Opinion: Gaza – can anyone recall the root causes?

Gaza Burns - photo by Al Jazeera EnglishIsrael’s current actions – indeed its actions since 1948 – are based on three core drum-beat principles; it has a right to exist; it has the most moral Armed Forces in the world; and it is surrounded by enemies intent on its destruction, But there is a fourth ‘truth’, never acknowledged by Mark Regev or other spokespersons, that Israel itself caused all of the current conflict decades ago by taking more land than the UN allotted to it in 1948 (1), and driving out the indigenous population (2), Then taking yet more land when it occupied the West Bank in 1967 (3).

However, owing to lobbying by AIPAC, BICOM and the main Parties’ Friends of Israel groupings, these root causes are never discussed, Current dialogue remains anchored to the three principles of self defence and so on, thus ensuring that the actual causes for the current situation are kept firmly off the media and social media agenda, In other words keeping the world focussed on the ‘here and now’ rather than the original causes.

Unusually, it took an old soldier to say what these causes are, on a recent phone-in to Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show, After the usual predictable pro and anti-Israeli calls, he had his say, He had served in Palestine after WW2 and remembered, he said, how Jewish/Zionist terrorists assassinated, bombed and hanged UK Service personnel, booby-trapping their bodies, The ex-Soldier stated that the root cause of all of what has happened since the British pulled out was not Palestinian terrorism – but Zionistic land and water grabbing, I sat up and listened more keenly.

The old soldier had certainly done his history homework,  He pointed out how Jew and Muslim lived relatively peacefully together in Palestine for hundreds of years – until the Zionists grabbed the agenda in the early 20th Century, He had a point, The UN mandate allotted fair shares of land between Jew and Arab in the late 1940s, But after the Arab League rejected the proposal, Israel seized far more land than was originally allotted to it, And decades before the onset of Qassam rockets or suicide bombers, Israel took more land in the 1967 War by occupying the West Bank.

This, said the old soldier, was the root cause of all the current issues – not Hamas rockets or Al Aqsa Brigade ‘martyrs’ – but Israel taking more than its fair share of land in 1948, expelling the indigenous population then denying them a right to return to their former homes and villages, then doing it all again 1967.

As long as these root causes – the events of 1948 and 1967 – are not addressed, the Israeli Defence Forces will, many argue, keep breeding future Arab generations of those who just want their homes, their land, and their lives back.

The problem is that if these root causes are never spoken of, the chances of achieving a sustainable peace in the region are virtually zero, If they were discussed, it would undermine all the Knesset and pro-Israeli lobby arguments in one fell swoop, More positively, it could also give real incentives to those who refuse to negotiate and bring all parties back to the table, If there was some way of getting the Quartet, the EU and even Israel itself to address these original root causes, and if social media could galvanise the collective conscience and lead the rest of us to remember, then future peace talks might have an outside chance of starting on a fair and level playing field.

1  Cragg, Kenneth. Palestine. The Prize and Price of Zion. Cassel, 1997. ISBN 978-0-304-70075-2. Pages 57, 116

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Palestinian_exodus

3 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/850855/Six-Day-War


Photo by Al Jazeera English

* Kerry Hutchinson is a Party member and writer for ‘The Middle East’ monthly publication. He has worked in the West Bank with Israeli humanitarian NGOs.

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  • The root causes are simple. Hitler wanted to gas the Jews, thankfully he failed, the British occupied Palestine, decided that it wanted to give the Jewish people their own homeland because of the terrible things Hitler did to them, so they give the Jewish people the land of Palestine with no thought to the pain and harm it would cause to the Palestinians whose land it was and is.

  • The problem with arguments like this is that no party would actually find an Israel confined to the original UN mandate an acceptable long-term outcome. Obviously the Israelis wouldn’t, and the other side wants not a smaller Israel but no Israel at all (that’s why the Arab League rejected the proposal in 1948, and they haven’t changed their minds).

    There is no compromise in that direction and so it’s fruitless to bring it up.

