Greater Israel: The Defining Element of Israel-Palestine

Ask your average American or member of Congress what the fundamental characteristic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is and your apt to hear boiler plate explanations of inherent hostilities between Muslims and Jews and catch-phrases like “ensuring Israel’s security in a bad neighborhood.”

But these are not what the conflict boils down to. The defining element in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that one group of people decided to colonize a land that already belonged to another people. Even in the most propagandized framing of the conflict, this central component cannot be glossed over, which is why it is so amazing it is entirely absent from American commentary.

51WSLS0Ix9LIn a political sense, the most straightforward explanation for why there is still no peace is that Israel (with crucial US support) has blocked the widely accepted two-state settlement because it insists on continuing its campaign of colonization in what is left of historic Palestine (namely, the West Bank). A two-state solution is unacceptable to Israel because the land truly belongs to the Jews, or so goes the thinking. So, Israel maintains the military occupation of the West Bank (or, as Israelis deliberately refer to it, Judea and Samaria) and continues to bulldoze Palestinian homes, seize control of the water resources, and subsidize Israelis to live in newly constructed Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

The post-1967 status quo, as Rashid Khalidi documents in his new book Brokers of Deceit: How the US has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, is based on the stipulations laid down by Israel’s right-wing Likud Prime Minister from 1977-1982, Menachem Begin. In the Likud Party’s 1977 platform, it was declared that “the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is eternal and indisputable,” and “[t]herefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed over to any foreign administration. Between the sea and the Jordan River there will be only Israeli sovereignty.”

“This is clear as well from Begin’s handwritten notes sketching out his ideas for Palestinian autonomy prepared around the time of the Camp David summit in 1978,” writes Khalidi. In those notes, Begin wrote, “Under no circumstances will Israel permit the establishment in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district of a ‘Palestinian state.'”

And here we have our insurmountable conflict. This has been official Israeli policy ever since, as has been especially demonstrated during Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure, with the settler population vastly increasing, the subjugation of Palestinians intensifying, and explicit threats being made to physically isolate Palestinian East Jerusalem from the West Bank and bisect all of Palestinian territory (making a contiguous state impossible). Despite American and Israeli  rhetoric of “peace talks” and “two states for two peoples,” Israel quite clearly has no plans to allow any Palestinian sovereignty west of the Jordan River.

Israel’s intransigence on this central point is not insuperable, as it happens. They are empowered by unmatched US support in the economic, military, and diplomatic realm. Plainly, they would be unable to deny Palestinian rights to statehood – the same rights Israelis insist on for themselves – without US support. Until and unless that support is withdrawn, the conflict will continue to be stalemated and the slow ethnic cleansing of Palestine that began in the early 20th century will continue.

Obama’s speech in Israel last week was thought to be strong in its advocacy of Palestinian rights. “Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer,” he said. But he made clear he would never use America’s leverage over Israel to pressure it to stop pursuing the goal of Greater Israel. That’s not only a gloomy picture for Palestinians, but it helps ensure the continued absence in America of any real understanding of what the conflict is actually about.

73 thoughts on “Greater Israel: The Defining Element of Israel-Palestine”

  1. The Arabs are trying to steal Jewish land. The Koran in 5:20-21 makes it perfectly clear that Allah has given the Holy land to the Jews. The Palestinians are an invention of the KGB in 1964. Why perpetuate the myth of the displaced indigenous Arab? Its a lie. International law and treaty together with UN charter article 80 make it unambiguous that Israel is the Jewish state and ceding land is a crime against humanity. Mr Glaser is nothing but a propagandist for the Islamofascists.

    1. Dear John: My, my, my. Such a little racist I have seldom seen. Click the heels of those shiny jackboots, Johnny Boy, and blow a kiss to your idol, the late Mr. Kahane…..

    2. What right did Allah have to give the "holy" land to the Jews, anyway?

      The real risk to Israel is not the Islamofascists, you know. The CIA thinks it's the Israelis.

      So go ahead, don't make any peace deal; just continue to insist that God gave you the land. The CIA thinks that a million and a half "original" Israelis will leave in the next twenty years, like one of my neighbors here who says he brought his family out when he learned that North Americans don't live in fear. And one and a half million Russian (sort of) Jews will go back to Russia as prospects improve there.

      Yeah, don't make peace. The last one out of Israel, turn out the lights.

    3. I am not a Muslim so what the Koran says doesn't matter to me.

      That said, in the Abrahamic tradition, the Jews have been exiled for disobeying God. Not only does the Koran and the New Testament affirm this, but so does the Jew's legal code (the Talmud, see "The Three Oaths").

      And of course, the Hebrew Bible, or what Christians call the New Testament, has God speaking in the first person about exiling the Jews. It is clear, then, that obedience is required for the Jews to have a valid claim to the land. Both Islam and Christianity affirm that Jesus is the Messiah (though the concept and his purported mission differ, of course). The Jews do not. Only when they finally accept Christ will their timeless (yet conditional) claim to the Holy Land be valid once more.

      “And Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could also be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

      “Then Yahweh appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in the land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.” (Genesis 26: 1-3)

      “And behold, Yahweh stood above it and said: ‘I am Yahweh, God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.” (Genesis 28:13)

      Yet Christian Zionists conveniently disregard other passages providing further context for understanding this covenant, such as the following:

      “You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out.” (Leviticus 20:22)

      “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments … but break My covenant … I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste … You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.” (Leviticus 26: 14, 15, 32-33, 28)

      “Therefore Yahweh was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone…. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.” (2 Kings 17:18, 23)

      “And I said, after [Israel] had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jeremiah 3: 7-8).

      How anti-Semitic of God!

    4. lol John, so racist you´re almost funny! Wake up, nobody buys the whole "Palestinians never existed" Zionist propaganda anymore, try to be a bit more original at least and invent different lies that will support your religious-fanatic claims.

    5. And the Allah has also narrated in Quran that due to there mischiefs,They were expelled mister

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  2. Dear John, you are ignorant. I have in front of me the autobiography of Shlomo Hillel, a Mossad agent who helped encourage Iraqi Jews to flee to Israel. He was born in Baghdad in 1923 and immigrated to Palestine in 1934.

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  3. John, what a gross oversimplification of history! There was no static Zionist mater planr from 1882 onwards, but an evolving situation nurtured by external environmental factors. In 1948, more Jews were expelled fro Arab countries, than were Arabs from Palestine. Today, they form a slight majority of the Israeli population. In effect there was an exchange of populations between Israel and the surrounding hostile Arab countries. Where else were these Arab Jews supposed to go?

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