The origins of the Palestine problem as an international issue lie in events occurring towards the end of the First World War. These events led to a League of Nations decision to place Palestine under the administration of Great Britain as the Mandatory Power under the Mandates System adopted by the League.
Prior to 1917, the territory that is called Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and included several sanjaks or districts. The name Palestine, that was used by Roman and Arab rulers, was revived by the British, who received a mandate from the League of Nations to administer Palestine.
Earlier, Britain’s new Cabinet, anxious to announce the terms of their decision to partition Palestine (TIME, July 12, 1923), met at No. 10 Downing Street in worried session over what might be the attitude of Italian Benito Mussolini. During the Ethiopian crisis, Britain learned to her cost how much trouble the Bari station can stir up among her natives, and of late Bari has unflatteringly called the English “whiskey-guzzling hyenas.”
The British cannot partition Palestine, which they hold as a mandate from the League, without the consent of Geneva’s Permanent Mandates Commission, and its president was the Italian Marquis Alberto Theodoli—another reason why the British Cabinet were being nice to Il Duce.
(INTERNATIONAL: Mandate Unscrambled, Monday, Jul. 19, 1937 at time.com)
Israel was created in 1948, after UN Resolution 181 partitioned the territory of the British Mandate for Palestine into two states for Jews and Palestinian Arabs. At the time, there were approximately 1.2 million Arabs and 650,000 Jews in all of Palestine. The Arabs objected to the creation of the Jewish state and fought a war against it. The Arab side lost the war, and the Palestinian state never really came into being. The territory allotted to the Palestinian state by the UN partition resolution was taken over by Israel and Jordan. About 780, 000 Palestinians became refugees, many of them living in the Gaza strip as well as in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Arabs lacked the political strength and military force to back up their claim. Once Britain withdrew its forces in 1948 and the Jews proclaimed the state of Israel, the Arab rulers used their armed forces to protect those zones that the partition plans had allocated to the Arab state.
(Ann M. Lesch at PalestineRemembered.com)
In 1967, Israel fought its Arab neighbors in the 6 day war after Egyptian President Gamal Nasser closed the straights of Tiran to Israeli ships and threatened a war to destroy Israel. Israel conquered all of the Sinai peninsula and Gaza strip that had been held by Egypt. After Jordan began firing on Israeli towns and took over the post of the UN Commissioner in Jerusalem, Israel attacked the Jordanian held West Bank. The Palestinians in those areas came under Israeli rule. Israel began to build Jewish settlements in these territories. In 1987, Palestinians began a rebellion against the Israeli occupation, the Intifada, but this had apparently failed by 1991.
Beginning in 1993, the Oslo agreements promised gradual withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians were hopeful that this process would end in a state for them. However, following breakdown of the final status negotiations in the summer of 2000, riots erupted in September 2000.
The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been under Israeli military rule since they were occupied in the 1967 war, and today are referred to as the “Palestinian Occupied Territories”. East Jerusalem was also annexed by Israel in 1967. For 60 years the Palestinians have asked the right to self-determination and statehood.
The past 40 years have seen the establishment of over 200 Israeli settlements, housing nearly 500,000 settlers, within the Occupied (Seized) Territories. The ‘separation barrier’ in the West Bank, construction of which was started in 2002, cuts deep into Palestinian land and, along with the “settler only” roads, cuts off many communities from water supplies, hospitals and their agricultural land. The residents face severe travel restrictions and for many it is impossible to enter Jerusalem or to travel abroad. Collective punishments, such as prolonged curfews and house demolitions are frequently imposed. The Palestinians remained in what is today the state of Israel as non-Jewish members of a Jewish country.
The Palestinian conflict is the single issue that has generated the largest number of resolutions in the United Nations. Although Palestine can be described as a small territory, and the Palestinians—the indigenous Arab people of Palestine— a relatively small population, numbering 6.8 million in 1996, the Palestinian problem has loomed large on the international scene. Nearly all Third World states in Africa and Asia and some in Latin America severed diplomatic relations with Israel after the Israeli-Arab war of 1973. Earlier, in 1967, the former Soviet bloc countries cut diplomatic ties with Israel as a consequence of the June War of that year. Indeed, many Third World governments expelled the Israeli diplomatic missions from their capitals and offered their premises to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), internationally recognized in 1974 as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Since the end of the cold war, most countries have restored diplomatic relations with Israel. New nations, born out of the collapse of the Soviet Union, fostered relations with Israel and the PLO alike.
