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From the Biblical Period (ca. 1350 BCE to 586 BCE) to the British Mandate (1918 – 1948), the land named vengefully by the Romans after the ancient Philistines was controlled only by non-Palestinian elements. A continuous chain of Jewish possession of the land was legally recognized after World War I. At the San Remo Peace Conference in April 1920, a binding treaty was signed in which Great Britain was given mandatory authority over “Palestine.” This authority was based on the expectation that Britain would prepare the area to become the “national home for the Jewish People.” Previously, since 1516, the Ottoman Turks had ruled the area cruelly, as an undesirable provincial backwater.
Palestine, according to the Treaty, comprised territories encompassing what are now the states of Jordan and Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza. Present day Israel, Mr. President, comprises only twenty-two percent of Palestine as defined and ratified at the San Remo Peace Conference.
In 1922, Great Britain, unilaterally and without any lawful authority, split off seventy-eight percent of the lands promised to the Jews, all of Palestine east of the Jordan River, and gave it to Abdullah, the non-Palestinian son of the Sharif of Mecca. Eastern Palestine now took the name “Transjordan,” which it retained until April 1949, when it was renamed “Jordan.” From the moment of its creation, Transjordan was closed to all Jewish migration and settlement, a clear betrayal of the British promise in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and a patent contravention of its Mandatory obligations under international law.
On July 20, 1951, a Palestinian Arab assassinated King Abdullah in reprisal for the latter’s hostility to Palestinian aspirations and concerns. Regarding these aspirations, Jordan’s “moderate” King Hussein, nineteen years later, during September 1970, murdered thousands of defenseless Palestinians under his jurisdiction.
In 1947, several years prior to Abdullah’s killing, the newly formed United Nations, rather than designate the entire land west of the Jordan River as the long-promised Jewish national homeland, enacted a second partition. Ironically, because this second fission again gave complete advantage to Arab interests, Jewish leaders reluctantly accepted the painful and unjust division. The Arab states did not. On May 15, 1948, exactly twenty-four hours after the State of Israel came into existence, Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, declared to a tiny new country founded upon the still-glowing ashes of the Holocaust: “This will be a war of extermination, and a momentous massacre.”
This declaration has been at the very heart of all subsequent Arab/Islamist (now including Iranian) orientations toward Israel, including those of the “moderate” and U.S.-supported Fatah. Even by the strict legal standards of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Arab actions and attitudes toward the microscopic Jewish state in their midst have remained authentically genocidal. Jurisprudentially, what they have in mind for Israel is formally called crimes against humanity.
In 1967, the Jewish State, as a result of its unexpected military victory over Arab aggressor states, gained unintended control over West Bank and Gaza. Although the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war is codified in the UN Charter, there still existed no authoritative sovereign to whom the Territories could possibly be “returned.” Israel could hardly have been expected to transfer them back to Jordan and Egypt, which had exercised unauthorized and terribly harsh control since the Arab-initiated “war of extermination” in 1948-49. Moreover, the idea of Palestinian “self-determination” had only just begun to emerge after the Six Day War; it had not even been included in UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was adopted on November 22, 1967.
The Arab states convened a summit in Khartoum in August 1967, concluding: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it[.]” The Palestine Liberation Organization had been formed three years earlier, in 1964, before there were any “Israeli Occupied Territories.”
Mr. President, your proposed two-state solution derives from an historical misunderstanding of Israel and “Palestine.” Even if Prime Minister Netanyahu were to agree to a complete cessation of all so-called “settlement” activity, no quid pro quo of any kind would be forthcoming from any quarter of the Arab/Islamic world. On the contrary, for Israel, any two-state solution would conclusively codify another Final Solution.
Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with military affairs and international law. His columns appear regularly in several major U.S., European and Israeli newspapers and magazines.
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