To quote Walter Cronkite, “And that’s the way it is”
“Forget Palestine,” says a renowned defense and security analyst based in Malaysia, when asked to comment on the UAE/Israel diplomatic ties which was announced last week. The way we understand it, his comment meant “Palestine” could be or would be the casualty of this deal between two sovereign states in the conflict zone
During World War I, Britain made several conflicting agreements to gain the support of various groups in the Middle East. Most notably was the Balfour Declaration – a public pledge promising the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.
On October 31, 1917, British forces conquered Palestine from the Ottoman-Turks, ending 1,400 years of Islamic rule over the region. In 1920, it began its 28-year rule over British Mandate Palestine.
Before the British Mandate in Palestine, Jews made up around six percent of the total population.
Following the end of WWII, the newly formed United Nations proposed a plan that would grant 55 percent of historic Palestine to a Jewish state and 45 percent to a non-contiguous Arab one. Jerusalem would remain under international control.
Palestinians rejected the proposal because it stripped away much of the land that was under their control. At the time, they owned 94 percent of historic Palestine and comprised 67 percent of the population. This plan was never implemented on the ground.
On May 14, 1948, the British Mandate expired triggering the first Arab-Israeli war. Zionist military forces expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians and captured 78 percent of historic Palestine. The remaining 22 percent was divided into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
During the June 1967 War, Israel occupied all of historic Palestine and expelled a further 300,000 Palestinians from their homes. Israel also captured the Syrian Golan Heights in the north and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in the south. In 1978, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty which led to Israel withdrawing from the Egypian territory.
The Oslo Accords (1993 & 1995) represented the first direct Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement. This led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – an administrative body that would govern Palestinian internal security, administration and civilian affairs in areas of self-rule, for a five-year interim period.
On the ground, the occupied West Bank was divided into three areas – A, B and C.
Area A initially comprised three percent of the West Bank and grew to 18 percent by 1999. In Area A, the PA controls most affairs.
Area B represents about 22 percent of the West Bank. In both areas, while the PA is in charge of education, health and the economy, the Israelis have full control of external security, meaning they retain the right to enter at any time.
Area C represents 60 percent of the West Bank. Under the Oslo Accords, control of this area was supposed to be handed over to the PA. Instead, Israel retains total control over all matters, including security, planning and construction. The transfer of control to the PA has never happened.
The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967. This makes it the longest occupation in modern history. The segmented territories include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Gaza Strip is a small coastal area bordering Egypt to the south. This region is home to two million Palestinians.
The West Bank is the kidney bean-shaped area to the east. It lies west of the banks of the Jordan River from where it gets its name. East Jerusalem is located on the Palestinian side of the 1949 Green Line. Three million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli settlements are Jewish communities built on Palestinian land. There are between 600,000 – 750,000 Israeli settlers living in at least 250 settlements (130 official , 120 unofficial) in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.
In 2019, under the presidency of Donald Trump, the US declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land were “not necessarily illegal”, a dramatic break from decades of US policy.
A leading Gulf intellectual tells DesPardes, “All the Arabs nations today are nothing but hypocrites who have sold their religion and deserve all the fate of misery that is now coming down on them. We are seeing just the beginning. They have lost the respect of all. Disunity is their way of life. God won’t leave them a place on earth to shelter from His wrath”.
He was responding to the UAE/Israeli agreement. We agreed to quote him on his condition that his name be not attributed.
To quote Walter Cronkite, “And that’s the way it is”…
Kronkite died in July 2009. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America” after being so named in an opinion poll.
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