Saturday, September 17, 2011
Eventually, somehow, the mandate was split into two parts, Jordan and Palestine. A member of the Hashemite family (or tribe?) took upon himself the obligation of being the King of Jordan. A cleric, known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, became the ruler, in a sense, of the "West Bank" part of the British Mandate.
As we know, after WWI the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the King of Saudi Arabia agreed to create in the British Mandate a "homeland" for the Jews. Saudi Arabia agreeing to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine was a bit like the Canarsie Indians of Brooklyn selling Manhattan Island to the Dutch for $24 in the early 1600's, since they had no more claim to Manhattan than Saudi Arabia had to Palestine. The Manhattan Indian tribes didn't like the deal; neither did the Palestinians. In particular, the Grand Mufti didn't like it. In WWII he sided with Hitler and was ready to get rid of the Jews who had settled in Palestine following the deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia.
After WWII the horrible tragedy of Hitler's "final solution" became known. Americans felt guilty about refusing to admit German Jews before and during the war who had tried unsuccessfully to escape Hitler's gas ovens. We enthusiastically supported the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine, where those Jews who wanted to practice their religion and be free from various pogroms and other annoyances could live and create a small religious state. In 1948 the United Nations created the State of Israel.
Immediately the Grand Mufti and other Palestinians attacked and tried to crush the new state. They didn't succeed. With American support, the new state defeated the "invaders" (actually, natives trying to expel immigrants) and established Israel as a potent military presence in the region. Another war, in 1967, allowed Israel to claim additional territory, including a section of Egypt east of the Suez Canal as well as control of all of the territory of Biblical Israel. Part of this new territory was ceded to the control of Jordan. A small piece was offered to Egypt, who refused to take it. The rest was claimed as territory into which Jews from all over the world could come and settle. Of course, in order for Jews to settle in Israel the former inhabitants had to be removed. They were chased out and forced to live in refugee camps in the West Bank territory controlled by Jordan. Many of them moved to the small territory that Egypt had refused, called Gaza.
Enough history. I have summarized my view of it just for background.
At present we have the following situation:
- The United States favors the establishment of two separate states in the area. One would be a Jewish state which would be called Israel. The other would be a state for the Palestinians.
- The United Nations, the United States, and many other countries in the world recognize the boundary resulting from the 1967 war as the boundary between the two states. The government of Israel has refused to accept this boundary.
- The United Nations has ruled that Jewish settlements established on the "Palestinian" side of the boundary are illegal because they amount to encroachments on the territory of the Palestinian state to be created some time in the future. The United States has asked Israel to stop the settlement activity. The Israeli government has refused.
- The Israeli government has declared that it supports the concept of eventually achieving a situation in which two separate states occupy the land once known as Biblical Israel. First, there are many details that must be ironed out by negotiations between a responsible government or ruling entity in Palestine and the government of Israel. Meanwhile, the building of new settlements continues in "Palestinian" land.
- There are many factions among the Israelis. There is a "peace" faction that wants to proceed with the creation of a separate state of Palestine and make peace with that state. There are several religious factions, some of which want to see Israel in its Biblical borders. Some of them engage in settlement building and seizing strategic land for new settlements as a means of eventually recreating the Kingdom of King David and King Solomon. I don't know how strong these various factions are. The present government of Israel depends on these religious factions to maintain its majority in the Israeli parliament, and therefore will not do anything to stop the creation of new settlements.
- The Obama Administration follows the policy of previous administrations in providing absolute and uncritical support of whatever government is in power in Israel. This support strengthens Israel's hand in any negotiations with Palestinians and other Arab neighbors. The Palestinians have no similar patron and are in a poor bargaining position. In spite of this one-sided situation, the Obama Administration insists that no peace settlement can be imposed on the two sides. They must reach an agreement by negotiation.
I do not know of any country that will take them. They will be in the same position as the German Jews who tried to escape Hitler's gas ovens during WWII. Should we call this Netanyahu's Final Solution?