Israel does not have to withdraw to 1967 borders to maintain democratic nature
by Yoram Shifftan
There is a growing realization that Israel faces a dilemma: either it withdraws to pre-1967 borders and maintains its Jewish Democratic nature, or it would turn into a "racist" "apartheid" state in the sense that Arabs in the "territories" do not get voting rights for a national parliament.
But in fact this is false dilemma. It is perfectly legitimate for all Jews in Western Palestine, Judea, Samaria and Gaza included, to vote for an Israeli parliament and for Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to vote for an Arab parliament.
This can be an Arab parliament of an existing Arab state. In particular Jordan's parliament is an appropriate option since Jordan extends on four fifths of Palestine: Eastern Palestine which was given to the Jewish National Home by the unanimous vote of all 51 nations of the League of Nations.
Jewish national rights in Eastern Palestine (Jordan) were only postponed but not cancelled. Yet for peace Israel will be willing to make this concession. Alternatively the Arabs of the territories (Judea, Samaria, Gaza) can vote for an additional new Arab parliament of a new Arab state, for example, in Ramallah.
A variation, or an option, of the above would include the Arabs of pre-1967 Israel who could vote too to such a parliament in Amman or to a new Arab parliament in Western Palestine.
Thus even though all Arabs are members of one nation, and therefore deserve one state only by their own logic - and indeed historically, culturally, linguistically all experts agree they are one nation as they themselves have been saying for many years - and anomalously they have already 21 states whereas people like the Kurds do not have even one state and one parliament, still for peace Israel would be willing to make the concession of increasing the anomaly even further and consider yet another Arab state.
Thus even though Arabs in America or Europe cannot express their national identity in an Arab parliament, Arabs in Western Palestine will be able to express their national identity in an Arab parliament, and simultaneously the settlement of Jews in all of Western Palestine could be encouraged so as to fulfill the requirement of international law, and to respond to the security requirement and to the necessity to settle Jews in the cradle of their civilization.
In order to see the legitimacy and legality of this type of arrangement one should invoke the many precedents of similar arrangements. They all repose on the fact that one needs not have a territorial continuity between the territorial parts of a given nation state.
The Irish example
Take for example Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These two territories share a common island. Yet their territorial proximity still allows for their belonging to completely different nation states. The people of Northern Ireland belong to the UK and vote for a parliament located in London in another island altogether.
Nobody says that the British or Irish governments are implementing "apartheid" or a "racist" regime because the people of Northern Ireland do not vote to the proximate parliament in Dublin and are not part of the Republic of Ireland. Nobody says that the people of Northern Ireland do not enjoy national self-expression, just because they do not vote for the Irish parliament in Dublin which is their geographical proximate capital, or because they do not vote to a parliament of their own.
This is just one example. The UK alone provides multiple examples of a nation whose parts are spread all over the world, albeit not all these parts are fully-fledged British like Northern Ireland; they may be British to varying degrees and enjoy certain autonomy.
Thus, Gibraltar is British, and the British even fought in the other end of the world only recently in order to keep the "Britishness" of the Falkland Islands. To proponents of the dilemma above, these Islands should be Argentinean just because they are closer to Argentina.
Alaska and Hawaii are not territorially contiguous with mainland US, yet they are part of the US. Spain has got territory in North Africa. Corsica is an island separated from the French mainland. In fact, it is closer to Italy than to the French mainland and yet it is part of France.
The principle that one needs not have a geographical continuity or proximity between parts of a given nation is even demonstrated closer to home by recalling the status of Mount Scopus until 1967. This territory and all the buildings of the Hebrew University located on it were an official part of Israel. Yet it was encircled by Jordanian territory.
Thus, the position that Israel can only be Jewish and democratic in the pre-1967 borders is false.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -