July 16, 2004
A better framework for peace (2)By Rachel Neuwirth
[Part (1) of this article appeared yesterday.]
Contrary to popular belief, the Arab—Israeli conflict has a solution. An orderly resettlement elsewhere of the so—called Palestinian Arabs would solve this long standing 'intractable' problem. To propose this solution today elicits automatic rejection by almost everyone, and perhaps even anger and hostility at its very mention (although attitudes may finally be changing). This is because the minds of many have been so thoroughly conditioned, with layer upon layer of repeated falsehoods, such that open—minded reconsideration is almost impossible.
But resettlement could become the basis of a win—win solution for both Jews and Arabs.
A far—sighted Arab—Jewish agreement was arrived at 85 years ago but was never fully implemented. This still—legal agreement provides the basis for a solution today and should become widely publicized and supported.
In 1919 the international Paris Peace Conference was convened by the victorious Allies to settle international questions following the end of WWI. Delegations attended from around the world including an official Arab and a Zionist delegation. The Arab delegation was led by Emir Feisal I, who agreed that the entire Palestine territory of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 would become the Jewish national home and expressed that position in separate letters to Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and Felix Frankfurter.
In return for Arab support the Zionists promised economic and technical assistance to the local Arabs and the Allied powers agreed to grant eventual sovereignty to many of the Arab peoples in the region that were previously under control of the former Turkish Ottoman Empire.
This conference amicably settled the issues among the parties with voluntary, legally binding, international agreements. In 1922 the League of Nations assigned Britain as the Mandatory to faithfully carry out these agreements. In 1921 it was British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill who unilaterally divided Mandatory Palestine into an Arab (Trans Jordan) and a Jewish sector, with the Arabs receiving 76% of the original territory, comprising 35,000 square miles, located east of the Jordan River. That left the Jewish sector with only 10,000 square miles out of their original 45,000 square miles, which was still less than 1% of the combined Arab areas of 5 million square miles.
That remaining Jewish sector is today contested with the 'Palestinians' claiming the 'West Bank' and Gaza to create, in effect, a second Palestinian state. (Jordan is mostly Palestinian.) It was the British, in 1919, who began to undermine their own Mandate and to instigate the Arabs against Jews.
The post—World War I settlement of the Palestine question and its subsequent betrayal by the British government entrusted with implementing it is ably described by Howard Grief.
Under this settlement, the whole of Palestine on both sides of the Jordan was reserved exclusively for the Jewish People as the Jewish National Home, in recognition of their historical connection with that country, dating from the Patriarchal Period .... The Palestine aspect of the global settlement was recorded in three basic documents that led to the founding of the modern State of Israel: ....The British Government repudiated the solemn obligation it undertook to develop Palestine gradually into an independent Jewish state.... The US aided and abetted the British betrayal of the Jewish People by its abject failure to act decisively against the 1939 White Paper despite its own legal obligation to do so under the 1924 treaty. The UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947 illegally recommended the restriction of Jewish legal rights to a truncated part of Palestine. ... Despite all the subversive actions to smother and destroy Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty to the entire Land of Israel, they still remain in full force by virtue of the Principle of Acquired Rights and the doctrine of Estoppel that apply in all legal systems of the democratic world.'
It is argued that the agreements of the International Paris Peace Conference of 1919, and their formal assignment of Britain as the Mandatory by the League of Nations, continue to be legally binding on all parties under international law. In addition to Jewish legal claims based on the 1922 law a case can be made that it is also morally binding and that England is guilty of bad faith and for having engaged in deliberate sabotage of that agreement. Israel has a right to make full land claims under that 1922 Mandate by the League of Nations. The Arabs should also be made aware that it was England that instigated them against the Jews in pursuit of British imperial interests, and to the disadvantage of both Arabs and Jews.
It also deserves to be noted that Arab support for a Jewish state was clearly manifested at the Paris Peace conference of 1919. This should also be part of the legally binding Arab obligations to acceptance of a Jewish state with full rights. Emir Feisal I, son of Hussein, Sherif of Mecca, led the Arab delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Excerpts of two letters from Emir Feisal to Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and to Felix Frankfurter indicate the friendly relations and high hopes for Jewish — Arab cooperation. Also note in the following text the term 'Palestine' clearly refers to the Jewish national home and not to any Arab entity or people.
Agreement Between Emir Feisal and Dr. Weizmann, January 3, 1919
Excerpts of two letters from Emir Feisal to Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and to Felix Frankfurter indicate the friendly relations and high hopes for Jewish — Arab cooperation.
"His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of hedjaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish People, and realising that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them, have agreed upon the following Articles:' ....
'All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlements and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.'
Feisal to Frankfurter Correspondence
'We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of the powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.'
'People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours, ignoring the need for cooperation of the Arabs and the Zionists have been trying to exploit the local difficulties that must necessarily arise in Palestine in the early stages of our movements. Some of them have, I am afraid, misrepresented your aims to the Arab peasantry, and our aims to the Jewish peasantry, with the result that interested parties have been able to make capital our of what they call our differences.'
What remains now is for all parties to courageously and boldly cast off the mindless schemes of Oslo and the Road Map and return to the sanity and statesmanship of the 1919 agreement. Those Arabs who have an acquired identity as 'Palestinian' should be given a far better alternative option than to be buried alive inside a non—viable illegal micro—state carved out of the Israeli heartland.
In early 2004 a poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion shows 37% willing to emigrate in return for a home, a job and $250,000. What if 'Palestinians' were offered a homeland territory, drawn from lands donated by one the more spacious Arab countries, one expressing continuous concern, love for, and outrage at the treatment of these very same folks?
For example, Saudi Arabia. It comprises some 750,000 square miles. It has a very low population density of only 33 per square mile vs. 1,000 for Israel including the territories. A modest 4% of that area, some 30,000 square miles, should be set aside for a new Palestinian state. That state would be 13 times the size of the present Palestinian area proposed under the Road Map and would now have ample space for natural growth. All of the intractable problems facing both Jews and Arabs, arising under the present schemes, would be eliminated. The Palestinians could now construct their own state with full political independence and self—rule. All of the friction between them and Israel would now be removed along with all the immense human and material costs associated with the current conflict.
Palestinians could begin using their legitimate 'right of return' to exit the territories, and the refugee camps, and migrate back to their ancestral home in Arabia and thereby also be closer to Mecca and Medina. A fraction of the countless billions spent on weapons by the Arab governments could fund the cost of establishing new settlements for the Palestinians. Israel would be free of Arabs, and the Palestinians would be free of Israel. A major source of friction would be permanently removed.
Israeli Arabs could play a very constructive role in all this because of their higher level of education and their experience living as full citizens in democratic Israel. They would become the managerial and entrepreneurial class and provide valuable assistance and leadership for fellow Palestinians who until now have been stagnating in refugee camps inside other Arab countries. This crime was committed by their own brother Arabs, who refused to allow them to settle as new residents, the way millions Germans, fleeing in the wake in military defeat in 1945, were allowed to settle in Germany, rather than being held apart in squalid camps for four generations.
Once the migration starts toward a far better future, the movement could well accelerate voluntarily, because the first ones would receive the best 'ground floor' opportunities and the last ones to move would get the 'leftovers'. Today there are tens of millions of people on the move around the world in search of better living conditions, so relocation is an established and viable option for everyone.
Another important advantage is that Israeli—Palestinian interaction would be limited to selling of Arab homes in the territories and an orderly exit. No more long complex agreements, as with Oslo, where Israel honors all commitments and Arabs violate all commitments, and even U.S. promises often prove worthless. The less need for Israel to depend on agreements with Arabs, Europeans and even Americans the better.
Part of the problem is those Arab governments who deliberately keep the Israel—Palestinian conflict alive to divert attention from their own corrupt regimes. Also, Western governments still pander to their corrupt Arab clients for purely expedient reasons. But new progressive voices are emerging among Arab intellectuals and even among some Moslem clerics that call for Arab societal reform, and who also recognize Jewish rights in the land of Israel. These voices need to be encouraged and enlisted in this quest for sanity.
What is also needed is Saudi cooperation and active support. The Saudis have long been responsible for promoting anti—Jewish, anti—Christian, and anti—American hatred, along with funding terror and the teaching of a hateful form of Islam. With their 'royal' family of thousands of princes living lavishly off of oil income and the labor of foreign workers, they are a cesspool of corruption that even offends the morals of Osama bin Laden.
It is time to demand that the Saudis make a major contribution to solve the Arab—Israeli conflict. They caused much of the problem, with their funding of hate mosques and schools, and of terrorists. They must now assist with the solution. It is time for the Bush administration to make the Saudis 'an offer they can't refuse' and have them realize they have an interest in providing 'land for peace,' a general concept they have supported, so long as the land in question comes from a country with very little of it.
For too long, many people have labored under a collective mindset resembling a bad dream, where big lies become entrenched wisdom and truth is constantly strangled. Unless we change direction there will be dire consequences extending well beyond the peoples of the region. Those who still have minds and morals intact now have an obligation to think clearly and with sanity and support this approach to finally resolving the Arab—Israeli conflict.