  • This article re-writes history to support a spurious argument. Mr Hutchinson conveniently leaves out the fact that the Arab nations entirely rejected the UN partition plan in 1948 and then invaded the Jewish areas hoping to drive the population, many of whom had survived the Holocaust, into the sea. Following the 1967 war Israel offered land for peace which was again rejected out of hand at the Khartoum Conference with the ‘3 Nos’: no peace, no recognition and no negotiations. Withdrawal from the West Bank has henceforth been conditioned by inevitable security concerns which have been reinforced by the experience of Gaza. Instead of building peace with Israel like Jordan and Egypt, the rulers of Gaza have fired thousands of rockets at Israel. Each rocket is fired indiscriminately at civilians to cause maximum injury and destruction. Could anyone name one nation on earth that would tolerate each and every act of war on this scale? It’s time to stop romanticising the Palestinians and their mythology. Instead can we ask why they continue to call for the destruction of the Jewish nation, an attitude that dates back to the 1920s accompanied by frequent murderous attacks. This racist attitude continues with the cold-blooded murder of three teenagers on a walk, shot in the head. A lasting settlement can only be achieved through peaceful and trusting co-existence.

  • Andi Ali has given an astonishingly accurate summary of that very root cause. I cannot better his surgically perfect précis. The British, unwittingly, unthinkingly, or just plain stupidly, were the root cause of this monumental ‘War of the Worlds’.

  • I totally agree with John. Why would any country accept an offer to have less than half of their land? It was Europe that was mainly to blame for the Holocaust, not Palestinians, yet Israel was imposed on them. In fact there were, until recently, large numbers of Jews living comparatively happily in the Middle East. It was the secret British and French Sykes Picot Agreement that carved up the Middle East and caused many of the present problems. Palestine is occupied and Gaza is under a blockade. I continue to find it strange that so many believe that Israel has the right to defend itself against those it has occupied and oppressed, yet any attempt to fight back is seen as terrorism. the double standards as well over what is a a legitimate military target are also amazing. Israel aims at schools and hospitals, private homes and farmland, killing many innocents along the way, yet many Israeli military centres are placed in or near Israeli towns and cities and many homes have IDF members or even military guns in them. Why is targeting a whole block of flats or hospital Ok for Israel and targeting civilian areas a crime for Hamas?. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone any violence, but I get very angry about the one-sided idea that only Israelis have the right to security and a decent standard of living. I will express horror at the actions of Hamas once there is a level playing field and the blockade/siege lifted.

  • A country is committing serious war crimes and has flouted international law for decades. We should have no diplomatic relations with Israel and we must apply sanctions now. They are a far greater pariah than Russia.

  • Andi Ali – your potted history is wrong. The Balfour Declaration was 1917. Nor, J. White, was there a Jewish nation for the Palestinians to attack in the 1920s. Getting the history right probably doesn’t help find an agreement, but getting it wrong is irresponsible.

  • Tony Hill, really. is the Balfour Declaration was 1917 you refer to, what was referred to at the time as The Balfour Declaration for Palestine? Please note the word, Palestine.

  • It’s complicated. The idea of Palestine as a separate nation is fairly recent. Both Syria and Jordan see it as part of their territories and it is only really recognised by many Arab countries because it’s a good way of bashing Israel which they do not believe should exist. Historically Jewish settlers have as much claim to as Muslim population as it is Jewish homeland the Romans invaded.

  • The problem isn’t all about boundries.After the state of Israel was established, Arab countries expelled their Jewish populations.

  • Keith Browning 24th Jul '14 - 7:42pm

    The Balfour Declaration (1917) and the reasons why the USA came into WW1 on the British side instead of the German one, is the origin of the problem we now find ourseves. Why is none of this ever discussed on the mainstream media?


  • What was the currency of Palestine before 1948.?
    Who were its leader?
    Where were its borders.
    Palestine did not exist. The Gaza strip and the West Bank were part of Egypt and Jordan. There was no PLO fighting their occupation.
    The Arab world has never recognised Israel’s right to exist and fought a war to push the Jewish people out in 1948. They lost. The PLO was formed around 1964. The problems kicked off again after the 6 Day war in 1967. This is not to say Israel is in the right, but merely to point out a bit of the background.

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jul '14 - 9:39pm

    The Balfour declartion, besides being totally mad, was not being taken any real\ notice of before 1945, Even though Britain was the colonial power.

    The bottom line was that Europe as a whole (not just Germany and Axis allies) was so concerned about a strange mixture of guilt and antisemitism in the continent post-WW2 that they wanted to do virtually ANYTHING other than address the needs of Jewish Europeans within Europe. The whole thing is TOTALLY our fault (or rather our grandparents’ fault). Even the massacre of the British troops at the King David Hotel by Zionist terrorists.

  • Richard Norris 24th Jul '14 - 10:47pm

    Possibly the suspension or the threat of the permanent withdrawal of all military and financial aid to the Israeli government by the United States would help it, the state of Israel, to start seeing sense.

  • It’s worth noting that while most European countries, and America, all argued that Jews should have their own homeland, not were prepared to give up parts of their own territory for this purpose.

