Has Marty Morrison got some things wrong about Palestine?

Marty Morrison's article ‘Marty In Palestine’ (9.11.2010) contains factually false and/or misleading statements, contends David Singer.

 

1. “The sympathy that the world community had for Jews following the horrors of World War II blinded people to the dispossession of the Palestinians.”


In fact world sympathy for the Jews had been established after World War 1 with the creation of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1920 calling for the “reconstitution of the Jewish National Home” in Palestine.


The Arabs have never recognized this unanimous and binding legal declaration by the League and this has been the source of their misfortune ever since. 


2.” historians say the Palestinians have inhabited the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea for more than 13 centuries.”


There was no designated group called “Palestinians” until 1964. During the 400 years rule of the Ottoman Empire (1519-1919) the population was divided into “Jews”, “Moslems” and “Christians”. This practice continued during the Mandate (1920 -1948). The Mandate document itself only referred to “the existing non-Jewish communities”. The UN partiton Plan (1947) only spoke of a "Jewish" state and an "Arab" state.


3. “In 1917 at the time of the Balfour Declaration Palestinians comprised 70 per cent of the population and owned more than 90 per cent of the land.”


The Arabs only owned 8% of the land and the Jews 6%. The rest was state land vested in Turkey and forming part of the Ottoman Empire.


4. “One way to do this is to stand with the Palestinians and Israeli activists when homes are being destroyed, when more Jewish settlements are being constructed on Palestinian land”


Homes have been destroyed pursuant to court decisions ruling their construction illegal or as a result of the application of Jordanian laws still applicable in the West Bank. The land is not “Palestinian land”.  It is at this point of time "no man's land".  Its legal status is that it forms part of the remaining 5% of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine still unallocated in accordance with the terms of the Mandate. Jews are legally entitled to settle anywhere in the West Bank under article 6 of the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter.


5. “One can understand the Palestinians’ frustration and apprehension for the future when one considers that when the United Nations partitioned Palestine into two states in 1947 the Jewish state received 55 per cent of the land and the Arab Palestinians and Christian Palestinians got 45 per cent of the land”


More than 70% of the 55% offered to the Jews comprised the arid and sparsely populated Negev desert. The 45% offered to the Arabs was mostly the fertile and contained the majority of the Arab populated areas. The Arabs rejected the UN offer as they had previously done in 1937 when rejecting the Peel Report recommendations. 


The Arabs could have had what they now demand in 2010 - at any time between 1948-1967. Had they been prepared to negotiate and recognize Israel in the five years following the 1967 War the political landscape today would have been entirely different. Their refusal to accept less than 100% of the West Bank and Gaza over the last 17 years has seen their position further deteriorate.That is their prerogative but it is a bit late to cry over spilt milk. Their leaders have led them – and apparently well intended persons such as Marty – up the proverbial garden path.


6. “In the ensuing war the Israelis captured even more land, so that at the cease-fire the Jews were in control of three-quarters - leaving just 22 per cent of land for the Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza).


The Jews only controlled 17%. Jordan controlled 83%, which it unified into one country with the consent of the West Bank Arabs in 1950. Only Great Britain and Pakistan recognized that reunification. The Arabs could have created a separate state out of that 83% at any time between 1948-1967 but did not do so. They were the architects of their own missed opportunities.


7. “The boundary at this time came to be known as the Green Line.”


There was no boundary – only an armistice line that had been in existence following the end of hostilities in 1949.


8. “After the war in 1967 the Israeli army conquered all of Mandated Palestine”


Incorrect. 78% of Mandated Palestine had been granted independence in 1946 and was not conquered by Israel in 1967. The West Bank and Gaza – conquered by Israel in 1967 – was only 5% of Mandated Palestine.


9.” I hate to write this but I firmly believe that Israel, by and large, wants the Palestinians to disappear and are therefore deliberately colonising the West Bank”


Israel is clearly failing in this “objective” if Marty only took the time to look at the increasing West Bank Arab population and improvements in their standard of living. Since 95% of the West Bank Arab population is now under total Palestinian Authority administration. Marty's “firm belief” is a load of nonsense and amounts to racial vilification,


10. “Jews are invited to come to live in the West Bank from every country on earth.”


Why does this worry Marty? Jews have this right legally granted to them under the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter. They had done this prior to 1948 before they were driven out of the West Bank by six invading Arab armies.


11. “Settlers live freely without any of the curtailments of the Palestinians”


The Jews live behind barbed wire and stringent security restrictions with their schools and public places all under security guard protection.


12. “I realise that the burden of my account is at odds with the information supplied by the skilled Israeli public relations officers and government ministers.”


Marty's account sure is.  She appears to have relied on a whole lot of dishonest material given to her by her Arab hosts. It is a pity she didn’t check the veracity of this material before rushing into print. Had she done so she might have had a better perspective on the conflict between Jews and Arabs that has gone on for the last 130 years.


David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Website: www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com/

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