Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Palestinian Issue - Independence? 2-State Solution? British created problem? UN membership?

Palestinian issue - what exactly is Malaysia's position? [Do read the 2 attached articles to get a better understanding...]

Does Malaysia accept the 2-state solution? Note, that many in the region do not agree to this - wanting a 1 Palestinian state...

If yes, should not Malaysia at least be calling for Israel to immediately leave the occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank including East Jerusalem, and full independence be granted to Palestine - West Bank and Gaza?

Should not the UN be pressured to give Palestine full membership status?

Should not the UN immediately place UN peace-keeping forces, to ensure peace in the liberated areas? Or maybe a 'buffer' UN Force will end/deter violence and rights violations.

Again the bombing of Gaza shifts the focus to Gaza..away from the Palestinian issue - the long standing issue in this region...and focus goes to 'humanitarian aid' and 'ceasefire'...

We need to remember that this region was part of the Ottoman Empire that fell to the allied forces after World War 1 - and the land was divided between 3 countries, and Palestine was obtained by the British....then, it was the British that decided to 'facilitate' the creation of a Jewish nation state... hence disrupting a multi-religious multi-ethnic community living in peace and respect - into religious-ethnically divided states.... same thing they did to India, did they not?

This British position (i.e. through the Balfour Declaration) facilitated the migration of Jews from Europe and other places, even before WW II into the region. The new Jews, being the non-Palestinian Jews, may today be the majority amongst the Jews in the region...  

Now, the protest is happening all over including in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territory of West Bank, and also in Israel itself....

Has this got anything to do with the upcoming Palestinian General Elections...(this we will discuss later).

The bombing of Gaza DIVERTS attention from the 'forced eviction' happening in East Jerusalem and other occupied territories, from the 'illegal resettlement' plans/activities of Israeli Jews (possibly to change the ethnic/religious demography) of East Jerusalem and parts of the occupied territories that Israel may have plans to absorb into everyone is talking about 'ceasefire' and 'humanitarian aid to Gaza' ????

See also

Muhyidin's statement on Palestine is not sufficient to address 'forced eviction' of Palestinians, illegal settlement of Israelis and other fundamental issues?

Israel-Palestine conflict: What is two-state solution India spoke about at UNSC?

The two-state solution if adopted could provide a security blanket to people of both Israel and Palestine.

A violent confrontation is underway between Israel and Palestine. (Source: Reuters)
Infographic: Reuters









The Israel-Palestine tension has turned into a violent confrontation leaving the international community worried. Israel has warned of escalating its attack on Palestine. India, at the UN Security Council, has called for peaceful resolution of Israel-Palestine batting for a two-state solution.

The two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine question has been in conversation for long. In 2016, the then US secretary of state John Kerry had termed it “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians”.

What is the Two-State Solution?

In the simplest terms, the two-state solution talks about providing two separate territories to people of two nations — Israel and Palestine — having different ethnicities and languages. It talks of establishing an independent Palestinian alongside Israel providing Tel Aviv security and a Jewish demographic while granting Palestinians a state over their heads.

The goal has also been the official line of policy for the United States and the United Nations, the two most dominant forces around the conflict.

A bone of contention between Israel and Palestine has been the status of Jerusalem. (Reuters)

While the two-state solution is simple to understand, its execution has been equally difficult owing to issues arising at the unsettled borders. There is no consensus on where exactly to draw the line between the two countries.

Independent experts believe that a border should be drawn on the basis of the Arab-Israel war of 1967. But Israel has constructed barriers along and within the West Bank pushing its territorial limits farter. The Jewish settlements along these lines are a major challenge to demarcate a boundary as Palestine views that those settlements are on its territory.

Another bone of contention between Israel and Palestine has been the status of Jerusalem, which both sides aim to declare as their capital. The two-state solution calls for dividing Jerusalem into an Israeli west and a Palestinian east part. However, the presence of Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites at one place makes it a difficult affair to execute.

The two-state solution if adopted could provide a security blanket to people of both Israel and Palestine. For Israel, it could mean an end to continuous worry of a full-blown takeover of the West Bank by Hamas, and for Palestine, it could end foreign military occupation.

Israel's Iron Dome system destroying Hamas rockets in skies. (Photo: Reuters)

US policies and failure of Abraham Accords

The situation turned from bad to worse during Donald Trump's presidency in the US. Trump supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline policies severing the US’s ties with Palestine and moving away from the decade-old more nuanced diplomatic stand on the conflict.

