Palestine – History and Geography Can Unblock Deadlock…writes David Singer

January 20, 2014 by David Singer
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It is a pity the US State Department chose to focus this week on the private remarks of Israel’s Minister of Defence labelling US Secretary of State John Kerry as being delusional and messianic – rather than concentrating on PLO Chairman Abbas’s very public remarks in the Jerusalem Post that go to the heart of the 130 years old Jewish-Arab conflict:

“Israel’s problem is that the Palestinians know more than the Israelis about history and geography. We talk about what we know”.

Is Abbas correct in his contention or has he become a victim of his own propaganda?

The answer depends on how one views Abbas’s following statement to the United Nations on 26 September 2013:

“However, as representatives of the Palestinian people, we have long been aware of our responsibilities towards our people and had the necessary courage to accept a two-State solution: Palestine and Israel on the borders of 4 June 1967, establishing a Palestinian State on 22% of the land of historic Palestine.”

Are the West Bank and Gaza in fact 22% of historic Palestine or do they comprise only 5% of historic Palestine?

The answer to that question first involves an answer to this question:

“Is Jordan 78% of historic Palestine – as the PLO Charter claims – or is Israel 78% of historic Palestine – as Abbas suggested at the United Nations?

Resolution of the conflict will stand a far greater chance of success – and be more enduring – if Jews and Arabs can first reach a consensus in answering this fundamental question.

That is a challenge that should excite Kerry as he seeks to find a way through the complexities of a conflict whose solution has eluded so many eminent people, organisations and Committees before him – including those appointed by both the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Agreement that Jordan comprises 78% of historic Palestine would greatly enlarge the territorial field within which the Jewish-Arab conflict can be resolved – making the conflict much easier to settle.

Jordan’s inclusion could materially advance the prospects for the creation of a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan – the subject of the current negotiations – or open up other alternative solutions to end the conflict if they fail – which seems destined to happen.

Kerry needs to urgently determine if there is any consensus between Israel, the PLO and the Arab League on the history and geography of “Palestine”.

History books and atlases can be used to resolve any disagreements – supported by eminent historians and geographers well qualified to express their opinions.

To achieve this end result Kerry could instruct his State Department to prepare a questionnaire for Israel, the PLO and the Arab League to complete by a specified date.

To ensure the process is fair and transparent – Kerry could recommend a panel be constituted comprising Kerry as Chairman and six history and geography experts – three appointed by Israel and three jointly appointed by the PLO and the Arab League – with Kerry holding a casting vote should the experts be equally divided.

 

The questionnaire could possibly include these questions:

 

  1. When was “Palestine” first so named and by whom?
  2. Was the name of “Palestine” prior to its change “Eretz Yisrael”?
  3. When was “Eretz Yisrael” so named and by whom?
  4. Is Israel 78% of “Palestine” or only 17% of “Palestine”?
  5. Is Jordan 78% of “Palestine” or does it form no part of “Palestine”?
  6. Is the “West Bank” 22% of “Palestine” or 4% of “Palestine”?
  7. When was the “West Bank” first so named and by whom?
  8. Was the name of the “West Bank” prior to its change  “Judea and Samaria”?
  9. When was “Judea and Samaria”  so named and by whom?
  10. When was “Jordan” first so named and by whom?
  11. When were “Palestine’s borders” first defined and where were they located?
  12. Did the Mandate for Palestine include what is today called Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza?
  13. Were the West Bank and Transjordan unified into a single territorial unit between 1950-1967?
  14. Where was the border between Israel and Jordan immediately prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Six Day War?
  15. What date did the Arab residents of the West Bank become Jordanian citizens and on what date was their Jordanian citizenship terminated?
  16. What settlements were established by Jews in the West Bank prior to 1948?
  17. Who was the last sovereign power to legally occupy the West Bank and for what period did such occupation last?
  18. On what date and in what part of Palestine were the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine relating to the reconstitution of the Jewish national Home in Palestine postponed or withheld?

 

The questionnaire would seek to flesh out the extent to which Jewish and Arab historic and geographic narratives coincide – with the objective of eventually reaching a joint consensus in answering the questions posed.

The questionnaire should be answered by Israel, the PLO and the Arab League before Kerry presents Israel and the PLO with his proposed framework agreement for peace.

If the parties cannot first agree on the territory within which the Jewish-Arab conflict is to be resolved – how can meaningful and serious discussions on Kerry’s framework agreement even be contemplated or commenced?

Kerry needs to focus on this issue – rather than concerning himself with negative comments affecting him personally.

Abbas’s claimed knowledge of history and geography needs to be tested.

The result could be Kerry’s key to ending the current deadlock and resolving the conflict.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Comments

7 Responses to “Palestine – History and Geography Can Unblock Deadlock…writes David Singer”
  1. I agree with David Singer. The world is confused with who owns what. Boundaries are lost and quotes of “illegal occupation of “”disputed” West Bank and Gaza. As for “Palestinians” they are Arabs who live in Judea etc.in my eyes and I don’t think that every Arab can be considered an enemy of Israel.
    I feel that you all have legitimate comments and views but Gil, there’s no need to be nasty and attack David personally. We are all just as frustrated with the situation. Lets stick together and fight the injustice that is done. The media is the biggest problem Israel has. Lets start at the beginning and have them answer
    David Singer’s questions and actually have them on the News unedited.
    I myself am contemplating making and wearing a B.D.S.”Palestine” T-shirt in the loudest Glo in the Dark colors I can find. I refuse to buy anything that is produced by Muslims and go out of my way to buy anything made in Israel. Have you all got a Soda Stream yet???

