June 25, 2007
Palestine - Partition and PropagandaBy David Singer
President Bush and Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stubbornly and foolishly continue to push for the creation of an independent Palestinian State between Israel and Jordan, as Hamas and Fatah turn the proposed site for such a state - Gaza and the West Bank - into battlegrounds of blood, misery and privation for the Arab populations caught in their deadly crossfire.
The 70th Anniversary of the Peel Commission Report released on 7 July 1937 presents a unique and impartial insight into understanding what the so called "Palestinian problem" was - and still is today - really about.
The Peel Commission recognised there was an insoluble conflict in Palestine between the Arabs and Jews necessitating the partition of Palestine into two independent sovereign states.
There was no mention of a third interested party - the "Palestinians" or "the Palestinian people" - who also deserved a separate state. This "people" was the subsequent creation of skilful Arab propaganda in the 50's and 60's in response to Israel's creation in 1948.
The Peel Commission Report succinctly summed up the nature of the conflict in the following words:
In 1937 there was no independent State called Jordan. It was then called Trans-Jordan, it comprised 77% of the territory administered by Great Britain under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine - the operation of which was specifically the subject of inquiry and consideration by the Peel Commission .
The right of Jews to settle in Trans-jordan pursuant to the Mandate had been "postponed or withheld" by Britain with the consent of the League of Nations from 16 September 1922 thus restricting the right of the Jews to reconstitute their national homeland in only the remaining 23% of Palestine.
The Peel Report records that:
That concord never eventuated and Trans-Jordan remained an exclusively Arab reserved territory in 77% of Palestine - free of any Jewish settlement - until independence was granted by Great Britain in 1946 with the approval of the League of Nations at its last sitting before dissolution. No Jew resides there today.
The Peel Commission proposed partition into two independent Arab and Jewish sovereign States.
The Arab State was to be in all of Trans-Jordan - where no Jews and an estimated 300,000 Arabs lived - united with a further part of Palestine in which only about 1250 Jews lived among about 750000 Arabs. This would have given the Arabs a sovereign State in about 90% of the territory of the Mandate.
The remaining 10% was to become the sovereign Jewish State where about 400,000 Jews and 225,000 Arabs then lived, whilst a new Mandate was to be enacted "for the protection of the Holy Places, solemnly guaranteed by the League of Nations, to remove all anxiety lest the Holy Places should ever come under Jewish control."
Transfer of the minority population in each State was also proposed to follow the precedent set by the exchange between the Greek and Turkish populations following the Greco-Turkish War of 1922.
The Peel Report noted:
The Report stated the advantages to the Arabs and the Jews of Partition in the following terms:
The Arabs rejected the proposal and therein sowed the seeds for the continuation of the conflict that still remains unresolved in 2007 in just the West Bank and Gaza - only 6% of Palestine - where sovereignty still remains unallocated between Arabs and Jews .
President Bush and Mr Olmert need to recognise that the proposal to create a State between Israel and Jordan - the product of the totally discredited 1993 Oslo Process - has turned out to be a dismal failure and that it flies in the face of the conflict and its history, geography and demography.
Looking back 70 years can be the catalyst and inspiration for a new direction in 2007 which consigns the idea of a third State in former Palestine to the garbage bin and substitutes for it the partition of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel to finally complete what the Peel Commission had recommended.
Failure to change course will have only two assured outcomes - continued death and suffering for both Jews and Arabs and a continuing threat to world peace.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organization calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine