For the PA, “Peace” means a judenfrei state ethnically cleansed of all Jews
While the middle eastern winds of change have brought about peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, the Palestinian leadership is still as intransigent as ever. For the Palestinian leadership it appears that peace with Israel can only be achieved in a “judenfrei” Palestinian state – a state free of Jews, ethnically cleansed of the over 800,000 Jews who now live in West Bank and Jerusalem.
This point was recently reiterated by PA Deputy Prime Minister and PA Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, who said:
“The [Israeli] settlement[s] will disappear in the end. There will be no peace as long as there is one settlement on the Palestinian lands. Just as the settlements were removed from Gaza, they will be removed from the West Bank. Either a peace that is based on an independent, fully sovereign [Palestinian] state with East Jerusalem as its capital and without settlers or settlements, or else there will be no security, no stability, and no peace.”
[Official PA TV News, Oct. 14, 2020]
In order to understand the PA approach, it is important to point out two critical points.
The pillar of the PA demand is based on the Palestinian narrative which defines the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” as “Palestinian lands”.
While Abu Rudeina’s definition of the “Palestinian lands” is reflective of the often-repeated PA narrative, it lacks any historical veracity.
At no period in time were the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” under “Palestinian” control or part of an independent “Palestinian” State.
Historically, since the expulsion of the Jewish people by the Roman Empire, the entire area of land from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, from Lebanon in the north to the Red Sea in the south, came under the rule of interchanging conquerors.
From 1517 – 1917, the area was merely an indistinct part of the Ottoman Empire. From 1917, and officially from 1922, the area was placed by the League of Nations in the hands of the British Empire with the express purpose of establishing “a national home for the Jewish people.” [League of Nations Mandate for Palestine]
In 1947, the United Nations suggested dividing the area into a Jewish State and an Arab State. While the Jewish leadership accepted the plan, the Arab leadership rejected it. As the British Mandate ended in May 1948, Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem were invaded and illegally occupied, until 1967, by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israel gained control of these areas in the 1967 Six Day War, after it responded to a Jordanian attack.
Notably, even UN Security Council resolution 242, which the Palestinians falsely refer to as the basis for their claim that these areas are “Palestinian lands” does not mention, even once, the word “Palestinian”.
Accordingly, the Palestinian narrative, which negates historical fact and rejects any pragmatic approach, is part of the intrinsic intransigence of the Palestinian leadership.
As opposed to the claim of Abu Rudeina, there is much greater validity to the claim that these areas are all part of the Jewish homeland.
Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem were part of the area Lord Balfour referred to in the Nov. 2, 1917 declaration in which he noted:
“His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” [emphasis added]
These areas were once again allocated to the Jewish people by the international community in the 1920 San Remo Conference in which it was agreed that Britain would receive a mandate for the area:
“the Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on the [2nd] November, 1917, by the British Government and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.
The clear language of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine also left no scope for misunderstanding:
"Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country;
Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." [emphasis added]
Even if one were to overlook the historical distortion of defining Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem as “Palestinian lands”, the demand that peace be predicated on ethnically cleansing those areas from any Jews, should raise alarm bells for any decent person.
Prior to the 1948 Jordanian occupation of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, Jews had lived in those areas for hundreds of years.
As the British Census clearly shows, already by 1922 Jews were the outright majority (33,971) of Jerusalem’s 62,578 residents:
Until the 1929 massacre, Jews had lived in Hebron for hundreds of years. The Avraham Avinu (Abraham Our Father) synagogue that sits at the heart of the modern day Jewish community in the city, was built in 1540.
While additional Jewish communities, such as the community in Gush Etzion, also existed, they were all ethnically cleansed by the Jordanians in 1948.
Since Jews were incontrovertibly resident in the areas that Abu Rudeina now claims as exclusively Arab “Palestinian lands”, it is clear that the demand that Jews be stripped of all their historical and legal rights is not a valid demand, whose sole purpose is to create a state that is “judenfrei”.
In many ways, this demand is even more far reaching than the land law dictates of apartheid South Africa. While the land laws of Apartheid South Africa prohibited black South Africans from buying or renting land in 93% of South Africa, the PA is demanding that Jews be prohibited from owning land in 100% of the proposed Palestinian state.
It goes without saying, that conditioning Israeli-Palestinian peace on realizing a false historical narrative that requires expelling over 800,000 Jews from their homes, is not and cannot be a position that the international community should identify with.