Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Palestine - Where Size Really Matters

[Published August 2007]

False claims that Israel is 78% - not 17% - of historic Palestine whilst the West Bank and Gaza comprise the remaining 22% - not 5% - of historic Palestine have materially derailed efforts to resolve the issue of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza.

These spurious claims have been repeatedly made on hundreds of Arab oriented web sites asserting that the Jews established the State of Israel on 78% of Palestine in the War of Independence in 1948 and subsequently conquered the remaining 22% - the West Bank and Gaza - in the Six Day War of 1967.

This has created the perception that Israel now occupies 100% of Palestine, the Arab residents of former Palestine have been deprived of a State of their own in Palestine, and that the only just solution to resolve Arab grievances is the creation of an Arab state in at least the 22% of Palestine captured by Israel in 1967

This propaganda has been given credence on the web by such diverse and influential opinion makers as

(i) Editor at large of the Washington Times and United Press International Arnaud de Borchgrave,

(ii) Professor of Politics at San Francisco University Stephen Zunes,

(iii) South Africa's Minister for Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils,

(iv) Journalist and filmmaker John Pilger,

(v) The BBC News Service,

(vi) French intellectual and journalist Professsor Jules Regis Debray and

(vii) Trenchant anti- Zionist critics Assistant Professor Norman Finkelstein, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe and Jeff Halper.

John Pilger shows how his thinking has actually been influenced by such propaganda when he writes:

"Shortly after it was founded in 1948, Israel controlled, mostly as a result of a United Nations partition and partly by force, a total of 78 per cent of historic Palestine…During the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis occupied the remaining 22 per cent of Palestine. Today, the Palestinians, seeking to form their own independent state, want only that 22 per cent back."

These are false and deceptive statements based on an incorrect understanding of the size of Palestine and the boundaries that defined Palestine in international law.

The reality is that Israel was founded on 17% of historic Palestine in 1948 - not 78%and captured 5% of historic Palestine in 1967 - not 22%.

The Committee for Accurate Reporting of the Middle East in America (CAMERA) succinctly summarises this reality as follows:

"In fact, the original land of Palestine, as determined by the League of Nations, included what is now Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and the entire state of Jordan. The British transferred nearly 78% of historic Palestine to the Arabs to create a new entity called the Emirate of Transjordan. Jews were forbidden to live, buy land or become citizens there."

The Emirate remained part of Palestine until 1946 when independence was granted by Great Britain with the consent of the League of Nations and it was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan,

That decision in 1946 created an independent Arab state in 78% of historic Palestine and truncated Palestine to just 22% of its original size.

In 1947 the United Nations recommended partitioning this remaining 22% of historic Palestine into a Jewish State (55%) and another Arab State (45%) . The Jews accepted the proposal but the Arabs refused. When the 1948 War ended, the State of Israel was created on 17% of historic Palestine whilst Egypt and Jordan occupied the remaining 5% - the West Bank and Gaza - until captured by Israel in 1967.

1948 Palestine therefore was only 22% of the size of 1946 Palestine. 78% of Palestine had already come totally under Arab control in 1946.

Arab propagandists deliberately ignore the events of 1946 to justify their claim that Israel now occupies 100% of Palestine. They are only telling 22% of the story - classic misinformation at its Goebbels' best.

Article 2 of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Charter 1968 debunks and exposes these purveyors of half truths (or to be more accurate - 22% truths) by unequivocally declaring:

"Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate is an indivisible territorial unit"

For the PLO - the sole spokesman of the Palestinian Arabs - Jordan remains an inseparable part of Palestine notwithstanding the actions of Great Britain and the League of Nations in 1946.

Indeed the PLO's stated position was reinforced at the 8th Palestinian National Council meeting in February-March 1971 which declared:

" Jordan is linked to Palestine by a national relationship and a national unity forged by history and culture from the earliest times. The creation of one political entity in Transjordan and another in Palestine would have no basis either in legality or as to the elements universally accepted as fundamental to a political entity. .. In raising the slogan of the liberation of Palestine and presenting the problem of the Palestine revolution, it was not the intention of the Palestine revolution to separate the east of the River from the West, nor did it believe the struggle of the Palestinian people can be separated from the struggle of the masses in Jordan…"

Despite these clear and unrevoked declarations by the PLO, whose current Chairman is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Quartet - Russia, America, the European Union and the United Nations - still remain foolishly fixated on creating an independent Arab State between Israel and Jordan on 5% of historic Palestine - thus separating the East Bank of the Jordan River from the West Bank and dividing the Arabs who live on each side of the Jordan River from one another.

As Israel's then Defence Minister Yitzchak Rabin declared on 27 May 1985:

"The Palestinians should have a sovereign State which includes most of the Palestinians. It should be Jordan with a considerable part of the West Bank and Gaza. East of the river Jordan, there is enough room to settle the Palestinian refugees. One tiny State between Israel and Jordan will solve nothing. It will be a time bomb"

How right Mr Rabin was and how wrong the Quartet, the above opinion makers and their ilk are in pursuing an outcome based on propaganda and misinformation - not reality.