  • Stephen Donnelly 24th Jul '14 - 11:46pm

    I don’t think that there is any merit in reinterpreting the past. That is not where a solution is to be found. Neither is picking sides useful. The only role, I can see, for liberals it to try to persuade both side to respect human rights and to wait for the conditions are right for a peaceful settlement.

  • Stepehen Donnelly, the conditions will never be right for a peaceful settlement – Israel will see to that, Israel wants to steal Palestinian land not give any of it back to the Palestinians.

  • Jonathan Brown 25th Jul '14 - 12:24am

    Also worth noting that while Muslim countries down the centuries have repeatedly welcomed large numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing European antisemitism, European desires to ‘find the Jews a homeland’ were rooted far more in a desire to expel Jews than to do justice by them.

  • The fact is Israel is now a sovereign state, Contrary to misconception as a recent nation it recognizes the right of Palestinians to form a new independent country. The problem is that the Arab world refuses acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and the equally obvious reality that the Arab world does not support the idea of an independent Palestine either,
    The analogy of Russia and the Ukraine is being flung about here, But Israel is a tiny nation and the surrounding nations are behaving like Russia flinging rockets and money to break up a breakaway state, So broadly, I side with Israel even though I think some of its actions are wrong.

  • Palestine didn’t exist before 1948! Well, neither did Israel, so following that logic to its conclusion we shouldn’t recognise Israel either. These kind of arguments never stand up to the most basic level of logical reasoning.

    But what I find even more offensive is the idea that we should sit back and do nothing and let both sides fight it out because they’re both as bad as each other. If we’d have taken this approach to Northern Ireland then the killing would still be continuing. We didn’t. We recognised the sources of injustice and put them right – holding an inquiry in to Bloody Sunday, correcting the unrepresentative constituency of the RUC, persuading the Irish to amend their constitution so that it explicitly spelt out that the consent of the population of Northern Ireland was needed for reunification. Sure, there are psychopaths on both sides that would love things to kick off again, but with those sources of injustice removed they no longer have enough support to have much impact.

    Remove the sources of injustice from Palestine/Israel and the nutters on both sides won’t enjoy the support they currently receive. However, that requires an evidence-based approach to identify the injustices and the conclusions will be that one side, Israel, is disproportionately responsible for those injustices. That is the liberal way. It is not the liberal way to shrug your shoulders and say both sides are as bad as each other. It is not the liberal way to make wet statements about the need for Israel to exercise restraint when they are killing hundreds of innocent civilians, probably thousands more through blockades and the destruction of infrastructure and making everyone’s’ life a living hell inside Gaza.

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jul '14 - 7:22am

    Andy Ali is right.

    The Zionist position has always been:

    “We’ll take what we can. . . and what we have, we’ll hold. Oh. and while we’re at it, we’ll take some more.”

    They can do this with total impunity, herding Palestinians into prison camp ghettos, and depriving them of water, and access to their crops, because whatever angry noises the USA may make from time to time, they (and the EU) do nothing at all with any ‘clout’ to stop the Israeli policy of enlarging their apartheid state with settlements and denying Palestinians basic rights in their homeland..

    Unfortunately, as long as the electoral college system in the USA gives such ‘clout’ to New York and Florida, there is little chance of any US president having the nerve to do anything about this, even if (s)he really wants to – which would be rare enough anyway. 🙁

  • If Israel had not been established in 1948 would anyone support the it’s establishment today? No
    The World would not accept that it is right to create a new country with millions of immigrants without the agreement of the counties and people who’s land is being taken. This needs to be recognised by everyone including Israel.
    In 1949 it was understandable why Israel was created given the holocaust. The British who were responsible for the Palestinian mandate did not want to continue to police the area and the affected people were only Arsbs and they were not important! I am sure that if I was around at the time I would have been a passionate supporter of the romantic idea of the Jews returning to the homeland of (some of) their very distant ancestors.
    In 1967’the world on the whole supported Israel’s battle to survive (I was around then as a 16 year old, and did so). Unfortunately Israel missed an opportunity to secure its position. It should have, with the rest of the world, invested in the then newly occupied territories to provide the inhabitants a life not worth losing. Instead it did the opposite, it made the peoples nothing to lose.
    The only way the conflict can end is by proving the Palestinians a life worth having and this can only be done by the world being ready to invest billions in Gaza and the West Bank. Will Israel be willing to withdraw from the settlements and come to agreement over Jerusalem to enable this to happen?

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 25th Jul '14 - 9:58am

    Dear Fellow ‘Liberals’,

    I call upon the Friends of Israel and Friends of Palestine to demonstrate to the Party and others that working towards a positive and harmonious outcome is possible and that no matter what historical tragedies have befallen both nations, that they are not blinded by the past. We in the UK should be informed by our own questionable history with regard to the development of the current state of affairs, and seek to atone for our sins by ceasing the ‘side taking’ that is all to prevalent.

    Frankly it worries me, when those supporting arguments for one side or another actually find supportive allies in some frightening quarters, for example the extreme Right such as the BNP and worse are Pro-Palestinian, and the Religious Extreme Christian Right see the defence of Israel as a requirement for their salvation. With friends like these who needs enemies!

    The constant blame game that we hear, and sadly the peoples of Israel and Palestine have to bear the physical brunt of on a daily basis is merely resulting in an escalation of deaths, and a peaceful resolution is not going to be found emanating from the barrel of a gun or deposited by shrapnel from bombs and bullets.

    The history of this troubled area and the peoples that inhabit it is tragic, people need to know the history in order that it is not repeated, so surely the lesson is that we should not continue or otherwise support the barbarity any further. And let us remember that silence and/or doing nothing is supporting the current tragedy.

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

    Liberal Democrat English Party Diversity Champion
    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Vice Chair

  • Steve,
    Palestine did not exist before 1964 when the PLO was formed. The name is derived from the Roman name for Judea. Israel as a recent nation is not against it becoming a country. Most of the Arab World is, It is however opposed to Hamas flinging thousands of rockets over it’s border every year. It is also opposed to the rabid anti-Semitism that wants to see all Jews killed.
    This is just a way for great chunks of the West to indulge in self hate. It’s all our fault. If only we did this or that. We’ll ignore the part the Arab world play coz we do love the oil and football bungs.

  • A Social Liberal 25th Jul '14 - 10:23am

    Andy Ali

    According to Wiki, the name Palestine was used even when the jewish nation owned the land prior to Roman invasion. So this cannot be used to identify Palestine as belonging to anyone.

  • A Social Liberal 25th Jul '14 - 10:30am

    Andy Ali

    I have just read another silly statement by you, in that you said “It’s worth noting that while most European countries, and America, all argued that Jews should have their own homeland, not were prepared to give up parts of their own territory for this purpose.” The British took ownership of the area THEY began calling Palestine in 1917. As much as anyone did, we owned the territory. Therefore when the United Nations voted for a state of Israel to be created, it passed from our control to Israeli.

  • Andy Ali.
    Arab landowners living in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus sold land to jewish settlers at greatly inflated prices from he end of the 19C to 1939. Britain tried to persuade arab land owners in the 1930s not to sell land to jewish settlers. It was the attack on jewish settlers which led Orde Wingate , one of the greatest special forces officers to form the Special Night Squads. Many of the SNS went on to lead the Israeli Army , one of them was Moshe Dayan. If arabs had not attacked jewish settlements, the SNS would nt have been formed and the Israeli Army would have been deprived of many superbly trained fighters. Kismet.

    In the 19C,M Twain in his book states that The Holy Land was sparsely populated, there was little fertile land.
    Jewish settlers bought malarial swamp and desert and turned them into productive farm land. Arab landowners considered themselves clever to sell worthless land at such high prices. As the Bible says Essau sold his inheritance for a mess of potage, hence the saying ” Do not sell your inheritance for a mess of potage “.

    Jews had lived under Muslim control as Dhimmis, second class citizens, they were not allowed to be armed and had inferior status in legal matters.

    The Ottoman Turks rules Palestine until 1918: very few town arabs fought the occupation this was done largely by beduin. The Grand Sheriff of Mecca rose in revolt against Ottoman Rule and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the successor . Beduin fight in the Israeli Army and often serve as snipers . Beduin are usually treated as inferior by many town arabs. If Beduin were better treated by town arabs perhaps they would receive their support?

    Jewish settlers in Palestine volunteered for 50, 51 and 52 Commando to Hitler. In 1945, all The Allies , including Stalin supported Israel.The arab armies in 1948 told Palestinians to leave their homes while they destroyed Israel. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was one of Hitler’s collaborators , supported the Holocaust and raised troops for the SS from Bosnian Muslims who took part in war crimes in the Balkans against Tito’s Partisans.
    The jews accepted the terms of the Peel commission and 1947 borders defined by the UN, the arabs rejected them.

