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%.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Palestine - The Abhorrent Arab Aberration

[Published 5 June 2013]

Continuing international demands for an Israeli withdrawal from every square metre of the territory occupied by Israel in the Six Day War - now misleadingly termed ”The occupied Palestinian Territories ” (OPT) in countless UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions - acquires particular resonance on the 46th anniversary of the outbreak of that War on 5 June.

This territory - in which 500000 Jews now live - had not one Jew or Jewish settlement located within it between 1948 - 1967.

Transjordan had occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem whilst Egypt had occupied Gaza after their invasion of Palestine along with five other Arab armies in May 1948.

Jews then living there had been driven out whilst Jews generally were denied their legal entitlement to “close settlement” on that land including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes - as prescribed by article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter.

Nineteen years was surely long enough for a Palestinian Arab state to have been created in this Jew-free territory- the identical area of land that PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League now consider to again be made Jew free to end the Arab-Jewish conflict.

After all - with all the Jews gone and their legal right to live there eliminated by the power of the gun - it would have been very easy to declare a Palestinian Arab State there - seek membership in the UN and its agencies - and live happily ever after in peace with the Jewish state.

Yet it didn’t happen.

Instead the Arab residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem voluntarily chose to unify these territories in 1950 with Transjordan to form a new territorial entity renamed Jordan.

In 1964 demands by the Palestinian Arabs to rid former Palestine of any Jewish presence became entrenched in the Charter of the PLO.

Article 24 of the Charter clarified that the unification of the West Bank with Transjordan was nevertheless to remain unchanged:
” This Organization (PLO) does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.”
What is now deemed so essential for peace in 2013 - the so called “two-state solution” was never even contemplated in 1964 - when it could have been created with the stroke of an Arab League pen within the next three years.

Instead the Arab states placed their support behind the newly constituted PLO and its proclaimed aim to wipe Israel off the map.

Promises of yet another 1948 style Arab invasion to wipe out the Jewish State were threatened - at a time when Jews and Jewish settlement in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza were not an “obstacle to peace” - since no Jews lived there.

Cairo Radio’s Voice of the Arabs proclaimed on 18 May 1967:
“The Zionist barrack in Palestine is about to collapse and be destroyed. Every one of the hundred million Arabs has been living for the past nineteen years on one hope – to live to see the day Israel is liquidated…There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land ….The sole method we shall apply against Israel is a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence”.

On 20 May 1967 Syrian Defence Minister (later President) Hafez Assad stated:
“Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse any aggression, but to initiate the act ourselves, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland of Palestine. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe that the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.”

Assad was backed up by Syrian President Dr Nureddin al-Attasi on 22 May 1967 - when he told his assembled troops:
“We want a full scale, popular war of liberation… to destroy the Zionist enemy”

Not to be outdone - Egypt’s President Nasser told the General Council of the Confederation of Arab Trade Unions on 26 May 1967:
“Taking over Sharm el Sheikh meant confrontation with Israel (and) also meant that we were ready to enter a general war with Israel. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel”

On 30 May 1967 Nasser declared:
“The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel ... to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations.”

Nasser’s bellicosity was matched by Iraqi President Aref on 31 May 1948:
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear - to wipe Israel off the map”

PLO head - Ahmed Shukairy confidently predicted the fate awaiting Jews on 1 June 1967:
“Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.”

The rest is history - yet the world currently suffers from memory deficit in failing to understand that what was possible between 1948-1967 cannot be achieved in 2013.

Lest we forget…

Monday, August 3, 2015

Palestine - Pouring Money Into A Bottomless Pit

[Published 2 June 2013]

US Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan this week proposed investing another four billion dollars in trying to resolve the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict.

Why these billions would succeed - when tens of billions given at previous international aid meetings failed - remains a mystery.

The belief that economic prosperity for the Arabs living in the West Bank will bring a lasting end to the conflict has proved worthless in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

When the international community pledged $7.4 billion dollars at the Paris Donors Conference in December 2007 to achieve the creation of the two state solution by the end of 2008 - my article in this journal headlined - “Paris Produces Palestinian Funding Frenzy” - made the following observations:
“Creating two separate States for one Arab population living in the territorial boundaries of former Palestine always was an artificial invention that had no basis in history, geography or demography. It was a fiction contrived by the international community at a particular time to solve a particular problem.

There are two questions that remain unanswered - when will the international community stop pursuing this fiction and when will they turn off the money tap trying to make it happen

Solutions - other than another Arab State - are possible and achievable.

Pursuing those solutions - and throwing money at them in amounts similar to the Paris pledges - have a far better chance of success than the continued promotion of a 70 years old concept that has well passed its 1967 expiry date

Surely the time is fast approaching for these donors to cut their losses and simply say “enough is enough”.

The Paris Conference final communique declared:
“The Paris Conference has made evident the high degree of confidence of the international community in President Abbas and PM Fayyad’s reform and development programme”

Arafat has since then repudiated the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.

Fayyad is no longer Prime Minister - having left his reform and development programme in tatters as the International Monetary Fund makes clear in its report released in Brussels on 19 March 2013:
” the economy has deteriorated markedly and the public finances are on an unsustainable track. Economic growth has weakened, the unemployment rate has increased, and the fiscal position has deteriorated to the point where core government functions have been affected, with ongoing cash rationing eroding public financial management institutions. Unsustainably high fiscal deficits combined with aid shortfalls are resulting in a large buildup of arrears and increased bank borrowing in the context of a slowing economy. Worryingly, with donor aid receding, the government‘s ability to finance large deficits is becoming more and more circumscribed. Thus, arrears, many with private suppliers, are causing them to become progressively more reluctant to provide the PA with goods and services while also causing distortions in the private sector. Arrears in the form of delayed or partial payment of wages risk social unrest and strikes, while additional recourse to the banks would further increase banking sector vulnerabilities.”

Yet just two months after this alarming IMF report - Secretary of State Kerry and the 300 Israeli and Palestinian industrialists and entrepreneurs gathered at the World Economic Forum are still prepared to keep this rapidly sinking fiction afloat - no matter how much it costs.

No doubt they are well intentioned in their desire to see the two state solution concluded between Israel and the PLO - but they completely ignore the following political realities:
1. Palestine is an economic basket case - run by an unelected and unconstitutional self styled head of State - Mahmoud Abbas - who refuses to sit down and negotiate with Israel without pre-conditions.

2. Elections have not been held since 2006 and there is no prospect in sight for the people to have their say as to who should govern them.

3. Hamas and the PLO remain at loggerheads allowing the West Bank and Gaza to become separate fiefdoms under different power structures that brook no opposition.
In this mire - even if Abbas returned to the negotiating table - the negotiations would founder on the following two demands made by Israel - which Abbas refuses to concede:
1. That Israel be recognized as the Jewish National Home as determined by the San Remo Conference, the Treaty of Sevres and the League of Nations.

2. That any Palestinian Arab State be demilitarised
Israel’s raison d’etre and right to live in freedom and security free of any future Arab threats are non- negotiable.

Abbas - on the other hand - has made it clear that:
1. He will never agree to abandon the right of return for millions of Palestinian Arabs and their descendants to what is now Israel.

2. He will not countenance Jews remaining as equal citizens with Palestinian Arabs in any Palestinian state
These demands can never be accepted by Israel.

So Senator Kerry’s four billion dollars will only serve as a pinprick in the demand for continuing financial aid to prop up entrenched institutions of power bringing little relief to a long suffering population which could have had its own independent state in 1937, 1947, at any time between 1948-1967, in 2000/2001 or 2008.

Apparently this never ending game seems set to continue - as are the casualties of terrorism, violence and social upheaval.

Jordan - not the PLO - still remains the key to ending the conflict.

Continuing to pour money into the bottomless pit represented by Abbas is certainly not the answer.

Palestine - Beware The Snake Oil Salesman

[Published 26 May 2013]

Paul Larudee - one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement - has made some incredibly misleading statements in his latest article “The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti- Semitism” - published in Dissident Voice on 23 May.

Having studied linguistics and earned a PhD - Larudee should be the first person to understand that the written language is one of the prime means of communication between humans and requires precision in its use to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding.

Larudee has in his choice of words created a false and misleading impression of the Palestinian cause that bears no relationship to the conflict between Jews and Arabs that has remained unresolved for the last 130 years in relation to the former territory called Palestine.

Larudee claims:
“The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews…

Hamas exposes the falsity of Larudee’s claim - as the Hamas Covenant makes clear in article 15:
“The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.”

The PLO also discredits Larudee’s statement - as article 20 of its Charter explicitly states:
“Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong”

Jew-hatred permeates the “Palestinian cause” - and Larudee’s attempt to whitewash this pernicious conduct is specious and false.

Who is Larudee trying to fool and for what purpose?

Larudee further states:
“It (the Palestinian cause) has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return. It does not matter who expelled them. It is their land and they have the right to return. It does not matter who denies their existence. They have a right to return.”

Larudee’s claim that “Palestine” belonged to the “Palestinians”, that it is their land, that they were denied the right to sovereignty and self determination and have the right to return there is not borne out by the historical record.

Palestine had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for 400 years - forming a very small part of the territories lost by Turkey to the Allied Powers in World War 1.

The Arabs were offered self determination and sovereignty in 99.99% of such conquered territories by the Allied Powers - whilst the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted in the biblical and ancient homeland of the Jewish people within the remaining 0.01% - then called Palestine.

The civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine were not to be prejudiced - but the Arab residents of Palestine rejected this decision of the Allied Powers and subsequently the League of Nations

Indeed the territory set aside for the Jewish National Home in 1920 was to be further restricted to just one-quarter of Palestine in 1922 - whilst the remaining three-quarters was to become an exclusively Arab state that is today called Jordan.

This minuscule area left for Jewish self-determination was earmarked to be further emasculated when the United Nations recommended its partition into Jewish and Arab states in 1947 - which the Arabs also rejected.

Larudee’s use of the term “Palestinians” is not inadvertent or unintentional but serves to mask his support for the Arab claim to sovereignty in the entirety of former Palestine to the exclusion of all its other non-Arab residents

The term “Palestininans” was only defined for the first time in 1964 when the PLO Charter proclaimed:
“The Palestinians are those Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled. Every child who was born to a Palestinian Arab father after this date, whether in Palestine or outside, is a Palestinian.”

The operative words are “Arab citizens” - disqualifying any non- Arab citizens from being classified as “Palestinians”

Larudee’s claim that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians underscores his support for this racist and exclusivist claim by the PLO - negating the decisions supporting Jewish claims that had been recognized by the League of Nations in 1922, the Peel Commision in 1937 and the United Nations in 1947.

The PLO claim to sovereignty in all of Palestine continues to be the major obstacle to ending the conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Larudee has every right to support this spurious claim - but it continues to plague the “Palestinian cause” and prolong the resolution of the long running conflict between Arabs and Jews.

Larudee pleads to remove anti- Semitism from the discussion of Palestinian rights.

He should be encouraging Hamas and the PLO to remove their overt declarations of unabashed Jew-hatred from their respective Charters as an essential first step.

