QUESTION

Vice President Pence speech to the Knesset yesterday in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem

Thank you Vice President Pence.

 

History of the 1948 war between Israel and the surrounding Arab states provides an answer to today’s conflict.  Transjordan, under the Hashemite ruler Abdullah I, gained independence from Britain in 1946 and was called Jordan in 1949. On the eve of May 14, the Arabs launched an air attack on Tel Aviv, which the Israelisresisted. This action was followed by the invasion of the former Palestinian mandate by Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. Saudi Arabia sent a formation that fought under the Egyptian command.

There had been tension and conflict between the Arabs and the Jews, and between each of them and the British forces, ever since the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1920 creation of the British Mandate of Palestine. British policies dissatisfied both Arabs and Jews. The Arabs’ opposition developed into the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, while the Jewish resistance developed into the Jewish insurgency in Palestine (1944–1947). In 1947 these ongoing tensions erupted into civil war, following the 29 November 1947 adoption of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which planned to divide Palestine into three areas: an Arab state, a Jewish state and the Special International Regime for the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

As a result of the war, the State of Israel controlled both the area that the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 had recommended for the proposed Jewish state as well as almost 60% of the area of Arab state proposed by the 1948 Partition Plan,[18] including the JaffaLydda and Ramle area, Galilee, some parts of the Negev, a wide strip along the Tel-AvivJerusalem road, West Jerusalem and some territories in the West Bank. Transjordan took control of the remainder of the former British mandate, which it annexed, and the Egyptian military took control of the Gaza Strip. At the Jericho Conference on 1 December 1948, 2,000 Palestinian delegates called for unification of Palestine and Transjordan as a step toward full Arab unity. No state was created for the Palestinian Arabs.

The Jordanian annexation of the West Bank was the occupation and consequent annexation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) by Jordan(formerly Transjordan) in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.During the war, Jordan’s Arab Legion conquered the Old City of Jerusalem and took control of territory on the western side of the Jordan River, including the cities of JerichoBethlehemHebron and Nablus. At the end of hostilities, Jordan was in complete control of the West Bank.

The conflict triggered significant demographic change throughout the Middle East. Around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes in the area that became Israel, and they became Palestinian refugees in what they refer to as Al-Nakba (“the catastrophe”). In the three years following the war, about 700,000 Jews immigrated to Israel with many of them having been expelled from their previous countries of residence in the Middle East.

Following the December 1948 Jericho Conference, and the 1949 renaming of the country from Transjordan to Jordan, the West Bank was formally annexed on 24 April 1950.

The annexation was widely considered as illegal and void by the international community. A month afterwards, the Arab League declared that they viewed the area “annexed by Jordan as a trust in its hands until the Palestine case is fully solved in the interests of its inhabitants.”Recognition of Jordan’s declaration of annexation was only granted by the United KingdomIraq and Pakistan.

Jordan transferred its full citizenship rights to the residents of the West Bank, the annexation more than doubled the population of Jordan.The naturalized Palestinians enjoyed equal opportunities in all sectors of the state without discrimination, and they were given half of the seats of the Jordanian Parliament.

After Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, the Palestinians there remained Jordanian citizens until Jordan decided to renounce claims and sever administrative ties with the territory in 1989.

ANSWER: DURING THE INTERVENING YEARS FROM 1948 TO 1967  THERE  WAS NO DEMAND BY THE PSEUDO PALESTINIANS FOR THE CREATION OF THEIR OWN STATE. ONLY AFTER DEFEATING JORDAN IN 1967 BY ISRAEL THE DEMANDS BEGAN.  NUMEROUS OPPORTUNITIES WERE DISMISSED BY THE PSEUDO PALESTINIANS SINCE THEN MAKING A MOCKERY OF THEIR DESIRE TO LIVE IN PEACE.

