Before Israel declared itself an independent state in May 1948, “Palestinians” were a mix of Jews, Christians and Muslims. At the end of the 1948-9 Arab-Israeli War, the region was divided and renamed. There were Israeli Jews, Christians and Muslims, but no longer any “Palestinians,” as the non-Israeli territory fell under Egypt (Gaza) and The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (the west bank of the Jordan River). The term “Palestinians” for the United Nations came to only mean Arab refugees from Israel, who were then living either in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and Israel (the term Palestinian refugees inside of Israel was phased out by the global body in 1952).
Jordanians and subsequently, Former Jordanians
After Transjordan illegally seized control of the west bank of the Jordan River in 1949, it renamed itself as “Jordan”, now controlling both banks of the river. Jordan annexed that west bank land in 1950 and subsequently gave all the people who lived there – as long as they weren’t Jewish – Jordanian citizenship in 1954. These new Jordanians moved freely between both sides of the Jordan River and many opted to NOT take on the label of “refugee.” To wit, in June 1950, there were 506,200 refugees in Jordan, and that number shrank to 465,741 in June 1951, an 8% drop.
The new Jordanians were part of the force that attacked Israel in June 1967 and lost the eastern part of Jerusalem and all of the land Jordan illegally annexed in 1950. Jordan ultimately withdrew Jordanian citizenship from these West Bank Arabs in July 1988, when the Palestinians declared their independence, in a move not recognized by much of the world.
The former Jordanians are ruled by the Palestinian Authority, under the unpopular leadership of Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. He has championed for more countries to recognize the Palestinian State and has secured the Muslim countries as well as several in Latin America. As the United States and western Europe have refused to recognize the country until it negotiates borders and other matters with Israel, they are viewed as stateless.
Meanwhile, Israel lifted the Jordanian ban on Jews living in the region. Israeli Jews now live throughout the area known as Area C, while they are still banned in Areas A and B under Palestinian Authority-control.
Gaza is a terrorist enclave run by the terrorist group Hamas. A majority of Gazans support the killing of Israeli Jews inside of Israel. They support keeping the terrorist group in power and spending finite resources attacking Israel. The majority of Gazans have always opposed a two state resolution to the conflict. It is for those many reasons, that the Gaza Strip has been blockaded by both Israel and Egypt.
Hamas and Fatah have not been able to reconcile their differences over the past many years. Gaza remains an Islamic terrorist territory, and Areas A and B of the West Bank (handed by Israel to the Palestinian Authority) remain under control of the PA, for now. Should elections ever be held, it is likely that Hamas will win control of the PA and thereby take control of the former Jordanians in those areas.
One hundred years ago, “Palestinians” included a mix of Jews, Muslims and Christians living together. Today it means nothing. As Hamas controlled-Gaza and Fatah-controlled Areas A and B are completely distinct and there is no country of Palestine, the people should similarly be referred to differently, as Gazans and former Jordanians.
The 1967 War Created Both the “West Bank” and the Notion of a Palestinian State
When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”
Quantifying the Values of Gazans
Palestinian “Refugees” or “SAPs”?
The United Nations Can Hear the Songs of Gazans, but Cannot See Their Rockets