian state have no legal validity because those lines were a ceasefire line and any territories beyond reclaimed by Israel in a defensive war have always been subject to land for peace deals. But peace, as the historical record shows, has not been what the “Palestinians” have wanted.

Was Palestine Promised to the Palestinians?

The short answer to this is “No”.

Palestine was always intended to be a homeland for the Jews. Balfour intended this and the Treaty of Sevres legalised it. Jordan was created through a series of indescribably detailed errors and personal political incompetencies by the British rulers and Jordan never had legal title to Judea and Samaria.

No part of Palestine was allotted for an Arab National Home or state, since Arab self-determination was being generously granted elsewhere – in Syria, Iraq (nee Mesopotamia), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and North Africa – which led to the establishment of the 21 Arab states of today, over a vast land mass from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.

Was there a Palestinian “national identity” prior to 1964?

On the 5th April, 2020, Yahya Sinwar, terror leader of Hamas in Gaza promised that if one “Palestinian” died in Gaza he would ensure that 6 million Jews would be rendered by his forces unable to breathe.

Low-base Arab-media-ready histrionics aside, this article asks if there is or was ever such a thing as “Palestinian” identity or a “Palestinian” “nation”.

 

Background of Palestinian Nationalism

Historically, the idea and practice of a “Palestinian nation” in the Levant is very new.

Further, the idea of a “Palestinian nation” whose “lands” have been stolen and their “territories” “occupied” is but the latest transparent iteration of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict raging for 100 years.

In contrast to the Jewish people had kept the same name and subjective-objective identity in each century for over 2,500 years, among local Muslim Arabs, the formation of a distinct, subjective-objective “Palestinian” identity did not generally occur before the second half of the 20th century (specifics later).

For over 2,500 years, Palestine was merely a geographical area – not a national identity. It was only after the creation of British Mandate for Palestine that the world referred to Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Bedouin and Palestinian Arabs. These terms simply referred to Jews, Bedouin or Arabs living in the geographical region of Palestine.

That is to say, until the 1919-1920 Paris Peace Conference, nobody in Paris knew about a “Palestinian” people.

Had there then been such a Palestinian “people”, its existence would have been known to Prince Feisal, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, France’s Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, U.K. Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and to the other leaders who came to work on the peace treaties at the end of WWI and after the defeat of the German-allied Ottoman Empire from whence arose the Arab Muslim states and nations of Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon in the Levant.

In fact, the victorious Allied Powers agreed to create yet another Arab state of Greater Syria, which they expected would cover what is today Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.

For its part, and prior to the initiation of the Mandate for Palestine, the Ottoman Empire never had a province or sub-provincial unit called, or co-extensive with, “Palestine,” no matter how conceived.

Nor had Muslim history ever known a state or province called “Palestine.”

But the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920 was also majorly concerned with the task of accommodating the claims to self-determination of well-known peoples with long histories of self-affirmation and bitter suffering under foreign oppression. This was absolutely in line with Article 22 of the 1918 Covenant of the League of Nations, forerunner of today’s United Nations.

This consideration on touching the self-determination issues of such famous peoples as the the Poles, the Finns, the Letts, the Latvians, the Estonians, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Slovenes, the Croats, the Serbs, the Italians, the Hungarians, the Romanians, the Bulgarians, the Greeks, the Turks, the Kurds, the Armenians, the Arabs, and the Jews.

In this larger context, just one decision among many was the creation of “a national home” for the Jewish people.

The international decision to create a national home for the Jewish people was made explicitly due to “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” This was clear recognition of the Jewish people’s long-affirmed and continuing links to its aboriginal homeland.

Even though 77% of the Palestine Mandate became Trans-Jordan (then Jordan in 1946), the years between 1922-1948 saw the remainder of the land destined for the Jewish homeland swell its Arab numbers by a little more than three times as a result of the labour and wage opportunities of Jewish settlement and enterprise on the land in line with international treaties and law (San Remo). And, for what it’s worth, here is nota single reference to the ARABS as “Palestinians” ANYWHERE in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Who self-identified as Palestinian before 1948?

Before 1948, the adjective “Palestinian” was very often used as a synonym for “Jewish.”

For this reason, the name “Palestine” and many other specific features of the 1922 Palestine Mandate were too closely associated with Jews and Zionism to have offered much of a focus for Muslim Arabs. Therefore, they generally did not identify as “Palestinian” until the “Palestine” trademark had been definitely abandoned by the Jews in May 1948 with the declaration of the State of Israel.

Palestinians in the 1960s

After the defeat of the Ottomans, Arab leaders expressed no vision or desire to create a distinct Palestinian people. Such a “people”, touted by a baleful Arab League as “indigenous” and “ancient” only arose formally after the Arab League conference of 1964 in Cairo.

This is evidenced by the historical record that at the Paris Peace Conference, Prince Feisal, as principal Arab leader at the Paris Peace Conference, specifically accepted the plan to create “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

Besides, his father, the Hashemite King of the Hedjaz (later part of Saudi Arabia) was party to the 1920 Sevres Treaty that explicitly stipulated that there would be “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

More than that, the governments of Egypt and Jordan and the broader Arab world showed absolutely no interest in the self-determination of a “Palestinian people”. This is evidenced by the fact that here was NEVER a separate political entity among the Arabs for indicating an Arab group known as “Palestinians” until 1967 and this political group was not recognized by even other Arab countries until the Rabat Summit Conference in 1974.

First, they rejected the 1947 U.N. General Assembly resolution recommending an additional Arab state alongside Israel in 1948. And second, no Palestinian state was created between 1948 and 1967, when Egypt held the Gaza Strip and Jordan had East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Evidence of Palestinian Nationhood

There is no evidence the Arabs of Gaza, Judea and Samaria identified as a separate nation prior to, or much later than, 1964 due to on-going European self-interest and the Arab OPEC oil embargo of 1973.

Rather, the Arabs of Gaza, Judea and Samaria saw themselves as part of the broader Arab nation and specifically denied any real Palestinian nationalism.

At the risk re-quoting a telling quote, on March 31, 1977, Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, in which he said: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.”

This lack of evidence despite the currently vaunted cries of “Palestinian nationalism” is further confirmed by the Article 1 of the 1964 Palestinian National Charter which starts thus: “– The Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.” It is also flogged in the hysterical overreaction of Palestinian leaders who date their people’s ancestry to the Upper Paleolithic period suggesting deep insecurity on this issue as they desperately search for legacy.

As late as 1996, Azmi Bishara, Arab Party member (at the time) of Parliament in Israel’s Knesset stated in response to a question about Palestinian nationality: “Well, I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation at all; I think there is an Arab nation. I always thought so, and I have not changed my mind.”

Palestinian nationalism failed because it remained resolutely negative in character. Witness the essential symbols of Palestine: a fighter holding a rifle and a map that erases Israel completely. It is a nationalism – and, thus later, an (morbid) identity – based in large part on negation of Other, preferably through violence. Add to this the adoption of the Palestinian cause by Islamists globally to pull Palestinian identity toward continued conflict and you have, not the making of a nation state so much, as a proven and documented recipe in other parts of the world for a failed state and a concomitant “national identity” which borders on chaos. Any “national identity” today in the Arab populations of Gaza or Judea is also fractured and dysfunctional dependent as they are are on weak state and social institutions, but where the generally strong security institutions are mapped onto tribal and clan groups and where these security elites are entrenched with guns and followers.

In conclusion

Be that as it may, today, Palestinians (sic) have their own parliament, government(s) and police force(s). They do not have an army, nor do they control their borders. But by that same token, can Palestinians really claim that their basic right to self-determination is being hindered when they are already ruling themselves?

More importantly, does self-determination (state/nationhood) take precedence over the rights of their neighbours to live in peace and security with defensible borders in light of 100 years of Arab aggression designed to drive those very neighbours out?

