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Op-ed

The truth about 'Palestine' and Israel's modern borders

The non-revisionist history.

Ramez Habboub/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Left detests Israel's right to sovereignty and a secure border as much as they detest our own. Following the release of President Trump's peace plan, the raging Left passed around a graphic on the internet attempting to depict Israel as gradually "stealing" land from a supposed Arab Muslim "Palestinian" state. The reality is just the opposite. And it's time to set the record straight.

There is no such thing as a Muslim "Palestinian" state

There is no such thing as a Palestinian ethnicity, at least not in the way the term is used in geopolitical parlance. Palestine is not an Arab term, nor does the term "Palestinian" accurately identify the Arabs living in modern-day Israel, including in Judea and Samaria. The term originated from the Romans, who captured ancient Judea (which was Jewish, not Arab) almost 2,000 years ago. The Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed the Jewish kingdom of Judea "Philistia" after the ancient Philistines (Plishtim in old Hebrew), a pagan group of Aegeans who moved to what is modern-day Gaza during the times of the Canaanites, referred to throughout the Bible as a nemesis to the Jewish people.

In more modern history, the Holy Land was a no-man's-land under control of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. There never was an Arab Palestinian state in the Holy Land, and all the land west of the Jordan River, including Gaza, was originally earmarked for the Jewish state under the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago. That plan was adopted by the Allied powers and the League of Nations in 1920 and 1922. On Sept. 21, 1922, President Warren Harding signed H.J. Res. 322, which formally adopted the Mandate for Palestine as official U.S. policy.

The committee report from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 1922 recognized the fact that the land had become desolate, and the committee laid the blame at the feet of the "deplorable" Ottoman Turks. The report observed that the Jews were already rehabilitating the conditions of the people living there from the "wanton and deplorable policy of desolation systemically carried out by its rulers, the Turks, for centuries." And: "What was once the land of milk and honey, has become, through misrule and oppression, a devastated and sparsely settled land."

(For more on what both Republicans and Democrats said in 1922 of Jewish control over the Holy Land, read here.)

The notion that there was a large native Arab populace indigenous to the Holy Land is completely unfounded. The Jews, on the other hand, had a presence in the land for over 3,000 years, long before the advent of Islam.

The idea that an Arab Palestinian label has any legal or historical legitimacy was clearly eschewed by officials of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in its early days. In an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw on March 31, 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Moshen said the following:

The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism. (James Dorsey, Wij zijn alleen Palestijn om politieke reden, Trouw, 31 March 1977.)

Fast-forward 38 years, and the term "Palestinian" is at the root of the near-unanimous global clamor to create an Arab nation-state west of the Jordan River – something that has never existed in either modern or ancient history.

The non-revisionist history of modern Israeli borders

After World War I and the defeat of the Turks, when the Allied powers were first forming nation-states in the Middle East, they earmarked modern-day Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia as Arab Muslim states. Modern-day Lebanon was to be a Christian state, and the "Palestine Mandate" – which included modern-day Israel and Jordan — was to be used for a Jewish state.

However, due to tremendous Arab pressure, they established in 1922 all of the land to the east of the Jordan River as the Emirate of Transjordan, essentially excluding 77% of the original Mandate of Palestine from the Jewish state. It became a full-fledged Arab state in 1946, just two years before the creation of modern-day Israel. As former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat said in a 1974 interview with the New Republic, "What you call Jordan is actually Palestine." That is your "Palestinian" state.

Lebanon was soon gobbled up by the same Islamists, beginning a slow bleed of the Christians living there in the ensuing decades.

To this day, the only binding resolution of international law that has never been countermanded is this 1922 Mandate for Palestine. The territory under the Palestine Mandate, along with Iraq, was given to Britain as a temporary trustee, based on the resolution between the four principal Allied powers in April 1920 at the San Remo conference in Italy, which was signed by 51 nations.

