Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Israel, Apartheid and the Minister for Unintelligence

[Published May 2007]

Mr. Ronnie Kasrils is South Africa’s Intelligence Minister.

He has chosen to make many unintelligent remarks in an op-ed piece written by him for the Mail and Guardian on 18 May titled “Israel 2007 : worse than apartheid” which can be located at:

Such remarks require rebuttal, especially as they have been uttered by a person of his prestige and stature.

Let me deal with some of these remarks that mouth so many similarly wild and unsubstantiated claims being uttered with growing frequency in the media by others under the guise of free speech.

1. “The West Bank and Gaza have become hermetically sealed prisons”

Freedom of movement between Gaza and Egypt is available through the Rafah border crossing and between the West Bank and Jordan through the Allenby Bridge.

Movement between Gaza and Israel and the West Bank and Israel is permitted but is more limited and subject to frequent closure during terrorist attacks or terror alerts.

How does this inflammatory and misleading statement serve any purpose?

2. “Its [the security barrier] route cuts huge swathes into the West Bank to incorporate into Israel the illegal Jewish settlements - some of which are huge towns - and annexes more and more Palestinian territory.”

The Israeli settlements are permitted in international law under article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter provided that nothing is done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.

Where prejudice has been proved to have occurred in construction of the security barrier, Israel’s High Court of Justice has intervened and ordered relief and will continue to do so.

The West Bank is the only territory of the Mandate for Palestine remaining unallocated between Jews and Arabs, both of whom maintain claims that are still to be resolved.

3. “The West Bank, once 22% of historic Palestine,..…”

The West Bank is only 5% of historic Palestine.

Gaza is 1% of historic Palestine ,Israel is 17% of historic Palestine and Jordan is 77% of historic Palestine .

4. “It is shocking to discover that certain roads are barred to Palestinians and reserved for Jewish settlers. I try in vain to recall anything quite obscene in apartheid South Africa”

Really, is Mr Kasrils’ memory that short ? - no blacks in restaurants or on “whites only” buses, no rights for the black majority to vote or control their own futures, separate toilets at the airports and all other public places, the banning of sex between the races - to name but a few.

Mr Kasrils was in the forefront in fighting apartheid in South Africa. What on earth did he think he was fighting?

Mr Kasrils is really insulting our intelligence with this kind of fatuous remark.

Mr Kasrils’ concern for the Palestinians is obviously sincere and well intended .

However his inane remarks leads one to conclude that his views have been formulated as a result of some fairly basic misunderstandings of the conflict that has been going on since the 1880’s in what was once called Palestine.

The ongoing refusal of the Arabs to countenance the right of Jews to have their own State in their biblical and ancestral homeland comprising 0.001% of the territory freed from Ottoman occupation by Britain and France in 1917 as part of a package deal that handed the Arabs the remaining 99.999% - eventually leading to the creation of such states as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan - still remains the sticking point in the throats of the Arabs to this very day.

Looking at Palestine only in isolation is the trap into which many well meaning persons stumble.

The Arabs now have 22 States in which hardly a Jew lives and in which selling land to Jews is punishable by death . Arabs involved in selling land to Jews in Jerusalem have been hunted down and murdered. Try and enter Saudi Arabia if you are a Jew.

The Jews have one state - Israel - in which over 20% of the population - or more than one million - are Arab citizens. They eat in the same restaurants, travel on the same buses, use the same toilets and yes, vote in elections and even intermarry with Jews.

Who is practising apartheid?

Yes, the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza are doing it tough - but they have no one but themselves and their intransigent brethren to blame for the sorry position they find themselves in.

There was a time between 1948-1967 when Statehood in the West Bank and Gaza and even part of what is now Israel could have been achieved with the stroke of a pen. What is yearned for now was rejected then. What was available then is not available now.

This reality still eludes the Arabs as they call for 400000 Jews to pack up and vacate every square inch of the West Bank. This is cuckoo land thinking and is bound to ensure the conflict will continue.

Whilst persons like Mr Kasrils continue to make their judgements based on facts that are demonstrably wrong, they will continue to give fuel to Arab demands that are impossible for Israel to accept.

Let the influential Mr Kasrils support handing over sovereignty of the Arab occupied areas of the West Bank to Jordan as a means of ending the indignities he witnessed on his recent wanderings.

