Mr. President, the “two-state” approach to peace between Israel and “Palestine,” strongly reaffirmed in your recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accepts the position of an Israeli “occupation.” Yet, even the most cursory look at pertinent world history would reveal several compelling reasons to reject any such position. Organized Arab terrorism against Israel began on the very first hour of Israel’s independence, in May 1948. Indeed, virulent anti-Jewish terrorism in the British Mandate period had even taken place many years before Israel’s statehood.
What about the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)? It was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came to control the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza. Mr. President, what was the PLO planning to “liberate” between 1964 and 1967? The answer, of course, must be all of Israel within the “green” armistice lines” of 1949. These are precisely the 1967-borders that you have recently identified as the appropriate starting point for current peace negotiations.
What should we now know about the PLO? Significantly, it was declared a “terrorist organization” in a number of U.S. federal court decisions, including Tel-Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic (1984).
More than five years ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, seeking peace with the always-recalcitrant Palestinians, forcibly expelled over 10,000 Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria. Immediately, these areas were transformed by Hamas from productive growing and living areas to terrorist rocket launching sites. Today, in obvious synergy with a new regime in Cairo – a military governing council soon to be intimate with powerful elements of the Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s newly reopened Rafah border is creating an unobstructed terrorist path directly into Israel.
Mr. President, why aren’t the Palestinians reasonably expected to cease deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being admitted into the community of nations? Isn’t it already clear that they seek something other than an “end to occupation.” Isn’t it already very likely that both Fatah and Hamas still regard all of Israel as “occupied” territory. After all, their official maps, long familiar in Washington, still include all of Israel as part of “Palestine.”
Mr. President, without an alleged “occupation,” there could remain no possible legal or moral justification for Palestinian policies of relentless terror.
Nonetheless, the fact that “occupation” is a contrived legal fiction has had little or no impact upon your own administration’s position on Palestinian statehood.
Nor, somehow, has it occurred to your administration that both Hamas and Fatah still find their common ideological mentors in Hitler and Goebbels, two figures for whom the prospective rulers of a nascent “Palestine” are ardent objects of unhidden admiration.
Mr. President, at its core, your policy toward Israel and “Palestine” reveals certain incremental bewitchments of language. Over the years, Arab patience in building an expanding Palestinian state upon mountains of Israeli corpses has been achieved systematically by linguistic victories. However untrue, the ritualistic canard of an Israeli “occupation” has been repeated so often that it is now generally taken as irrefutable fact.
Mr. President, why is it simply disregarded that Israeli “occupation” followed the multistate Arab aggression of 1967. Egypt, Syria and Jordan (now in the throes of a so-called “Arab Spring”) have never even denied this aggression. And who bothers to recall that these very same Arab states were also the principal aggressors in the explicitly genocidal Arab attacks that began on May 15, 1948, literally moments after the new Jewish State’s UN-backed declaration of independent statehood.
Mr. President, please recall that a sovereign state of Palestine did not exist before 1967, or before 1948. Nor did UN Security Council Resolution 242 ever promise a state of Palestine. A state of Palestine has never existed. Never.
Even as a non-state legal entity, “Palestine” ceased to exist in 1948, when Great Britain relinquished its League of Nations mandate. During the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence, West Bank and Gaza came under incontestably illegal control of Jordan and Egypt respectively. These Arab conquests did not put an end to an already-existing state or to an ongoing trust territory. What these aggressions did accomplish was the intentional prevention of any Arab state of Palestine.
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.