One issue that few people seem to discuss is how should future generations be affected by the actions of past generations on their environment. Not surprisingly this issue is at the forefront in any Israeli/Palestinian peace negotiation, but not considered at the forefront by the players. Past sins largely involve whether or not to allow for the formation of an independent Arab Palestinian state. The popular sentiment appears to be to allow for such a decision, but is this the correct course of action?
The first important element in this question is understanding the events that drove the creation of Israel vs. an Arab state. The original Mandate for Palestine, which encompassed the area now known as Israel and Jordan, was created in 1920 and agreed to unanimously by the League of Nations in 1922 establishing the British as a magistrate for the region. In the Mandate the British had included an objective for the establishment of a Jewish National Homeland in accordance to the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Also further support of the British commitment at the time to create a Jewish National Home was demonstrated by making the national home for the Jewish people an article of the Law of Nations, by incorporating the wording of the Balfour Declaration. However, the British had a problem in while the Balfour Declaration could be interpreted that the British intended to turn the area of Palestine into a Jewish National Homeland, two years prior they also had promised the Arabs independence in certain areas of the Ottoman Empire in exchange for revolting against the Ottomans, an arrangement stipulated in the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence.
The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence was the first of many problems for the British in the Palestine region regarding the question of a Jewish National Homeland largely due to its lack of explicit terms. The initial rationality behind the correspondence was British concern that Arabs in territories under their control in the Middle East would side with the Ottoman Empire during WWI. Therefore, as a means to avoid the complications of such a shift in allegiance, McMahon promised Hussein bin Ali control of Arab lands with the exception of ‘portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo’ if they would rebel against the Ottoman as well as refrain from rebelling in British territories. Palestine lies to the Southwest of these areas and was not explicitly mentioned. Unfortunately it is difficult to know what Hussein was thinking because he never explicitly asked about Palestine at the time either, one can only assume that he assumed that Palestine would have an opportunity for independence.
Soon before approval of the British Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations (July 24, 1922), the Churchill White Paper was released (June 3, 1922). The Churchill White Paper is important because it stated that it was not the intent of the British government to covert Palestine as a whole into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded “in Palestine.” However, it also stated that the British had included Palestine (more specifically the vilayet of Beirut and Sanjak of Jerusalem) in the McMahon-Hussein exception, thus Palestine should not have expected any guarantees to its independence.
One rationality for the White Paper could be not only clarification in an attempt to end all of the various interpretations and contradictions in the previous seven years of agreements and treaties (especially the troublesome Sykes-Picot agreement), but also a means to explain to the Jews the formation of Transjordan east of the Jordan River. One could argue that this initial split in territory, which resulted in Transjordan receiving 77% of the land in question (Palestine) was adequate compromise to satisfy both promises. Side Note: in September 1922, the British officially communicated with the League of Nations that Transjordan would be excluded from any discussions regarding a Jewish National Homeland. Unfortunately this White Paper did not appear to make any claims regarding how much of the land west of the Jordan River would be made available to a Jewish National Home. Due to the lack of clarity on this point, not surprisingly most Jews believed that area west of the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea was still ‘promised’ for a Jewish National Homeland, that the formation of Transjordan signified the part of Palestine that they were not receiving regarding the White Paper statement that not all of Palestine would become part of the Home. Some actually cried foul to the formation of Transjordan believing the Jewish people should receive all of Palestine.
On a side note some argue that Lord Curzon’s statements in a Eastern Committee of the Cabinet meeting stating that “… Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future…” is of relevance, but these comments were made on December 5, 1918 and can be regarded as only his opinion, Lord Curzon was not Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs yet. Secondary note: for the purposes of this blog post the area of Palestine west of the Jordan river will now be referred to as Palestine, excluding Transjordan.
In the beginning (through the 1920s) the level of Jewish migration to Palestine was sparse largely due to difficult conditions in the region, little foreign aid to foster development and British driven Jewish immigration quotas initiated by Arab resistance to Jewish immigration. These quotas were typically tied to the perceived economic capacity of Palestine to absorb immigrants without damaging the local economy, thus the quotas only applied to poor Jews as rich Jews (assets of 500 pounds or more) were allowed to enter without counting against the quota. Also some levels of strife in the early 1920s was reported by High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel while he attempted to establish self-governing institutions in Palestine as Arab leadership refused to cooperate with any institution that involved Jewish participation.
However, migration rates changed significantly in the 1930s largely attributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler and with him a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism in Europe. Not willing to accept the migration of these Jewish individuals, a bout of Arab nationalism lead to the Arab riots of 1936-1939. Other elements which contributed to the Arab riots could have been the Jewish economic sector in Palestine surpassing the Arab sector in total productivity and the death of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, at British and Jewish hands, founder of the Black Hand an anti-Zionist and anti-British militant organization.
Due to the riots the British Peel Commission was formed in 1937. As a means to appease the surrounding Arab countries while still affirming the Balfour declaration the Peel Commission proposed to further divide the land west of the Jordan River creating independent Jewish and Arab states. Arab leadership both in Palestine and in the neighboring countries rejected this proposal. What is interesting about this rejection is that under the Peel Plan Arabs would have received approximately 83% of the land, with 15% going to the Jewish state and 2% would have fallen under international administration.
After the rejection of the Peel Plan British support for the potential Jewish National Homeland underwent a significant shift exemplified in the following staff memo: “No solution of the Palestine problem should be proposed which would alienate the Arab states. If one of the two communities had to be antagonised, it was preferable, from the purely military angle, that a solution should be found which did not involve the continuing hostility of the Arabs; for in the that event our difficulties would not be confined to Palestine, but would extend throughout the whole of the Middle East”. This belief was predicated on the belief that Jewish support was either guaranteed or unimportant if Britain had to go to war with Hitler, but Arab support was not thought to be guaranteed, thus must be bolstered.
The lack of foresight provided by the British through this entire incident would be comical if so many people were not so negatively affected by it. In some context one could regard the situation as an interesting aspect of bait-and-switch against the Jewish people. Propose a homeland and then later do almost everything one can short of direct military intervention to deny that homeland or mitigate its significance and size as much as possible. Side note: in February 1939 the British staged the St. James Conference as a last-ditch effort to negotiate an agreement between the Jews and Arabs, but the Arab delegation is reported to have refused to meet with the Jews, to recognize their authority or even use the same entrances to the main conference hall. Not surprisingly the conference failed.
The release of the 1939 White Paper (MacDonald White Paper) officially confirmed the change in British attitude regarding Jews in Palestine and the British commitment to suppressing a Jewish National Homeland largely by heavily restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine and land ownership/land transfers in Palestine. Per Jewish immigration a total limit of 75,000 was set for the five-year period of 1940-1944 (this quota was broken down into a yearly quota of 10,000 with a supplemental quota of 25,000 to cover ‘emergencies’). The quota was enforced through an official certificate system. The creation of the White Paper of 1939 is interesting because the British had, for all intensive purposes, already lost support of the Arabs in Palestine and the anti-Jewish position of the paper lost support of the Jews, so now everybody in Palestine was dissatisfied with the British.
The Jewish regarded the 1939 White Paper as a betrayal and their response was two-fold. First, they began planning strategies to circumvent the quotas through a program of illegal immigration called Aliyah Bet. The British countered this program by cracking down both in raids and blockading entrances to Palestine both on land and sea. Captured Jews were held in Cyprus and stripped of their citizenship, thus they had no official standing for exchange or release. Interestingly enough so many Jews were captured that British officials eventually started releasing them for fear of a violent uprising in Cyprus.
Second, the Jewish Lehi (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) began staging violent actions against British targets in Palestine. The most famous action taken against the British was the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944. The violent action taken against the British was not condoned by the ‘mainstream’ Jewish leadership which continued to try to negotiate more favorable conditions from the British. Interestingly enough some believe that the formation of the Jewish Lehi bolstered the combat readiness of the Jews to the point where if these immigration quotas had not existed the future of Israel may have been much shorter.
Meanwhile after the League of Nations fell apart, the end of WWII created a greater level of sympathy for the Jewish people leading to the United Nations reconfirmed the original mandate with U.N. Charter’s Article 80 which was later supported by the International Court of Justice. Despite this inclusion the problem of co-existence between the growing Jewish population and the existing Arab population still remained. In 1946 the Grady-Morrison Committee tried to argue that the demand for a Jewish State went beyond the obligations of both the Balfour Declaration and the original British Mandate for Palestine. However, this abandonment of a Jewish state was rejected and the decision to address the division between Jews and Arabs culminated in U.N. Resolution 181, known also as the U.N. 1947 Partition Resolution. Side note: in 1945 at the behest of the British the Arab League was formed to manage and coordinate policy between the Arab states in the Middle East.
Anyone looking at the territory distribution between the proposed Arab state and the Israeli state under U.N. Resolution 181 can only laugh at its discontinuity. While the intentions of the plan seem to make sense, due to the lack of large amounts of paperwork pertaining to private land ownership complicated by Ottoman restrictions on land ownership, it was thought best to divide the land into existing settlement majorities. Of course based on the requisite demand for farmland and other resources this distribution of territory did not stand much of a chance for success even if the Jewish Agency (the representatives for the Jewish in Palestine), the Palestinian Arabs (through the Arab Higher Committee) and the Arab League approved it. One could theorize that perhaps the Arab states may have accepted U.N. Resolution 181 if the distribution were more continuous, but based on existing attitudes at the time that theory does not appear to have a high probability of validity.
While not happy about how the land was distributed the Jewish Agency agreed to the partition, some believing that agreement was necessary to further legitimacy of the Jewish National Homeland. All of the neighboring Arab powers (Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Lebenon, Syria) rejected the partition plan and voted against U.N. Resolution 181 in the General Assembly. There were rumors, which were later confirmed, that if it had a vote Transjordan would have accepted the partition, but under the intention of later annexing the West Bank portion of the new Arab state (only because Abdullah realized he could not annex all of Palestine). The Arab rejection could be argued to exist in two parts: intransigence due to the desire not to have any Jewish state in Palestine and disagreement with how fair the overall agreement was pertaining to the land divisions as a whole and the resources distribution.
The chief complaint of fairness was that 56% of the land was being given to the Jewish state despite only approximately (by the best estimates of the time) 33% of the population being Jewish. In addition the current demographics of the Jewish state would have a 55% Jewish majority and a 45% Arab minority, thus many Arabs would have to consider migration as a Jewish majority governorship was thought not to appeal to most Arabs. Incidentally this Jewish over Arab or Arab over Jewish ‘dominance’ is the rationality the Grady-Morrison Committee used to suggest that there be no Jewish or Arab state in Palestine. Overall these population numbers changed slightly because of the initial inclusion of members of the Bedouins which would have made Arabs the majority in the Jewish state, thus revisions were made which assigned Beersheba to the proposed Arab state and further parts of the Judean Desert to the Jewish state to avoid this population problem.
The interesting thing about the partition plan is that both sides, Jewish and Arab, heavily complained that the other side was getting unfair favorable treatment. The funny thing about the Arab citation of only receiving 42% of the land versus what would become Israel receiving 56% and the remaining 2% being under U.N. administration) is that a majority of the land received by Israel included the Negev and Judean Deserts, so Arabs claim they were concerned that the Jewish state was getting a lot of desert which could not effectively be cultivated at the time. The unfairness of the partition is an interesting issue because under the partition plan the Jewish state ending up losing 87% of the land that they originally be should have been given to them under the Balfour Declaration.
Another note is that one could only guess what the Jewish population in Palestine would have been had the British not been placing severe immigration quotas on Jewish entry, especially from 1940-1944 during the Holocaust. In fact the 1939 White Paper basically stated that the intent of the immigration restriction policy was to ensure a Jewish population in Palestine of only 33%, which is what it was when U.N. Resolution 181 was proposed in 1947.
