Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Thrice-Offered Palestinian State

The New York Times op-ed by Mahmoud Abbas is entitled “The Long Overdue Palestinian State,” but you would not learn from it that he turned one down in 2008; that the Palestinians rejected the Clinton Parameters in 2001; and that they rejected the offer of a state at Camp David in 2000. Each of those offers consisted of a state on substantially all of the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in Jerusalem and a “right of return” to the new Palestinian state. Three rejections in eight years.

Even more importantly, you would not learn why the Palestinians are not celebrating this year the 64th anniversary of the Long Overdue Palestinian State, which would have happened had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution proposing a two state solution. Here is the “narrative” Abbas offers:

In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation [that Palestine should be partitioned into two states]. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.

Here is what actually happened: every Arab state voted against the resolution, joined by every Muslim state (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey). In his monumental 700-page volume, Israel: A History, Martin Gilbert describes what came next:

From the moment of the United Nations vote, Arab terrorists and armed bands attacked Jewish men, women and children all over the country, killing eighty Jews in the twelve days following the vote, looting Jewish shops, and attacking Jewish civilian buses on all the highways. For the Arabs outside Palestine, a similar wave of anti-Jewish hatred led to violence against Jews in almost every Arab city. . . . There followed, in Palestine, five and a half months of terrorism and violence.

Israel’s May 14, 1948 Declaration of Independence urged Arab residents to stay, and provided full citizenship for them. The Arab states responded by invading a UN-approved state, seeking to destroy it. The resulting refugees and successive generations of their descendants have resided in those states, most of them all their lives, without ever having been offered citizenship there, or other basic rights.

The 1947 UN resolution used the phrase “Jewish state” no less than 30 times. It was the unwillingness then to accept a Jewish state that led to the stateless Palestinians and their refugees. It is an unwillingness that persists to this day—epitomized by the effort to seek UN recognition in September of a Palestinian state without the need to recognize a Jewish one, much less defensible borders for it.