Hopefully the removal of these vile provisions could lead to the end of a conflict that could and should have been resolved in 1947 or in the following 20 years when sovereignty for Palestinian Arabs in Palestine was denied by their Arab brethren.

The last thing the “Palestinian cause” needs is snake oil salesmen peddling false claims - a sure prescription for continuing disaster.

Palestine - Turning Unreality Into Reality

[Published 19 May 2013]

A TV show - “The President” - now being aired on Maan TV - a popular independent Palestinian radio station - presents an opportunity for the election-starved Palestinian Arabs to have their say on what they would do on a variety of subjects if they were elected as the President of Palestine.

Since elections to appoint a President were last held in 2005 - this show offers the ordinary man in the street the opportunity to have his say on how to resolve the conflict between Arabs and Jews that has been ongoing and unresolved for the last 95 years.

On the Jewish side there are opinions and policies galore for ending that conflict that translate into the creation of many political parties vying for power to implement such policies at least once every four years.

There appears to be no popular political movement on the Arab side calling for fresh elections to be held to test the support enjoyed by Mahmoud Abbas - the current unelected and unconstitutional President since his term expired in 2009

Indeed there appears to be no dissenting voices criticising policies adopted since 1967 by the PLO - that Abbas also now heads - rejecting any form of territorial compromise with Israel in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - the territories occupied by Jordan between 1948-1967 until captured by Israel in the Six Day War.

Sovereignty in these areas has remained unallocated since Great Britain handed its internationally recognised control of these territories back to the United Nations in 1948 - terminating its role as Mandatory under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine unanimously vested in it by the League in 1922.

Y Net reports that 1200 young Palestinian Arabs aged 20-35 applied to go on “The President” and the number of contestants has now been cut to 15.

The contestants have to face a panel of politicians, professionals and businessmen who together with the audience vote the contestants on and off from the show.

The winner will travel the world as a mock Palestinian ambassador and perhaps receive a car as well.

With negotiations between Israel and the PLO stalled for the last two years because of Abbas’s refusal to sit down with Israel without preconditions - some kind of circuit breaker is certainly required.

Judges on the show include Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi, Arab member of the Israeli parliament Ahmed Tibi and Khouloud Idabis a former Palestinian Cabinet Minister.

Idabis explained the following rationale for the show:
“We are building a new generation of politicians. They are gaining skills from practice,”

The contestants are publicly identified, appear undisguised and their voices are not distorted to avoid recognition.

Hussein al-Deik, 31, - as reported by Y News - said he would oppose the type of violence espoused by Palestinians last decade when they carried out hundreds of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians. He said he would promote peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and even oppose stone throwing at Israeli soldiers and settlers – a common Palestinian practice.

Other candidates echoed his support for non-violence - a contrast to wider Palestinian society where support for “armed struggle” remains a common sentiment.

The show’s producer -Seema Rasool - said that if there are no elections in practice, at least there should be on TV.
“We wanted to create a new spin on reality TV – reality TV with a purpose. For decades, Palestine has only had two presidents, Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), thus we hope this show drives the Palestinian people to truly have a democratic state. This show in itself models democracy in practice.”

The show is reportedly funded by an American organization called Search for Common Ground.

Raed Othman, Maan’s director, reportedly told Y News that the show is popular because it has tapped into the larger sense of civic involvement in politics following the upheavals taking place across the Arab world. He said entertainment shows often backfire, since viewers dealing with hardships do not want to be merely entertained.
“We found this show fits our conditions. We need elections, and there are no elections. We need an Arab Spring, and the show is our spring.”

Waad Fararieh - one of the three women remaining on the show added:
“We don’t see President Abbas in town. He spends most of his time flying when we really need his presence here. If I become a president, I will focus on the economy. Our economy is bad, and there are no real efforts to revive it.”

Three of the finalists are reportedly from Gaza, participating by video conference, since travel between Gaza and the West Bank is virtually impossible.

Sabri Saydam - an adviser to Abbas and a jury member for some of the episodes - commented
“President Abbas is aware of the show, and he was happy, because he is interested in seeing new faces, youthful faces, in the political arena."

Hopefully the eventual winner will be asked the following three questions:
1. Are you prepared to sit down and negotiate with Israel without preconditions?

2. Are you prepared to pledge that elections for President will be held at least once very four years?

3. Are you prepared to recognise Israel as the Jewish National Home?
If the winner answers “yes” to all three questions - maybe “The President” could positively contribute towards ending the current impasse in resuming negotiations.

Any TV show that turns unreality into reality is indeed money well spent.

Palestine - Hawking Needs To Do More Talking

[Published 13 May 2013]

The decision by eminent physicist Stephen Hawking to not attend the Presidential Conference organised by Israel’s President - Shimon Peres - has aroused dismay by his Israeli hosts and applause from the Palestinian academic community.

This year’s Presidential Conference is expected to attract 5,000 attendees from around the world, including academics, artists and former heads of state.

Former US president Bill Clinton, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Albert of Monaco and Barbra Streisand have accepted invitations - according to organisers.

Hawking’s reasons for cancelling his earlier acceptance of the invitation were set out in writing to the event organisers:
“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank.

However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference.

Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”

Were the reasons Hawking gave really those that led to his refusing to attend?

What does Hawking mean by stating that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster?

After all the current Israeli Government has reiterated it stands ready to resume negotiations with the PLO without pre-conditions - which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected.

Hawking must surely be aware that Abbas has taken unilateral steps outside the negotiating processes laid down under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap including:
1. Disbanding the Palestinian Authority - the party designated by the Oslo Accords to negotiate with Israel on a final peace treaty

2. Seeking and gaining admission of Palestine as a member state of UNESCO and a non-member State observer at the UN

3. Declaring himself President of the country of Palestine on 3 January this year and traversing the world’s capitals seeking recognition and the establishing of ambassadors and embassies in the world’s most recently created country.
What steps does Hawking believe Israel must now take to avert disaster?

