I know that people like to simply say “The Palestinians”, but we are actually dealing with two very different groups, different experiences and different histories, and trying to make sense of it whilst not separating them. The one group lived in Judaea/Samaria, on what became known as “the West Bank” and the other in Gaza.
Those on the “the West Bank” were Jordanian citizens until 1988, when I roamed both areas, they still hoped to be reunited. I found peaceful friendly people, who appreciated the economic rises, the health and education, the fact that they were flourishing in the 70s and 80s.
There were open borders and they enjoyed shopping in nearby Afulah, whilst I would take the Arab taxis to visit in Jenin or Tulkarm, because they passed by my kibbutz. Good people seeking a better life.
Then there is the other group. They came out of the paramilitary groups created by the Palestinian clans in the 1930s.
In the 1936-39 Arab revolt, the al Husseini clan took out the other clans’ military capability, with 5,000 Arab-Arab deaths.
They then fought against Israel in 1948, planted bombs in bread and watermelons in the 50s, and even spread little shiny “button mines” that children might pick up.
In the 60s they went in for international hijackings, mostly planes killing mostly Jews.
In 1970, the Palestine Liberation Organization – PLO tried to take Jordan, but failed. They then took southern Lebanon and launched massive attacks on Israel from there, whilst triggering a long and costly civil war.
This was also the time Russia took them in hand. Many of the leaders, people like Yasser Arafat, attended the Lumumba University in Moscow where they learnt the arts of becoming “freedom fighters”.
At that time they combined forces with Marxist terrorist groups globally, and you found German terrorists from Bader Meinhoff executing the Entebbe hijacking of Air France together with Arab counterparts.
The Japanese Red Army also launched a massive attack on Tel Aviv airport on behalf of their Arab allies.
So whilst there was no terrorist attacks from either Gaza or the “the West Bank”, the occupied territories, Israel was plagued by attacks, many focusing on the children, that came from the north, from Lebanon and Syria, where the Palestinian terrorist groups were based. Names like the high school at Ma’alot, the school bus at Avivim, and the baby house at Kibbutz Misgav Am spring to mind.
The watershed that brought us to where we are was Oslo. It allowed the terrorist groups into the territories.
First came the PLO, and they quickly invited all the terrorist groups that had ever killed Israelis to come and form the Palestinian Authority. They came from Lebanon and Syria, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – PFLP, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine – DFLP, and even a Palestinian offshoot of A Saika, a Syrian terrorist group formed by Syrian army officers. These were/are people who cared nothing for Palestinians and Palestinian welfare and aspirations. As leaders they have done little beyond encouraging children to roam the streets of Israel, looking to martyr themselves by killing Jews.
What they did was to launch the second Intifada.
Never before has Israel suffered such civilian losses to terrorism in Israel, over 1,000 people killed in 4 short years. For Americans to get a handle on that, it would be around 50,000 American civilians, or seventeen 9/11s.
Israel slammed those open borders shut, set up checkpoints to weed out terrorists, and began building a very effective fence to protect its citizens. The rest, I suppose, is history. I miss the environment and people I had grown to appreciate, especially around Tulkarm.
This, hopefully, helps explain why peace has been so elusive, why the PA pays terrorists, why every plan presented was rejected, and will be rejected.
To learn more, you can read the various charters, and the PLO’s “10 Point Program” of 1974. It’s an eye opener.
That is also the year the Arab League declared the PLO “Sole Legitimate Representative of the Palestinian People”, and this was ensconced by the UN.
The PLO has never faced a Palestinian election and never will, by constitution. Yet they are the only ones authorised to deal internationally on behalf of the ‘Palestinians’. The “10 point program” shows how closely it came to pass.
So here we are today, two separate groups with two separate needs. One always making a life for families and children, the other, never having lived in any Palestinian territory, but spent decades in only fighting and violence.
In seeing this reality, it becomes abundantly clear that there cannot be peace for the one, until the stranglehold of the other is removed, and ‘Palestinians’, the ones who always lived in those territories, are free to take their own destiny in hand.