A “Viable” Palestinian State

Summary: Pundits parrot Palestinian propaganda and state that Jews living in homes on the west bank of the Jordan River (WBJR) threaten the viability of a Palestinian state, Jodi Roduren of the Times being the latest. As Shakespeare wrote “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

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New York Times cover story on “Settlements”

The New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren once again took to the front pages of the paper to decry the building of Jewish homes in lands the Palestinians want for a future state. In the March 12 cover story she wrote: “Steady growth of settlements across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which most world leaders consider violations of international law, complicates both the creation of a viable Palestine and the challenge of someday uprooting Israelis, who are now raising a second and third generation in contested areas.” The thousand-plus word article detailed the size of various towns and the number of Jews living there, but never once discussed how the presence of Jews “complicates the creation of a viable Palestine.” Thomas Friedman echoed the sentiment on March 18, 2015 op-ed piece where he wrote “some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore.“ Let me spell out what they suggested.

PEOPLE

Palestinians are not simply seeking the establishment of a new country where they can be self-governing; they seek a country devoid of Jews. It is as though the presence of Jews triggers some sort of terrible anaphylactic shock to the Palestinian people.

In 2013, acting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that “we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.” For some reason, Abbas abhors the presence of Jews. This would appear to be the rationale for the media thinking that Jews risk the viability of a Palestinian state.

Ignoring for the moment the glaring anti-Semitic nature of the Abbas’s desire, consider the number of Jews that could potentially live in a new state of Palestine.

Small Percentage: Jews account for roughly 40% of the population in the eastern part of Jerusalem; about 13% of the remainder of the west bank of the Jordan River (WBJR), and 0% of Gaza. Ignoring the eastern part of Jerusalem which Israel annexed, Jews account for 8% of the population in the territories. If a portion of the Palestinian population living around the world (estimated at 7 million people) moved to a new state of Palestine – say 2 million of them – the total percentage of Jews would drop to 5%. If land swaps with Israel would move blocks of towns with Jews to Israel, the percentage would drop into the very low single digits.

Is this truly a sticking point for Abbas? Does he need a country to be completely Judenfrei like Nazi Germany? Would a Jewish population of 2-3% make a state non-viable?

Maybe he should look at Israel, which seems to do fine with non-Jewish citizens, which account for 25% of the country’s population. Umm al-Fahm in Israel is a city of nearly 50,000, almost all of whom are Israeli Arabs. Nazareth, with a population of about 66,000 is also completely Arab. Haifa, one of Israel’s largest cities, has a 24% Arab population. The Arab presence doesn’t offend Israelis and doesn’t impact the “viability” of Israel, and they account for 10 times as large a group as Jews would in a new country of Palestine.

“Uprooting Israelis”: Roduren wrote that it will be difficult to move hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis from their homes. She is right: such a massive expulsion would dwarf the evictions of Israelis from the Sinai in 1982 and Gaza in 2005. The situation here is also completely different.

When Israel took Sinai from Egypt in the 1967 war, it was new territory. It was never part of the holy land to Jews and was not part of the 1922 Palestine Mandate which established a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The 4500 Israelis that lived in the Sinai who were evicted by the Israeli government as part of a peace treaty were new transplants to the region.

When Israel evacuated the 21 settlements in Gaza in 2005, it was much harder. Gaza was part of Palestine and is featured in the bible. However, it was never home to many Jews at any point in its history.

The WBJR (plus additional area) is known as Judea and Samaria. It has ALWAYS been part of the Jewish history and Jews have always lived throughout the area, except for brief periods of time when they were evicted and banned (such as when Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs controlled the area from 1949-67). The area was an integral part of the 1922 British Mandate of Palestine which established a Jewish homeland. When Israel legally counter-attacked the Jordanians in 1967, it removed the racist ban of Jews in the land that the Jordanians put in place, after they evicted all of the Jews counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 1967, Israel allowed Jews to return to live in lands they had always lived in.

The “complication” of “someday uprooting” hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in WBJR is not about the sheer size of the numbers. These residents belong there and should never be evicted or forced to leave at all.

Counter to Palestinian Law: In 2002, Palestinians drafted a framework of laws called the Basic Law. It, theoretically, guarantees the freedom of religion:

  • Article 18: Freedom of belief and the performance of religious rituals are guaranteed, provided that they do not violate public order or public morals.It is interesting (telling?), that the Palestinians would guarantee the freedom of religion, as long as there are no Jews living in the land.

LAND

Other media sources claim that the threat to a viable Palestinian state is not because of the presence of Jews, but because of the remaining configuration of the land.

For example, the Guardian wrote about the potential development of a parcel of land known as “E1”, standing for “East of Jerusalem”, which Israel plans to develop to bridge the eastern part of the Jerusalem municipality with the large city of Maale Adumim. The Guardian wrote Despite its prosaic name, E1 has the potential to kill off hopes for a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to opponents of Israeli development on the 12 sq km site east of Jerusalem…. It would also almost bisect the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible.”

While the annexation of E1 would likely cut off “East Jerusalem” as a capital of a future Palestinian State, it does nothing to harm the viability of a new country. Making such comments is simply echoing the Palestinian government’s alarmist position “we cannot build a viable state with a country that is disintegrating into small pieces.

The “bisection of the West Bank” that the article claims refers to the distance from Maale Adumim to the Jordan River which would be only 15 kilometers. This would be the narrowest spot of WBJR. It would happen at only a single spot in the middle of the Judean Desert before widening by many miles.

Israel’s narrowest spot is that same 15 kilometers across, except it stays narrow for several miles. Further, that narrow stretch runs along Israel’s main population and commercial center near Tel Aviv. This compares to the WBJR which is mostly unpopulated desert land.

15miles wide
Narrowest point map,
from Honest Reporting

Is a single narrow stretch of land so catastrophic that Palestine would not be viable? Should that be true, Abbas must believe that much of the spine of the country which sits in the hills of eastern “West Bank” should be annexed by Israel to make sure it becomes viable, just as Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett suggests.


In short, if Abbas feels that the issue of a “viable” state is because a handful of Jews cannot live in Palestine, then by definition, the “Right of Return” of millions of Arabs to Israel cannot be permitted or it would destroy Israel. Similarly, if the threat of viability stems from “bisecting” the land, then Israel would need to annex the entire middle of the country.

There are many paths to a viable country which include building an economy and ensuring security. Neither of those are accomplished by banning Jews from living in the land.  It is well past time for Abbas to continue to make such racist claims; it is disgraceful that western media continues to blindly repeat it.


Related First One Through articles:

Abbas’s racism: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/abbas-knows-racism/

The Legal Settlements: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/the-legal-israeli-settlements/

West Bank/ Judea and Samaria: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/names-and-narrative-the-green-line-west-bank-judea-and-samaria/

Palestinian xenophobia:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQS1XVQR-Xc

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

On January 1, 2015, the New York Times editorial page led with a piece titled “The Palestinians Desperation Move.” The opinion piece advanced the case that acting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must be frustrated in his mission to create a new Palestinian State.

…Creating a State?

Desperate people take what they can. They view their options as limited and prospects as weak. They seize any opportunities to advance their main goal, whatever that might be.

Witness early Zionists agreeing to any size and configuration of a Jewish state, despite their dream for a larger state based on the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. They voted “yes” to a United Nations partition in 1947. They voted “yes” to greater Jerusalem and greater Bethlehem being international cities.

The Arabs, on the other hand, consistently voted “no” at every juncture.

These are not activities of a people that is “desperate” for a state. These are not actions of leaders who are willing to make compromises to establish a country and move their people forward.

 

… Maximizing a Jew-free State and/or Destroying the current Jewish State

Palestinian actions have consistently had three main areas of focus:

  1. Creating a new state free of any Jews
  2. Maximize the size of the new Palestinian state: either the entirety of Israel+West Bank+Gaza or using the 1949 Armistice Lines
  3. If there remains a state of Israel, it should be small and not Jewish

 

A Jew-free Palestinian state: Palestinians have sought to recreate the conditions of the Arab-controlled regions that expelled and barred the Jews from 1949 to 1967. The Palestinian leadership has continually called for preventing any “settlements”, meaning barring any Jewish people from living anywhere in Gaza, the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem that was controlled by Jordan from 1949-1967. Various Palestinian efforts towards peace talks have demanded a pre-condition of Jewish settlement freezes before any peace talks could begin.  They have lobbied the United Nations to condemn any and all settlements as illegal (even though Jews always lived in the lands before the illegal Jordanian takeover in 1949).

Palestinian law has repeatedly cemented the position of a Jew-free state. In 1973, it passed legislation that made the sale of any land or home to an Israeli to be a capital offense. The Palestinian Authority announced in 1997 that it would seek the death penalty for anyone selling land to a Jew or Israeli.

Abbas has repeatedly voiced his vision of a Jew-free Palestine, stating that he would not allow the presence of a single Israeli- civilian or soldier – in a new Palestine.

Abbas and other members of the Palestinian Authority have also called on the world to engage in a BDS- Boycott, Divestment and Sanction – of any Israeli company that has a presence in the territories they hope will become a Palestinian state. Their aggressive efforts in advancing BDS further underscores their desire to not only prevent any Jews living in a future state, but even establishing businesses there as well.

Even the Universities on the West Bank have laws that prohibit Jews from stepping foot onto campuses.

In short, Palestinian law and leadership calls for banning Jews from visiting, working, buying land or living in the territories it wants for a future state.

Those are the official positions of the “moderate” acting-president of the Palestinian Authority and the existing Palestinian laws. However, the majority of the Palestinian people are in favor of Hamas and would elect someone from Hamas as president according to every poll over the past few years. The Palestinian public elected Hamas to 58% of the Palestinian parliament in their last election in January 2006. Hamas’s charter and its leaders call for the outright killing of Jews and have specifically identified the Jewish nature of Israel as the root cause of the conflict: In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised…”

 

Maximize the size of the Palestinian state. It is not surprising that the Palestinians want to maximize the size of a future state; Israel wants to maximize what it can achieve in negotiations too. However, as detailed here, the working parameters for the Palestinians are to achieve “maximums” and certainly not reflective of a group that is “desperate” and willing to compromise.

Hamas calls for a single Arab Palestine to cover Gaza, the West Bank and all of Israel. They have never backed down or waivered from their 1988 charter in any statement from any leader since that time.

Abbas’ Fatah party has stated that it will “compromise” for a Palestine that follows the “1967 borders.” It states this, despite the fact the 1967 “borders” were not borders but Armistice Lines established in 1949 with Egypt and Jordan. Both of those armistice agreements specifically stated that those lines were not intended to be borders. After repeated invasions and wars by the Palestinians and its Arab allies, Israel has made clear that it will not accept those 1949 Armistice lines as final borders.

“Moderate” Palestinians argue that United Nations Resolution 242 stated that Israel should remove its armed forces from territory acquired during the 1967 war. While the Israelis point out that the language specifically does not state that it must leave “all” of the territory, Abbas is demanding such complete withdrawal; a “maximum” position within the two-state framework.

 

No recognition of the Jewish State. For much of Israel’s existence, the Arab world refused to recognize Israel in any matter at all and viewed Israel’s entire existence as illegitimate. The Arab world underscored the point with the famous three “no’s” in 1967 including refusing to recognize the basic existence of Israel.

In 1975, Yasser Arafat and the PLO effectively lobbied the United Nations to label the national aspirations of Jews to be a form of racial discrimination. Specifically, Resolution 3379 adopted by the General Assembly referred to the “the racist regime in occupied Palestine” and determined “that zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Such efforts have nothing to do with establishing a new country and everything to do with delegitimizing the rights and claims of Jews to their own state.

Today, Palestinian leadership continues on the same path of delegitimizing Israel.  Palestinian leadership makes a point of denying Jewish history in the Holy land. Whether addressing the United Nations General Assembly or speaking to reporters, acting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas denies any connection between Jews and their history in the land. In 2014, Abbas stated that “they [Israel] imagine that by brute force they can invent a history, establish claims and erase solid religious and historical facts.

Abbas has made very clear that he will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel:

  • I’ll never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” (2014);
  • We shall never agree to recognize the Jewish state.” (2013);
  • “I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a “Jewish state.” (2011)

Underscoring these points is the insistence of a “Right of return” for descendants of pseudo-refugees to the state of Israel. He believes that the 4.6 million SAPs (Stateless Arabs from Palestine) should be entitled to move into Israel as opposed to a new Palestinian state. The entire point of partitioning the land for two peoples and creating a new Palestinian state is to create a home for these Arabs. What is the point of sending the grandchildren of Arabs who left homes in 1948 to a country they despise (Israel) when they are just creating the country they dreamed of (Palestine)?


For almost a century, the Palestinians have tried various paths to achieve their goals: broad regional wars;  local wars; intifadas; riots; peace talks and lobbying the United Nations.  But what are they hoping to achieve?

If the primary goal of the Palestinian people was a state, would they care if a small number of Jews lived there? Would they so strongly object to recognizing Israel as a Jewish State? Would they insist on an all-or-nothing strategy of getting everything in negotiations?

Are Palestinians truly desperate for a state or are they desperate to deny any rights and legitimacy of Jews to live in the land?

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Sources:

1936 riots: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/riots36.html

1947 Partition plan: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/partition_plan.html

1948-9 Israel war of Independence: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/1948_War.html

1967 Six Day War: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/17/AR2007051701976.html

Khartoum declaration: http://www.sixdaywar.org/content/khartoum.asp

Arafat ends 2000 Clinton-Barack initiative: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jan/03/israel2

Hamas wins 2006 elections: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012600372.html

No response to Olmert plan: http://www.haaretz.com/news/olmert-abbas-never-responded-to-my-peace-offer-1.263328

Netanyahu 10-month settlement freeze to re-start talks: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/world/middleeast/26israel.html

No Abbas engagement for nine months: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/10/13/kenneth-bandler-israel-palestine-peace-mahmoud-abbas-united-states-plo-arab/

Maximum of Olmert is short of Minimum for Abbas: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175910#.VKl5bJs5CUl

Various quotes of Arab intents for Israel: http://www.paulbogdanor.com/israel/quotes.html

Palestinian law banning the sale of land to Jews: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/PA-affirms-death-penalty-for-land-sales-to-Israelis

Left-wing article on left-wing journalist barred from Bir Zeit University: http://jfjfp.com/?p=65375

UN resolution 242: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/meaning_of_242.html

UN Zionism is Racism: http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/761C1063530766A7052566A2005B74D1

 

Related FirstOneThrough articles:

Laws of Living in Silwan: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/real-and-imagined-laws-of-living-in-silwan/

Abbas knows Racism: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/abbas-knows-racism/

Palestinians are not “resorting” to violence: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/the-palestinians-arent-resorting-to-violence-they-are-murdering-and-waging-war/

The Green Line: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/the-green-line/

Palestinian “refugees” or “SAPs”: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/palestinian-refugees-or-saps/

Palestinian Xenophobia music video (Mr. Rogers): https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/wont-you-be-my-neighbor/