The Arab rejection due to unfairness loses significant credibility when thinking back to the rejection of the Peel Plan as well as the frequent claims made by the neighboring Arab powers that the Jewish state should not exist. In fact during a group of meetings in November and December 1947, the Arab League adopted a series of resolutions aimed at a military solution to the Palestinian question. Also on the day of their invasion of Israel in 1948 the Arab League issued a statement documenting their motivations for the invasion: “the only solution of the Palestine problem is the establishment of a unitary Palestinian State, in accordance with democratic principles, whereby its inhabitants will enjoy complete equality before the law, [and whereby] minorities will be assured of all the guarantees recognised in democratic constitutional countries…”; basically proclaiming a United State of Palestine for Arabs instead of the two-state solution proposed by the U.N. Thus it is difficult to take seriously a ‘lack of fairness due to land partitioning’ as the primary motive for Arab rejection of U.N. Resolution 181 unless one argues that any land given to the Jews was viewed as unacceptable/unfair.
This mindset was further illustrated by Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League, who was thought to have said, although whether or not true is debated, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” Six days later Azzam then also stated (no one questions this statement), “We are fighting for an Arab Palestine. Whatever the outcome the Arabs will stick to their offer of equal citizenship for Jews in Arab Palestine and let them be as Jewish as they like. In areas where they predominate they will have complete autonomy.”
The interesting thing is that the second part of that statement about complete autonomy is basically what the partition plan tried to accomplish. So was Azzam suggesting a form of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ for the Jewish state? In areas where you Jews are the majority you can govern yourselves like an official state, just don’t tell anyone because we don’t want you to be recognized as an official state. Realistically this attitude interpretation may be generous because other communications from Arabs in this time period give the impression of ‘we don’t care if there are Jews in Palestine as long as they do not have any power or an independent state.’
Despite the Palestinian Arab and Arab League rejection of U.N. Resolution 181it passed the General Assembly on November 29, 1947; on May 14, 1948 the temporary legislature of Israel declared statehood one day before the British Mandate over Palestine officially lapsed. That night and during the next morning Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria invaded Israel starting the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. It should be noted that Lebanon involvement in the war was ‘token’ due to an arrangement reached earlier by the Jewish Agency and the Lebanese government. Transjordan originally planned not to participate in the attack based on a previously reached non-aggression agreement with Jewish leaders in exchange for the ability to annex areas of the West Bank, but other Arab leaders basically shamed Abdullah into violating that agreement.
During the 1948 War, the British also continued their support for the neighboring Arab nations. Basically this mindset in some respects coalesced with the Arab mindset that Israel needed to be destroyed because the Arabs had clearly demonstrated that the very existence of Israel alienated them. This goal was especially prevalent in the diplomatic region with the British continuously arguing after each cease-fire that the areas controlled by the Arabs should belong to the respective Arab occupier.
After numerous cease-fires, which were commonly violated by the Arab powers, violations supported by the British, the war concluded in the early-mid 1949 when Israel signed four separate armistices, Egypt on February 24, Lebanon on March 23, Jordan on April 3 and Syria on July 20. After the conclusion of the war Jordan claimed the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Egypt claimed the Gaza Strip and Israel claimed all of the original land it thought it received after the 1922 redistribution decision outside of the aforementioned areas. Side note: the 1956 war is of little relevance to the above issue so it will not be discussed.
The realities of the 1967 war are controversial. In general it is not disputed that Israel commenced the primary attacks against Egypt; however, the circumstances that lead to the attack are important. In mid May 1967 Nasser began massing troops in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel’s border, expelled the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from Gaza and Sinai and mobilized at Sharm el-Sheikh overlooking Straits of Tiran. Despite Israeli declarations that closing the Straits of Tiran would be akin to declaring war on Israel, Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli vessels on May 22. On June 1, 1967 Iraq began deploying troops and armored vehicles into Jordan. So from an Israeli perspective when Nasser closed the Straits he in essence declared war on Israel. Future actions by Egypt and the other Arab neighbors (Jordan, Syria and Iraq) along with the history between Israel and their Arab neighbors did nothing to dissuade Israeli concerns of multiple attacks on multiple fronts. Based on these conditions it is understandable why Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against the strongest Arab prospective participant, Egypt.