    If the Arab armies had supported the Allies and fought with them , they would have had the skills to defeat the Israeli.
    The arab armies threatened extermination of Israel and because of their inferior fighting skills yet greatly outnumbering them, were defeated: this was repeated in 1966 and 1973. HAMAS still promise the extermination of Israel and most arab countries threaten Israel.

    In 1948, the arb countries expelled approximately 700,000 jews from their countries. Of those Jews remaining in Iraqm many were hanged in 1958. Many of the hard line Jews are Sephardim who were expelled from arab countries. If the arab countries had not expelled jews , there would have been less to fight them in 1948. The experience of living in arab countries enables the Sephardim to speak arabic and understand their mentality which has been of great benefit when it comes to defending Israel.

    A major problem for the arabs is that the worm turned. After centuries of treating the Jews as cowardly and weak , they have been defeated in war three times, the last time Israel was led by a woman- Golda Meir . D not threaten to exterminate a country when you heavily outnumber them , then complain when you are defeated. Do not undertake terrorist attacks such as The Munich Massacre and Entebbe and then complain when better trained personnel defeat you.

    If the arabs want peace they can stop the abusive and threatening rhetoric , especially mullahs. The only arab country to defeat Israel can trust Israel was Jordan in 1948 and they are the only country which does not continually threaten and abuse Israel.

    In 2000 Camp David Talks, peace was close but Arafat walked away without delivering. Clinton blamed Arafat for their failure . Israel was prepared to compromise , Arafat was not . If the Palestinians want Peace let talks resume under Clinton. The reality is that the leadership of HAMAS and Fatah do not want peace as conflict gives them status. If the leadership resume the talks of 2000 held at Camp Davis and they do not obtain all their demands, then some Palestinians will accuse them f betrayal and they would be at risk from being killed.

  • A Social Liberal – Britain never owned Palestine it just occupied it – just like Israel.

  • Charlie, all your comments might be true but would you agree to imposing a new state of Israel in the area today if it had not had happened in 1948?
    The fact that Israel does exist is a fact we must now accept but as Kerry argues unless people and in particular Israel acknowledge the roots it is very difficult to move forward.

  • Lib Dem Candidate 25th Jul '14 - 12:41pm

    When Turkey’s Ottoman Empire in the Middle East was carved up by the victorious allies after World War One, part of that empire was allocated to Britain by the League of Nations as the Palestine Mandate. In the 1920s, Britain carved off 75% of this Palestine and re-named it as the separate Arab Emirate of Transjordan (from which Jews were constitutionally banned from living), which became an independent state in 1946 as today’s Kingdom of Jordan – so today’s Israel/Palestine’s is only 25% of the Palestine that was entrusted to Britain by the League of Nations, and the other 75% is the Arab state of Jordan.

    Also, the Golan Heights was part of British Palestine until it was exchanged in a 1920s land swap for some other land from French Syria-Lebanon, which is how the Golan Heights came to be part of Syria prior to Israel taking them in 1967 – they had not been part of Syria since time immemorial, as is usually implied in the media.

    Also, the UN in the 1940s allocated the Old City of Jerusalem to international control as “corpus seperatum”, but it was instead illegally occupied by Jordan, who bulldozed the city’s ancient Jewish Quarter (including many synagogues) and expelled the city’s centuries-old Jewish community – in complete contrast to the reality of Jerusalem as a multi-faith city under Israeli control since 1967.

    And please forget any rose-tinted notion of Jews never having been persecuted under Muslim or Arab rule: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_under_Muslim_rule.

    There is a vast flood of violent anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli propaganda (much of it state-sponsored) from Arab countries, which dwarfs anything that Mr Netanyahu might ever have said.

    Hamas is armed and funded by Iran and wants to destroy Israel and its population. Have you seen Hamas’ human rights record regarding how it treats Palestinians living under its rule in Gaza? What do you think life is like for women, LGBT people and other minorities for people living under Hamas in Gaza?

    Israel is responding to missile attacks by bombing the sites from which missiles come, which Hamas has deliberately sited in population centres, under schools and hospitals, etc. Israel’s response is therefore leading to many civilian casualties, which is a tragedy for which Hamas must take a lot of the blame.

    If you cannot see all of this, then you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and are on the wrong side of history.