Size does matter when Palestine is discussed and the sooner the significance of this is recognized the sooner the resolution of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza can occur.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Palestine, Israel and Condoleezza - The Crowd Pleaser

[Published August 2007]

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is at it again talking up the prospects of ending the 140 years old Arab-Jewish conflict by the adoption of a two state solution involving the creation of an Arab state between Jordan and Israel - the 23rd Arab State in the world should it ever eventuate.

This crowd pleasing prediction of peace has been made by Ms Rice despite four fruitless years of intense international diplomacy to achieve just that solution by America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - the Quartet - under their meticulously detailed and crafted Roadmap first published in 2003.

The United Nations News Service heralded the Roadmap at the time as a:

"performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet. The destination is a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005, as presented in President Bush’s speech of 24 June, and welcomed by the EU, Russia and the UN in the 16 July and 17 September Quartet Ministerial statements.”

Not one of these goals has been remotely achieved - an abysmal failure by anyone’s standards -especially given the amount of political, financial and diplomatic clout vested in the Quartet"

Yet speaking at a joint media conference on 2 August with Mahmoud Abbas - the Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Chairman - Ms Rice was decidedly upbeat when she said:

“I want to note that we will have a discussion about the political discussions that you are having on a bilateral basis with [Israel’s] Prime Minister Olmert. The Prime Minister said to me that he looks forward to continued discussions with you and that he is ready to discuss the fundamental issues that will lead to negotiations soon for the creation of a Palestinian state. And I know that that is your desire too, and the United States wants to support that bilateral track.”

When asked by an inquiring reporter as to what those “fundamental issues” might be, Ms Rice gave this remarkable reply:

“ I believe that the word “fundamental” speaks for itself. And the desire to move toward a two- state solution seems to me to be there on both sides, and there are a lot of issues that are going to have to be discussed in order to get to a two-state solution.”

Sorry Ms Rice - every conceivable “fundamental issue” there is - and that you seem even too frightened to specifically identify - was discussed in detail in 2000 at Camp David and Taba in negotiations between President Bill Clinton, then PA and PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Those negotiations led to the rejection of the two state solution offered by Israel in 90% of the West Bank and Gaza and effectively ended any prospect of the two state solution ever becoming a reality unless there was a total revolution in the thinking of the PA and the PLO.

One of the fundamental issues on which those negotiations foundered was the failure of Mr Arafat to recognise any political rights of the Jews to sovereignty in any part of the West Bank and Gaza - a policy that had been maintained by the PLO without change since 1964, by the PA since its formation in 1994 and by Mr Abbas as head of both organisations to this very day.

Those political rights were recognised by France and Great Britain in 1920, formalised by unanimous vote of all 51 members of the League of Nations in 1922, endorsed by a joint resolution of both Houses of the Congress of the United States in the same year, and preserved by the United Nations Charter in 1945.

The Quartet’s failure to insist on these international agreements being recognised and accepted by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation remains one of the principal causes for the Quartet’s Roadmap collapsing into the total chaos it is today.

Statements such as Ms Rice’s are just diplomatic doublespeak, empty grandstanding and devoid of reality. They only serve to hold those making them open to ridicule and loss of credibility as the objective they so earnestly desire - the Quartet’s two state solution - continues to elude them.

It is surely time for Ms Rice to put the following questions to Mr Abbas to determine whether he is really sincere in his desire for a two state solution.

1. Does the Palestinian Authority accept and recognise the legality of

(i) Article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine giving the Jews the right to closely settle State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes in the West Bank?

(ii) Article 80 of the United Nations Charter which preserves the above right?

(iii) Security Council Resolution 242 - which does not require Israel to withdraw from all the territories occupied in the Six Day War and recognises Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries?

2. Does the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority recognise the existence of the State of Israel and have they abandoned violence and armed struggle against Israel?

3. If the answer to 2 is “yes” - when will Mr Abbas call a meeting of the Palestinian National Council to revoke articles 2, 3, 6-10, 13-23 and 30 of the PLO Charter- all of which are in direct conflict with the principles laid out in question 2.

If Ms Rice can get a positive response from Mr Abbas to these crucial questions, she might well be able to make a meaningful statement on the future of the Quartet’s two state solution.

If she is too embarrassed to put these questions to Mr Abbas or is too afraid to hear the answers, then maybe she can get Mr Olmert to ask them during his “political discussions” with Mr Abbas.

If neither wants to take the plunge then maybe someone in the press corps might be emboldened or even induced to put these questions to Mr Abbas at one of his next media conferences. The answers will certainly create front page headlines no matter what response is evoked.

Until these questions are answered one thing is crystal clear - any hope of the Quartet’s two state solution ever eventuating is doomed to failure.