With respect to attacks against Syria and Jordan both initiated action against Israel; Jordan did so despite communication from Israel for a non-aggression pact. Some would argue that the defense pact Jordan signed with Egypt was the motivating factor for the attack by Jordan. The potential problem with that statement is that Jordan commenced operations against Israel on the morning of June 5 which was similar to when Israel commenced operations against Egypt. Therefore, Jordan had only hours to respond to the Israeli aggression amid confusion on the battlefront where both sides (Israel and Egypt) reported being attacked and Egypt reported to Jordan that they were actively bombing Israel (which was not true as most of Egypt’s air force was wiped out in the very early stages of the war).
From a logical perspective if the Arab countries, especially Egypt, took actions leading Israel to be concerned for its imminent safety the initial strike can be understood and the blame can even be attributed to those Arab countries because it is illogical to presume that Israel should only fight a defensive war when its existence is at stake. However, one credible issue may be that while it was appropriate for Israel to attack Egypt in a pre-emptive way progressing the action from destroying the Arab threat to invading and taking Arab territory cannot be justified. The problem with this contention is that Israel should not be expected to engage in a mobius strip based defense/pre-emptive attack strategy. Basically suppose Israel neutralizes the Arab forces in 1967, but does not take any territory to create an additional militarized buffer region between Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem and other key Israeli cities. It stands to reason that Israel without existing peace agreements (which did not exist between the surrounding Arab countries and Israel at the time) Israel would simply have to neutralize Arab forces again with the same threat level over and over again. With no intention of ‘exterminating’ the surrounding Arab countries creating militarized boundary regions would actually reduce the probability of future wars.
Based on the information above it would be appropriate for Israel to return the ‘seized’ territory if a peace agreement was signed with the corresponding country with appropriate conditions for its violation. Such a circumstance did occur with the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt at Camp David in 1979 resulting in the return of the Sinai Peninsula affirming the ‘land for peace’ scheme.
Proponents for an Arab Palestinian state consistently discuss elements of fairness and justice when talking about the development of that state. The problem with this mindset is there is nothing concrete that can be attributed to those characteristics. Most argue that the justification for that state comes from U.N. Resolution 181. However, the neighboring Arab powers and Palestinian Arabs rejected U.N. Resolution 181 at the time. Instead of accepting a Jewish and Arab state, their decision was to destroy the Jewish state. By taking this action the ‘fair’ result should be invalidation of U.N. Resolution 181.
For example Person A and Person B are interested in merging their widget companies and put forth a proposals to do so. However, before agreeing to the deal Person B attempts industrial sabotage in order to destroy Person A’s company so Person B’s company can then have a stronger hold on the widget market by itself. Unfortunately for Person B this attempt backfires and actually weakens their own company instead of damaging Person A’s company. How is it fair that Person B should then be allowed to accepting the originally negotiated deal and demand a merger with Person A’s company? Those who suggest that Israel should be bound by U.N. Resolution 181 in an manner are also suggesting that Person A be forced to accept the original merger agreement with Person B despite Person B rejecting it in favor of destroying Person A’s company. If a merger is to occur between these two companies, the original agreement is now null and void and a new agreement must be negotiated. On a side note the current request for statehood made by Abbas to the U.N. is akin to Person B simply asking the general business community to approve the merger of Person A’s and Person B’s companies without an official merger agreement.
The above logic problem is the chief concern which should have invalidated the 1988 Declaration of Statehood by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Ironically the PLO used U.N. Resolution 181 as the basis for the declaration despite not adhering to the territorial divisions created by the partition. For example under U.N. Resolution 181 the entire city of Jerusalem would not be governed by either the Jewish state or the Arab state, yet the PLO regard East Jerusalem has the de facto capital for the Arab state in Palestine. So the PLO is using U.N. Resolution 181 has a basis for declaring their statehood, but it is not adhering to the ‘less pleasant’ elements of U.N. Resolution 181. Of course these are elements missed by the General Assembly when accepting the declaration.
