French historian: How did Palestine lose and Israel not win?

At a time when a deadly spate of violence seems to undermine all hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, historian Jean-Pierre Fillieu, an expert on the Middle East, analyzes in his latest book “How was Palestine lost? And why was it lost?” Israel won't win?” The limits of Israeli military and political success and the reasons for the current failure of the Palestinian issue, stressing that the turbulent Arab power game and the rejection of a political solution by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have left an impasse that cannot be resolved. Can be solved only by international will.

In an interview with Loops magazine compiled by Sarah Daniel, Philo tried to explain the internal Palestinian wars and the weakness suffered by the apparent winner, Israel. He deeply explores the various narratives and confrontations between the two enemies and believes that they are important to restart the peace process.

At the beginning of the interview, the historian returned to affirming the existence of a Palestinian entity on the ground before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords in 1994, pointing out that in the late 19th century the Zionists clearly recognized Palestine as their Was identified as the target. , and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a historic victory for them because the British government provided its support in accordance with it for the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.

Thus, Britain recognized the national rights of only the Jews, who represented 10% of Palestine's population at the time, causing the Arabs, who represented 90%, to become “non-Jewish communities” without national rights. have changed. The denial of the aspirations of the indigenous Arab population led to the founding conference for Palestinian nationalism in 1919, but Britain suppressed Palestinian nationalism with increasing brutality until it crushed the Great Arab Revolt and one of each killed. Two hundred Palestinians.

The sad story of the promised land

Then came the Nakba in 1948, and more than half of the Palestinians were forced to leave their homes, so Israel took control of 77% of Mandatory Palestine, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Egypt manages 1% of Palestine's land in the “Gaza Strip”, which will soon become the center of the revival of Palestinian nationalism. It experienced the first Israeli occupation in 1956, followed by the second between 1967 and 2005.

Many of the maps in Philo's book – which was released last Friday – show more than a century of continuous process of expropriation of Palestinian residents who “lost” their land, especially since those who were at fault. The Palestinian “Authority” is said to have “no sovereignty over part of the West Bank, except to the extent Israel authorizes it, and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) now only has a barren presence in Gaza.” Rules the land.

The French historian touched on the close relationship between Anglo-Saxon evangelicals and Jewish Zionism, explaining that the evangelical movement linked its personal and collective salvation to the return of the Jewish people to their lands, and established a historical alliance with the Israeli right. .

Then the pro-Israel lobby in the United States turned into a pro-Likud lobby, which was vigorously opposing the peace process, to the extent that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke about those groups shortly before his assassination. Who are “pressuring the US Congress against the democratically elected Israeli government.”

Netanyahu has strengthened this alliance between the hard right and Christian Zionists in Israel, an alliance that reached its peak during Donald Trump's presidency with the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, but which these Christian Zionists believe that the Jews will be destroyed during two-thirds of the end times “tribulations”, and thus it is difficult to describe these loyal supporters of the colonization of the Palestinian territories as lovers of the Jews.

As I pointed out – says Filho – the deeply democratic nature of the voting system in Israel favors extremist groups, but the upcoming elections will be decisive, and may represent a profound restructuring of the Israeli landscape, and there will be lasting peace or endless conflict. Stay in the center of voting for now. The first elections since Rabin's election in 1992, an election that allowed mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Only this mutual recognition can create a final peace agreement between the two peoples, and a future Israeli coalition, if it wants to take this path, will have to take into account Arab parties that represent 20% of the population, a minority. Which has demonstrated his attachment to Israel in the current crisis.

Arabization of the Palestinian issue is a curse

When asked about his statement in the book that the Arabization of the Palestinian issue was one of its curses, the historian said that according to the author, Jordan was the first to try to literally eradicate Palestine by annexing the West Bank in 1949 , which led to the conflict reaching its peak in the “Black September” massacre in 1970, before abandoning the Palestinian issue. Jordan's late king, Hussein bin Talal, and then his son, the current King Abdullah II, renounced all claims to the West Bank, and their support for Palestinian aspirations to establish an independent state.

However, the regime of late President Hafez al-Assad in Syria has not relinquished its control over the Palestinian issue, through Damascus's current support for Hamas and “dissident” factions in opposition to the Palestine Liberation Organization, while support for other Arab states since 1982. The regime had used rhetoric during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and during the two uprisings, as well as during previous wars on Gaza.

The current violence is what renders the two-state solution an existential necessity, because it is no longer possible to leave two people facing each other, otherwise they will be trapped in a destructive cycle in which each confrontation will be more terrible than the previous one.

The Palestinian people have maintained the traditional community structure, such as a clan or extended family, as a collective survival mechanism for Palestinian refugees who have lost everything except this kinship solidarity. But armed conflict and secrecy restrictions drove Palestinian factions toward sectarianism, against a backdrop of proxy wars between the various Arab regimes that sponsored them.

But we must not forget that Israel – says the author – is the one that has very consciously encouraged Palestinian political Islam since 1973 as a counterweight to the nationalism of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and even after the Palestinian branch Has continued to do. As claimed, the Muslim Brotherhood transformed into Hamas in 1987. Author.

The historian concludes that the current violence is what renders the two-state solution an existential necessity, because it is no longer possible to leave two peoples facing each other, otherwise they would be trapped in a destructive spiral in which each confrontation would be greater than the previous one. Even more frightening, especially because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a zero-sum game, as a loss for one automatically translates into a gain for the other. In fact, Israel has faced its worst test in its history at a time when the balance of power was overwhelmingly in its favor.

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