  • We have to understand that both communities see their national movement as de-colonization of the land:
    Israelis, see themselves as the incarnation of the old Hebrew kingdom which was there from 900 b.c to 70 a.c. (the existence of such a kingdom is agreed by all archeologists and historians). Hence, they consider themselves as “indigenous population”. Israelis point out that Jewish settlement was there in a row at least in parts of the land:
    The Israelis raise the question- What gives the Arabs better right over that land? Maybe there are occupiers very much like the Roman empire? Maybe they should have the same right for Spain (“Andalusia”)? How long should an occupation (and colonization) last before it becomes legitimate?
    Israelis point out, that vast majority of the population in Gaza and the west bank are immigrants, immerging there is the 20th century , here, in the video Hamas’s interior minister says so himself:
    Israelis claim that some 40% of the Jewish population of Israel are Arab Jews, jews expelled from Arab countries:
    So Arab muslims have to right for the land arab jews not?
    And many other points…
    From there narrative – They had a kingdom there, they stayed there for 3,000 years, gained international legitimacy for renewing their sovereignty. However, a population which is composed of mainly immigrants and leftovers for and old colonizing force, can’t recognize their right to exist.
    Factual or not, this is how they see things. Eventually, there are some 6 million jews, and about the same arabs on that piece of land. Only two states for the two nations can help it.

  • Jonathan Brown 26th Jul '14 - 12:52am

    I think I’ll also quote here an exchange I had with an Israeli friend on the subject of the article I’ve linked to above. It’s probably the most interesting comment I’ve seen to date:

    “I agree with what you wrote (the Nine points put all the weight on Israel and very little on the Palestinians, but I can live with that). About the two states versus one state solution – I am torn. I would like to live in a one state, but think that a two state solution is more viable, certainly for the moment. Maybe the most important message to take home: we need to think about creative ideas to overcome the impasse. Maybe two state solution without borders? (btw – if a one state solution is agreed upon – then the settlements stay where they are?) could be an interesting experiment to have two governments for one territory competing for the citizenship of the population – and thus a Jew might prefer to be a Palestinian citizen to get lower taxes, or a palestinian to be an Israeli to get social benefit – sort of like legal pluralism but on a political/national level. I am afraid the two populations are so filled with anger (rightly earned) that they cannot think creatively anymore.”

    My response:

    “…I think I reluctantly have to agree that 2 states is more plausible than 1 at the moment – simply because of all the bitterness. Although the hope of any solution is – or should be – to overcome the bitterness and get to a point where people actually like living with each other. For me the other point is that I think the 2 state solution is so incredibly unlikely to happen, that there’s nothing to lose by supporting a single state solution. If you have a choice between two fantasies, why not pick the better one?

    Oh, and yes – the logic of the single state is that the settlements don’t necessarily need to be removed. There’s obviously a lot of issues around them besides sovereignty – like the theft of land belonging to individual people and the stealing of water resources etc. But certainly it shouldn’t be thought that a settlement would necessarily need to be dismantled completely. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I think a single state solution is not actually so much more fanciful than 2 states. As I understand it lots of the settlers are basically just subsidy junkies, or taking advantage of cheap housing. If money’s what motivates them, they’ll be relatively easy to accommodate in a comprehensive solution. For other very religious settlers for whom ‘the land’ is everything (not necessarily the state of Israel), they may put up a less resistance to a solution that allows them to keep their homes than to one that requires their eviction. Especially if the solution confirms the ‘whole’ of Israel as ‘belonging to the Jews’ – even if the ‘whole of Palestine’ is simultaneously confirmed as belonging to all Palestinians.”

  • @Abdullah
    Excellent points.

    The trouble with those who wish to take either side is that they are forced to read history in a highly selective way, setting wholly arbitrary starting off points as the OP has done.

    Both sides have legitimate grievances but both sides have behaved abominably in pursuit of justice for those grievances.

  • Mike Drew
    Israel occurred because arab land owners sold land and then arab armies lost a war of extermination. Israel was not imposed by anyone.

    What is often ignored is the numbers of arabs who moved into Palestine in the early 20C to work on jewish settlements.

    The arabs need to acknowledge the mistakes they have made. When Arafat supported S Hussein in 1990 over the invasion of Kuwait, walked away from the Camp David Accord of 2000 and Hamas walked away from the Mecca talks under the Saudis, the leadership of the Palestinians snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Palestinians demand support from arab and other muslim counties and then betray them. Arafat once went from Pakistan to India and his statements the country alienated vast numbers of Pakistanis .

    At the moment, Saudis main concern is Iran. HAMAS obtaining support from Iran is hardly likely to do them any favours. Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud has said Saudi Arabia and Israel’s concern of Iran’s nuclear ambitions are almost identical. I hardly imagine HAMAS’ activities are gaining the support of Saudi Arabia .
    Saudi Arabia was extremely angry at the Muslim Bretheren takeover of Egypt. If Palestinians want support from other arab countries then they need to align their interest with them. The two arab countries the Palestinians need support from are Egypt and Saudi Arabia and neither want war with Israel.

    An increasingly large scale Sunni/Shia conflict will only make the Palestinians actions more irritating. All arab countries have killed far more arabs to quell unrest than Israel has killed arabs, so they will only shed crocodile tears over the Palestinians. ISIS , Shia, Alawites and Muslim Brotherhood have killed far more of their fellow arabs than the Israelis have done. Arab leaders only use the Palestinian issue to divert peoples anger away from problems in their own country. As the arab saying goes ” I against my brother, my brother and I against our cousins.”

  • Jonathan Brown 26th Jul '14 - 12:55pm

    @ A Social Liberal and Lib Dem Candidate – both sides can and do pick from history selectively to suppor their cause, but this willful ignorance of history displayed by the ‘there was never any such place as Palestine’ really annoys me.

    So an Imperial power (Britain) agreed with the other Imperial powers (France, US, Italy, Belgium, etc.) with which it had set up the League of Nations to ask itself to take over the Middle East – all in the interests of the locals of course! What honest liberal today would think this an ethical thing to do? It’s not like the locals weren’t demanding self rule!

    The Palestinians spent 3 years fighting against the British for their independence in the 1930s. Perhaps that’s why they weren’t able or keen to join the British Empire to fight for the British Empire during the Second World War?

    It makes no sense at all to present the Palestinians as being somehow selfish for refusing ’75% of Palestine’ in 1947. If you want to argue that a country didn’t exist, it’s TransJordan. The name tells you nearly everything you need to know – it’s the bit of land the other side of the river where hardly anyone lived, that had no resources and that no one was really interested in. (Which is not to denigrate Jordan’s successes today, which are pretty impressive given what it had to start out with.)

    We don’t say that Poles have no right to a country because the lands where they lived were carved up between Germany, Austria and Russia for centuries. So why should we argue the same for Palestinians? Nation states are a relatively new concept, so it’s unfair and illogical to somehow use the lack of them during the period of the non-national Ottoman Empire – which served the residents of Palestine reasonably well for much of the previous 500 years or so – as justification for saying that Palestinians have no right to their land. Again, what liberal thinks that your right to a political identity and to civil and political rights comes purely from the establishment of a certain kind of state?

    To take the liberal argument further; the refugee and land crises that are the heart of this conflict are fundamentally about individual human rights. About the right to property, the right to personal safety, the right to work your land for your own livelihood, etc. Put to one side the argument over whether or not the Palestinians as a people deserve a state. Palestinians as (individual) people should be able to expect that a massive wall won’t be built around their city (e.g. Tulkarem) , cutting them off from their fields which are then stolen by settlements.

    While we’re at it, let’s also – yet again – debunk the myth that the Arab states/armies called upon Palestinians to leave their homes during the war of Israel’s creation. You need look no further than Israeli scholarship (see Benny Morris, etc.) to see that there is no evidence of any such call having been made, and an abundance of evidence that there was a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Zionist/Israeli militias.

  • Suzan Samaha 26th Jul '14 - 2:32pm

    Since all agree that 1. Europe was mainly to blame for the Holocaust, not Palestinians. 2. It was UK who gave Palestine to the Zionist movement to create what is called today Israel that is NOW part of the EU, and 3. USA is so madly in love with both Zionism and Israel they can’t live without them, Why don’t Europe and the US give beautiful empty unused parts of their countries to the Israelis and call it the Un United States of Israel . Seriously just think about it. and just bear in mind that we Palestinians, just like any other people with pride and dignity, even if we forgive, we will not forget. We will always want it back and generation after generation we will always want it back.
    I am from Jenin, Palestine. I was born in Kuwait, after the innovation we ran away to Amman, Jordan and lived their for 15 years like a world class second class citizen. I moved alone to work in Dubai 15 years ago and i am doing really well.
    I love Amman and Dubai like the apples of my eyes. but my heart is in Palestine. I am palestinian and i want to go back. i would leave it all and start over with my people. so do us and humanity a favor and fix your wrongdoing.

  • Tony Dawson 27th Jul '14 - 1:58pm

    @Glenn :

    “Palestine did not exist before 1964 when the PLO was formed. The name is derived from the Roman name for Judea.”

