A CONSTRUCTION site in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, near Jerusalem [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Next year will mark many important anniversaries in the history of Zionism, Israel and its conflict with our neighbors.
It will be 120 years since the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel in 1897, which formulated the Zionist platform and plan of action for the implementation of its goals.
It will also be 70 years since the United Nations Partition Plan, which won the support of the UN General Assembly for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Mandatory Palestine.
Significantly, it will also be 50 years since the miraculous victory by Israel against five Arab nations intent on extinguishing the Jewish state. However, after only six days Israel not only defended itself, it liberated Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, the cradle of Jewish civilization.
One would assume that given Israel’s opponents’ and detractors’ claims, this date will be the focal point of activity against Israel over the year ahead, as we are constantly being told that the root of the conflict and the lack of peace is a result of the so-called occupation. However, last week, at the House of Lords in the British Parliament a panel discussion was held to commemorate another important milestone, the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration was a letter written by British minister Lord Arthur James Balfour recognizing the rights of the Jewish People to their ancestral homeland. The declaration was then adopted by the international community at the League of Nations, the predecessor to the UN.
The event at the House of Lords took place under the auspices of the Palestinian Return Centre and was hosted by the vitriolic Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was forced to resign from her political party because of her previous anti-Israeli, and some might argue antisemitic remarks. This event was the beginning of a hostile drive, led by the Palestinian Authority, called the Balfour Apology Campaign, which has called the letter “a crime.”
What this obsessive focus on a letter written 100 years ago, as opposed to the liberation of Judea and Samaria 50 years ago, tells us very clearly and distinctly is that this has never been about the “occupation”; it is, however, about opposing any recognition of the Jewish People’s rights to sovereignty in their ancestral homeland.
The PA, led by Mahmoud Abbas, is sending a message to Israel and the international community, one that they express frequently in Arabic, that ending Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is not their primary objective, rather their target is Israel itself.
This objective is consistent with almost a century of Palestinian rejectionism.
The Palestinians rejected the Peel Commission recommendations of 1937, which would have given them the overwhelming majority of what is now Israel, the Partition Plan of 1947, the Clinton Parameters of 2000 and the offers of former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert in 2001 and 2008 respectively.
If the Palestinian leaders had accepted any of these offers they would have had a state, and Israel would have little or no presence in Judea and Samaria. The fact that they didn’t means that it is not about what was liberated in 1967, but what was recognized in 1917.
The Balfour Declaration was the first modern international recognition of Jewish historic and legal rights in the Land of Israel, which had been conquered, colonized and occupied for 2,000 years since its indigenous people were expelled.
The Palestinians know that the Balfour Declaration was a pivotal point in the recognition of Jewish national rights by the international community, and that this, in turn, led to the majority support for the reestablishment of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel. They believe if they unravel this recognition they can undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic nation and move a step closer to its demise.
Of course, this is an absurd notion, especially for a people which hadn’t even formulated their current self-identity until many decades later.
Nevertheless, it is a part of a pattern of deep insecurity by a regime that seeks not just to reverse history but distort it, as the recent Palestinian-led resolution at UNESCO denying Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount amply demonstrate.
The UNESCO resolution, which has no discernible political or diplomatic significance, is another layer in this battle, a battle which elements of the international community are starting to awaken to.
That this conflict has never been about the “occupation” or the creation of a Palestinian state. It was and remains about the undermining and denying of Jewish history, rights and international law in order to undermine and seek the destruction of the State of Israel.The writer is a Knesset member for Yisrael Beytenu.