Where does the primary responsibility for the Palestinians’ plight lie? Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas finally conceded – 64 years later – that the Arab world made a mistake in rejecting the United Nations’ 1947 partition plan that would have created two states, one of which would have belonged to the Palestinians. “It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole,” he admitted on Israeli TV. But then he lapsed into the customary Palestinian victimhood narrative when he asked: “But do they [the Israelis] punish us for this mistake for 64 years?”
The answer to Abbas’s question is that the Palestinians have punished themselves with help from Arab nations such as Jordan.
For the first twenty years after the UN partition resolution rejected by the Palestinians, the West Bank and Gaza were controlled by Jordan (a majority Palestinian state) and Egypt respectively. Israel had no military presence in either territory. There were no Israeli checkpoints or security walls. There was no settlements issue because there were no Israeli settlements. Yet during those twenty years, the Palestinians made no concerted effort to establish their own state in the West Bank and Gaza. They continued to rely on their Arab neighbors’ promise of help to drive the Jews into the sea.
At the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War, Israeli appealed to Jordan to stay out of the conflict, in return for which Israel would not enter the territories under Jordanian control. In other words, if Jordan had heeded Israel’s plea, the West Bank and even the part of Jerusalem which Jordan illegally occupied would not have come into Israeli hands. The Palestinians would still have been able to establish their independent state if Jordan had been willing to give them the land. Instead, Jordan attacked Israel and lost control of the West Bank and the eastern sector of Jerusalem.
Let’s not forget that Jordan itself is a Palestinian majority state, but ruled by the Hashemite minority.
King Hussein, quoted in An-Hahar, Beirut, said on August 24, 1972: “We consider it necessary to clarify to one and all, in the Arab world and outside, that the Palestinian people with its nobility and conscience is to be found here on the East Bank (of the Jordan River), The West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Its overwhelming majority is here and nowhere else.”
Yet Jordan, which is host to the largest population of Palestinian refugees, has not integrated the refugees within Jordan or on the West Bank into its Palestinian majority society as full-fledged citizens. And then there was the armed confrontation between the Jordanian regime and the PLO in 1970/71, which ended very badly for the PLO. In essence, the Jordanian minority party rulers created their own apartheid conditions against the Palestinian majority.
Nevertheless, Jordanian Queen Noor, the fourth wife of the late King Hussein, without showing a shred of concern about the Jordanian role in helping to cause the suffering of the Palestinian refugees in Jordan itself and the West Bank, placed all the blame on the Israelis during a speech she delivered in New York to UN correspondents on November 2nd.
Since the 1967 Six-Day War, the Palestinians have muffed repeated chances for peace with Israel and for the establishment of their own state. In 2000, for example, Israel offered the Palestinians a contiguous state in 97% of the territory of the West Bank as well as Gaza. Saudi Arabian ambassador Prince Bandar Ibn Sultan said, “If Arafat does not accept what is available now, it won’t be a tragedy, it will be a crime.” Yassir Arafat rejected Israeli’s offer, which former President Bill Clinton said was a “colossal historical blunder.”
Abbas is continuing the blunders, avoiding real negotiations with Israel altogether in favor of a theatrical end-run at the United Nations. He adamantly refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, even though a Jewish state was specifically envisioned in the UN partition plan that he now wishes the Palestinians had accepted in 1947.
In sum, Richard Goldstone’s op-ed piece hit the nail on the head. Israel is certainly not perfect, but the Israelis are a good people who want to live in peace with their neighbors. Self-defense against jihadists who are determined to liquidate the Jewish state is not apartheid. To say that it is, in an effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, is slander.
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