Indy peddles myth Palestinians compromised in accepting ‘22% of Palestine’

An op-ed  (pay wall) in the Independent by their former Jerusalem correspondent Donald Macintyre (“No, the Israel-UAE deal does not mean Europe can turn its back on the Palestinians”, Aug. 19) is the latest example of a media outlet promoting the Palestinian dissent on the otherwise widely applauded UAE-Israel peace accord.

In his piece, Macintyre relies on the analysis of veteran Palestinian spokesperson and negotiator Hanan Ashrawi:

[Ashrawi’s] message was clear about the deal in which the UAE has promised Israel the recognition which, like all other Arab states apart from Jordan and Egypt, it had withheld, pending a just peace with the Palestinians.She was clear that it is a betrayal of her people. And Benjamin Netanyahu’s “suspension” of the threat to formally annex large parts of the West Bank doesn’t alter that.

[Palestinians including Ashrawi] believe they made a huge historic compromise by agreeing to a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, or 22 per cent of historic Palestine – which is also the stated policy of the EU – and Britain.

It’s true that Palestinian leadership has been deficient. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, might have engaged with the Trump plan (which would lop off about a third of that 22 per cent) by explaining in more detail to the world how far it fell below the minimum needed for a sustainable state.

By uncritically citing Ashrawi’s claim that a Palestinian state in even 100% the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem would be a big compromise, as it represents a measly 22 per cent of “historic Palestine”, Macintyre is egregiously misleading readers.

There was never, at any point in history, a sovereign Palestinian state, and in fact Palestinian national identity (as a unique nationalist movement separate from Arab or tribal identities) is only a 20th century phenomenon.

The implicit suggestion of the “Palestinian compromise” narrative, that a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem is only 22% of ‘their historical homeland’, falsely suggests that the entire land, from ‘the river to the sea’, is and always was Palestinian, and that any Jewish state on this land is a “compromise” of their rights to all of it..

The truth is, however, that Israel has conceded most of their “historic land” as promised to them by the 1922 Mandate for Palestine – arguably the earliest modern legal codification of an area known as “Palestine”.

As this map, by Shany Mor at The Tower, shows, Palestinian political control of the land since 1946 (or, since the Balfour Declaration in 1917, for that matter) was zero, but now, because of Israeli concessions and territorial withdrawal, encompasses all of Gaza and major population centers in the West Bank.

Moreover, in addition to 1947 UN Partition Plan rejected by Arab leaders, Israeli peace offers in 2000, 2008, and 2020 (the Trump peace plan), which Palestinian leaders similarly rejected, would have increased the amount of territory – and the degree of control they have over it – beyond what’s illustrated in the final map.

Palestinians can’t justifiably be seen as “compromising” for relinquishing their claim to all of “historic Palestine”, and PA leaders such as Ashrawi clearly need reminding that – regardless of the objective merits of their current territorial demands – they didn’t lose 78% of their land for the simple reason that you can’t lose land you never had control of in the first place.

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  1. says: Neil C

    The Palestinians will only be content when they succeed in fulfilling their mantra from the river etc, any fool knows that they are deluded if they continue to allow themselves to be brainwashed via U.N.W.R.A. and their Islamist leaders into believing that to be possible. Israel is one of the top ten military powers in the world, it is time for the Palestinian leadership to accept what is offered as Israel did in 1947 in accepting 23% of the British Mandate, but their leaders’ thirst for swelling their personal bank accounts from free handouts is too compelling for them to consider their impoverished citizens.

  2. says: AKUS

    Britain, as the Mandatory Power over not just Mandatory Palestine, but most of the Middle East along with France (” the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in which the French agreed with the British to the creation of independent Arab states after the war subject to British and French spheres of influence”) had the right and power to allocate the area as it wished, and did.

    In a meeting with King Faisel in Jerusalem in 1923, Colonial Secretary Churchill and Faisel divided the area of Gaza, today’s Israel, and the West Bank (“cis-Jordan) and today’s Kingdom of Jordan (Trans-Jordan), all of which had no international boundaries or national identities, between a future Jewish State and the huge area of today’s Kingdom of Jordan.

    Eastern Palestine thus came under Arab rule as Trans-Jordan, with Abdullah as Emir, just as the Kingdom of Iraq was conjured out of Mesopotamia and two other provinces for Abdullah’s brother, Faisal. The Hashemites got more than they deserved out of their bargain with the British, but were unable to deliver the promises they had made to support the Zionist policy set out in the British Mandate. Central to the mission statement in Churchill’s White Paper, laying out the policies of the Mandate, was the British commitment to building a Jewish Homeland in Western Palestine, which today includes Israel, Gaza and Judea and Samaria, called the “West Bank” by Jordanians after 1949. When the Churchill White Paper was approved by the League Of Nations on July 22 1922, the right of Jews to live in the whole of Western Palestine and to create an independent Jewish National Home was recognised under international law.

  3. says: AKUS

    Note that there can be no more ability to deny Israel’s right to the entire Gaza-Israel-West Bank area than to deny the right to have countries called Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and even Iran.

    All of these were created by the League of Nations approval for the Franco-Anglo division of the ME in 1922 following the San Remo Conference.

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