Many, many, many people in the past 66 or so years have attempted to make the Arabs and the Israelis get along, with limited success. In fact these successes are so minuscule I can count them on my fingers. So where do these peace plans and processes, and Camp David trips go wrong? Why is it that out of the vast amount of attempts at peace there have been so little lasting success?
This is the beginning of a series, looking at the various Arab-Israeli/Palestinian-Israeli peace plans and where they went right…or more often than not, wrong.
Israel is sixty-six, a nice little slap in the face to its neighbors who time and again predicted that Israel would only last an x number of years. It has surpassed all their predictions. But peace, that’s another topic all together. Peace has been the hardest thing for the state of Israel to achieve…a permanent peace with its Arab neighbors that is. But there have been US efforts, and negotiations, and look at Kerry, you say? Well that’s all well and good, but there seems to be something that a lot of these negotiators, like Kerry do not seem to understand. So in order to explain that, I’m starting this little on going series about the many attempts to bring peace, explaining what present and future negotiators could learn from their predecessors.
Israel’s first priority is…well….the safety of Israel and its people, not the qualms and problems of the Palestinians. That’s not specifically a good or bad thing because any nation’s first priority is its own people. In any case, Israel has to think about how any kind of deal is going to affect them.
. Attempts at making peace between the Jews and the Arabs can be traced back to 1947, if not earlier. That’s right, even before Israel was officially a country. T
In 1947 the fleeting British Empire suggested a Partition Plan which would split the land into two parts, the Jewish, and the Arab, with Jerusalem remaining as international. Now, looking from the Jewish perspective, this was not an ideal situation, especially without the capital, Jerusalem. But, desperation won out and the Jews, accepted. The Arabs were not as happy with it and rejected the plan. When it came to a vote in the UN the British voted against the plan they themselves suggested. So that shows you the faith…or lack there off that they had with it.
Israel was declared a state in 1948, the British pulled out, and the war for independence began at the end of which Jerusalem ended up in the hands of Jordan.
Enter Swedish diplomat and count, Folke Bernadotte. On May 20, 1948 (after Israel became a state) the UN Security council chose him to be mediator and negotiator, to seek peace between the Arabs and the Jews. A week or so later he set up a meeting with Arab and Jewish leaders from Israel and the Arabs in “Palestine” as well as leaders from Egypt and Jordan. In June, He negotiated a temporary truce and sent both groups a plan.
He made two proposals, one in June of 1948 and another in September of that same year. The June proposal was rejected and consisted of:
After visiting Cairo, Beirut, Amman and Tel Aviv, he came to the conclusion that the UN partition plan was an “unfortunate” resolution and proposed his own plan to unite the two feuding peoples. Instead of establishing individual states, he suggested that Arabs and Jews form a “union” consisting of a small Jewish entity and an enlarged Transjordan. Haifa and Lydda (Lod) airport would become free zones. Israel would receive the Western Galilee and unlimited immigration for two years, after which the UN would take control of the issue. Between 250,000 and 300,000 Arab refugees would be permitted to return to Arab territory with compensation and Transjordan would control the Negev and, despite Israeli claims, Jerusalem (Jewish Virtual Library).
This proposal firstly gave far too much power to the United Nations, and second did not yield independence that the Jews so desperately wanted. The second proposal abandoned the previous idea of a Union with Transjordan and focused more on two independent states. But it contained a lot of the same issues, just in consultation with the UK and US emissaries. Galilee would be completely Jewish, but the Negev would be given to the Arabs. It also demanded a right of return of Arabs to Jewish owned areas, and Jerusalem would be put under the control of the United Nations. It was pretty much the same as the partition plan with just a bit more depth and different land swaps.
Bernadotte was later assassinated by the Stern group. This was only the beginning though as others would follow and attempt to solve first, and understand the conflict second. That kind of mentality would never lead to peace.
In 1949 after the war for independence, which Israel won, most of the proposed “Arab Lands” of the partition plan of 1947 became part of Israel.
Bernadotte attempted to work of Partition plan that the Jews barely tolerated and the Arabs absolutely despised. These plans failed because of their obvious flaws, but also because the Arabs had no intention of making peace.
There is the flaw, the Arabs had no intention of making peace with the Jews. And thus the Arab-Jewish conflict became the Arab-Israeli conflict.