In the last 67 years, the Arab regimes have been the main reason for the Palestinians’ misery. Is there any chance that they will one day recognize this and try to at least partly atone for their crimes?
Their first and biggest crime was the rejection of the 1947 partition plan. That plan gave much more to the Palestinians than the Palestinian Authority is now demanding, and also much more than the Arab League "Peace Plan" proposal of 2002, yet the Arab League unanimously rejected the 1947 partition plan, and the regimes of Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia took up arms against the Jews. By doing so, the Arab regimes annulled the Palestinians’ right to a state, and they set the Palestinians on the path to destruction.
Not content with that initial offense, the Arab states (except partly Jordan) also refused to resettle any Palestinian refugees in their countries. They curtailed the refugees’ rights dramatically, turning them into cheap and defenseless labor, while at the same time feeding them false hopes that they would one day return to the same homes in what was now Israel, and open the same doors with the same keys. For over 67 years, Arab regimes have refused to resettle the refugees, preferring instead to, in the words of Canadian Muslim Raheel Raza, “use Israel as the bogeyman to deflect their own shortcoming and blame all their problems on a Zionist conspiracy”.
Refusing to atone for their wrongdoing of 1947 by negotiating a Palestinian state with Israel, Arabs states continued hostilities with the Jewish state, attempting two more times, in 1967 and 1973, to annihilate her, and providing support and incitement to terrorism against Israel. All this hostility and violence ensured that Israel would remain unwilling to compromise on its security and would continue to control the Palestinians’ daily lives.
The Palestinian elites too have a responsibility in this dreadful history. They caused civil wars in Lebanon and Jordan, therefore increasing Arab hostility towards the Palestinians. They also led the Palestinians into destructive military confrontations with Israel instead of leading them towards cohabitation and compromise.
In 1947, the Palestinians had the opportunity to form a successful nation that would grow and prosper alongside a re-born Jewish state. Thanks to Arab regimes who chose anti-Semitism over tolerance, that potential was dashed, and the Palestinians have become nothing more than a shattered people, divided in geography as well as in outlook, economically poor and dependent, and mentally immobilized by a consuming desire for revenge.
When will the Arab regimes apologize for their crimes against the Palestinians? When will they offer to resettle the Palestinian refugees? When will they work with Israel to create a state where Palestinians can finally be responsible for their own future, and where refugees may wish to resettle?
Sadly none of this is likely to happen any time soon. Not only have the Arab regimes not learned from history, but now they are facing Daesh, the tumor that grew as a result of the regimes’ own incompetence and tyranny. The welfare of the Palestinians is even less of a concern to Arab regimes now than it ever was.
The Palestinians’ only hope is Israel. Only Israel can help them build a state, prosper, and achieve much-needed dignity and independence. Yes, Israel, the supposed enemy that is routinely demonized by Palestinian leaders and “pro-Palestinian” activists. Not only are Israel’s ethical values far ahead of the ethical values of the Arab regimes, but Israel also has an interest in reaching peace with the Palestinians so that she may improve security for her citizens.
As Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid said, “We must realize the fact that there is no other choice, for both Israelis and Palestinians, other than living together. It is the time for the Palestinians to prove that we are ready to live in peace with the Israelis. We must start building the bridges of trust towards Israeli public opinion.” Unfortunately, those in charge of the Palestinians prefer to bury their heads in the sand and continue surviving on charity while their society further disintegrates.
The Palestinians must convincingly renounce violence, both the West Bank and Gaza. This is the first condition for a better future. It is a difficult step to take for a people that has been fed lies and hate for decades, and that has experienced violence, deaths, and humiliation for 67 years. The step is however not quite as difficult if the Palestinians realize that the Arab regimes are far more responsible for their situation than Israel is. Regardless, they must rise above, just as Bassem Eid, who grew up in a refugee camp, has done; it is their only hope.
Once they have done that, Palestinians can sit down with Israelis and negotiate a plan towards Palestinian independence. All the issues can and will be resolved. Until then, any talk of a Palestinian state is no more than a farce promoted by charlatans to mislead idiots. Until then, Israel will continue to be a world leader in many fields, including high technology, agriculture, and humanitarian aid, and the Palestinian people will continue to splinter, implode, and decompose.