How can Israel be expected to do anything to advance Oslo and the Roadmap when Abbas has repudiated both signed agreements by proclaiming a country outside the terms of those agreements?

What in the emails from the Palestinian academics persuaded Hawking to not attend the conference?

Samia al-Botmeh of Birzeit University in the West Bank provided a clue when she told the Guardian:
“We tried to communicate two points to him. First, that Israel is a colonial entity that involves violations of the rights of the Palestinians, including academic freedom, and then asking him to stand in solidarity with Palestinian academic colleagues who have called for solidarity from international academics in the form of boycotting Israeli academia and academic institutions,”

Was Hawking persuaded that Israel is a colonialist entity and not entitled to remain a member state of the United Nations?

Does Hawking- like the PLO - regard the decisions of the League of Nations and the United Nations illegal and void?

Does Hawking believe in collective punishment of the entire population of Israel for the decisions of a democratically elected Government that a large segment of that population did not vote for?

Hawking visited Iran in 2007 for the International Physics Olympiad. His conscience was then apparently untroubled by the stoning of adulteresses, imprisonment without trial, torture and the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities — to say nothing of arming terrorists and threatening to wipe countries off the map.

Will Hawking now boycott Chinese academia in the future while China continues to occupy Tibet and repress the Falun Gong?

Has Hawking ever spoken to his academic contacts in the West Bank about the indiscriminate firing of tens of thousands of shells into Israeli population centres - acknowledged as war crimes by his academic colleague UN Special Rapporteur Professor Richard Falk?

Asked by The Jerusalem Post about Hawking’s boycott - Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
“He should investigate the truth, he is a scientist. He should study the facts and draw the necessary conclusions: Israel is an island of reason, moderation and a desire for peace.”

Hawking certainly must have made some investigations to come to the decision he has. It would help to understand his position if he were to share the results.

Perhaps Hawking’s conduct was best summed up by analyst Nathan Harden:
“When one’s disagreement with a nation’s political regime justifies the shunning and boycott of that nation’s scientists and scholars, we are on dangerous ground. Hawking and other politically liberal scholars who participate in the academic boycott of Israel are hypocrites. They are quick to profess devotion to tolerance and academic freedom, but they don’t live up to those ideals — not when it comes to Israel, anyway.

If it has become acceptable to support an academic boycott of an entire nationality (all Israelis), we aren’t far off from a future in which it will be acceptable to back an academic boycott of an entire ethnicity (all Jews).”

Every man is entitled to express his opinion - but he should be prepared to justify and defend his decisions with detailed and reasoned arguments when those decisions are challenged.

Hawking’s failure to adequately answer his hosts is regrettable

Palestine - Balfour Declaration Raises Arab Hackles

[Published 28 April 2013]

The Palestinian Arabs are up in arms at the news that the original 1917 Balfour Declaration will be released by the British Library for display in Israel alongside Israel’s Declaration of Independence at the opening of a new museum in Tel Aviv in 2015 on the site where Israel declared its independence in 1948.

An angry Palestinian Legislative Councillor Abdallah Abdallah is reported by Ben Lynfeld in the Scotsman this week as stating:
“Britain should not be proud of this declaration. It is a declaration which deprived Palestinians of their national home and led to the expulsion of two-thirds of the Palestinians. Britain should be apologising to the Palestinian people for the Balfour Declaration rather than sending it to Israel.”

Lynfeld inflates Abdallah’s claim when he writes:
“The document (Balfour Declaration) promised British support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, whose inhabitants at the time were almost entirely Arab.”

Abdallah and Lynfeld’s claims repeat unsubstantiated allegations that need to be challenged whenever they appear.

They are nothing but propaganda made with the intention of ultimately becoming accepted as incontrovertible statements of fact in the long running and unresolved conflict between Arabs and Jews.

Looking at the historical documentary records - both Abdallah and Lynfeld’s claims are groundless.

The “Palestinians” or the “Palestinian people” are defined in Article 5 of the 1968 PLO Covenant as follows:
“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”

All other residents of Palestine and their descendants - non-Arab Moslems and Jews - are not regarded as “Palestinians” according to the racist provisions of this Charter.

This “Arabs only” view is supported by Article 1 of the PLO Charter:
“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.”

“Arab ” is clearly the key word that identifies those claiming to be “Palestinians” or claiming to be part of the “Palestinian People” in 2013.

Yet at the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 - there were very few Arabs living in Palestine - as the Interim Report on the civil administration of Palestine between 1st July 1920 and 30th June 1921 makes very clear:
“There are now in the whole of Palestine hardly 700,000 people, a population much less than that of the province of Gallilee alone in the time of Christ.* (*See Sir George Adam Smith “Historical Geography of the Holy Land”, Chap. 20.) Of these 235,000 live in the larger towns, 465,000 in the smaller towns and villages. Four-fifths of the whole population are Moslems.

A small proportion of these are Bedouin Arabs; the remainder, although they speak Arabic and are termed Arabs, are largely of mixed race. Some 77,000 of the population are Christians, in large majority belonging to the Orthodox Church, and speaking Arabic. The minority are members of the Latin or of the Uniate Greek Catholic Church, or—a small number—are Protestants.

The Jewish element of the population numbers 76,000. Almost all have entered Palestine during the last 40 years.”

The myth that there was an overwhelming majority of Arabs living in Palestine in 1917 is clearly exposed as false in this Interim Report.