Trump also allowed the expansion of Jewish settlements in the disputed areas. While President Joe Biden has termed Donald Trump's policies as "destructive", he is yet to reverse those policies.

The Trump administration brokered Abraham Accords — a joint statement by Israel, the UAE, and the US issued in 2020, and which became a model for Israel inking similar deals with Arab countries.

Former US President Donald Trump with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Reuters)

The Abraham Accords aimed at recognising Israel as a country and to switch some of the age-old Palestinian supporters in the Arab world towards Tel Aviv. Israel managed to find recognition for its existence through the accords with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. They have failed to draw Palestine to the negotiation table that was once a nuanced approach.

Benjamin Netanyahu himself supported the two-state solution in 2009. However, over the years, his policies have become more hardline.

India’s position on Israel-Palestine dispute

India has deepened its ties with Israel in recent decades but it has supported a two-state solution for longer period while calling for an end to the violence. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti during a UN Security Council meeting on "the situation in the Middle East" on Sunday said, "The events of the last several days have resulted in a sharp deterioration of the security situation."

"Immediate de-escalation is the need of the hour, so as to arrest any further slide towards the brink. We urge both sides to show extreme restraint, desist from actions that exacerbate tensions, and refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhood,” Tirumurti said.

Tirumurti said India condemned the indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel. He said the retaliatory strikes into Gaza have caused immense suffering and resulted in deaths, including of women and children.

"Immediately resume direct dialogue, create conducive conditions, support just Palestinian cause and two-State solution," Tirumurti said. - India Today, 17/5/2021

How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

100 years since Balfour’s “promise”, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.


Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons. 

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour was, and how his “declaration” all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with “martyrs”.  

‘Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people’ [Getty Images]

Decades later, destiny would lead me to visit the Whittingehame Church, a small parish in which Arthur James Balfour is now buried.  

While my parents and grandparents are buried in a refugee camp, an ever-shrinking space under a perpetual siege and immeasurable hardship, Balfour’s resting place is an oasis of peace and calmness. The empty meadow all around the church is large enough to host all the refugees in my camp.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians.

Finally, I became fully aware of why Balfour was a “bad person”.   

Once Britain’s Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary from late 1916, Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people. That promise was made on November 2, 1917, on behalf of the British government in the form of a letter sent to the leader of the Jewish community in Britain, Walter Rothschild.  

At the time, Britain was not even in control of Palestine, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Either way, my homeland was never Balfour’s to so casually transfer to anyone else. His letter read: 

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”  

He concluded, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”  

Ironically, members of the British parliament have declared that the use of the term “Zionist” is both anti-Semitic and abusive.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians. Worse, it is now busy attempting to control the very language used by Palestinians to identify those who have deprived them of their land and freedom.  

But the truth is, not only was Rothschild a Zionist, Balfour was, too. Zionism, then, before it deservedly became a swear word, was a political notion that Europeans prided themselves to be associated with.

In fact, just before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared, before the Conservative Friends of Israel meeting, that he, too, was a Zionist. His successor, Theresa May, even celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration, ‘with pride’.

To some extent, being a Zionist remains a rite of passage for some Western leaders.  

A rally in Beirut commemorating the Balfour declaration in 1945 [Getty Images]

Balfour was hardly acting on his own. True, the Declaration bears his name, yet, in reality, he was a loyal agent of an empire with massive geopolitical designs, not only concerning Palestine alone but with Palestine as part of a larger Arab landscape.  

Just a year earlier, another sinister document was introduced, albeit secretly. It was endorsed by another top British diplomat, Mark Sykes and, on behalf of France, by François Georges-Picot. The Russians were informed of the agreement, as they too had received a piece of the Ottoman cake.  

The document indicated that, once the Ottomans were soundly defeated, their territories, including Palestine, would be split among the prospective victorious parties. 

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was signed in secret 102 years ago, two years into World War I. It signified the brutal nature of colonial powers that rarely associated land and resources with people that lived upon the land and owned those resources.  

The centrepiece of the agreement was a map that was marked with straight lines by a china graph pencil. The map largely determined the fate of the Arabs, dividing them in accordance with various haphazard assumptions of tribal and sectarian lines.  

