I don’t disagree with Ron Skolnik’s analysis, but I’d like to amplify it. Mahmoud Abbas essentially does two things in “The Long Overdue Palestinian State“: one negative and one positive.
The negative is in omitting the historical fact that the Jewish community within Palestine accepted the UN’s 1947 partition plan for two states (one primarily Jewish and the other basically Arab), while the Arab side–including native Palestinian militias–violently rejected this solution and attempted unsuccessfully to destroy the Jewish state in its infancy. It is as a consequence of this war initiated by the Arab side that the tragic Palestinian refugee problem emerged.
But the positive aspect of this article is that Abbas affirms a two-state solution now, with a readiness of the Palestinian Authority that he heads to accept statehood on 22 percent of what was the British Mandate when it ended in 1948. As long as a “just solution for Palestinian refugees” is understood to be one that encompasses financial compensation and resettlement within the new Palestinian state and not a massive influx into what is sovereign Israel today, peace could be at hand.
Unfortunately, the current Israeli government will dwell on the negative rather than the positive in the position laid out by Abbas. And the
possible ambiguity of this notion of a “just solution” for the refugees needs to be clarified to accord with, and not to undermine, the historic principle of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians, as defined by the formula of two states for two peoples.
In connection with Abbas’ distorted rendition of history, I’m adding a reference to NY Jewish Week editor/publisher Gary Rosenblatt’s column this week. Although I don’t fully endorse his view of the Palestinian Authority as recalcitrant, there’s much in his “Looking to Bibi, As The World Closes In” that I do agree with. For example, in the context of discussing the violent “Nakba Day” protests along Israel’s borders:
While the media has been careful to note that the Nakba refers to the Palestinians’ perception of “the catastrophe” of Israel becoming a state, few if any have pointed out that the real catastrophe was brought about not by the declaration of statehood but by the Arabs’ refusal to accept the UN partition plan for Palestine, their all-out attempt to destroy the fledgling Jewish state in 1948 and the subsequent military defeat of the Arab armies.
The Nakba could have been avoided had the notion of accommodating a Jewish state in the region been accepted. That refusal remains the crux of the problem more than six decades later. [Although one can argue against this second sentence (because of the Arab League’s peace proposal, on the table since 2002) even while agreeing with the first.–RS]
“The term ‘Nakba’ initially focused on the failure of Arab government and armies to vanquish the nascent state, not on the devastation that befell the Arabs of Palestine,” noted Ilan Troen, professor of Israel studies at Brandeis University, writing in the May issue of the journal Sh’ma.
He went on to point out that “neither early nor recent accounts of the Nakba include self-criticism or critique” for how the situation was tragically mishandled by Arab leaders, who still maintain, according to Troen, that “war was and remains justified; Palestinians were/are victims who bear no responsibility for their situation. What happened to them is the fault of others.” ….