In the aftermath of the Arabs humiliating defeat in the June 1967 war with Israel, the leaders of eight Arab countries assembled in Khartoum, Sudan to proclaim their unity with each other and the cause against Israel which had just taken the Sinai from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. They published the Khartoum Resolution which, among other matters, proclaimed the infamous ‘three No’s’ regarding Israel:
“3. The Arab Heads of State have agreed to unite their political efforts at the international and diplomatic level to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5. This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country.”
The comedy of classic clowns might be lost on the listeners of later generations, but the Arab heads of state made the subject of Palestinians having their “own country” a new priority, after 18 years of occupying the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967, and making no effort whatsoever to create an independent Palestinian state.
What’s more, the no peace/ recognition/ negotiations with Israel not only prevented any pathway to peace for all the Arab actors with Israel, it slammed the door shut on Palestinian refugees having any chance of returning to homes in Israel.
As stated in the 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 194, item 11, “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property.” The 1967 Khartoum Resolution made clear that there would be no peace with Israel, and consequently, no return for any refugees.
This was not a new or novel issue for the Arab world.
In October 1950, not long after the end of Israel’s War of Independence, the United Nations sought a method of handling the displaced Arabs who had left Israel. The UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine noted the opinion of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion about the status of the Arab refugees:
“Mr. Ben Gurion’s view this passage [Resolution 194] made the possibility of a return of the refugees to their homes contingent, so to speak, on the establishment of peace: so long as the Arab States refused to make peace with the State of Israel, it was evident that Israel could not fully rely upon the declaration that Arab refugees might make concerning their intention to live at peace with their neighbours. Mr. Ben Gurion did not exclude the possibility of acceptance for repatriation of a limited number of Arab refugees, but he made it clear that the Government of Israel considered that a real solution of the major part of the refugee question lay in the resettlement of the refugees in Arab States. On the other hand, Mr. Ben Gurion fully recognized the humanitarian aspect of the problem and on several occasions declared that, when the time came, the Government of Israel would be ready to take part in the efforts necessary for its solution and that it would do this in a sincere spirit of co-operation. Mr. Ben Gurion told the Commission, however, that the Government of Israel considered the refugee question as one of those which should be examined and solved during the general negotiations for the establishment of peace in Palestine.”
Arab states rejected the existence of the Jewish State at its founding in 1948 and dug in deeper after the loss of territory that belonged to THEM (as opposed to local Palestinians) in 1967. While Egypt and Jordan did sign peace agreements with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively, the remainder of the Arab world still has not. Thirty Arab and Muslim states still refuse to acknowledge the basic existence of Israel.
So while the number of Palestinian “refugees” stood at roughly 1 million in 1967, that number ballooned to over 5.5 million in 2019. Bringing that many Arabs into Israel would completely alter the demographic composition and character of Israel, a point which the United Nations abhors when it comes to Jews living in the West Bank as it stated in the 2016 UNSC Resolution 2334: “Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.” If the desired Arab state cannot handle a 5% Jewish population, how can anyone possibly consider that the Jewish State, which already has a 20% Arab population, take in an additional 5 million Arabs?
The Arab world declared three No’s to Israel in 1967, and also effectively sealed the fate of Palestinian refugees, that they would never move to houses in Israel.
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