Why one should oppose a second Palestinian-Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - Part 8 of 23
This piece continues a series of which the first seven parts were posted on September 8, 9, 11, 17, 19, 22, and 23, 2002. The object of the series is to provide a database that is not only reliable and well-documented but also one for which documents are easily accessible, preferably from web resources.
8. The Palestinian Arabs had at least three opportunities to establish their own sovereign state by peaceful means: the Peel commission plan of 1937 which the Arabs rejected; the UN partition plan of 1948 to which the Arabs reacted by engaging in war; and the Barak/Clinton offer of July 2000/January 2001, to which the Palestinian Arabs reacted by igniting Intifada II. (The Oslo Accords of 1993, stipulated self government, i.e., autonomy, and not sovereignty.) By their actions, the Palestinian Arabs have forfeited any right they might have had to a sovereign state in Palestine.
It is common knowledge that the Palestinian Arabs had an opportunity to establish an independent state in Palestine both in 1937, when the Peel Commission recommended the partition solution, and in 1947, when the UN General Assembly reached the same conclusion by a 33-13 majority (with 10 abstentions, including Bevin’s UK); in both cases, the Palestinian Arabs rejected the proposals that would have given them a sovereign state. Since these facts are common knowledge, they warrant only a brief discussion.
To substantiate that the Palestinian Arabs rejected the Peel Commission’s partition plan, suffice it to quote any of the relevant Palestinian-Arab web sites. For example, the Islamic Association for Palestine informs us that:
At the height of the 1936-39 disturbances, a royal commission of inquiry came to Palestine from London to investigate the roots of the Arab-Jewish conflict and to propose solutions. The commission, headed by Lord Robert Peel, heard a great deal of testimony in Palestine, and in July 1937 issued its recommendations: to abolish the Mandate and partition the country between the two peoples. Only a zone between Jaffa and Jerusalem would remain under the British mandate and international supervision.
The Jewish state would include the coastal strip stretching from Mount Carmel to south of Be’er Tuvia, as well as the Jezreel Valley and the Galilee. The Arab state was to include the hill regions, Judea and Samaria, and the Negev. Until the establishment of the two states, the commission recommended, Jews should be prohibited from purchasing land in the area allocated to the Arab state.
[T]he Arabs rejected the proposal and refused to regard it as a solution. The plan was ultimately shelved.
Considering the tiny sliver of land that would have been assigned to the Jewish state under the Peel plan, one has to marvel at the malevolence and pettiness of the Palestinian Arabs; it would appear that they adopted the most bizarre version of a “dog in the manger” in order to frustrate the Jewish national aspiration even at the cost of depriving themselves of a sovereign state.
Turning to the Palestinian Arabs’ rejection of the UN partition plan of 29 November 1947, the following quotation is from Encyclopedia.com:
The struggle by Jews for a Jewish state in Palestine had begun in the late 19th cent[ury] and had become quite active by the 1930s and 40s. The militant opposition of the Arabs to such a state and the inability of the British to solve the problem eventually led to the establishment (1947) of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, which devised a plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a small internationally administered zone including Jerusalem. The General Assembly adopted the recommendations on Nov. 29, 1947. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it.
The events surrounding the Barak/Clinton offer to the Palestinians at Camp David (July 2000) and in the negotiations that followed (to January 2001), were common knowledge during the first year after Arafat walked away from the negotiating table, but subsequently, the Palestinian-Arabs activated their disinformation machine to the point that some of Arafat’s apologists summoned the audacity to deny the details of the offer as they were known at the time. For this reason, it may be useful to deal with this chapter in greater detail, in order to substantiate the statement that the PA did, indeed, walk away from a most generous offer, and opt instead for the violence that still continues.
An authoritative account comes from Clinton’s Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, who participated in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks personally. In an interview with Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and with Brit Hume of Fox news, dated April 23, 2002, Dennis Ross said:
ROSS: The ideas were presented on December 23 by the president, and they basically said the following: On borders, there would be about a 5 percent annexation in the West Bank for the Israelis and a 2 percent swap. So there would be a net 97 percent of the territory that would go to the Palestinians.
On Jerusalem, the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capitol of the Palestinian state.
On the issue of refugees, there would be a right of return for the refugees to their own state, not to Israel, but there would also be a fund of $30 billion internationally that would be put together for either compensation or to cover repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation costs.
And when it came to security, there would be a international presence, in place of the Israelis, in the Jordan Valley.
