Source: Duluth News Tribune
By: M. Imran Hayee
Despite vehement opposition from the U.S. and Israel, on Nov. 29, the United Nations approved the Palestine Authority’s status as “nonmember observer state.” In protest, Israel announced a brand new Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, the putative capitol of a future Palestine state.
Many presumed the UN move to be merely symbolic except that the Palestine Authority now officially can raise its voice against controversial Jewish settlements.
Opposing the UN move, Ron Prosor, Israel’s UN ambassador, remarked, “The move largely ignores the specifics of longstanding issues, such as settlements in disputed lands.”
A peek into history can reveal these longstanding issues.
The Jewish population in Palestine was only 25,000 until 1882 when the first Jewish mass immigration to Palestine began. It continued until 1903, doubling the Jewish population to almost 50,000, about 10 percent of the Arab population.
The next three decades saw three important developments.
The first was World War I, after which the Palestine Mandate was given to Britain, which earlier had pledged to establish a Jewish homeland. It did so via the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
Second, due to the persecution of Jews throughout Europe and Russia, Jewish immigrants continued to pour in. They bought land from Arabs and established settlements throughout Palestine.
Third, the rapid growth of Jewish settlements, combined with the Balfour Declaration, threatened Arabs who feared their homeland would be taken over. Skirmishes began. Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization initially founded in 1920 to defend Jewish settlements from Arab attacks, grew bigger and stronger.
In the 1930s, with the rise of German Nazism, Jewish immigration further escalated — and so did the Arabs’ fear. A massive violent Arab revolt during 1936-39 forced the British to rescind the Balfour Declaration. In its place, in a 1939 White Paper, the British recommended establishing an independent Palestine jointly governed by Arabs and Jews, according to their population proportion, imposing significant restrictions on future Jewish immigration.
Jewish settlers, eying a homeland, fought back. Read more.