Wednesday, 25 May 2011

How big should the Jewish National Home (Israel) be?

It was only after World War I, at the Paris Peace Conference(1), that the name "Palestine" was applied to a clearly defined piece of territory - the area which today comprises Israel and Jordan. It was agreed that "Palestine" was to become a League of Nations Mandate, entrusted to Great Britain.
Under the terms of the Mandate, Britain's principal obligation was to facilitate the implementation of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, which pledged "the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people."(2) No territorial restrictions whatsoever - neither east nor west of the Jordan River were placed on the Jewish National Home. In fact, the Mandate stipulated that Britain was to "facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage close settlement by Jews on the land."(3)

The British however split the land promised to the "Jewish People" and gave approximately  78% to create Transjordan.

Nevertheless, in July 1922, the British divided Palestine into two administrative districts. Note the black line on the map. Jews would be permitted only west of the black line. To the east, in what became known as "Transjordan", the British installed a Hashemite ruler named Abdullah, who had been expelled from the Arabian peninsula.(1) By making this division, the British reduced the area available for the Jewish National Home to only 22% of the entire area of Palestine.

Jordan is the land that the Palestinians should live in and that has been accepted by many in the past. Do remember that back on March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here's what he said:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."

As I have said before the late 1940s were a time of great population transfers in Eastern Europe, between India and Pakistan and elsewhere and yet only in Israel/Palestine are the displaced still considered refugees. In 1948 over a million Hindus fled Pakistan and a similar number of Muslims left India for Pakistan. Both populations were absorbed by their new countries. In the same region, large population transfers happened when Bangladesh was created. Likewise ethnic Germans were expelled from Central and Eastern Europe had to assimilate in Germany, whilst Hungarian refugees from Czechoslovakia and other places found sanctuary in Hungary, Ukrainians who were expelled from Poland found sanctuary in Ukraine, and so on. In the Middle East 750,000 Jews were expelled form their homes in Arab countries and were absorbed into Israel. Why were the 'Palestinians' not absorbed into Jordan, Syria, Egypt & The Lebanon? The Palestinians talk about the 'right of return' and their right to live in their ancestral homes again. Does the same right exist for the Jews forced to flee Iraq, Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries? The value of the assets these Jews left behind has been valued at today's prices at around $300 billion. A US based organization has decades-old property deeds of Jews from Arab countries on a total area of 100,000 - which is five times the size of the State of Israel.

So why did the Arab countries not absorb the Palestinian refugees? In 1959, the Arab League passed Resolution 1457, which stated thus:
'The Arab countries will not grant citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their assimilation into the host countries.'
So the Palestinian refugees are not permanent refugees because of Israel's actions but because of a decision taken by the Arab League. Thus the accepted narrative that heaps blame on Israel because it expelled the refugees is actually not true.

Having  lost 78% of what was promised to the Jewish people for a homeland and now existing on a sliver of land surrounded by far larger Muslim countries why should Israel be further reduced in size? Do you realise how small Israel is? Why should the Jews not be allowed to keep one small portion of the land they were promised in the Balfour Declaration?

Maps and side text is from The Jewish Agency's maps and Iris.

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