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Mordechai Kedar: The Failure of the Palestinian Venture

Palestinians praying on a street outside the Damascus Gate

Palestinians praying on a street outside the Damascus Gate
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

7. The PLO has never clearly and decisively defined its relationship to the state of Israel as a state of the Jewish people. Despite the fact that the Oslo Accords were signed, and despite the fact that according to them, “Palestinian” media were established, these media channels have not ceased to speak of the Galilee, Haifa, Acre, Yaffo, and Be’er Sheva – all inside Israel – as part of “Palestine”. And even now, the logo of the PLO includes the map of Palestine in its entirety. There has always been a double message – we speak with Israel, but it doesn’t exist because it is actually Palestine. This is how the “Palestinian” educational system operates – Israel does not appear in books as a legitimate state. It is the same in the public arena – all of the drawings and illustrations of “Palestine” are from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan River, without any mention of Israel. This situation has created a cognitive dissonance among many Arabs as well as on the Israeli side: how can the “Palestinians” speak of their state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, but at the same time, represent “Palestine” as the whole area between the Mediterranean sea and Jordan river, including Israel in it?

8. The Palestinian National Covenant states in section 1 that “Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian people; it is an inseparable part of the greater Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people is part of the Arab nation.” This wording became the official version of the Palestinian narrative, which expresses the political aspirations of the “Palestinians”. Section 2 of the covenant states that “Palestine, as its borders were defined during the period of the British Mandate, is one indivisible territorial unit.” This statement negates the existence of the state of Israel (and perhaps also the Kingdom of Jordan). This section has never been changed. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords Israel was told in a vague letter that the sections that contradict the peace accords are no longer operative, but the covenant itself was never reworded. It is this discrepancy that gives rise to the Israeli perception that the Palestinians speak about the establishment of a state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, but their true intention is that by the end of the process, the Palestinian Covenant will be realized exactly as written.

9. Arafat, followed by the various heads of the PLO, made a huge strategic mistake when they issued the ultimatum that Jerusalem must be the capital of the Palestinian state. This distressed many Jews who, despite their desire to reach peace with the Arabs, are not willing to give up Zion, the cherished treasure of the Jewish people, toward which it has prayed for the 1900 years of exile. The demand to have Jerusalem is relatively new because the Palestinian covenant – whether in the 1964 version or the 1968 version – does not mention Jerusalem at all. It is interesting that the Hamas covenant, which was written in 1988 also does not speak of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Moreover, there is no historical basis for the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, because this city was never the capital of an Islamic state or province. The capital of “Jund Filistin” (the District of Palestine) after the Islamic conquest in the year 637 CE was the city of Ramle, 30 kilometers to the west from Jerusalem. And just for the sake of comparison, Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible, and not even once in the Qur’an. The Jewish people and the children of Israel also appear in the Qur’an hundreds of times, but the Palestinian people – like Jerusalem – not even once. The baseless Muslim-Palestinian demand for Jerusalem has caused many millions of Christians to grant Israel its unstinting support.

10. The world paid little attention to the Palestinian terror that raged in Israel after the outbreak of the second Intifada, from late September 2000 until September 11, 2001. With the attacks that occurred on that day in New York and Washington, the world began to understand better the terror with which Israel was confronted, because until then, there was no tangible reference point with which to help them understand Israel’s predicament. Only after September 11 was the decision taken in the West to declare Hamas and Al-Qaeda terror organizations and to boycott any bank or organization that transfers money to it. The Palestinians, chiefly Arafat, did not understand that continuing the terror after September 11 worked against them and made it easier for Israel to define them as terrorists, which has darkened their image in the world until today, at least regarding Hamas.

11. Since January 2006, the split between the PLO and Hamas has not simply been a division between two parties who sit together in the same elected body. Rather, the split has a deeply cultural characteristic, because Hamas represents a religious Islamic concept, which sees the division of the Islamic nation into states as a colonialist, un-Islamic division that was intended to splinter Islamic caliphate. The PLO is trying to build a modern, artificial narrative of a Palestinian people, similar to the modern narrative of the Syrian, Iraqi, or Jordanian peoples. Hamas, a religious movement from the Muslim Brotherhood school of thought, sees the narrative of the nationalist paradigms as something that is alien to Islam, and this is the basis for the split between the two movements. In June 2012, Hamas will mark five years since the establishment of the Islamic state in the Gaza Strip, while in Judea and Samaria, the PLO has failed to establish a governing body that has any chance of surviving without the backing of the state of Israel. Anyone who is involved with what is happening in Judea and Samaria, Arabs as well as Jews, knows that Hamas will take control of Judea and Samaria – and sooner rather than later – if Israel and the IDF leaves that area.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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4 Responses to “Mordechai Kedar: The Failure of the Palestinian Venture”

  1. Ed Adamek says:

    A very interesting and different perspective – well worth a read.

  2. This issue will be debated well after the "cows have come home". Until there is universal acceptance, in all of the Middle East (and this includes Israel), that irrespective of gender, ethnicity and religion we are all humans and should all be treated equally, the problems of the middle east will never be resolved. Borders applied by British colonialism should never be the scapegoat for what is happening. For example many years ago I was told by a Lebanese gentleman who defected to Saudia Arabia because of the discrimation against his religious beliefs, that he could not identify with either country because one was his ethnic place of birth who rejected him and the other was his religious home who rejected him because of his ethnicity. This was back in the 80's and he had felt comfortable in Australia because (at that time) he felt accepted here in spite of his ethnicity and religion.

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