Only Israel, the United States, and a few U.S. allies, clients, and dependencies continued to deny recognition of the Palestinians as a people and the PLO as their legitimate representative. The long-held minority position of the United States and Israel, combined with the rise in international influence of the Palestinians since 1967, often placed the U.S. government in an untenable position.
In the past 10 years the US has provided Israel with $7.2bn worth of weaponry and military equipment, including:
Equipment Cost (per unit)
• 237 F-16 Fighting Falcons, $34.3m (each)
• 98 F-15 Eagles, $38m
• 50 F-4E Phantoms, $18.4m
• 42 AH-64 Apache Attacks, $14.5m
• 57 Cobra Attacks, $10.7m
• 25 Blackhawks, $11m
• AGM 65 Mavericks, $17,000-$110,000
• AGM 114 Hellfire, $40,000
• Aim 7 Sparrows, $125,000
• Aim 9 Sidewinders, $84,000
• Aim 120B Abrams, $386,000
• Harpoon anti-ship missiles, $720,000
. . And a few Freebies:
The US also gives weapons and ammunition free of charge between 1994 and 2001
• 64,744 M-16A1 rifles,
• 2,469 M-204 grenade launchers,
• 1,500 M-2 .50 caliber machine guns
• .30 caliber,
• .50 caliber,
(Source: World Policy Institute. Research department: Linda MacDonald)
The Madrid peace conference, followed by eleven rounds of bilateral and multilateral negotiations in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, reached an impasse that lasted until September 13, 1993, when the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles (the Oslo Accords) were signed. The handshake between Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO, and Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, following the signing initiated a new reality that would change the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the future of the Palestinians and the Middle East for generations to come.
The Palestinian lands drawn as a series of carribean islands and atolls in a kind of Palestinian Archipelago. It was this development that caused Arafat to leave the peace talk negotiations. US President Bill Clinton said that he would get no better deal, but it was a political impossibility to negotiate a position where, if you win, your people live in a balkanized/pseudo-apartheid state.
(innereye at dailykos.com)
Palestinians refused to accept the agreement offered by US President Clinton in December 2000, and violence has continued since then. Israel has reoccupied nearly all the territory it had ceded to the Palestinians in the West Bank during the Oslo peace process, and continues to build settlements on Palestinian land.
heathlander posted a comment at dailykos.com:
“It’s not a “diplomatic problem”, for goodness sakes. Israeli officials understand the Palestinians “perspective” better than anyone. See Ben-Gurion, for example, “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti – Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” Or Moshe Dayan, “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” They know perfectly well what the Palestinians’ problem is. When we seek to understand why conflict existed in apartheid South Africa, or between Iraq and Iran, or between the US and Vietnam, etc., we didn’t pretend that the fundamental problem was a lack of “dialogue”, or a failure to see the other sides’ “perspective”. The US knew perfectly well what the Vietnamese perspective was, just as Israel knows perfectly well what the Palestinians would and would not be prepared to accept as part of an agreement to end the conflict. The problem is not lack of “dialogue”, it’s that Israel rejects all Palestinian claims to the occupied territories, and judges – thus far correctly – that it has little to lose by continuing to expand the occupation. That judgement is what we have to change”.
Dealing with Washington and Israel is like swimming with sharks. Get out of the water or be eaten. Achieving an equitable Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement is no more likely now than ever. Both sides know it but pretend otherwise, suggesting perhaps a finessed or arranged resolution – a sham one or capitulation if anything is agreed.