By any definition of the term “nation” there is no doubt there is no such thing as a “Palestinian nation”. There never has been. It remains ossified in a 100 year hatred of Jews who after millennia of dispersal and oppression by Arabs and Europeans, dared to become independent in their aboriginal homeland.

Chag Pesach Kasher ve Sameach.

April 2020

Trump’s Deal of the Century: Deal or No Deal?

Definitely a Deal!

Mahmoud Abbas rejected Trump’s peace plan the moment after it was declared. The Guardian newspaper commented that the plan flagrantly disregarded “…Palestinian aspirations of freedom and sovereignty.” Other commentators bemoaned the fact the Palestinians were not even at the White House unveiling ceremony.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday that “a wind of madness is sweeping the globe,” where legally binding U.N. Security Council resolutions “are being disrespected before the ink is even dry.”

The more harsh critics of peace in the Levant even stated that the peace deal was an attempt to completely undermine international law, a theme highlighted by the High Rep of the EU, Josep Borrell, who threatened that aspects of the Trump plan, “if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.” It should be noted that Borrell’s position does not represent all echelons of the EU as a body and is unlikely to be adopted wholesale by that body.

The Arab League as Hostage to Ramallah

Writing in an op-ed generally supportive of Abbas and Palestine in the 29 January edition of the BBC News, Jeremy Bowen states that “Palestinian negotiators say they made huge concessions, not least accepting Israel’s existence in around 78% of their historic homeland.”

While, today, Abbas is working on extracting a condemnation of the peace deal from the UN, an unlikely scenario, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Qatar and the UAE have welcomed the peace plan in typical style by both supporting the deal in Washington and then promising their home media they would never abandon the Palestinian right to a sovereign state between the river and the sea.

For in actual fact, because Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Qatar and the UAE can’t have it both ways, and because the Hamas and PLO charters have never been changed, Palestinian sovereignty and nationhood will, for them, only be achieved by the removal of Israel as a Jewish state.

Of course, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the UAE as well as other Muslim majority states now realise that after decades of creating a fiction of a new Arab nation which just happened to be wherever Israel controlled territory, Israel could actually be useful to them economically, medically and in national security terms.

The only problem was that Abbas, due to the fiction created for the PLO and Arafat by the Arab League and its Russian “advisors’ in 1964, Mahmoud Abbas holds a veto over their foreign policy. As Abramson nicely puts it: “[They] can’t pursue a strategic relationship that would help strengthen [their] regime, secure [their] country, improve the lives of [their] citizens, and promote regional stability because Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO are against it.”

And so, the Palestinian rejection of a plan they haven’t seen, nor been willing to be a part of, allows former Al Jazeera presenter and current Deputy Director of the Arab American Institute, Omar Baddar to state that he interprets that Resolution 242 insists that “…Israel is obligated to withdraw fully from the (emphasis mine) occupied Palestinian territory; that is, all the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.” Further, he admonished that the deal infantilises Palestinians and underscores as “journalistic negligence”, increased media trashing of the Trump plan to give Palestinians land for a state comparable in size to the territory of the West Bank and Gaza pre-1967, including 30% of Area C which is under legal Israeli administration.

And that brings us back to Baddar’s claim citing Resolution 242 that Israel undertook to withdraw fully from the occupied Palestinian territory.

What UNSC Resolution 242 does not say

As somebody who follows closely Israel’s legal position vis a vis the Arab Israeli conflict, it is important to note here the elements that are not mentioned in Resolution 242.

  • The resolution does not speak of a Palestinian people or a Palestinian state.
  • It does not mention Jerusalem.
  • The resolution does not refer to a so-called right of return for the Palestinians. It speaks of a “just settlement of the refugee problem,” without even characterizing it as a specifically Palestinian refugee problem.
  • It does not refer to direct negotiations; that subject was taboo for the Arabs in 1967 following the ongoing Khartoum refusal and the 3 Nos….

For pro-Palestinians like Baddar, the central argument has been that Resolution 242 calls for “land for peace” — for Israel’s total withdrawal from the territories captured by it in June 1967, in return for peace.

If Baddar was a responsible or nuanced commentator, he would acknowledge the following:

  1. nowhere in the resolution does the phrase “land for peace” occur.
  2. The Resolution never once calls for full Israeli withdrawal from the territories in return for a full peace.
  3. Resolution 242 demands the right of every state in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries
  4. withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories captured in the 1967 war [Note the purposeful omission of the definite article “the” in the resolution)
  5. the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war

Legal implications of Resolution 242

Recognised borders

Logically and legally, Resolution 242 can only be correctly interpreted if the three components in points 3-5 are read together with a view to reconciling them with one another.

What proponents of UNSCR 242 conveniently ignore are that Israel’s pre-1967 armistice demarcation lines met neither of the specifications set out in point 3 above; they were neither “secure,” and “recognized,” nor were they “boundaries. They were merely armistice demarcation as reinforced by a statement made by Jordanian Ambassador El-Farra in the UN Security Council only a few days before the outbreak of the Six-Day War when Jordan lost what they had acquired illegally in 1948:

“There is an Armistice Agreement. The agreement did not fix boundaries; […] Thus I know of no boundary; I know of a situation frozen by an Armistice Agreement.”

Complete withdrawal

For non-legal commentators like Baddar, perpetuating the falsehood that Resolution 242 requires the total withdrawal of Israel from all the territories captured in June 1967 is understandable if, as is often the case in the mass/popular media, inaccurate.

In actual fact, article 1(i) of the resolution calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The article was carefully drafted in English by its British sponsors, in consultation with the U.S. delegation. It deliberately omitted the definite article (the term used is “withdrawal from territories” rather than “withdrawal from the territories”)

Despite the vehement opposition by the Arabs and their Soviet advisors regarding the omission of the definite article “the”, less than twenty-four hours before the resolution was adopted, then Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin sent a letter to U.S. President Lyndon Johnson demanding that the resolution explicitly state that Israel be called upon to withdraw to its pre-war positions. Johnson replied that the text was balanced and no changes could be introduced at that stage.

No changes were ever made since.

And, to make assurance double sure, two years later, British Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart was asked if the resolution called upon Israel to withdraw from all the territories. He replied to the questioner: “No Sir, this is not the phrase used in the resolution. The resolution speaks of secure and recognized boundaries. Those words must be read concurrently with the statement on withdrawal.”

Acquisition of territory by war

The former president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Dame Rosalyn Higgins stated (1970) that “…there is nothing either in the UN Charter or general international law which leads one to suppose that military occupation, pending a peace treaty, (emphasis added) is illegal….The law of military occupation…remains entirely relevant, and until such time as the Arab nations agree to negotiate a peace treaty, Israel is in legal terms entitled to remain in the territories that she now holds.” (Rosalyn Higgins, “The Place of International Law in the Settlement of Disputes by the Security Council,” Am. J. Int’l L. (1964), 1, 7–8.)

Moreover, with specific regard to Judea and Samaria, Israel’s rights there exceed those of a mere military occupant.

In 1948 five Arab armies invaded Palestine with the declared purpose of crushing by military force, the new State of Israel in violation of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

As former judge and ICJ president Schwebel stated (1970): “…Egypt’s seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan’s seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, were unlawful… [and that] the Egyptian occupation of Gaza, and the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank and [the Old City of] Jerusalem, could not vest in Egypt and Jordan lawful control, whether as Occupying Power or sovereign” (Stephen M. Shwebel, “What Weight to Conquest?” Am. J. Int’l.L. 64 (1970).

If only for this considered legal opinion in international law, the myth of “sovereign” “Palestinian” land is a nonsense rivalling that of the myth of the “indigenous Palestinians”.

