[Published 8 December 2011]
I don’t think there has ever been any Arab propaganda slogan as powerful and successful as “End The Occupation”.
These three little words have managed to turn Israel’s miraculous victory in the 1967 Six Day War and its triumphal return to parts of the biblical and ancestral land of its forefathers - as something to be reviled and reversed.
Those mouthing the slogan have not sought to have the “occupation” ended in favour of Jordan - the previous Arab occupant during the period 1948-1967.
Rather they are insisting it all be given - albeit with mutually agreed land swaps - to another group - the “Palestinians” - who did not exist
(i) in 1937 - when the Peel Commission issued its Report
(ii) in 1947 - when the United Nations recommended the partition of western Palestine into an Arab State and a Jewish State.
(iii) Between 1948-1964 - when no claim was made by any such group to territory that any Arab claimant could have gained by the stroke of an Arab League pen - after such territory had been ethnically cleansed of every single Jew who had been living there prior to 1948
The “Palestinians” only first saw the light of day in 1964 when the PLO Charter was promulgated and Article 1 declared:
"Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation"
Article 5 went on to elaborate:
"The Palestinians are those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or have stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father - whether inside Palestine or outside it - is also a Palestinian."
No recognition was given to the fact that groups other than Arabs had lived in Palestine from time immemorial - long before the Arabs had ever conquered and occupied the area.
Ten years later - on 13 November 1974 - the leader of this newly created entity - Yasser Arafat - told the United Nations General Assembly:
"The PLO has earned its legitimacy because of the sacrifice inherent in its pioneering role, and also because of its dedicated leadership of the struggle. It has also been granted this legitimacy by the Palestinian masses, which in harmony with it have chosen it to lead the struggle according to its directives. The PLO has also gained its legitimacy by representing every faction, union or group as well as every Palestinian talent, either in the National Council or in people’s institutions. This legitimacy was further strengthened by the support of the entire Arab nation, and it was consecrated during the last Arab Summit Conference, which reiterated the right of the PLO, in its capacity as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, to establish an independent national State on all liberated Palestinian territory."
In 2011 the legitimacy of the PLO leadership role is in tatters. A new boy on the block- Hamas - has emerged to challenge the PLO’s claim and reconciliation between these two competing power bases is still not in prospect after six years of bitter internecine conflict.
The effort to reach a resolution of the 130 years old Arab-Jewish conflict has been stymied by the refusal of the PLO to sit down in direct face to face negotiations with Israel - but even if this were to occur tomorrow the prospects of any successful outcome would be extremely unlikely to eventuate.
Jordan sits on the sideline having abandoned any claim to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and East Jerusalem in 1988. Jordan shows no interest in attempting to try and restore - as far as is now possible - the status quo existing in these areas at 4 June 1967.
Israel’s attempts to “end the occupation” of these areas in 2000/2001 and 2008 were rebuffed by the PLO.
Perhaps it is time for a new slogan - “Right the Wrongs” - to enter into the lexicon of international diplomacy in the Middle East.
The wrongs involve the failure of the United Nations to acknowledge the following incontrovertible facts:
(i) that the provisions of Article 80 of the United Nations Charter reserve to the Jewish people the right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem in accordance with the provisions laid down in article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine
(ii) that Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 remain the only internationally accepted basis for resolving the conflict in former Palestine
The failure of the United Nations to insist on these basic tenets of international law being implemented, respected and observed has proved to be the main stumbling block to resolving the Jewish-Arab conflict.
Yasser Arafat himself declared before the United Nations on 13 December 1988:
"Our people do not want any right to which they are not entitled and which is not compatible with international legality and laws. They are not seeking any freedom that encroaches upon the freedom of others or any destiny that negates the destiny of another people"
Bowing to extreme pressure from the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference - the United Nations has succumbed to a myriad of General Assembly resolutions since then that have virtually buried such “international legality and laws”.
It is time for international law to be resurrected, debated and enforced as the only basis for ending the conflict in former Palestine.
The sooner this process is begun - the sooner some sanity will return to the Middle East.