Arabs Always Rejected the Idea of a Home for Jews, and They Still Do

(The Australian) Peter Wertheim - This year is peppered with landmark anniversaries of key events in the history of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors. A lesser known but no less important date is July 7, the 80th anniversary of the publication of the report of the Palestine Royal Commission, established by Britain under the chairmanship of Lord William Peel. It was this report in 1937, not the UN report on which the General Assembly based its famous resolution a decade later, that contained the first official recommendation in favor of partition based on the principle of two states for two peoples. The Commission found "while neither race can justly rule all Palestine, we see no reason why each race should not rule part of it ... If (partition) offers neither party all it wants, it offers each what it wants most, namely freedom and security." The Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shocked the commissioners with his extremism when he suggested that most of the existing Jewish population of Palestine should be forced to leave the country or be exterminated. When asked whether he thought the 400,000 Jews already living in Palestine could be assimilated into the country, he gave a one-word answer: "No." The Peel Commission recommended partitioning the land into separate Arab and Jewish states, and creating an international zone from Jaffa on the coast up to and including Jerusalem. The plan was never implemented. The Arab leaders met in Damascus and resolved that partition would be rejected outright. This rejectionist attitude sadly persists and remains at the core of the conflict. 400 surveys carried out by five Palestinian research centers in regular polls in the West Bank and Gaza has shown that during the past 20 years 70 percent of Palestinians have continued to seek an immediate end of the State of Israel. No peace initiative can succeed until this attitude changes fundamentally. Peter Wertheim is executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

2017-06-07 00:00:00

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