My letter might be late, but late is better than never. This subject is critical and cannot be completely ignored. Two months ago, I noticed a headline on the biggest Arab, Israeli, and International newspapers and news sites, except the Palestinian. This headline is about a statement made by the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, where he expressed that he believes the Arab refusal of the UN partition plan (181) in year 1947, was a mistake. In an interview with the Israeli Channel two, president Abbas said: “At that time, 1947, there was Resolution 181, the partition plan, Palestine and Israel. Israel existed. Palestine diminished. Why? […] I know, I know. It was our mistake. It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole. But do they punish us for this mistake (for) 64 years?”
I would understand if the president, after he saw the results of the Israeli occupation today, would want to go back to the year 1947 to adopt the partition plan, because that would mean a larger territory for the Palestinian state to be created on. But, was the refusal a mistake? If the Arabs accepted, would it be guaranteed that the Zionist movement will accept what is less that the whole Palestinian territory? Frankly, I consider the president’s statement faulting the Arab and Palestinian stance refusing to abide with an unlawful resolution which takes away the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, to be a very dangerous statement which certainly deserves my comments.
Any rational person would see that if the partition plan was applied and fully respected by both sides, Palestinians would be living in a paradise compared to the miserable situation we live in today under occupation. But, at the same time, no wise and intelligent person would believe that accepting the partition plan was to put an end to the Israeli/Palestinian struggle. It is only naïve to describe the Palestinian and Arab stance regarding the partition plan to be wrong.
Palestinians use this phrase to describe the Belfour Declaration: “The promise of who doesn’t own, to those who don’t deserve”. As a result from that declaration, we have the partition plan which paved the way for those who don’t deserve to take over the land of the indigenous Arab Palestinians. At that time, Arabs were over two thirds of the Population in Palestine; they owned 94% of the land of Palestine. In what right does the United Nations decide to divide Palestine to give over 55% of the land to the Jews who didn’t own anything but 6% of the land before year 1947?
In the year 1947, 1,293,000 Arab Palestinians Christians and Muslims lived in Palestine, plus 608,000 Jews who most of them were recent immigrants from Tsarist Russia and those who fled the horrifying Nazi Europe. The partition plan wasn’t rational from the beginning as there were 407,000 Arabs living in what was to become the Jewish state according to the partition plan. How were Arabs going to accept a decision that will eventually allow conducting mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land to make way for a made up Jewish state? How were Arabs to accept a resolution that was to place international border lines between villages and cities which have neighbored each other for thousands of years? There was nothing about the partition plan which would convince the Arabs to accept it, Palestinians were losing what is over half the Palestinian land in exchange of nothing, nothing at all.
Another example of the unfairness of resolution 181 is, other than that indigenous Palestinians were going to receive less than half of what they used to own; in the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine’s resolution, it states that “the Jews will have the more economically developed part of the country embracing practically the whole of the citrus-producing area which includes a large number of Arab products.”
I still wonder how refusing this resolution would be considered “a mistake”. President Mahmoud Abbas is doing his best to put the blame on the victim.
The partition plan wasn’t a decision to divide the land only, but it was a decision that was to take away many of the Arab Palestinians’ rights. How would you allow unequally dividing your land and giving the settler who recently arrived from Europe, a bigger slice of your land, voluntarily? Accepting the partition plan would be like paving the way for the Zionist movement to take over the whole land of Palestine, without resistance. If we were to look back at some of the Zionist leaders’ speeches like Ben Gourion, we’ll see that, even the Zionist leadership, weren’t content by what resolution (181) was granting them and they wanted more. The Israeli acceptance of resolution (181) was only a media play; the acceptance was only to lay political umbrella for the Zionists to take over what is larger than what the resolution has offered them.
Considering the refusal of the partition plan to be wrong is one thing, and hoping to build a Palestinian state on the territory granted by the partition plan is another; we shouldn’t mix between the two. The refusal of the partition plan was not a mistake and the Palestinians didn’t lose any golden opportunities by refusing it. It is only naïve and ignorant to consider the refusal to be a mistake.