Palestine has indicated that it would end all historic claims against Israel once they establish their state in the lands Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War. The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 War. Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, but about a half-million Israelis have settled in the other war-won areas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a state and, if it did, Israel "might" resume peace talks. Netanyahu is stalling. As Mahmoud Abbas noted, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which Abbas heads, recognized each other in 1993.
Israel must be pleased with the U.S. mid-term election results; it means there will be less pressure on Israel to resume peace negotiations. Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party generally love Republicans.
Let's look back a bit. At the creation of Israel in 1947 the United Nations partitioned the land, allotting the Jews 55-percent of Palestine. The Arabs did not agree to this partition. The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established; namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs -- who formed a two-thirds majority of the country -- the right to decide for themselves, the UN had violated its own charter.
Most of the Zionists accepted the partition resolution because they were convinced that the crucial issue at that time was to establish a firm foundation for Jewish sovereignty. However, in closed meetings, the Zionists, including David Ben-Gurion, never concealed their intention to expand at the first opportunity the territory given to the Jews. That is why the Declaration of Independence did not define the state's borders and Israel has not defined its borders to this day.
"Zionism" as used in this article means a political movement concerned principally with the establishment of a state in Palestine to be controlled by and for Jews. Zionism seeks to dominate all of Palestine
While the Yishuv's leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large segments of Israel's society -- including David Ben-Gurion -- were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition. From early on they viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state's borders beyond the UN-earmarked partition boundaries, and at the expense of the Palestinians. In fact, as early as 1938, Ben-Gurion stated...
"After we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine." In 1948, Menachem Begin declared, "The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever."
In the war of 1967, Egypt did not attack Israel. Rather, Israel conducted a pre-emptive strike against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. After the war, the remaining Palestinian territory was captured by Israel. Out of this captured land, Israel created the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by chopping up the land into isolated enclaves surrounded by Jewish settlements and Israeli occupation forces. The Palestinians lost 78-percent of their land to Israel and are left with 22-percent.
Israel has erected a wall or fence, which cuts deep into Palestinian territory, joining large Jewish settlement blocks to Israel, further confining the Palestinians to isolated enclaves. And Israel continues to establish new settlements (called outposts), demolishing homes and uprooting plantations in the process.
Under the UN's Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. Therefore, even if Israel's action were to be considered defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is unlawful.
Since Israel instituted a strict closure policy in 2000, the Palestinian economy has been on a downward trend. Fuel, electricity and materials to maintain water and sanitation are under Israeli control. The lack of investment in public infrastructure and private enterprises is eroding the limited remaining Palestinian economic base. The economic blockade has devastated the Gaza private sector and driven almost all industrial producers out of business. The poverty rate in Gaza and the West Bank is estimated to be 70-percent and 37-percent respectively. The unemployment rate is about 19-percent in the West Bank and about 40-percent in Gaza. Since the international condemnation of Israel's attack on the Gaza flotilla, Israel has eased the Gaza blockade somewhat.
It should be clear that Israel's ultimate goal is to take over the entire country and to drive out the non-Jewish population. Thus, Palestine has no choice but to unilaterally appeal to the international community for recognition of an independent Palestinian state. After all, it was the UN who partitioned Palestine in 1947 without the Palestine Arab's consent. What better forum is there to debate Palestine's quest for an independent state with or without the consent of Israel or Hamas? Otherwise, Palestine's hope for an independent nation will die the death of a thousands cuts.
For more information
on the history of this conflict, see The Origins of the Palestinian-Israel Conflict
by Jews for Justice in the Middle East.