Once the war was over, the loot was to be divided into spheres of influence:  

  • France would receive areas marked (a), which included: the region of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq – including Mosel, most of Syria and Lebanon. 
  • British-controlled areas were marked with the letter (b), which included: Jordan, southern Iraq, Haifa and Acre in Palestine and a coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. 
  • Russia would be granted Istanbul, Armenia and the strategic Turkish Straits.  

The improvised map consisted not only of lines but also colours, along with language that attested to the fact that the two countries viewed the Arab region purely on materialistic terms, without paying the slightest attention to the possible repercussions of slicing up entire civilizations with a multifarious history of co-operation and conflict.

The agreement read, partly:  

“… in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.”  

The brown area, however, was designated as an international administration, the nature of which was to be decided upon after further consultation among Britain, France and Russia.  The Sykes-Picot negotiations finished in March 1916 and were official, although secretly signed on May 19, 1916. World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, after which the division of the Ottoman Empire began in earnest.  

British and French mandates were extended over divided Arab entities, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement a year later, when Balfour conveyed the British government’s promise, sealing the fate of Palestine to live in perpetual war and turmoil. 

The idea of Western “peacemakers” and “honest-brokers”, who are very much a party in every Middle Eastern conflict, is not new. British betrayal of Arab aspirations goes back many decades. They used the Arabs as pawns in their Great Game against other colonial contenders, only to betray them later on, while still casting themselves as friends bearing gifts.  

Nowhere else was this hypocrisy on full display as was in the case of Palestine. Starting with the first wave of Zionist Jewish migration to Palestine in 1882, European countries helped to facilitate the movement of illegal settlers and resources, where the establishment of many colonies, large and small, was afoot.    

So when Balfour sent his letter to Rothschild, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was very much plausible.

Still, many supercilious promises were being made to the Arabs during the Great War years, as self-imposed Arab leadership sided with the British in their war against the Ottoman Empire. Arabs were promised instant independence, including that of the Palestinians.  

The understanding among Arab leaders was that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was to apply to Arab provinces that were ruled by the Ottomans. Arabs were told that they were to be respected as “a sacred trust of civilisation”, and their communities were to be recognised as “independent nations”.  

Palestinians wanted to believe that they were also included in that civilisation sacredness, and were deserving of independence, too. Their conduct in support of the Pan-Arab Congress, as voting delegates in July 1919, which elected Faisal as a King of a state comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria, and their continued support of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, were all expressions of their desire for the long-coveted sovereignty.

When the intentions of the British and their rapport with the Zionists became too apparent, Palestinians rebelled, a rebellion that has never ceased, 99 years later, for the horrific consequences of British colonialism and the eventual complete Zionist takeover of Palestine are still felt after all these years.  

Paltry attempts to pacify Palestinian anger were to no avail, especially after the League of Nations Council in July 1922 approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine – which was originally granted to Britain in April 1920 – without consulting the Palestinians at all, who would disappear from the British and international radar, only to reappear as negligible rioters, troublemakers, and obstacles to the joint British-Zionist colonial concoctions.  

Despite occasional assurances to the contrary, the British intention of ensuring the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine was becoming clearer with time.

The Balfour Declaration was hardly an aberration, but had, indeed, set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed, three decades later. 

The Balfour Declaration set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed three decades later [Getty Images]

In his book, Before Their Diaspora, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi captured the true collective understanding among Palestinians regarding what had befallen their homeland nearly a century ago: “The Mandate, as a whole, was seen by the Palestinians as an Anglo-Zionist condominium and its terms as instruments for the implementation of the Zionist programme; it had been imposed on them by force, and they considered it to be both morally and legally invalid. The Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population and owned the bulk of the land. Inevitably, the ensuing struggle centred on this status quo. The British and the Zionists were determined to subvert and revolutionise it, the Palestinians to defend and preserve it.”  

In fact, that history remains in constant replay: The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it “Israel”; the British continue to support them, although never ceasing to pay lip service to the Arabs; the Palestinian people remain a nation that is geographically fragmented between refugee camps, in the diaspora, militarily occupied, or treated as second-class citizens in a country upon which their ancestors dwelt since time immemorial.  

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunes that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief but infamous letter, the notion that his “promise” embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arab people – is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism is also spread across generations.

In his essay in Al-Ahram Weekly, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation”, the late Professor Edward Said wrote: “Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine.

The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”  

That inequality continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place. 

One hundred years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

One hundred years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

This page was first published at the 99th anniversary of the Balfour declaration and has been updated since.

Source: Al Jazeera, 10/4/2018


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