    Funny, my dad gave me some of his dad’s stamp collection including 1920s to 1945 Palestine stamps. The ancient Romans called the whole Holy Land area which they governed ‘Palestinia’ as a way of ‘Europeanising’ it and suppressing what they thought were the dangerous monotheistic and nationalistic elements emerging in the Jordan Valley.

    What many people do not understand is that the Palestinians/Filisti/Falisti were basically ‘Sea People’: Greek/Cretan migrants who, along with the city-state Phoenicians, settled (2000-1200 years BCE) in the coastal lands we now call Lebanon and Israel from the West at about the same time as the monotheist Judeic people arrived in the southern Jordan valley from Mesopotamia by way of Egypt. The Filisti were initially the most succesful warriors as they had superior weaponry. Both groups intermingled with (and fought/slaughtered) the local Caananites, Hittites, Amonites etc – it was a right melting pot.

    The ‘Sea People’ influence spread around the Eastern Mediterranean: Carthage was a Phoenecian colony. Many northern Egyptians are still, ethnically basically ancient Greeks. What is most interesting is that centuries later, a fair chunk of the European Filistia converted to the Muslim faith of the Arabs and Ottomans whereas quite a lot of the Israelites and Judeics (who at one time had a little empire of their own stretching from Hebron to the Euphrates) did not – and those who did convert, got referred to as Palestinians anyway. So, quite a lot among the most ‘Arabic’ ie semitic of present day Palestinians are a lot more ‘Jewish’ racially than a lot of the present day ‘European’ Israelis are. The best European analogies might be between Serbs and Croats: same people basically separated by religion. And any ‘historical’ East/West splitting of these lands between the two principal ‘peoples’ (sic) of the area would be the opposite way around geographically to the way we tend to see on present day maps.

    If we look at the European Jews who swelled the migration to the coastal regions post-1948, mitochondrial DNA studies show that their ancient female line (through which Judaism is inherited) is largely-European, similar to Germans and Poles – yet the males are much more migrants, from Indo-Europeans to Spanish/Moroccan Sepahrdi. Indigenous peoples converted to the religion of the Jewish migrants in a similar way to the way some UK people in our cities in particular are presently converting to Islam. The central settlement of Jews in the middle ages was greatest by far in the area controlled by the Commonwealth of Lithuania-Poland, the largest country in Europe for much of this time and one which never features in any UK history teaching. It stretched from Latvia in the North and took in most of present-day Poland, Lithuania, Byelorus and Ukraine – ie it stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. For many years, this country welcomed Jews being expelled from all sorts of countries, from Spain to Russia, and they became a significant part of its population. The word ‘Polonya’ translates from Hebrew as “Here rests God”. If anywhere ought to have been the ‘Jewish homeland’ it should have been here but both Tsars and Mr Hitler had other ideas. Until the Nazi invasion, the worst treatment which the Jews of this area suffered tended to be at the hands of Russians, starting in the days of the Tsars but continuing to the early 20th Century. When the Russians finally defeated the Austro-Hungarians in the siege of Przemyśl (the biggest Axis defeat in the 1914-18 war), the Russian officers sat and drank coffee in the same Turkish cafes as the Austrian officers who had surrendered to them – to whom they issued passports ‘on their honour’ – and then, on the evening of the Sabbath, they went out into the streets on their horses, looking for Jews heading for the synagogue to give them a whipping as ‘sport’.

    Incidentally, Spain ‘s Cabinet last month promoted a Bill, expected to become law, allowing proven Sepahardic Jews who wish it to be granted Spanish citizenship/dual nationality.

  • Lib Dem Candidate 29th Jul '14 - 8:40am

    @JonathanBrown I have never said that the Palestinians are not entitled to a state of their own – far from it. I have persistently campaigned for the creation of a Palestinian state. The reality is that the history of colonialism in the region (e.g. the Ottoman Empire ruling for hundreds of years, followed by the British) means that has never previously been an independent state called “Palestine”. That most emphatically does not mean that we should not create such a state today. There are millions of people with a national identity as Palestinians. They are entitled to a nation-state.

  • Tony
    But Palestine was never an independent state. I believe it should be,, None of the rest of what you say alters the fact that Israel is now a sovereign state and the reality that Jewish people have roots in the region as deep as anyone elses. And why are you so obsessed with DNA.? The other point is that both Christianity and Islam grew out of Judaism the roots of which are clearly in the Middle East. Plus a couple of your earlier comments about the political importance of New York and Florida imply that Jewish Americans have way more political clout than they in fact have and IMO verge on classical anti-Semitism which links Jewish population to power in a sort weird conspiracy.

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