“If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state,” he says. “Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to coexistence.”
There is no such People as “Palestinians”. They are Arabs.They speak Arabic. There is no discernible difference between “Jordanians”; another non-people, another western creation. The Levant, that land lying between the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea on its west, to Mesopotamia on the east has only been ruled by outsiders for its entire History with the of exception of Israel’s rule. In the rare interludes when no external powers subjugated the region, there were petty city-states, constantly at war with each other. There were Canaanites city states. There were Philistine city states. (The Philistines, the source of the word “Palestinians”, were in fact invaders from the Aegean Sea, ethnically related to Mycenaean Greek culture.) There were Phoenician City-States. We call them “Phoenician” because the Greeks called them that for the Purple dye they were famous for exporting. What did they call themselves? Who knows? Probably Tyrians, Sidonians, or other City-State names. Point being there was NO nation ever called Phoenicia.
There was only one Nation State that arose intrinsically within The Levant; Israel! Other than the aforementioned city-states, Israel and other small groups known only from their Biblical references: Ammonites, Moabites, etc there was NO ONE ELSE!
The brief period of regional autonomy under Israel was destroyed first by Mesopotamian invaders: Assyria, then Neo-Babylonians. Then from the west the Greeks bearing gifts! Alexander brought the Hellenist “enlightenment”. After a brief and tragic attempt under the Maccabees, and the Hasmoneans never again was there an autonomous regional sovereign state in the Levant.
The sad end game of Hasmonean in-fighting was the invitation of Romans to come in to overpower the competitor to the throne. And they came Johnny on the spot! The Romans allowed a brief fiction of an Ethnocracy, or a puppet Kingdom under Roman tutelage. But the bitter fighting between the various Jewish groups (which to the Romans seemed similar to our view of Sunni vs. Shi’ite insanity!), forced (or allowed, no difference) to incorporate the Kingdom into the actual Roman Empire as the Province of Judaea. And Rome fell, in the west; but the Eastern Romans continued on, having become Orthodox Christian. We call them Byzantine. They referred to themselves as Romans. Right up until their fall, under the conquest of the Turks, they had clung to a smaller and smaller area around Constantinople. But before the Turks, the Byzantines fought the Persians, each weakening each other. And it was only then that Mohammedan Jihad burst forth out of Arabia, sweeping all before it. Jerusalem became Arabic. Baghdad ( a new city in that ancient region) was built and the Arab Islamic Caliph ruled from the Mediterranean all the way to Persia. And then from Spain to the eastern edge of Persia. But the Horde of Genghis Khan burst down into this new civilization. The end result was a separated Persia though still within Islam (Shi’ite) and the rival Islamic Ottoman Turks ruling from Istanbul (Constantinople). And, Arabs, the bearers of Islam, had expanded out from the Arabian Peninsula to take power over North Africa, Spain, Egypt, The Levant, Mesopotamia.
So, Arabs are relative newcomers to the ethnic melange of the Levant! In 1917 the British Imperial Army in conjunction with Lawrence of Arabia’s Guerilla Light Calvary threw the Turks out of the Levant. After the Great War the victorious French and British took healthy slices of Ottoman cake for themselves, though under the fig-leaf of Mandate Powers. The French got Syria, from which they carved the artificial creation of Lebanon, a Christian-majority Province, and Syria the Islamic Majority region. Both, were populated by Arabs. The British took Jerusalem and the land called Palestine. (Let me go back. I missed an important point. After the final desperate battles with Rome, Jerusalem was destroyed and renamed Aelia Capitolina. Just as Judea was renamed “Palestine” both as means to obliterate the Israelite connection and memory with The Land.) There has never been a nation called Arabia until the British allocation of the major portion of the Arabian Peninsula to their allies the House Of Saud. But the Brits had also made promises to the Hashemite Tribe of Arabs. So, voila a Kingdom called Jordan was created out of the British Mandate and installed the Hashemite King there. Until that day, Jordan was the name of a river! Lebanon was the name of a mountain range! The people were Arabs. Not Jordanians, not Syrians, not Lebanese, and not Palestinians.
But, the British had also promised the Jews a homeland in “Palestine” (the name of the mandate, derived from the name of the Ottoman province which was derived from the Roman deliberate attempt at ethnic cleansing the region of all signs of Judaism.) Jews had been drifting down on their own from the Russian Empire and eastern Europe for about a century even before the defeat of the Turks. But, after WWI, the Jews pestered the British to make good their promises. But the Arabs of course resisted the influx of Jews. The Shoa of WWII made the need for a sovereign nation-state for Jews self-evident. Thus Jews were trying to escape Europe. British attempts at blocking the immigrants created civil war with Jewish Militants who were NEVER AGAIN going to go peacefully again! Finally the Brits decided to leave and let the Jews and Arabs in that part of “Palestine” that remained after the creation of the Arab Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
So who are the “Palestinians”? They are the Arabs who remained in the British Mandate territory of Palestine, which was the part left over from the establishment of the Arab Kingdom of Trans-Jordan. The British divided their Levantine Mandate called “Palestine” into an Arabic Trans-Jordan Kingdom, and a Jewish Homeland in the remainder.
I the wake of the wars of the 20th century mass migrations were commonplace. Muslims out of India, Hindus out of Pakistan. Greeks out of Turkey, Turks out of Greece. Germans out of Poland. And parts of Germany were given to Poland, so Poles moved west, and Russians moved east into Poland. Etc.
Jews were ejected from every Arab nation, and went to Israel. But the very few Arabs who had existed in the coastal strip awarded to Israel were steadfastly rooted. Though MOST of them had come to the area when the Jews made the desert bloom and created a modern economy. Jews were evicted from Arab nations after they were exterminated in Europe, or forced to leave. The Arabs in that land deliberately misnamed “Palestine” by Romans would not budge. They suddenly became known as Palestinians! But there was never a nation called Palestine. And the basis of the word refers to an Aegean People , the Philistines who had come from the sea, and melted away into the mist of history.
But even that sliver of a coastal strip given to the Jews was intolerable to the Arabs. So the Arabs attacked. The variously named states which were creations of Britain and France, were but one people, Arabs. And if they had won, would there have been much of a world complaint at a final, final solution? Nah!
But they won! And conquered the part of “Trans-Jordan” that was across the Jordan. The West-Bank was ruled from Amman by the Hashemite King of Jordan. Thus the people there were “Jordanians”. Suddenly they became Palestinians!
There was never, a people called Palestinians. The state of Trans-Jordan was to be the Arab portion of the British mandate; period! The rest was Israel. A war was launched, and Israel won! The lands of Judea and Samaria were the heartland of the Kingdom of Israel! And the Tribes of Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh were in Gilead and Bashan. These were on the East Bank! Perhaps Israel should begin to refer these areas as The East bank?