Once the League of Nations was disbanded and the United Nations took its place, the member states agreed to maintain all agreements and not "alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties" (Article 80, U.N. Charter). The Mandate for Palestine adopted by the League of Nations was the last legally binding document pertaining to the parceling out of the Holy Land. In Article 5 of the mandate, it explicitly states, "The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power."

Accordingly, to this very day, all Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are legal, while all unauthorized Arab settlements are illegal.

It's not about land; it's about jihad

The binding agreement from the League of Nations never came to fruition on the ground because the Islamic supremacist ideology of the local Muslim leaders wouldn't allow Jews to live in peace and establish a state in the remaining 23% of the mandate, land that is 1/640th the size of modern-day Muslim lands.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, local Arabs and their surrounding neighbors fomented a violent jihad against the Jews living in their own homeland. The riots were incited by Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Hussein, a close ally of Hitler who was eventually expelled from the region and fled to Germany. After much turmoil and Arab rioting, in 1947, the U.N. recommended a plan via nonbinding Resolution 181 to partition off most of the land to the west of the Jordan River for a new Arab state and a tiny swath of non-contiguous land, mainly along the Mediterranean coast, for a Jewish state. Those borders were indefensible, and the crafters of the plan knew it. That was the point.

Yet Israeli leaders were willing to accept it. Their Arab neighbors, though, were not willing to accept anything short of annihilating the Jewish presence in the region. By rejecting this recommendation, which was nonbinding to begin with, the Arabs permanently lost any legal or moral grounds for demanding another state west of the Jordan River.

In 1948, the neighboring countries launched what Arab League Secretary General Azzam Pasha referred to as "a war of extermination" against the Jews. After over a year of fighting, God's providence allowed a ragtag group of Jewish militia forces to fight off the forces of the Arab Legion, gaining them more breathing room in the South and Galilee. Israel now grew to 6.7% of the original Balfour proposal and 30% of the 1922 Mandate.

While Jordan remained in control of Judea and Samaria and Egypt conquered the Gaza Strip, the Arab communities in those areas – many of whom had recently immigrated to those territories – never established a unique Arab "Palestinian" state or expressed a desire to do so. Those territories always remained under the control of Jordan and Egypt. Meanwhile, no nation recognized Jordan's occupation of Judea and Samaria and its renaming those territories as the "West Bank" (of Jordan), because it was completely illegal. The Jordanians and Egyptians also expelled all the Jews who had lived there for generations.

This was important in setting the stage for the next major war, in 1967, in which Jordan and Egypt lost those territories to Israel in yet another war of aggression. Once again, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria sought to destroy Israel and wipe out every Jew in the land. But in a matter of six days, God performed one of the greatest miracles in the modern era, and the collective Arab armies were kicked out of the entire area. Egypt lost the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, Syria lost the Golan Heights, and Jordan lost "the West Bank."

Beginning in the 1970s, after another failed attempt to destroy Israel in the Yom Kippur War, the jihadists switched tactics. Rather than try to destroy Israel with conventional forces from neighboring countries, they promoted Yasser Arafat, and the PLO began to foment this myth of a distinct Arab "Palestinian" entity entitled to statehood west of the Jordan River – outside the original "Palestinian" state of Jordan (comprising 77% of the Palestine Mandate). Thanks to leftist policies in Israel and beginning with President Clinton, we began recognizing Arafat, the modern-day architect of jihad, as a "man of peace." It took 10 years for our government to finally realize that this monster wasn't a man of peace. Yet nearly two decades later, our government still recognized his deputy, Abbas, as a "man of peace," until the Trump administration finally reversed policy.

And as they say, the rest is history.

This illusion of a Palestinian people and state is what is driving the push for Israel to surrender the remainder of Judea and Samaria after it has already ceded well over 90% of the lands it won in defensive wars – from Sinai and Gaza to south Lebanon.

Then again, who are we trying to convince? These are the same people who have no problem with violent drug cartels, every bit as violent as Hamas, controlling our own border.

One last thing…
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