Also one of the chief issues which strips credibility from those who support the Arab Palestinian state is ignoring the culpability of Egypt and Jordan in the ‘Palestinian’ plight. If Egypt and Jordan had accepted U.N. Resolution 181, the rest of the Arab League would have and those referred to as Palestinians would have had their independent state. Instead most of these supporters choose to look at the immediate simple present instead of looking at the past and how it has shaped the present to determine whom to blame for the current problems in the Palestine region.
One could argue that based on the results of the 1948 war and the 1967 war that Egypt could have a claim to the Gaza Strip and Jordan could have a claim to both the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, the argument of Egypt and Jordan ownership can get complicated because both claims made on the ‘disputed’ land by Israel and the respective Arab counterpart are due to the spoils of war. Note that these claims would now apply to the PLO as both Egypt and Jordan have given authority of their claims to the PLO.
For example in the 1948 war it could be argued that Egypt and Jordan occupied Israeli land if one were arguing from the perspective that the land west of the Jordan River was to comprise the Jewish National Homeland and that land was the ‘price’ for the 1949 armistice. If that argument were made then what is the difference between Israel taking that land after the 1967 war under the same ‘price for peace’ principle? The logical problem seems to be if one accepts the claim to these pieces of land by Egypt and Jordan how can one not accept Israeli claim to those lands under similar circumstances? This potential contradiction could have relevance in the application of U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 242, which is frequently cited by proponents of an Arab Palestinian state. The thing is that the U.N. appeared to operate under a form of amnesty in recognizing the boarders after 1948, but not recognizing the boarders after 1967. However, again what makes one recognition superior to the other if both circumstances were similar when UNSCR 242 clearly states for the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”.
Another potential logic hole with referencing UNSCR 242 in the Israel-Palestinian question is that fact the newly formed PLO rejected UNSC 242 when it was proposed in 1967 on the grounds that they would have to recognize the right of Israel exist if they did support UNSC 242. So once again, similar to Resolution 181, after failing to destroy Israel and ‘liberate’ Palestine, the Arab Palestinians come back to the table with the intentions of accepting the original deal that they walked away from decades earlier and expect everyone else to let them accept that deal without consequence. Of course sadly enough the acknowledged controversy surrounding UNSC 242 is in the language which may not force Israel to withdraw completely from the disputed territories, all depending on one’s interpretation, which unfortunately is frequently determined by who one supports.
Outside of the apparent illegitimacy of the global community to redistribute certain pieces of Israeli land to a group that has no claim over it, the other chief element that is commonly cited for the importance of maintaining the post-1967 boarders is Israeli security. Proponents of the post-1967 boarder arrangement believe that returning to the pre-1967 boarder arrangement would severely compromise Israeli security by taking away buffer territory which now shelter important Israeli infrastructure including the capital Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem. Proponents of the pre-1967 boarder arrangement believe that this argument is not applicable any longer because modern weaponry can reach all parts of Israel; also Israel has a significant military advantage over its Arab neighbors which can be used to protect itself. In addition instead of creating a buffer zone which will foster anger and distrust, some believe that giving up the land creates an environment of cooperation and higher probability of peace.
The problems with the arguments made by the pre-1967 boarder proponents is that while modern long-ranger missiles can reach all of Israel, withdrawal to pre-1967 boarders would also put all of Israel (now significantly smaller) in range of short-range rockets and mortars which is the preferred weapon of Hamas. The advanced military argument is a meaningless one because why should Israel be forced to bear the burden of once again having to maintain such military preparedness over such a small terrain. The argument that a demilitarized Palestine should allay those fears or that giving up the land will significantly improve relationships is difficult to accept because of the sheer dissatisfaction that most Arabs still have with the every existence of Israel. In this vein note that Fatah, the PLO and Hamas have all stated in the past that a principle goal is the liberation of Palestine and the destruction of Israel. Those three groups play significant roles in a prospective government, so peaceful relationships appear questionable. In addition both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have demonstrated an inability to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from smuggling in these small arms weapons on a consistent basis, despite quality effort, thus there is little reason to suspect anything to change within a new independent state.