 

•  that the Arabs of Palestine have no language, religion or general culture that distinguishes them significantly from the Arabs of Jordan, Syria (where some factions still claim Palestine as part of “Greater Syria”) or other neighboring Arab states;

•  that especially before the 20th century, traditional Palestinian society was semi‑feudal in its structure and organized around loyalties to locality and tribe, not nation;

•  that the Arabs of Palestine never exercised national sovereignty in the country in which they lived;

•  that a pattern of Arab emigration from Palestine, a land often described by Western travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries as “desolate” and “empty,” was reversed, especially after World War I, not by nationalist feeling but by the employment opportunities and improved quality of life that accompanied Zionist immigration and land development;

•  that the word Filastin, as the country is called in Arabic, is not Palestinian‑Arab in origin (the Arabs of the region rarely used it before 1948) but refers to the biblical “Philistines,” whose name the ancient Romans gave to the country in an attempt to obliterate the Jews’ connection to it;

•  that even UN Security Council Resolution 242, which in 1967 called upon Israel to return “territories” it had conquered in the Six‑Day War, referred only to “refugees” without mentioning the Palestinians as a separate national entity.

In other words, it can be argued that “Palestinian” identity is a shallow political veneer that developed in response to Zionism, that it serves today as a hostile tool kept sharpened for use against Israel, and that Palestinian Arab culture is, at most, a “dialect” of a larger Arab culture.

Even fervent Palestinian nationalists might not deny many of the items on the above list. But they would argue that the absence of a totally unique identity does not disqualify Palestinians from claiming national independence, any more than the lack of a separate language, culture and religion disqualifies Guatemala, Canada or Tunisia.

Though Palestinian society still remains partly focused on clan and tribe today, it is also evident that the Arabs of Palestine have in recent generations moved largely toward understanding themselves as a separate nation within the Arab world.

The earliest imaginings of a separate Palestinian national identity are traceable to the mid-19th century, perhaps partly in response to renewed Western interest in the “Holy Land.” As early as 1919, the first “Arab Palestinian Congress” called for Palestinian unity and independence, albeit still understanding Palestine as part of “Greater Syria.”

But it is the year 1948 — the time of naqba, or catastrophe, as Palestinian Arabs commonly call it– that marks the crucial watershed in the process of Palestinian nation-building. During Israel’s War of Independence against invading Arab armies, some 600,000 Arabs were dispossessed from their homes and became refugees. Not only individuals but embedded social patterns and relationships were uprooted, causing traumatic societal and cultural discontinuities. A society that had been centered on family, locality and traditional social patterns felt itself shattered.

Worse, the same predicament befell it again less than 20 years later in the aftermath of the Six‑Day War, which created many new refugees and saw the West Bank and Gaza Strip transferred from culturally cognate Jordanian‑Arab control to unfamiliar Israeli‑Jewish rule.

Throughout the Palestinian world, and especially in the refugee camps of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank, as the established social classes and patterns were unexpectedly shaken up together, a new social essence began to ferment, with the old local and communal affiliations becoming transmuted into a national one by a sense of shared history, suffering and hope.

Since 1967, the Arabs of Palestine have increasingly insisted on a separate identity for themselves.  Even many Israeli Arabs, torn by ethnic loyalties and perhaps radicalized by decades of ethnic conflict, now routinely refer to themselves as “Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.”

The Palestinians have also had “peoplehood” conferred on them by prevailing international usage, including 30 years of UN resolutions identifying them as a people and recognizing them (despite strong American and Israeli objections) as having “inalienable rights” to sovereign independence.  “Palestine” now exists as a partial political entity with its own passports, postage stamps, international calling code and internet domain name.

As the Palestinians move toward defining their identity as a nation, what is still unclear (and under debate) is exactly where that nation’s homeland is–whether in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, perhaps confederated with Jordan or Israel; or in Jordan itself, of which two‑thirds of its population is ethnically identical to the Arab population west of the Jordan River. Finally, many Palestinian militants still argue that Israel itself is a suitable future homeland.