In other words, the legal standing of Israel in these territories is therefore that of a state, which, as a result of measures of self-defense taken against forces that had unlawfully entered Palestinian territory with a view to crushing it, is lawfully in control of territories in respect of which no other state can show better title. Israel has a priority claim of right, and since they were not taken from any other sovereign state, the Hague Regulations 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention do not apply to them.

In order to explain this clearly, it is important to state that Israel’s position regarding the non-applicability of the Hague Regulations is legally founded. Since Jordan’s annexation of Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1950 did not gain international recognition and Jordan’s occupation was achieved by illegal use of force (not in self-defense, i.e., in contravention of international law), Jordan was not a legitimate sovereign power in that territory. The Regulations concerning occupied territories (Regulations 42-56) apply, according to the text of the Convention, to territories seized from a legitimate sovereign. Therefore, Israel’s position that the provisions of the Regulations do not apply to the West Bank is well-founded.

Again here, legally, the claim of the Palestinians that Israel has appropriated their “sovereign” land is both a lie and unsupported in international law.

In this context, the Trump plan has adhered to the letter of international law with regard to recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, to legal interpretations by ICJ judges of UNSC Resolution 242, by vindication from the actual writers of 242 as to the intended meaning of their words and to a recognition of facts on the ground that the biggest impediment to peace in the region is a (successful) Arab propaganda initiative that Israel occupies sovereign “Palestinian” land (there was never any such thing) as well as the decades of unaccountability both fiscally and politically, permitted largely migrant Arabs and their leaders in Gaza and Ramallah who wish now to be known as Palestinians.

In the past, Palestinians could generally count on the Arab countries — not just to openly fight wars for their cause, as they did in 1948 and 1967, but to stand firmly behind them, accepting what the Palestinians accept and rejecting what the Palestinians reject. This is no longer the case.

So although the Palestinians were still able to rally the Arab League — a group already a shadow of its former powerful self — to join in their rejection of Trump’s plan, their isolation in the Arab world is growing more apparent.

But What About the Refugees?

Nowhere is the myth of “Palestine’ and its “Palestinian refugees” more apparent than in passion the question of refugees engenders.

By Israeli estimates in 1948, the number of Arab refugees was held to be around 530,000. Those Arab refugees received support and assistance from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), established by the UN General Assembly in 1949.

By 2000, UNRWA, the major employer in Gaza, stated that the number of “Palestinian” Arab refugees was now 3.5 million and that the UN more broadly supports 5 million Palestinian refugees….. This number included those who had been born in neighbouring states, their spouses from those states, their children and grandchildren.

UNRWA claims to be working within UN guidelines and as codified by the 1951–1967 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

However, the 1951–1967 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees does not mention in this definition, descendants or spouse of 1948 Arab refugees. That is a uniquely Palestinian UNRWA interpretation of the ruling geared, as it is, to overrunning the Jewish state demographically. Moreover, the convention ceases to apply to a person who, inter alia, “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.

In the context of general international law one must also observe that humanitarian law conventions (such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War) have not dealt with a right of return.

The best explication we have regarding Palestinian refugees is General Assembly Resolution 194(III) of December 11, 1948, Paragraph 11 which states “…The General Assembly…resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors (emphasis added) should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date…”

In 72 years of the Arab Israeli conflict, living at peace with their neighbours has never been the view of the Palestinian leadership in either Ramallah or Gaza. It still isn’t.

What the Palestinian leadership has created, since the late 60s, through the help of the Arab League and its Soviet advisors, is a lie about sovereignty and indigeneity solely as a mechanism to delegitimise the existence of a Jewish state.

That lie is presented as fact in its schools and the hatred for a “sovereign” loss that never was and an “indigeneity” history has no record of.

No Palestinian state, nation or country has ever been a High Contracting Party per the terms of reference of the 4th Geneva Convention. The Jordanian and Egyptian territorial takeovers were illegal in international law. Ramallah has very little in the bank in trying to make any such case in the international courts.

It knows this and has clouded the base issue with claims of generational refugee repatriation (not recognised anywhere else in the world, a return to 1967 borders (there is no such entity) and, when all else has failed, a call by Abbas for the blood of its “martyrs” to free Jerusalem (the ever-reliable “al-aqsa is burning” and religious crusade).

For the Palestinians, 2020 has started just like 1920 ended – marking 100 years of statelessness.

However, Fateh emphasises that “…the people to blame for the tragic plight of the Palestinians are the Arabs and Islamists who have egged them on to hang on to the “all or nothing” strategy that has failed every time it has been invoked.”

Never a truer line was written. Unable to countenance Jewish sovereignty in the region, the Arabs went to war in 1948 to erase it. They failed. As they did in 1967 and 1973, the 1982 Lebanese incursion, the intifadas and the rocket wars.

In 1979, Egypt realised that fighting, losing and regrouping was not a plan. They recognised the Jewish state of Israel and signed the peace and, today, trade with it. The remaining Arab states have not been as forward thinking and have remained locked in pointless antipathy to talk and trade with the State of Israel although that is now slowly changing.

In 1948, the Palestinians were offered far more than they could imagine today, with Jerusalem as an International City under the UN.

From 1948 to 1967, the Arabs controlled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, yet they made no effort to create a Palestinian State. Oslo came and went in an orgy of Israeli blood shed by Arafat’s PLO.

These things are the reality, but absolutely no excuse for the EU and UNRWA and the undereducated opinions of commentators like Baddar to encourage Palestinians in outmoded (failed) peace plans, dangerously inaccurate readings of international law and ossified positions which continue to promulgate the egos of the few over the many.

Donald Trump turned the paradigm for resolving the 100 year Arab Israeli conflict on its head. He offered Ramallah an ultimatum: if you don’t come to the negotiating table, the caravan of those past 100 years will now finally move on without you.

That sounds like a deal no thinking leader who really wants a state for his people could refuse!

 

The ICC’s Hanukkah Show 2019

On December 20, 2019, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said that there is basis to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes in its actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel decried this decision while the Palestinian Authority stated that the time to make Israel accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity  had arrived.

The realities and difficulties of successfully concluding this investigation however, are many and varied.

In stating that Israel has a case to answer for its actions starting in early 2015, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda then immediately qualified her comment with the rider that The Hague may not have the jurisdiction to deal with the Israel-Arab conflict and forthwith asked for a ruling by three ICC judges to determine the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction.

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In fact, The Hague does not have the legal muscle to enforce anything on Israel because though Israel is a signatory to the Rome Statute of 1989, it does recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC, together with America, China, India and others.

Among the most complicated matters of the ICC-Statute both in a legal and political sense is that of its jurisdictional range. Secondly, the problematicity of the ICC document The Elements of Crimes, integrated in 2000, which effectively strips the court of a genuine judicial function i.e. the independent interpretation of legal norms and could lead to differing interpretations of any discrete allegation. And thirdly, the definition of war crimes (for example) is based on a variety of precedents in international law, which calls the legal necessity of the Elements of Crimes into question.

In adjudicating that Israel has a case to answer for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Bensouda then hand-balled to the pre-trial panel of judges the need to determine, per section 1 of the Rome Statute whether Israel and/or its leaders are guilty of criminal acts which could lead to a conviction of a crime against humanity. As the foundational document of the ICC sees it, these crimes include murder, extermination, torture, rape and sexual slavery as well as “other inhumane acts of a similar character” which cause great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

This panel of judges will need to determine, per article7 (2) of the ICC-Statute, whether these crimes were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack for the sole purposes of murder, extermination, torture, rape and sexual slavery as well as intent to cause great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

In examining these issues, the pre-trial panel will need to consider the nexus of armed conflict in Israel’s case. This raises a further problem of interpretation for the judges because even though the ICC interprets as criminal, acts which take place in a territory that is under the control of the state to which the alleged perpetrator belongs and furthermore do not have to be committed in times of armed conflict, it will need to show compliance with its own legal reference article in proving that Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity which took place completely independently of crimes against peace or war crimes.