The potential political structure should also cause pause. For example the possibility that the West Bank under the new regime of an independent state could, if current democratic trends continue, be controlled by Hamas would be heavily concerning for Israel. How diligent would Hamas be at maintaining the demilitarized zone? What would be the consequences applied by the global community if they did not? Also assuaging concerns by ‘forcing’ Hamas to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a condition of a peace agreement is illogical because Hamas can simply lie. In fact no rational person would expect Hamas to change their beliefs regarding Israel, which are heavily tied to tradition and religion, in such an abrupt and absolute manner.
Finally some argue that the reason for the formation of the pre-1967 boarders would be to create a level of sovereign consistency for the new Arab Palestinian state because without this adjustment ‘Palestinians’ would have to travel through Israel to move from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip or visa-versa. However, a problem with this line of thought is the morality of taking land from Israel to achieve this process. Another problem is that a number of proposed ‘land swap’ deals foster heterogeneity in an environment that has not effectively managed such a reality on such a consistent and large-scale.
One issue that will not be addressed in this blog post is the question of whether or not ‘Palestinians’ are being mistreated within the boarders of Israel. This issue is very complicated as it involves citizenships and residencies within the Israeli state among other things; however, there is reason to believe that some level of abuse is occurring. Unfortunately a number of individuals tie sympathy to ‘Palestinians’ as a reason for taking Israeli held land and turning it into a Arab Palestinian state which is inappropriate. The appropriate response would be to address the causes of those alleged abuses in Israel and eliminate the rationality behind them.
The final issue regarding fairness is the question, should modern day ‘Palestinians’ be held accountable for the mistakes of their forbearers? Under most circumstances the obvious answer should be no. Unfortunately if such an answer is given and one favors the establishment of an Arab Palestine state how can one reconcile such a decision with respect to fairness to the Jews? Israel has to give up land that it has gained not through offensive action, but defensive action because it is surrounded by a homogenous group of individuals that want to destroy it. The sad state of affairs is that someone has to deal with an unfair situation and the reality is that Israel have had to deal with far more from the Arabs than the Arabs have had to deal with from Israel. To give ‘Palestinians’ an independent state against Israeli wishes sends a message that in the end Arabs can violate any agreement with Israel they want and still get the original deal.
If establishing an independent Arab Palestinian state is not appropriate what is an appropriate response to strife among the ‘Palestinians’ and Israelis? One option would be to offer ‘Palestinians’ a fast path to Israeli citizenship so they would have an opportunity to participate in Israeli government. One could argue that such a proposal would not be well received by ‘Palestinians’ because of the ongoing relationship between Arabs and Jews, especially related to Arab pride. However, if the idea of their own state was no longer in the cards, ‘Palestinians’ may be more inclined to accept Israeli citizenship. Another issue is that Israel must do a better job of maintaining property boundaries between different individuals. With property boundary adherence the key issue is non-discrimination and following the appropriate legal guidelines.
Overall the biggest question in establishing an Arab Palestinian state is how to create it. For most the creation of this state appears to be a means to an end, facilitate peace between another group of Arabs and Israel. However, there are no guarantees that such a peace can be maintained, especially with the long-standing animosity between the two parties. Applying the element of fairness is difficult due to the outright initial refusal of arrangements, which would have established an Arab Palestinian state associated with the history of Arab hostility to Israel. Weakening Israel as a cost to creating such a state for Arab Palestinians would demonstrate an environment where there are little consequences to negative and unjustified Arab actions. While a number of individuals may claim such a stance is unfair, which is true in a way, it is more inappropriate to resolve one aspect of unfairness by taking another unfair action. It cannot be argued that Arab Palestinians have made any significant contributions to the success of Israel, thus to weaken Israel for the benefit of Arab Palestinians would be unfair and wrong. Therefore, it appears that the establishment of the an Arab Palestinian state demands a certain leap of faith which goes against existing precedent.