These were ideas that were comprehensive, unprecedented, stretched very far, represented a culmination of an effort in our best judgment as to what each side could accept after thousands of hours of debate, discussion with each side.
FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Now, Palestinian officials say to this day that Arafat said yes.
ROSS: Arafat came to the White House on January 2. Met with the president, and I was there in the Oval Office. He said yes, and then he added reservations that basically meant he rejected every single one of the things he was supposed to give.
HUME: What was he supposed to give?
ROSS: He supposed to give, on Jerusalem, the idea that there would be for the Israelis sovereignty over the Western Wall, which would cover the areas that are of religious significance to Israel. He rejected that.
HUME: He rejected their being able to have that?
ROSS: He rejected that.
He rejected the idea on the refugees. He said we need a whole new formula, as if what we had presented was non-existent.
He rejected the basic ideas on security. He wouldn't even countenance the idea that the Israelis would be able to operate in Palestinian airspace.
You know when you fly into Israel today you go to Ben Gurion. You fly in over the West Bank because you can't -- there's no space through otherwise. He rejected that.
So every single one of the ideas that was asked of him he rejected.
HUME: Now, let's take a look at the map. Now, this is what -- how the Israelis had created a map based on the president's ideas. And...
HUME: ... what can we -- that situation shows that the territory at least is contiguous. What about Gaza on that map?
ROSS: The Israelis would have gotten completely out of Gaza.
ROSS: And what you see also in this line, they show an area of temporary Israeli control along the border.
ROSS: Now, that was an Israeli desire. That was not what we presented. But we presented something that did point out that it would take six years before the Israelis would be totally out of the Jordan Valley.
So that map there that you see, which shows a very narrow green space along the border, would become part of the orange. So the Palestinians would have in the West Bank an area that was contiguous. Those who say there were cantons, completely untrue. It was contiguous.
HUME: Cantons being ghettos, in effect...
HUME: ... that would be cut off from other parts of the Palestinian state.
ROSS: Completely untrue.
And to connect Gaza with the West Bank, there would have been an elevated highway, an elevated railroad, to ensure that there would be not just safe passage for the Palestinians, but free passage.
HUME: What, in your view, was the reason that Arafat, in effect, said no?
ROSS: Because fundamentally I do not believe he can end the conflict. We had one critical clause in this agreement, and that clause was, this is the end of the conflict.
Arafat's whole life has been governed by struggle and a cause. Everything he has done as leader of the Palestinians is to always leave his options open, never close a door. He was being asked here, you've got to close the door. For him to end the conflict is to end himself.
This account has been confirmed numerous times. For example, in January, 2002, Clinton visited Israel. According to a report in Ha’Aretz, dated January 21, 2002:
Former U.S president Bill Clinton said that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat had missed a "golden opportunity" for peace and called on Israelis and Palestinians to be prepared to compromise in order to achieve the dream of peace. Clinton was speaking at a ceremony at the Tel Aviv University after receiving an honorary degree Sunday.
Referring to the failed Camp David peace talks held just before the outbreak of violence in October 2000, Clinton said "I think we have the outlines of a reasonable settlement, last year I believe Chairman Arafat missed a golden opportunity to make that agreement, I think the violence and terrorism which followed were not inevitable and have been a terrible mistake."
Another relevant document is the so called EU description of the outcome of permanent status talks at Taba. As a staunch supporter of the Arabs, the EU can hardly be accused of upholding the Israeli line; still, the "EU description” is consistent with that given by Dennis Ross.
Occasionally, it appears that the truth, as presented above, is even penetrating the minds of some of the Palestinian-Arab supporters. For example, on Thursday November 15, 2001, Reuters reported:
Palestinian political analyst Ghassan al-Khatib said ... Israel and the Palestinians would have reached a deal during U.S.-sponsored talks in July 2000 if the Palestinian Authority had agreed to compromise on the rights of refugees.
The peace summit at the Camp David presidential retreat collapsed due to disagreements on refugees and the final status of Jerusalem. The Palestinian uprising erupted two months later.
By and large, however, the Palestinian-Arab apologists prefer to indulge in misinformation rather than face the facts. They have even found a junior pro-Arab US official, Robert Malley, to support their case (see, for example, Malley's comments and response by Dennis Ross).
In my opinion, any fair-minded observer would have to conclude that the acts and behaviour of the Palestinian Arabs prove that they were not interested in a sovereign state; rather, their interest has concentrated on acts of spite against the Palestinian Jews, rejecting at least three opportunities to have a sovereign state.
Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland