In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan (UNGA Resolution 181) to be implemented in the Holy Land for when the British ended their administration of Palestine. The resolution proposed that two states be established in the area west of the Jordan River: a Jewish State and an Arab State. The resolution mentioned the term “Jewish State” a full 27 times.
But the world never quite understood what a “Jewish State” meant. The modern world never had witnessed such a thing.
Conversely, an “Arab State” seemed clear. There already were many Arab countries in the world. There were also many Muslim countries. People had a pretty good understanding of what such countries looked like and how they operated. The number of both Arab and Muslim countries would grow over the following decades.
After the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, the Palestinian Arabs would begin to define what their proposed Arab State would look like. In the waning days of the five year transition period that began in September 1995, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him), ordered a draft Palestinian Constitution be prepared. The initial draft Palestinian constitution was completed in 2001.
It made a few points abundantly clear: a State of Palestine would be Arab and be Muslim.
- “This constitution is based on the will of the Arab Palestinian people.” (Article 1)
- “The Arab Palestinian people believe in the principles of justice, liberty, equality, human dignity, and their right to practice self-determination and sovereignty over their land.” (Article 2)
- “The Palestinian people are a part of the Arab and Islamic nations.” (Article 3)
- “Arabic shall be the official language.” (Article 5)
- “Islam shall be the official religion of the state. The monotheistic religions shall be respected.” (Article 6)
- “The principles of the Islamic Shari`a are a primary source for legislation. The legislative branch shall determine personal status law under the authority of the monotheistic religions according to their denominations, in keeping with the provisions of the constitution and the preservation of unity, stability, and advancement of the Palestinian people.” (Article 7)
- “Sovereignty belongs to the Palestinian Arab people. Its prerogatives shall be exercised by the people directly, by means of elected representatives, by referendum, and through their constitutional institutions.” (Article 10)
It goes on, and the point is underscored: a new Palestinian State would be Arab and Islamic.
Even without a state, the Palestinian Authority created a framework of what it meant to be a Palestinian State. Yet, Israel, which had been a country since May 1948, never defined what it meant to be a Jewish State.
Israel – like the United Kingdom and New Zealand – does not have a constitution. Instead, it issues a series of “Basic Laws.” These laws enumerate key principles of the country. Until July 2018, the government of Israel did not declare what it meant to be a Jewish State in any of the Basic Laws, even while it enumerated other key attributes such as human dignity and liberty. There were Jewish symbols and Jewish holidays used in Israel, but those could easily be replaced with any new law. The State of Israel was only de facto a Jewish State. Nothing more.
That de facto existence has been more than enough for Arabs and anti-Zionists. Thirty Arab and Muslim countries still refuse to recognize the existence of Israel. For his part, the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has stated that Palestinian Arabs “will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” The PA would make peace with the government of Israel simply as a counter-party to an agreement. However, it still objected to the basic formula laid out since 1947 of two states for two people: a Jewish State and an Arab State.
And Abbas could comfortably delude himself into that reality because Israel never proclaimed itself in its own Basic Laws that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The country operated like a Jewish man wearing a baseball cap instead of a kippah, acting religiously without the public declaration of being Jewish. The Jew and anti-Semite could play the farce of doing business and getting along with each other with the fig leaf of deniability.
No longer. The public declaration has been made. The Jew is out of the closet. Deal with your anti-Semitism if you want to live next to Israel, and strike treaties and do business with the Jewish State.
In 2018, the State of Israel declared itself the Nation-State of the Jewish people. For anyone that held out hope for a two state solution built on a solid foundation, there is only cause for optimism and joy.
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