That would be an intelligent contribution to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. His article certainly isn’t.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gaza's Growing Graveyard

[Published May 2007]

Gaza’s slow slide into the network of weapons smuggling tunnels built under its foundations has now turned into a headlong rush into hell.

Heavily armed factions now battle each other in a deadly civil war for political power and control of the billions of dollars in humanitarian aid and reconstruction funds flowing into the territory by courtesy of the European Union and the United Nations.

200 people have been killed and almost 2000 injured so far this year as a result of this rapidly escalating internecine violence that now has sucked Israel in once again, as scores of Kassam rockets continue to be fired indiscriminately into civilian centres in Israel from a well stocked arsenal smuggled into Gaza through Egypt.

Israel’s unilateral evacuation from Gaza in August 2005 was intended to signal Israel’s readiness to find a peaceful solution to competing claims by Jews and Arabs to sovereignty in Gaza and the West Bank.

Instead we are now witnesses to scenes of death and violence in Gaza that no one could have predicted when the world’s broadcasting networks showed their images of thousands of distressed and anguished Israeli soldiers and police removing 7000 crying and in some cases defiant Jews from their homes and livelihoods after a presence of almost forty years.

Certainly the trashing and eradication of the Jewish presence in Gaza, the continued violence against the Jewish State and the hatred and incitement of Gaza’s civilian population against Jews were foreseen by many, as Israel was roundly criticised in many quarters for acting unilaterally as it did.

But no one could have reasonably expected to see Arab killing Arab in Gaza in an unending cycle of violence over the past twelve months.

It is pointless to assign blame for Gaza’s failure to grasp the baton handed to the Palestinian Authority by Israel. Others can and will no doubt do so as the situation continues to worsen.

However, having dropped the baton and allowed Gaza to reach the stage of lawlessness it now has, the Authority has shown itself to be a lame duck without any power or authority to conclude any kind of agreement with Israel on Gaza and the West Bank.

The late Abba Eban, Israel’s first Ambassador to the United Nations, famously said in 1973:

“The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”

The Palestinian Authority has become the latest example of that most apposite statement.

As the carnage continues, those supporters of the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas - the 22 Arab League States, America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - look on and, as usual, wring their hands, say a lot, but as usual do nothing to stop it.

They continue to promote and cling to the two state solution formulated by them in 2002 and 2003 that remain unimplemented in even the slightest detail and have no prospects of ever being successfully concluded - as if nothing has happened in the meantime.

They place their faith in Abbas being able to deliver the Palestinians on those completely flawed plans - totally ignoring the shift in power caused by the ascension of Hamas in Gaza that calls for Israel’s total destruction.

They still fail to understand that the only negotiating address in Gaza today is Prime Minister Haniyeh of Hamas. No amount of fiction or make believe by the Arab League, the Quartet or Israel for that matter can possibly change that current reality.

Abbas does not have enough power to fill his fountain pen let alone put his signature on any agreement with Israel that he can enforce.

Perhaps as they ponder their next step the Arab League and the Quartet should carefully heed the less quoted words of Abba Eban which appeared in Newsweek on 2 December 1974:

“But in addition to warnings about the futility of war should we not reflect together on the availability of peace? Palestine comes into modern history as a region extending on both sides of the Jordan, comprising the present sovereign territories of Israel and Jordan and the administered areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Of this original Palestine, 80 per cent became an exclusively Arab domain through the separation of Transjordan from Palestine.”

Jordan has always been and still continues to be the only negotiating address for anyone interested in seeking a solution to the West Bank and Gaza between Israel and the Arabs.

Division of the West Bank and Gaza between Jordan and Israel is the only possible outcome that has any reasonable prospect of success.

In an interview published in the Khaleej Times on 11 October 2006, King Abdullah of Jordan declared:

“I really think that by the first half of 2007 we might wake up to reality and realise that the two-state solution is no longer attainable, and then what?”

Until the Arab League and the Quartet understand and act on this reality, the graveyard will continue to grow in Gaza and ultimately and unfortunately extend to the graveyards in the West Bank and Israel.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Jordan and Israel - Singing the same song?

[Published 4 May 2007]

Jordan and Israel have reportedly embarked on secret negotiations to end the impasse in the West Bank and Gaza according to Matthew Guttman of ABC News (3 May 2007).

