Ettinger: Palestinian State Won't Solve Arab-Israeli Conflict

Expert on U.S.-Israel relations releases a paper nixing the idea that forming a Palestinian state will solve the Middle East crisis.

Hillel Fendel,

Yet another Arab state?
Yet another Arab state?
Yoram Ettinger, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations, has released a paper nixing the idea that the creation of a Palestinian state would solve the Middle East crisis.

In the latest of his periodic position papers, Ettinger negates the current US government theory that a Palestinian state is the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict and that its formation would resolve the situation. He is former liaison for Congressional affairs in Israel's Washington embassy.

Ettinger brings several proofs from recent history showing that Arab antipathy to Israel predates, and is irrelevant to, Palestinian concerns.  The first example is the war for Israel's independence in 1948-9, which the Arab countries conducted "at the expense of Palestinian aspirations." 

Ettinger notes that in that war, Egypt conquered the Gaza Strip, prohibiting Palestinian national activities and expelling Palestinian leadership.  Jordan occupied both Samaria, which was transferred to it by Iraq, and Judea; not only did Jordan not grant these areas independence, but it actually annexed them and coined the term “West Bank.”  Syria, for its part, occupied and annexed the Hama area in the Golan Heights, while the Arab League outlawed a provisional Palestinian government.

The 1956 (Sinai) War, Ettinger notes, had nothing to do with Palestinian aspirations, but was rather triggered by Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian terrorism that was intended to assert Egyptian control of the Negev, by the Egyptian-French-British conflict over the Suez Canal, and by Egyptian support of anti-French elements in North Africa.

Similarly, the Six Day War in 1967 erupted as a result of several factors, most famously the Egypt-Syria-Jordan Military Pact aimed at Israel’s destruction.  It began following Egypt’s blockade of Israel’s southern oil and commerce waterway, Egypt’s violation of the Sinai demilitarization, the Syrian shelling of Israeli communities below the Golan Heights, and the Jordanian shelling of Jerusalem.

Ironically, the Six Day War actually led to increased Palestinian national activity, as Israel ended Egypt's practice of nightly curfews in Gaza designed to prevent such activity.

The next war as well, the War of Attrition along the Suez Canal in 1968-70, also took place irrespective of the Palestinian issue.  The same is true of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq initiated independently of the Palestinian issue.

Ettinger notes that the wars and battles since then have been between Israelis and Palestinian terrorist elements - and did not turn into Arab-Israeli conflicts!  In 1982, Israel's war with the PLO in Lebanon not only did not become an Arab-Israeli war, but the Arab League also "delayed its emergency session for 2.5 months until the PLO was expelled from Beirut!  Arabs shed much pro-Palestinian rhetoric - but not blood - for Palestinians! "

The intifadas and Palestinian terrorist wars against Israeli similarly did not see Arabs coming to Palestinian aid.  Financial aid from the US and Western Europe financial to the PA has exceeded Arab aid, Ettinger points out.

"The Arab-Israeli conflict was not triggered by the Palestinian issue," Ettinger concludes.  "The Palestinian issue has not been the 'crown Jewel'  of the Arabs.  A Palestinian State would undermine vital US interests: exacerbating global terrorism, dooming the Hashemite and Persian Gulf moderate regimes, promoting radical regimes, providing a Mediterranean platform to Iran, Russia and China and intensifying oppression of Palestinian Christians."

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