The Palestinian issue has benefited from the Arab/Muslim talk, but – due to the Palestinian record of intra-Arab subversion – has never been supported by the Arab/Muslim walk. Arab/Muslim policy-makers have never considered the Palestinian issue a strategic interest, but rather a tactical instrument to advance intra-Arab/Muslim interests and to annihilate the Jewish state.
Irrespective of the Arab talk, Palestine has been a geographic – not a national – term/area, as evidenced by the lack of distinct, cohesive national character of its Arab inhabitants. This lack of cohesion has been intensified by the violent internal fragmentation along cultural (e.g., Bedouins vs. rural vs. urban sectors), geographic (e.g., mountain vs coastal Arabs, southern vs. northern, Hebron vs. Bethlehem, Nablus vs. Ramallah, Nablus vs. Hebron), ethnic, ideological, political (e.g., pro and anti Jordan), historical, tribal/clannish identity. Such turbulent fragmentation was fueled by the multitude of Arab/Muslim migration waves from Bosnia, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Lebanon.
Thus, the establishment of a Palestinian state/autonomy was not on the agenda of the non-Arab Muslim Ottoman Empire, which ruled the area from 1517 through 1917. The Ottomans linked the area – defined by most Arabs as a region within Southern Syria or the Levant – to the Damascus and Beirut provinces.
The British Empire, which dominated the Middle East from 1917 until the end of the Second World War, did not contemplate a Palestinian Arab state, while establishing a series of Arab countries throughout the Middle East. Moreover, the November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration dedicated Palestine, including Jordan, to the Jewish Homeland. The April 25, 1920 San Remo Resolution, formulated by the principal Allied Powers, formalized the Balfour Declaration-based British Mandate for Palestine, which was ratified on August 12, 1922 by the League of Nations, eventually transferring 77% of Palestine (Jordan) to the Arabs. The US House and Senate approved it unanimously on June 30, 1922. In 1945, the Mandate for Palestine was integrated into the UN Charter via Article 80, which precludes alterations, and is still legally binding.
Jordan and Egypt occupied Judea & Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza from 1949 through 1967, but did not ponder the establishment of a Palestinian state; nor did the Arab League.
According to Dr. Yuval Arnon-Ohanna of Ariel University, who headed the Palestinian Desk at the Mossad Research Division, the Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, stated in September 1947 that the core problem was not a Palestinian state or Jewish expansionism, but the duty to uproot the Jewish presence in Palestine, which was defined by Muslims as Waqf – an area divinely endowed to Islam and not to the “infidel.” The elimination of Jews was the top priority of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the founder, the President of the (Palestinian) Arab Higher Committee; a collaborator with Nazi Germany. In September 1941, he submitted to Hitler a memo on “the resolution of the Jewish Problem in the Middle East in the same manner it is resolved in Europe,” planning the construction of Auschwitz-like crematoriums, in the Dothan Valley, adjacent to Nablus in Samaria. In fact, Mahmoud Abbas recently expressed his admiration for Al Husseini as a hero-martyr. Abbas appointed the current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who continues Al Husseini’s anti-Jewish hate-education.
The limited role of the Palestinian issue was highlighted during the 1948/49 Arab-Israel War. Jordan launched the war in order to eliminate the Jewish state, expand to the Mediterranean and advance the goal to dominate Greater Syria. Egypt and Saudi Arabia entered the war despite their inadequate military infrastructure, in order to abort Jordan’s imperialistic strategy. Iraq joined the war, aiming to control the oil pipeline from Iraq to Haifa. Syria assumed that the destruction of the Jewish state would facilitate the reassertion of Greater Syria. On September 20, 1948, the Arab League recognized the Arab government of the whole of Palestine, but ignored it, declaring it null and void in 1951/52, causing the UN to refuse Palestinian participation in the General Assembly proceedings.
About the Author: Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators, and lecturer in the U.S., Canada and Israel on Israel’s unique contributions to American interests, the foundations of U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian threat, and Jewish-Arab issues.
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