Israel 70 years a state, May 15, 2018
Ever since Britain was granted formal control over Palestine in 1919, as part
of the settlement for the end of WW1, successive ministers were caught in
a dilemma. Palestine was properly deemed by the British to be a vital military
position for defence of the Suez Canal, of the shipping routes to the empire in
India and of Britain's considerable investment in the emerging Middle East oilfields.
Abandoning Palestine would have been both military and political folly. Britain's
dilemma arose out of the natural conflict between maintaining good relations with
all the Arab rulers and a promise made to Chaim Weizmann in 1917 by Arthur Balfour,
the Foreign Secretary,that His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment
in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours
to facilitate the achievement of this objective. The Balfour Declaration, however,contained
a critical proviso: nothing was to be done by the Jews which may prejudice the civil and
religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities.
The creation of Israel May 15, 1948 occurred when Britain ignominiously surrendered its
Mandate in Palestine and admitted defeat against the Arabs and Zionists. The bombing of the King David Hotel with 90 casualties that same year did not encourage a cash poor Britain.
The Six Day War commenced on 5th June 1967, when Israel launched a series of
pre-emptive air strikes against Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian forward air
bases, thereby destroying more than 400 fighter planes. The land war continued
for a further 5 days until June 10th 1967. The Arab armies lost vital
air cover and Israel captured the Sinai desert, the Gaza strip, the West Bank, the
Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Israel claimed a biblical right to Palestine and its
people. Israel, the last colonising nation, increased its territory by a factor of 5. The Arabs refused to make peace. The Khartoum conference August 1967 crucially condemned the Palestinians to live in squalid refugee camps thereby denying them the right to citizenship whilst enduring oppression and grinding poverty.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict complicates Western and Arab relations. Iran
finances Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, Hamas and Fatah are fighting a civil
war in Gaza, the US intervention in Iraq destabilised the entire region.
71 years on, the Palestinian refusal to accept the 1947 UN partition plan; the
Israeli refusal to allow a Palestinian state in 1967; Palestinian suicide bombers
ensured Israelis fully rejected a Palestinian state despite President Clinton's Camp
David 2000 mediation for a Palestinian state which was rejected due to the Israeli
25 metre wall and illegal settlements which destroyed a struggling Palestinian
independent economy and society.
Today, a resurgent Iran threatens the moderate Sunni Arab League nations
who wish to counter a militant Shiite threat led by Hezbollah and Iran. Israeli
attacks on Syria complicates the Middle East at war with 8 nations involved.
The Arab League proposes peace with Israel in exchange for withdrawal from
the 1967 occupied territories; and a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as
its capital and a resolution of the refugee crisis. Israel needs a government willing to
give up the West Bank; evacuate illegal settlements; allow the return of many refugees
(according to UN Article 149) and share Jerusalem as the capital of the new Palestinian state.
The new Palestinian government must recognise the right of Israel to exist in peaceful
co-existence and must impress the returning refugees they return to a new Palestinian
state and cannot reclaim their former homes because they no longer exist. Most Israelis
acknowledge Palestinians deserve a viable state and most Palestinians prefer to live in peace
with Israel. This is the way forward together to ensure peaceful co-existence in the region.