(Israel – Palestine, They’re pretense, not substantive by Stephen Lendman , September 17, 2010 at freedomsphoenix.com)
Notsilvia Night wrote at notsylvia.wordpress.com:
“Even now it is hard for me to talk about either my experiences, or the propaganda and lies which so many people still accept as truth, without getting emotional. And once again, it is the lies which hurt the most. Yes, there are other places in the world where even worse human rights violations are committed by other armies, governments, or militias, but Israel still presents itself as a democratic nation, justified in all its deeds, a small and powerless victim–not a powerful aggressor….And still Israel´s apologists get away with calling all critics of Israel´s brutal policies racists or anti-Semites. Soon after my 9/11 discoveries, I realized that those lies were far from being the only big ones we had been told over the decades, with the lies propagated about Israel and Palestine being among the worst examples. Until then, with my own partly Jewish, partly German background, I had firmly believed the story I had heard countless times that the Zionist Jews, when they had come to Palestine in the first half of the 20th century, had found a desert and had made the desert bloom. I had believed the tale that before that time, the Palestinians had been just a few nomadic tribes living all over the Arabian deserts, in tents or something, and that they were just spiteful and jealous fanatics who couldn´t be reasoned with. Even when the TV news told us occasionally about Israeli settlements in areas claimed by Palestinians being an obstacle for peace, even then I had thought: So what, it´s desert anyway. The settlers will just make the desert bloom a little more. The terrible truth I now discovered was that all those tales were untrue, and the reality was the exact opposite of my earlier beliefs: Palestine had continuously been settled in towns and villages for thousands of years by people with a rich culture. Crops had been planted and trees been cultivated for all these times. For several hundred years before the arrival of the European Zionists, the Islamic, Christian and Jewish populations of Palestine had been living peacefully together side by side. It was the brutality and arrogance of these European immigrants which destroyed that peace.”
Lalon Amin posted a poem on 10th December 09 at notsylvia.wordpress.com:
MY PALESTINIAN DREAM
I dream of a beautiful day,
When I can proudly say
That the people of Palestine are truly free,
My Allah, that day will I ever live to see?
I dream of glorious moments,
When the Palestinian orphans can forget their torments,
And play and run through long green grasses
My Allah, will this be ever accepted by the Israeli masses?
I dream for their children a wonderful life,
When gone are the memories of suffering and strife
And only joy and laughter fills their faces,
My Allah, when will they end this separation of race’s?
I dream for them a liberated motherland,
Where they can travel freely without the thought of being banned,
And they can breathe freely in the land that they were born
My Allah, will my dream be met with hostility and scorn?
I dream of momentous times,
When the Palestinians are no longer caged between walls and blue striped lines,
And my Palestinian brothers and sisters can proclaim “my Palestine you are at last free!”
My Allah, that day I yearn to see.
The United States disapproved of the recognition of a Palestine state from the part of several Latin American countries, saying that the direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are still “the only way” to reach peace in the Middle East.
“We do not look favorably upon this line of conduct,” said Philip Crowley, spokesman for the Department of State. “We believe that any unilateral action is counterproductive.”
Argentina recognized an independent Palestine state and Brazil made similar declarations later, referring to the frontiers from 1967, before Israeli occupation. This includes all Palestine territory: The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Uruguay announced its decision to follow suit with an announcement.
Israel rejected the initiative, saying that they contradicted peace talks and Israeli-Palestinian agreements (Oslo, 1993).
If the negotiations between Israel and Palestine remain on hold, the Palestinians will look to petition for recognition from Washington of the Palestinian state with the 1967 outlined frontiers, taking that demand to the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Earlier, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Salam Fayyad celebrated Argentina’s decision to recognize Palestine as a “free and independent state,” within the 1967 borders and according to what the parts agree during the negotiation process. Fayyad assured “this represents an inflection point for our bilateral relations.”
Palestine Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki stated via an official release that the nation hopes that after Brazil and Argentina recognition, the other Mercosur member-states follow the motion.
(Buenos Aires Herald, Dec 8, 2010)
All parties claim to want peace and perhaps they do. But we must use the term cautiously. For the acceptable peace as defined by one party may well be irreconcilable with that of others, and some dream of a peace more terrible than that imposed by a vengeful Rome on prostrate Carthage. Similarly, all wish for security, but the security of one is certain to be purchased at the cost of that of their opponents. Zero sums is a difficult context in which to negotiate compromise between warring partners, all of whom are confident of eventual victory on their own terms.
(The Middle East Peace Process at a Crossroads, by The House of Representatives, Committee on International Relations, Washington, DC, Wednesday, June 11, 2003 at avalon.law.yale.edu)
While there is strong disagreement around the world, what becomes starkly clear from this debate is that international law is no longer adequate in defining conflict that arises through global terrorism. Until this deficiency is rectified, such nations as Israel and the US will have to rely on their own interpretations of the law and moral reaction from their community. Regardless of legal issues, too often we examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in isolation from its troubled and complicated background.