Palestinian ideology is the biggest obstacle to peace - opinion

Palestinianism lacks the basic requirements of a legitimate national identity: a separate, unique linguistic, cultural, ethnic, and/or religious basis.

Protesters hold Jordanian and Palestinian flags and shout slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed Middle East peace plan, near the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, January 31, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Protesters hold Jordanian and Palestinian flags and shout slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed Middle East peace plan, near the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, January 31, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Jews, we believe that we are connected to God by a covenant, the moral and ethical foundation of Judaism, which includes the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael, as a national and religious obligation.
Arabs also have a covenant, formulated by the PLO, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist organizations, which claims that Jews have no rights or place in what they consider Palestine, “from the river to the sea,” that the State of Israel must be destroyed and replaced by a Muslim Palestinian state. Their claim is based on the right of “self-determination,” which is supported by most of the international community.
Prof. Yehoshaphat Harkabi writes in his book The Palestinian Covenant and its Meaning that “Palestinianism” was defined in the PLO Covenant in 1964 by Lebanese-born Ahmad Shukeiri, who founded the Palestine Liberation Organization and was its leader until 1967, after which he was succeeded in 1969 by Cairo-born arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat.
The goal expressed in the covenant is to “liberate Palestine” and destroy Israel. It did not refer to Jordan’s occupation of the “West Bank,” or Egypt’s occupation of the Gaza Strip, since that would have threatened Arab rulers. After the 1967 Six Day War, the covenant was amended to cover both “occupations”: 1948 (the Nakba, or “catastrophe”) and 1967. Palestinianism became a replacement ideology for Zionism, a call to arms against Jews.
Palestinianism, however, lacks the basic requirements of a legitimate national identity: a separate, unique linguistic, cultural, ethnic, and/or religious basis. It contains no redeeming social or cultural values. It is nothing more than a political-military construct currently led by PLO/Fatah and Hamas terrorist organizations, corrupt dictatorships that suppress and exploit their own people.
The PLO led this struggle from Jordan until it began launching terrorist attacks with “Black September” in 1970. Expelled from Jordan, the organization moved to Lebanon. Then, after the First Lebanese War in 1982, it moved to Tripoli until 1993, when it was brought back and given power as the Palestinian Authority via the Oslo Accords by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
In that year, the US and Israel recognized the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” This turned the PLO into the official interlocutor of Israel and of the international community for the Oslo Process, and sealed the fate of Palestinians and reconciliation with Israel. It gave the PLO veto power and made any alternative to it impossible.
Despite leading mega-terrorist attacks and being backed by the Arab League, Muslim and “non-aligned” countries, the PLO was accepted by the United Nations in 1974. The following year, the UN passed its infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution, sanctioning Israel’s demonization and its demise. This was part of a plan orchestrated by the Soviet Union and other Communist countries to isolate, vilify and destroy Israel. They supported and honored Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and other terrorists, and they continue to do so.
The myth of Palestinianism worked because the media accepted Arab and PLO claims and their cause. Using the term “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (areas conquered by the IDF in 1967), for example, reinforces Palestinian claims and demands that Israel withdraw. They also prefer the term “West Bank,” rather than the authentic designation that appears on earlier maps, Judea and Samaria, referring to its Jewish history.
Led by left-wing Israeli politicians, most of the media, academia and cultural elite promote Palestinianism to convey their “humanitarian” concerns and their opposition to the growing national religious movement that established communities (“settlements”) in Judea and Samaria. Hoping for some sort of mutual recognition with the PLO, their efforts culminated in the Oslo Accords, which legitimized the PLO and gave its agenda official sanction.
Through its media, the PLO promotes constant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda that is distributed through the world. This is documented by Palestinian Media Watch ( These efforts are aided by hundreds of pro-Palestinian NGOs, as documented by NGO Monitor ( They express what Palestinianism really means.
ALTHOUGH THE PLO agreed to establish a democratic structure for its rule via the Palestinian Authority, that has been disregarded. The PA, led by PLO head Mahmoud Abbas, rules exclusively, according to the PLO Covenant.
According to the Palestinian Basic Law: “The enactment of this temporary Basic Law for a transitional and interim period constitutes a fundamental step toward the realization of the firm national and historical rights of the Arab Palestinian people. It shall not in any way whatsoever abrogate or cancel their right to continue to strive to achieve their rights of return and self-determination, including the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem (al-Quds al-Sharif) as its capital.... The Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole and legitimate representative of the Arab Palestinian people.”
The basic law, however, does not clarify what constitutes the “Palestinian national homeland.” That is defined in the Palestinian National Covenant (Article 2) as “the boundaries it had during the British Mandate.” Or, as they say, “from the river to the sea.”
Although Arafat promised US and Israeli negotiators who were composing the Oslo Accords that he would amend the PLO Covenant and remove its anti-Israel provisions, they knew, or should have known, that the decision was not his to make. That can only be done by the Palestine National Council, which rejected any changes. The covenant remains intact, the heart and soul of Palestinianism.
The solution is regional: recognizing Jordan as the Palestinian state.
Arab Palestinians are entitled to civil and human rights in their host countries where they have lived since 1949. A second Arab Palestinian state, in addition to Jordan, which was carved out of Palestine in 1922 – whose population is two-thirds “Palestinian” – will not resolve any core issue at the heart of the conflict. The conflict is not territorial, but existential; recognition of a Jewish state is anathema. That explains why Palestinian Arab leaders refuse to accept it in any form.
The problem for Palestinianism is not “the occupation” in 1967, but Israel’s existence. In this view, Palestine is the exclusive Arab homeland, and Zionists are colonialists; Palestine is an integral part of the Arab world, completely under Arab sovereignty. This is axiomatic. There are no exceptions and no compromises.
Palestinianism – promoted in the media, mosques and schools to include anti-Jewish incitement, denial of the Holocaust and Jewish history, and rejection of the right of Jewish national self-determination – is the greatest obstacle to peace.
The alternative is a true Palestinianism liberation movement dedicated to meaningful human values and creativity, free of the destructive and self-destructive agenda of terrorist organizations.
A new Palestinianism can promote peace. For those who seek to express a Palestinian national identity and self-determination, they can move to Jordan and make it an economic, social and political oasis. The Hashemite rulers of Jordan claim to be descendants of Muhammad, the founder of Islam; Mecca and Medina are Muslim spiritual centers in Saudi Arabia with which Jordan shares a boundary. Jordan also shares a boundary with Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia.
This represents a potential cultural and spiritual link that can provide an ideology based on peace and reconciliation with Israel. Mount Nebo, in Jordan, the place where Moses (whom Muslims consider a prophet) died, can become a symbol for a Mosaic Accord, a bridge of understanding between countries and people.
The author is a PhD historian and journalist in Israel.