  2. Gil Solomon says:

    David,

    Here you go again at your delusional best. You need to come to grips with reality instead of going on about history books, atlases and best of all a questionnaire where Abbas’s claimed knowledge of history and geography can be tested. Abbas, no doubt like all the other so called “Palestinian” leaders, already know the history and geography but have no intention of letting facts get in the way of their political positions. If you haven’t realised it already they are masters at propaganda. Most farcical of all you recommend a panel with Kerry, this representatibve of Obama, holding a casting vote!
    You obviously hold Kerry in high esteem as an honest broker and just so there is no ambiguity and for the record,I do not.

    The so called “Palestinian” leadership will never agree to any peace deal which falls short of Israel committing suicide. In short any deal concluded with these terrorists on the terms they want will for Israel be the peace of the grave.

    Abbas has recently stated, as recently as January 11 that “We won’t recognise the Jewishness of Israel.” In short, by this comment, he made it crystal clear to most whose eyes are open and are not deaf that Jews have no place to breathe in the oxygen on any surface of the Middle East landscape. On top of that the demonization of Jews continues as does the greeting as heroes of recently released terrorist murderers. How much plainer can he be?

    Let’s get to the bottom line that you continually fail to grasp. This terrorist and every other member of the PA will not trade in their life styles, being centre stage and feted and doted upon by ignorant world leaders and the masses of humanity who have bought their propaganda and hang on to their every utterance. Abbas has no intention to be relegated to the obscurity that a genuine peace would entail. No, this man wants this issue to be forever on the world stage as this will ensure that he remains there also. To this end, he will put up obstacle after obstacle knowing that Israel would be insane to accept his terms, which would be tantamount to national suicide.

    When these so called “peace talks” break down, there will, as sure as night follows day be a resumption of terror attacks, when Israel will be then forced to wake up out of its coma and take care of this lot in Judea and Samaria once and for all.

    I read recently that the Egyptians have hinted that they may need to enter Gaza and go after Hamas, to which I say great, go for it. Israel should in this scenario just stand back, say nothing and just watch and learn how it’s done.

    Please do not come back to me with your typical pedantic questions:
    Which particular newspaper did I read that?
    What was the date?
    Who exactly made the comment?

    To be frank, I can’t remember and couldn’t care less.
    But read it I did.

    • david says:

      Gil

      A little consistency on your part is called for.

      You state:

      “You need to come to grips with reality instead of going on about history books, atlases and best of all a questionnaire where Abbas’s claimed knowledge of history and geography can be tested.”

      A little later on you state:

      “This terrorist and every other member of the PA will not trade in their life styles, being centre stage and feted and doted upon by ignorant world leaders and the masses of humanity who have bought their propaganda and hang on to their every utterance.”

      Make your mind up.

      Don’t you think it necessary to educate ignorant world leaders and the masses of humanity who have bought the PLO propaganda by showing the PLO to be a bunch of lying and bigoted terrorists – the latest in a long inglorious line of so-called leaders that has rejected countless attempts by the Jews – indeed the League of Nations and the United Nations also – to resolve the Jewish-Arab conflict for the last 93 years?

      How else do you propose ignorant world leaders and the masses brainwashed by propaganda come to understand they have been duped and misled – if not by history books and atlases as well as by Abbas and the Arab League being requested by Kerry to answer a questionnaire of the kind I have suggested?

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    To say that the palestinians, consider them always between inverted commas, are duplicitous is an understatement.
    Yet, as David does it always in spades, they MUST be shown for the farcical, IRRELEVANT so called negotiating party in a process which cannot lead to any peace as long as the same palestinian side sides with violence and hatred against all matters Jewish/Israeli.
    To be sure, all those fake arguments palestinians use in their rhetoric make no sense at all and would NEVER be on the table when real issues are discussed during those “negotiations”.
    For its audacity to show up as respectable counterparts, the Abbas team can expect only a stern and serious Israel determined to have peace in ITS land, but only if peace is realistically conceived. So far the only realistic image we are given by the other party is one of rejection of a Jewish Israel as conceived and lived by its OWN rightful people.

    • David says:

      Otto

      Until the parties agree on the boundaries of “historic Palestine” – it is safe to say there will be no possibility of an end to the Jewish-Arab conflict.

      If the US State Department and John Kerry do not accept this simple proposition then their efforts to end the conflict will continue to be a waste of time.

      Perhaps they too should answer the questionnaire – as should all those interested in seeing a resolution of the 130 years old conflict.

      Putting the cart (peace) before the horse ( the boundaries within which peace is to occur) remains the major obstacle to any possibility of peace being achieved.

      When everyone agrees that the Arabs already have an exclusive Arabs-only State in 78% of historic Palestine – then some progress may be possible in resolving Arab and Jewish claims in the remaining 22%.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        David,

        of course no state as such can be conceived without geographic limits.
        What is beyond the limits of acceptance at this stage, is the realstic conclusion that NO geographic limits can possibly contain a state adjacent to Israel bent on Israel’s destruction ( G-d forbid).
        Even if limits are agreed on Israel’s terms, within those agreed boundaries there will be an entity bent on expanding its size at the expense of the Jewish state next door.
        Agreement, if that is the right word, must be reached in as afar as the SUBSTANCE of the geographic lmits “agreed”. My projection is that, as long as the palestinians are not capable to behave like, for instance, the Swiss, they cannot be granted ANY space for statehood.
        Ok, I’ll make one concession, : as loing as they do not behave like Romania…..
        That’s because if they start being “funny” the Romanian way, I will deal with them MY way !!!

        • Otto could you explain the “Funny” Romanian way. I must have missed that one. I thought that Israel and Romania were friends and actually have combined Air force training over Romanian Air Space?

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