Sunday, July 3, 2011


A friend recently suggested that if President Obama truly wanted the parties to the Israeli-Arab dispute to return to the 1949 ceasefire lines (or as many inaccurately call them, the 1967 borders), there would be no new Palestinian state. 

As my friend accurately noted, during the 1948 war by the Arab states against Israel's creation, Egypt gained control of Gaza and Jordan took what is called the West Bank.  Those countries retained control until the 1967 war.  If all of the parties were to truly go back to the 1967 lines, Israel would go back to borders with the parties who had sovereignty over those territories prior to the 1967 war, Jordan and Egypt.

While the chances of this happening are slim to nil, the suggestion does raise some interesting questions and issues, such as:

--Where were the cries for a Palestinian state when Egypt and Jordan "occupied" the territories?

--Did any Arab countries find Israel any more acceptable prior to its taking over the "occupation?"

--Jordan is two-thirds Palestinian and is ruled by a king who is a descendant of the Hashemites.  The first Hashemite king got the position when Winston Churchill lopped off a good piece of Palestine and gave it to a Saudi prince as a consolation prize for not getting what he really wanted.  The current king's father, King Hussein, killed thousands of Palestinians and routed thousands more when they threatened his rule in 1970, and the current King Abdullah does an impressive tango of repression and "reform," with a good amount of righteous pontification to Israel and the West, to retain power.  Shouldn't the Palestinians take over Jordan and then negotiate a border with Israel?

Even more interesting questions:

--How much of this history do the folks who cry "end the occupation" know? 

--How many of them think that prior to 1967 there was an independent Palestinian state?

--How much of this history does the President and his advisors know?

None of this is to suggest that the best solution for Israel and the Palestinians is not to create a third Palestinian state in the West Bank, in addition to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Hashemite-ruled Jordan.  Regardless of the history and perhaps even the logic, another Palestinian state in the area that was to be part of the Jewish state pursuant to the Balfour Declaration and prior to Churchill's surgery might be the right thing to do, as even the "right-wing" Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has conceded, if the quid pro quo is an end to violence, an end to claims, settlement of any refugees and their descendents in the new state, and air-tight provisions for security. 

But, if for no other reason than just to satisfy intellectual curiosity, it would be nice to know whether the folks chanting the slogans and the folks pushing the policies have much of an understanding of some of the history and facts they seldom if ever acknowledge.

1 comment:

  1. Alan, people also forget that Churchill gave Iraq as a consolation prize to this Saudi prince's brother, named Feisal. When his grandson was kicked out in a 1958 coup by a group of Iraqui military officers one of the minor officers was a 22 year old lieutenant named Saddam Hussein. Anyway the third state solution proposed prior to the machinations of the British Colonial office and Winston in a room at the King David Hotel in 1921 is probably at the end of the day the right way to go if only to end the spate of violence, claims, ect.