If true, such negotiations might successfully conclude 17 years of failed diplomacy that has included;
(i) the Oslo fiasco conceived by Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin and reluctantly adopted by Yitzchak Rabin,
(ii) Ehud Barak’s unprecedented concessions, supported by US President Bill Clinton but rejected by Yasser Arafat ,
(iii) Ariel Sharon’s evacuation of 8000 Jews from Gaza and parts of the West Bank,
(iv) Ehud Olmert’s stillborn plan to remove another 70000 Jews out of the West Bank at a cost of US$10 billion,
(v) the Saudi Peace Plan designed to remove all 400000 Jews from the West Bank and allow millions of Arabs to live in Israel,
(vi) The Geneva Peace Initiative and
(vii) US President George Bush’s Road Map promoting the creation of a second Arab State within the boundaries of former Palestine - backed by the United Nations, the European Union and Russia dubbed the Quartet

All of these initiatives have not brought peace and now have no value other than learning tools to instruct future negotiators on how not to commence or handle negotiations in the Middle East.

Jordan was the common denominator excluded from all of these failed processes. It was left out at its own insistence but the Quartet and Israeli negotiators must share the blame for allowing this to occur - virtually by default - and for the pathetic results that inevitably followed.

Any negotiations without Jordan were doomed to failure from the outset.

Jordan, after all, is the Arab State created, built on and occupying 77% of Palestine whose exclusively Arab population is no different in ethnicity, religion, language or cultural beliefs to the Arabs living in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

Hundreds of thousands are related by familial and clan ties stretching across the Jordan River which runs between Jordan and the West Bank. All live within an easy one to two hours drive of each other.

Jordan is the country that occupied the West Bank from 1948-1967. It only ceded its claims to sovereignty in the West Bank in 1988 after being pressured by the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organisation to do so.

Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950 which was recognised by Britain and Pakistan at that time.

Jordan’s rulers, not the PLO, have successfully preserved almost four fifths of Palestine as an exclusively Arab State. Not one Jew lives there today and the death penalty awaits any one found selling land to Jews. This is no mean feat given that Jordan was originally designated by the League of Nations in 1922 to be part of the territory in which the national home for the Jews was to be reconstituted under the Mandate for Palestine granted to Great Britain.

Contrast this to the remaining 23% of Palestine where 17% - today called Israel - has a population that is 80% Jewish and 20% Arab whilst the remaining 6% - today called the West Bank - has a population that is 80% Arab and 20% Jewish .

Yet the fiction has been created that the Arabs of Palestine lack a State and have been stripped of any rights to self determination in Palestine.

The fact is that Jordan and Israel are the successor sovereign States in former Palestine together exercising sovereignty in 94% of Palestine whilst sovereignty in the remaining 6% still remains unresolved and unallocated after 59 years.

Commonsense rejects the idea of creating a second Arab or, for that matter, a second Jewish State in this remaining 6% of Palestine - an area about the size of Delaware or just two thirds of Cyprus.

The obvious solution is to redraw the boundary between Jordan and Israel so that the heavily populated Jewish areas of the West Bank become part of Israel and the heavily populated Arab areas of the West Bank (together possibly with Gaza) become part of Jordan.

This is certainly attainable as Jordan and Israel are parties to a peace treaty signed in 1994, which they both have observed in good faith, with mutual dignity and respect despite some strains in their relationship over the years.

Jordan and Israel could be confidently expected to realign the border to ensure that very few Jews or Arabs would be faced with deciding whether to move from their existing residences or stay put as part of a minority population. Compensation would be paid if they decided to move and become part of the majority population on the other side of the new border.

Guidelines to deal with controversial issues such as water, refugees and Jerusalem are already set out in the Jordan - Israel Peace Treaty.

Unceasing and unsuccessful efforts to sign a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have led nowhere in the last 17 years and threaten to continue to do so ad infinitum whilst the fiction writers continue to believe that a new State between Jordan and Israel is the answer to the conflict between Jews and Arabs.

How many more Jews and Arabs need to be killed and maimed in the pursuit of a solution that has not got even the slightest chance of success?

Perhaps the following words from American composer Cole Porter’s song - “I’ve got you under my skin” - should resonate in the ears of Jordanian and Israeli negotiators as their secret talks proceed :

“Don’t you know you fool, you never can win
Use your mentality, wake up to reality”

That reality is that two peoples, the Jews and the Arabs, need two States, not three States, in Palestine.

At last Jordan and Israel may finally be singing the same song. Everyone interested in ending the 130 years conflict between the Jews and Arabs - including the Quartet -should join in.