This conclusion is supported by the following further facts:
1. Censuses conducted in Palestine at the time divided the residents into “Moslems”, Jews”, “Christians” and “Others”. The term “Arabs” never rated a mention.

2. The Balfour Declaration itself only spoke of “the existing non- Jewish communities in Palestine”.

3. Circassian immigration into Palestine in the 1870’s after their expulsion from their homeland in the northern Caucasus.
Arabs certainly lived in Palestine in 1917 - but they comprised no more than 10% of the population according to the Interim Report.

Lynfeld further reports that the Arab League, in a statement condemning the British library’s decision, said Palestinians were in control of 98 per cent of the territory at the time of the Balfour Declaration.

Again, such a claim is unsustainable.

Who controlled the remaining 2% of Palestine is not stated by the Arab League. The Palestinian Arabs certainly did not control the other 98%.

Palestine at the time of the Balfour Declaration formed part of the Ottoman Empire which was under the total control of Turkey for virtually the whole of the previous 400 years - until it was lost in World War 1.

The Allied Powers who met in San Remo in 1920 and subsequently signed the Treaty of Sevres with a vanquished Turkey in the same year allocated 99.99% of the captured Ottoman Empire for Arab self-determination and just 0.01% for Jewish self determination.

The Arab League is indulging in pure fantasy and delusion in claiming otherwise.

The unanimous vote of the League of Nations in 1922 endorsing the Balfour Declaration recognising the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine rebuts any claim that there was at the time of the Balfour Declaration any group of residents calling themselves the “Palestinians” or the “Palestinian people”.

The existence of such a people before this claim first appeared in the original PLO Charter in 1964 is false and misleading.

But isn’t that what propaganda is precisely about?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Palestine - Singing From The Same Hymn Book

[Published 21 April 2013]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has now claimed that a “country” exists in that area of the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority’s complete administrative and security control prior to the Authority’s demise in January 2013.

Speaking at the re-opening of the Palestinian embassy in Kuwait - Abbas was reportedly quoted in Gulf News as stating it was:
“a historic moment in the deep-rooted relations between the two countries.”

Granted Abbas spoke in Arabic and his words may have been misunderstood or mistranslated - international acceptance of this region as a country called “Palestine” could be a significant step forward in progressing an end to the long running Jewish-Arab conflict.

Abbas’s claim was further strengthened with a report in Turkish Press that Turkey has become the first country to appoint an ambassador to “Palestine” after its envoy in Ramallah - Sakir Ozkan Torunlar - presented his Letter of Credence to President Mahmoud Abbas - being officially titled as the first ambassador to “Palestine”

Yet - according to Yahoo 7 News - the Palestinian Authority is still slowly progressing to statehood despite the admission of “Palestine” as a member state of UNESCO and an observer at the United Nations.
“Prime minister Salam Fayyad’s resignation is likely to raise questions over donor support for the Palestinian Authority and may slow its steps towards statehood, experts warn.”

However - confirming the demise of the Palestinian Authority - Shir Hever -an economic researcher in the Alternative Information Centre - an Israeli-Palestinian Organization - told Real News:
“The State of Palestine, formerly known as the Palestinian Authority, has placed a single condition to resume talks that Israel will freeze the construction in the illegal colonies.”

John V Whitbeck - an international lawyer who served as an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel - declared the Palestinian Authority dead and buried four months ago.

In an article in the Cyprus Mail on 13 January headlined “Finally the State of Palestine exists” - Whitbeck revealed that the Palestinian Authority “had been absorbed and replaced by the State of Palestine” in a decree issued by Mahmoud Abbas on 3 January and signed by him acting in his capacities as president of the State of Palestine and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

Making sure his message was fully understood by those willing to listen - Whitbeck stated unequivocally:
“The Trojan horse called the “Palestinian Authority” in accordance with the Oslo interim agreements and the “Palestinian National Authority” by Palestinians, having served its purpose by introducing the institutions of the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine, has now ceased to exist.”

Abbas’s Kuwait declaration as existing head of this “country” is a welcome development - but must not to be confused with the two-state solution that was to have resulted from negotiations between Israel and the PLO under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.

The United Nations seems to have underscored this differentiation with a statement to Wafa Press this past week by United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process - Robert Serry:
“the United Nations remains committed to working with its Palestinian partners, under the leadership of President Abbas, towards development, state-building and to achieve the long-overdue negotiated two-state solution.”

The problem for the UN is that the framework for that long overdue negotiated two-state solution has been abandoned by the PLO unilaterally approaching UNESCO and the United Nations whilst engaging in its own brand of state-building to the point where Abbas can now proclaim to be head of a “country” without any need for such further negotiations.

The UN - a principal supporter and sponsor of Oslo and the Roadmap - has seen these negotiating processes subverted by large numbers of its own member states actively endorsing and encouraging the above unilateral actions by Abbas when he headed the now defunct Palestinian Authority.

Whitbeck’s following assessment made in January now makes more sense after this week’s interesting developments:
“Perhaps due, at least in part, to the low-key manner in which this change has been effected (the end of the Palestinian Authority - Ed), it has attracted remarkably little attention from the international media or reaction from other governments, even the Israeli and American governments. This is not necessarily disappointing, since passive acceptance is clearly preferable to furious rejection.

The relatively few and brief media reports of the change have tended to characterise it as “symbolic”. It could - and should - be much more than that. If the Palestinian leadership plays its cards wisely, it could - and should - represent a turning point toward a better future.”

Playing their cards wisely now involves Abbas and the Palestinian leadership
1. putting an end to continuing claims of statelessness, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupation

2. urging the winding up of UNRWA, the dismantling of its refugee camps and using UNRWA’s budget to repatriate and re-settle the hitherto stateless refugees in their new country

3. calling on Palestinian Arabs world wide to return to their fledgling country to join in the challenge of nation building

4. encouraging other countries to follow the examples of Turkey and Kuwait by appointing ambassadors and establishing full diplomatic relations

5. seeking a new negotiating framework with Israel to resolve what has now become a border dispute between two existing countries.
There is still a long way to go before everyone is singing from the same hymn book - but actions such as these will certainly help.

Palestine - Two New Arab Myths

[Published 14 April 2013]

Two new Arab myths have surfaced in the past week to complicate attempts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to procure the resumption of the long stalled negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

The first myth can be directly attributed to Mustafa Barghouti - a Presidential candidate for the now defunct Palestinian National Authority - who was roundly defeated by Mahmoud Abbas when elections were last held in January 2005.

Interviewed by Arab American News (AAN) - Mr Barghouti was asked the following question:
AAN: What about the United Nations situation with Palestine being granted Non-Member Observer State status this past fall, any new developments?

Mr Barghouti gave this remarkable answer:
“Not new, but this achievement was very important from a symbolic standpoint, it also eliminated any Israeli claim that the West Bank and Jerusalem are disputed territory. Now they are part of an occupied Palestinian state ... “

This is arrant nonsense.

According to Mr Barghouti there is apparently no need for further negotiations to determine the sovereignty of these areas - only a timetable for Israel to hand them over to the State of Palestine and to arrange for the uprooting of all 500000 Jews presently living there.

If you believe this myth - then you accept that
1. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 are no longer of any relevance.

2. The 1948 armistice line is wiped off the map and negotiations to establish secure and recognised boundaries for the State of Israel can be shredded.

3. Article 80 of the United Nations Charter has become a footnote in history.

4. The Jewish claim to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine - including the West Bank and Jerusalem - as conferred by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine - is an anachronism. The claimed right of return for millions of Arabs into the State of Israel remains unresolved.

5. The United Nations decision has unreservedly endorsed the PLO’s stated policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in denying Jews any rights of residency or citizenship in the State of Palestine.

6.General Assembly Resolutions of the United Nations create binding obligations in international law.
Kerry’s planned fortnightly shuttle from America to Jerusalem and Ramallah appears to be a waste of time unless this latest myth is quickly nipped in the bud.

President Abbas needs to immediately repudiate Mr Barghouti’s statement.

If Abbas refuses - Kerry should start to shuttle between world capitols seeking declarations unequivocally disavowing any support for the Barghouti myth.

Simultaneously with the Baghouti myth comes the news that the cornerstone for yet another myth - a new museum of “Palestinian culture, history and society” - has been laid in Bir Zeit near Ramallah.

This will be no ordinary museum - as project manager Omar al-Qattan reportedly explained:
“It will be more than a traditional building with archaeological relics. We are looking at an institution that will transcend all boundaries—geographical and political”

Palestinian culture minister Siham Barghuti told AFP that the initiative was:
“A great achievement for the Palestinian people…The link between memory and everything related to it, to Palestinian history, and to having digital contact with Palestinians everywhere constitutes an important step”

The “museum” seems set to become the new repository for perpetuating the fiction of the existence of an indigenous “Palestinian people” or the “Palestinians” going back at least 3000 years to the Canaanites.

Featured exhibits in the museum will certainly not include:
1. The Mandate for Palestine 1922 - that made no mention of the “Palestinians” or the “Palestinian people” - but pointedly only included the then Arab population of Palestine among the “existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” and called for “safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion”

2. The report of the Peel Commission 1937 - which again omitted any mention of a Palestinian people - but contained this statement which was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs:
“The problem cannot be solved by giving either the Arabs or the Jews all they want. The answer to the question which of them in the end will govern Palestine must be Neither. No fair-minded statesman can think it right either that 400,000 Jews, whose entry into Palestine has been facilitated by he British Government and approved by the League of Nations, should be handed over to Arab rule, or that, if the Jews should become a majority, a million Arabs should be handed over to their rule. But while neither race can fairly rule all Palestine, each race might justly rule part of it.”

3. Resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly dated 29 November 1947 which was also silent in acknowledging the existence of a Palestinian people - but proposed the following recommendation that was again rejected by the Arab population of Palestine:
“Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III below.”
Jesus the Jew will no doubt be prominently featured as Jesus the Palestinian. Archeological relics will be conspicuously absent.

Until fact replaces Arab fiction and self-delusion - the conflict between Jews and Arabs will assuredly continue.

Palestine - Obama Chooses Zionism Over Rejectionism

[Published 8 April 2013]

Veteran Israeli peace activist and former Knesset member Uri Avnery points out in his latest article “Obama’s Empathy Deficit in Palestine” that there are two completely divergent Jewish and Arab narratives driving each other’s current claims to the territory once called Palestine.
“Our conflict is tragic, more than most. One of its tragedies is that neither side can be entirely blamed. There is not one narrative, but two. Each side is convinced of the absolute justice of its cause. Each side nurses its overwhelming sense of victimhood.”

Avnery is very upset that President Obama had apparently chosen to empathise with the Jewish narrative during his recent visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.
“The trouble with Obama is that he has completely, entirely, totally embraced one narrative, while being almost completely oblivious to the other. Every word he uttered in Israel gave testimony to his deeply-rooted Zionist convictions. Not just the words he said, but the tone, the body language, all bore the marks of honesty. Evidently, he had internalized the Zionist version of every single detail of the conflict.”

The reasons Avnery attributes for Obama empathising with Israel are shallow and misconceived.
“It was really amazing. He must have studied us thoroughly. He knew our strengths and our weaknesses, our paranoias and our idiosyncrasies, our historical memories and dreams about the future.

And no wonder. He is surrounded by Zionist Jews. They are his closest advisors, his friends and his experts on the Middle East. Even from mere contact with them, he obviously absorbed much of our sensitivities.

As far as I know, there is not a single Arab, not to mention Palestinian, in the White House and its surroundings.”

This shabby explanation indicates little understanding of the multitude of advice that is received by any President from a variety of sources and the need for the President to ultimately sort the wheat from the chaff.

Avnery’s outburst regrettably leaves his readers in the dark by failing to actually quote President Obama’s carefully crafted remarks:
“For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice, pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea – to be a free people in your homeland.”

It is indeed this Zionist idea that has been rejected both by Avnery personally and by the Palestinian Arabs in their narrative.

The Palestinian Arab narrative ignores Obama’s sweep of history - starting its narrative from 1948 by characterising the conflict as the “Israeli - Palestinian conflict”- thus allowing such narrative to completely ignore a host of critical events that occurred between 1917-1947.

This rejectionism is clearly evident in article 20 of the 1968 PLO Charter:
"Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of their own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”

The Palestinian Arab narrative conveniently ignores the fact that the two-state solution was first suggested in 1922 and actually proposed and rejected by the Palestinian Arabs in 1937, 1938 and 1947.

The Palestinian Arab narrative has no memory or remorse for the Arab riots in 1920 and 1929 that targeted and slaughtered Jews or the 1936-1939 Arab revolt which wrought similar havoc on Jews living in Palestine during those turbulent years.

Starting from 1948 the Arab narrative can avoid confronting the reality that Winston Churchill told a delegation of Palestinian Arabs leaders in 1921 urging him to halt Jewish immigration to Palestine:
“It is manifestly right that the Jews,who are scattered all over the world,should have a national centre and a National Home,where some of them may be reunited. and where else could that be but in the land of Palestine, with which for more than three thousand years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?”

The flawed Arab narrative also avoids accepting responsibility for the Arab pressure put on Great Britain to severely curtail Jewish immigration to Palestine between 1939 and 1945 - resulting in hundreds of thousands of Jews perishing at the hands of the Nazis when their lives might have been spared had Great Britain ignored such inhumane Arab demands.

The Arab narrative has always rejected - and will continue to reject - the will of the international community expressed in the 1920 San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the 1945 United Nations Charter.

Avnery’s dismay at President Obama’s adoption of the “Zionist idea” is explained on Avnery’s own website:
“After some years of sporadic political activity, in 1946 Avnery founded the Eretz Yisrael Hatzira (“Young Palestine”) movement, also known as the “Bamaavak (Struggle) group” from the name of its publication, which he edited. This group provoked an unprecedented uproar because of its contention that the Jewish community in Palestine constituted a “new Hebrew nation” within the Jewish people, and that this nation belongs to Asia and is a natural ally of the Arab national movements.”

From Avnery’s viewpoint the Jewish community in Palestine in 1945 had no biblical or historical connection with Palestine - or any right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine - despite the League of Nations imprimatur to do so.

Avnery’s rejection of the Zionist idea identified with the viewpoint of the Arab population of Palestine in 1945 - whose opposition to Jews immigrating to Palestine had been violently resisted ever since the Allied Powers decided in 1920 that Arab self- determination should occur in 99.99% of the liberated Ottoman Empire - whilst Jewish self-determination should take place in Palestine - the remaining 0.01%.

President Obama has indeed empathised with the Jewish narrative - which dates the “Jewish - Arab conflict” as having begun in 1880 - not 1948.

Until both narratives at the very least commence from an agreed starting date - one can confidently predict that any talk of peacefully resolving the ongoing and unresolved conflict is a complete waste of time.

Hopefully President Obama has taken the first step to ram this message home.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Palestine - UN Special Rapporteur Bans Free Speech

[Published 31 March 2013]

United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” - Professor Richard Falk - has taken the extraordinary action to ban posts on his blog page “Citizen Pilgrimage”.

This has happened to myself and at least one other person when we attempted to post comments in response to an article written by Professor Falk titled ” What was wrong with Obama’s speech in Jerusalem”

My detailed comment sought to point out what was right with President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem. It had been published as an article on many Internet pages around the world and reproduced on the web sites of scores of others without editorial amendment.

I presented a considered and reasoned analysis of what President Obama had said. It was not couched in inflammatory or defamatory terms. It considered aspects of President Obama’s speech not referred to in Professor Falk’s article and came to an entirely different conclusion to the views expressed by Professor Falk.

To my amazement Professor Falk’s response to my post was:
“My blog is no longer open for this sort of polemics on the Israel/Palestine conflict. There are many other more important venues to carry on these discussions.”

My reply to Professor Falk - pointing out his decision amounted to the banning of free speech and requesting he reconsider his decision - went unanswered.

I subsequently sought to post an entirely different response to another contributor’s comment - but it was also not published.

One person who sought to post a comment to Professor Falk’s article received the following response:
“Mr. Skolnik: My blog is no longer open for this sort of polemical responses that insult either me or others who submit comments. There are many other venues for this sort of debate.”

Stangely Professor Falk had no similar qualms in publishing the following comment from one of his readers:
“I have been following events in Israel and Cyprus closely, and stand by my assertions. I find it both fascinating and terrifying that Germany is the force behind the Cypriot haircut, in which unscrupulous jewish industrialists, all of whom hold Israeli passports, are having their bank accounts seized and money transferred to Germany. Who would have predicted this turn of events, but really, once you spot the pattern, it becomes impossible to deny this jaw-dropping turn of events, and its ominous implications.”

It is clear that there are many readers of Professor Falk’s blog who would be grossly offended by this Jew-hating language - yet it was published.

I do not seek to silence these Jew-haters airing their views on Professor Falk’s blog. Better the world should be aware such views exist and are exposed to critical comment.

My articles sometimes attract such vile and repulsive comments. Never would I seek to have them expunged. I prefer to respond to such comments or let my readers do so.

But why should a UN Rapporteur concerned with human rights seek to ban the views of others like myself and Mr Skolnik - if he allows such a vile post as this to appear as a comment on the same blog page?

Intrigued by the Professor’s totally unexpected and unexplained reaction to my post - I contacted other sites where his article had been published.

One was a virulently Jew-hating web site called “Shoah - The Palestinian Holocaust” It had no problem posting the identical response that I attempted to post on Professor Falk’s web page

Another was “Ramy Abdeljabbar’s Palestine and World News” - not what one would call a pro-Israel site. It published my response to Professor Falk’s article without indulging in the histrionics and petulance displayed by Professor Falk.

A third site was “Transcend Media Service” - which describes itself in the following terms:
“TRANSCEND International is an experiment in promoting peace by peaceful means throughout the world. Traditionally, institutes have been centered around a building where the people who work together meet on a regular basis. Since many people who share common interests in helping transform conflicts nonviolently and creatively are geographically scattered and cannot usually be physically together, our solution is to create an electronic network of members. This, in addition, diminishes our carbon footprints and contributes to attenuate the global warming crisis.”

Professor Falk is a member of the Transcend Network.

Transcend saw nothing objectionable in posting my response to Professor Falk’s article

Professor Falk needs to understand that attempts by him to ban freedom of expression and free speech on his web site demean himself and his position as a UN Special Rapporteur.

Those in authority at the UN who repeatedly express their support for the protection of human rights must be prepared to act against one of their own by denouncing Professor Falk’s actions in the strongest terms with a view to ending his crass attempt to deny the inalienable right of every human being to speak out and be heard.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of the UN Human Rights Council - are you listening or do you endorse Professor Falk’s outrageous conduct?

Palestine - Obama Utters The Magic Word - "Annapolis"

[Published 25 March 2013]

President Obama’s use of just one word - “Annapolis” - stands out among the thousands he uttered during his three day visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.

His highly significant use of this keyword on 21 March at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre constituted a diplomatic milestone in America’s quest to end the long running Jewish-Arab conflict.
"I know Israel has taken risks for peace. Brave leaders – Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin – reached treaties with two of your neighbors. You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis. You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, and then faced terror and rockets."

What were the “credible proposals” made to the Palestinians at Annapolis?

Why was the mention of “Annapolis” thought far more important to include in President Obama’ speech - rather than “Camp David” and the attempts to broker a two-state solution between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat by President Clinton in 2000?

The answer is to be found in the following statement made by Israel’s then Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - at the international conference convened by President Bush on 27 November 2007 in Annapolis in the presence of some 40 world leaders including many from the Arab world:
"The (resumption of) negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.

On conclusion of the negotiations, I believe that we will be able to reach an agreement which will fulfill the vision of President Bush: two states for two peoples.

A peace-seeking, viable, strong, democratic and terror-free Palestinian state for the Palestinian people.

A Jewish, democratic State of Israel, living in security and free from the threat of terror – the national home of the Jewish people."

President Obama’s Jerusalem speech is the closest he has come to publicly acknowledging that the following commitments laid out in President Bush’s letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 constitute “credible proposals” to end the Jewish-Arab conflict:
1. As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338.

2. The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state.

3. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

4. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.

5. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.
Yet President Obama has appeared to have given up one fundamental requirement of President Bush’s Road Map - that any Palestinian Arab state that emerges as part of the two-state solution must be “democratic”

In a carefully worded and crafted speech that spoke in glowing terms of Israel’s vibrant democracy - President Obama was noticeably silent in failing to endorse the same outcome as being necessary for the successful implementation and conclusion of President Bush’s two-state solution.

To this extent President Obama seems to have rejected as unnecessary the express Annapolis commitment made by Prime Minister Olmert to achieve one of President Bush’s most cherished objectives.

The PLO will no doubt see this concession by President Obama as a plus - since it appears to be the inevitable consequence of Hamas and the PLO being unable to end their six years long internecine struggle that has denied the Palestinian Arabs having any say in determining their own future.

America is apparently set on pressuring Israel to give up this demand as a condition of resolving the two-state solution.

Yet in another respect President Obama’s following statement has come down firmly in favour of the commitment made by President Bush in his letter to Prime Minister Sharon - endorsed in specific terms by Prime Minister Olmert at Annapolis - that the Arab world - and Jew-haters around the world - recognize that the Jewish people are entitled to a Jewish state in their ancient, historic and biblically recognized homeland.
"For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice, pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts. of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea – to be a free people in your homeland.

That is why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own. And over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins."

President Obama reinforced that message with an unequivocal one liner:
"Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state."

The steadfast refusal by the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab world at large to acknowledge this simple proposition has been the major impediment to peace ever since its possibility was first suggested in 1920 at the San Remo Conference and confirmed in the 1922 Mandate for Palestine - then actually proposed in 1937 by the Peel Commission and endorsed by the United Nations in 1947.

Are the Palestinian Arabs now seriously ready to take up President Obama’s challenge to resolve their conflict with the Jews in accordance with the credible proposals made by Israel at Annapolis in 2007 - tempered with just one important concession by President Obama dispensing with the need for any agreement on the question of democracy?

That is the message President Obama has sent to President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad - persons whom President Obama personally identified as true partners for Israel in achieving the two-state solution during his Jerusalem speech.

I hope we will not have to wait too long for their answer.