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Why Can’t the Palestinians Have a State?
After the Arabs lost the West Bank and Gaza to the Jewish state in 1967, they denied Israel’s right to exist—as well as the prospect of a Palestinian state.
When Israel defeated five invading Arab armies in 1967, it drove Jordan from eastern Jerusalem and the Jewish homelands of Judea and Samaria (later known as the West Bank) and repulsed Egypt from Gaza. Shortly thereafter, the Arab League issued its famous Khartoum Resolution: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with it.” Since then, despite numerous Israeli offers of land for a Palestinian state, the Arabs continue to reject peace.
What are the facts?
Despite having lost wars to Israel in 1947, 1967 and 1973, all Arab nations—except Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994—have steadfastly refused to accept peace with the Jews, denied the existence of a Jewish state and rejected all offers of land by Israel for a Palestinian state. Indeed, Israel, backed by the U.S., has made several bold, groundbreaking land-for-peace offers to the Palestinians: In 2000 and in 2007 Israel offered about 95% of the land it captured in 1967, plus a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. In 2005, Israel also unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, leaving it under Palestinian control.
Why then have the Arabs rejected peace with Israel, and why is there still no Palestinian state? In 1964, the Arab League embraced the charter of Yasser Arafat’s new Palestine Liberation Organization, which held that a) Palestinians had rights to the entire region of Palestine, b) Jews who had arrived in Palestine after 1917 were occupying Arab land and c) “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.” In 1967, following the Arabs’ humiliating defeat by Israel, the Arab League issued its “Three No’s of Khartoum,” denying Israel’s right to exist and any desire for peace.
This ingrained Arab claim to absolute ownership of all the territory of Palestine—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea—and the absolute rejection of a Jewish state has persisted since Israel’s war for independence in 1948. Indeed, when Palestinian politicians speak of ending “Israeli occupation,” they are referring to Jewish occupation of present-day Israel.
Today in Palestinian public schools, students are taught that they will return to their “homes” in what is now Israel—even though these children and 95% of their parents have never lived in Israel. Palestinian news media and school books only show maps of “Palestine” encompassing all of Israel.
Likewise, Palestinians have maintained an implacable commitment to the “liberation of Palestine”—meaning all Arab and Israeli territories—through violence. Even the so- called moderate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank regularly celebrates “martyrs” who murder innocent Israelis. In 2010 the Palestinian government named a town square for Dalal Mughrabi, the female jihadi who in 1978 helped hijack a bus and massacre 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children. Most recently, Palestinian leaders praised the Arab man who killed a 3-month-old Jewish baby at a train station in Jerusalem.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to a Palestinian state is the terror group Hamas. Now part of the ruling Palestinian coalition government, Hamas continues to stand—and act—on its original covenant of 1988 to “obliterate” Israel, “fight Jews and kill them,” and “raise the banner of Allah” over every inch of Muslim lands. Hamas’s charter also specifically rejects “so-called peaceful solutions.” No wonder Hamas has launched more than 15,000 rockets at Israel and engaged in outright wars in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
Though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has—at the insistence of American Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama—participated in several rounds of peace talks with Israel, he has been unwilling to relent on deal- breaking demands that would make peace and a Palestinian state possible. For example, Abbas has refused to back off the Palestinian demand that as many as five million Arabs—descendants of refugees from Israel’s 1948 war of independence—be allowed to “return” to Israel, a land most have never seen. Most importantly, Abbas refuses to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish homeland.
When we look for an answer as to why the Palestinians can’t have a state, the preponderance of evidence compels one to conclude that they don’t want a state. Palestinian actions and rhetoric demonstrate in any case that they are unwilling to accept a state next to the Jewish nation of Israel.
Following World War II, the Germans and Japanese surrendered and were forced to give up lands they had earlier occupied. In return they were granted peace and sovereignty. The Arabs, on the other hand, have never surrendered, despite losing numerous wars with Israel, and they have never accepted peace. Sadly, until the Palestinians are willing to give up their quest to conquer Israel, they are doomed to unending struggle and statelessness.