And a further extremely thorny issue for the pre-trial judges to grapple with prior to bringing Israel to court would be the issue of whether crimes against humanity that Israel is accused of can be committed against military personnel. The wording of crimes against humanity under the ICC’s own Statute indicates that this is not the case, as it speaks solely of an attack against “any civilian population”.

This would then require the judges to show beyond reasonable doubt whether the events of 2015 and after in Gaza (for example) were aimed at the Strip’s civilian population or against the Islamist rulers of that Strip.

With regard to the ICC’s exploratory allegation of war crimes against specific Israeli political and military persons, there will be a need to take into account a preliminary range of factors.

While the ICC pre-supposes the existence of armed conflict in the committing of a war crime, it needs as well to take note of a pre-established precedent where each case has to be analysed on its own merits and where a sufficient nexus must be established between the alleged offence and the armed conflict which gives rise to the applicability of international humanitarian law.

Within this framework, it will be difficult to prosecute the case that any civilian deaths (remember that death of military personnel does not qualify as a crime against humanity even in the context of war) caused by an Israeli response to Hamas violence in Gaza (for example) constitutes a war crime by even the ICC’s most liberal interpretations.

There are reams more to be written on this topic, but as most Israeli legal experts maintain, that with regard to offenses allegedly committed by the IDF during the fighting in Gaza, the question is still open on whether they can be heard in the ICC. That is because the prosecutor is missing information on the processes that took place in Israel in connection with these incidents thus rendering as questionable the court’s authority to hear the case in the first place.

With regards to the West Bank, there is a mass of historical record, treaties and UN Resolutions dating back to San Remo and ending with Oslo II which have successfully argued and will continue to argue that Israel is not an occupier in the West Bank and that no legal ruling can/will take the place of final outcome negotiations between Israel and the “Palestinians”. For that reason there is no need to, here, go any further down that track.

The legal obstacles before the pre-trial judges are significant. It is true that it was dragged into it by the Palestinians. Frustrated with the lack of progress in the peace process, Ramallah viewed The Hague as a convenient arena to score potent points against Israel.

And while Israel does not recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction, a “guilty” verdict (years down the track) may have deleterious consequences for particular Israelis wanting to travel abroad.

On the other hand, given the clearly political nature ( and ironic Hanukkah celebration timing) of ICC announcement, it is entirely possible that many more countries will refuse to comply with any ICC arrest warrants and/or requests for extradition of targeted Israelis if it came to that.

Fatou Bensouda and the International Criminal Court have to establish guilt that Israel and its politicomiltary leadership

  •  intentionally launched at least three disproportionate attacks in Gaza
  • willfully killed and willfully caused serious injuries in Gaza and that it
  • intentionally attacked Red Cross personnel or institutions in Gaza

as well as committing a “war crime” through its alleged contravention of paragraph 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute, which designates the “transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as such.

Given that Bensouda acknowledges that Israel’s judiciary has properly investigated allegations of wrongdoing by its soldiers, given that the ICC can only open proceedings if a country’s government fails to properly investigate such allegations and given that Israeli Attorney General Mandelbilt has published a substantial legal opinion citing the non-existence of a sovereign “Palestinian” state which thus cannot legally delegate to the court criminal jurisdiction over its territory and nationals, it may well be that, as Ahren (December 23, 2019) has succinctly put it “the ICC brouhaha could end in a few months with the court deciding that it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian (sic) conflict, and simply closing the case.”

A significant development against Israel for Hanukkah 2019 it is true, but only one of a long line of ‘significant developments’ that Jews and Israel have successfully overcome as a people and a nation over 3,000 years of existence.

Chag Hanukkah sameach.

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