Middle East

74 years on, Palestinians remain stateless

On Nov. 29, 1947, UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 to partition Palestine between Arabs and Jews

Ramzi Mahmoud   | 29.11.2021
74 years on, Palestinians remain stateless

GAZA CITY, Palestine

The dream of Palestinians for an independent state remains farfetched as they mark the 74th anniversary of the partition of their homeland by the United Nations.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into three territories, including Jewish and Arab states, following the expiry of Britain's Palestine Mandate.

The first is an Arab state on an area of about 11136.95 square kilometers (4,300 square miles), located on the western Galilee area in Acre city of the West Bank, and the southern coast extending from Ashdod city to Rafah, with a part of the desert along the border with Egypt.

The second is a Jewish state on an area of 14762.93 square km (5,700 square miles), located on the coastal plain from Haifa to the south of Tel Aviv and the eastern Galilee, including the Lake Tiberias, Galilee Panhandle, and Negev desert.

The third area of Jerusalem and Bethlehem and their neighboring lands were designated as UN trust territories.

Although Jews formed, at the time, 33% of the total population and owned only 7% of the land, the resolution gave them a state on 56.5% of the total area of historical Palestine.

Arabs, who owned the majority of the land with 67% of the population, were only designated 43.5% of the land.

After partition

The UN resolution was met with outright Palestinian and Arab rejection, and the Arab League decried the resolution as "illegal".

The resolution was not implemented as the Jewish armed groups took control of most of the territory of Palestine in 1948 under a plan that relied on increasing the frequency of attacks on Palestinian cities and villages.

In the same year, Britain withdrew from Palestine, and the Jewish armed organizations seized Palestinian lands on which they established the state of Israel.

Three-quarters of Palestine came under Israeli control, Jordan ruled the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian authority.

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and the Syrian Golan Heights after the defeat of the Arab armies.

Despite the inking of the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993, which subjected some areas in the Palestinian territories to the control of the Palestinian National Authority, Israel was still not satisfied with the outcome.

The Jewish state continues to occupy Palestinian land, expands its settlements, and deprives Palestinians of their most basic rights.

It has imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2006 and runs projects to Judaize the occupied city of Jerusalem. It also raids cities and villages in the occupied West Bank while building a separation wall in the area.

Israeli and Palestinian estimates indicate that there are about 650,000 settlers in West Bank settlements, including occupied Jerusalem, who live in 164 settlements and 116 outposts.

International law regards both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

No solution in sight

Experts see no hope in the foreseeable future for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Talal Okal, a writer and political analyst, said after all these years, the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders has become a "farfetched dream."

"There is no room for solutions based on negotiations that would give the Palestinians an independent state, regardless of its borders, size, and specifications.” Okal told Anadolu Agency.

Besides holding Israel responsible for the current Palestinian situation, Okal said no pressure is being exercised on Israel to grant Palestinians their rights, especially in light of accelerating Arab-Israeli normalization, inter-Palestinian divisions, and a decline in international support.

He also noted that the rise of far-right groups to power in Israel means that no party “can accept political solutions and negotiations with the Palestinians."

Open option

Okal believes the main option that remains open for the Palestinians in their quest to establish an independent state is through “reviving the conflict” with Israel.

While appreciating international solidarity with the Palestinian cause, he had to contend that it remains a "public relations" issue that has no real impact on the ground.

Palestinians need to understand that "the Zionist project is expansionist and colonial, and does not seek merely to establish a state for the Jews in a specific geographical spot,” Okal said.

"We must go to revive the conflict (with Israel) again,” he added.

Palestinian reform

Okal rejects the idea of dissolving the Palestinian Authority just because the two-state solution is not in sight.

In his opinion, the function of the Authority is no longer limited to being one of the outgrowths of the Oslo Accords, citing its official diplomatic representation internationally and regionally.

"Let the Palestinian Authority remain as the actor that bears the responsibility of the Palestinians,” Okal said. “The question here is what program does this Authority adopt?"

He called for changing the Palestinian Authority's function first, in addition to rebuilding the PLO, as it is responsible for all Palestinians inside and outside Palestine.

As for resisting the Israeli occupation, Okal explained that the issue of resistance needs a discussion about its form and nature, as "it does not have to be armed."

International Solidarity Day

Coinciding with the anniversary of the partition plan is the UN-instituted International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Nov. 29, 1977.

Marking the occasion, the Palestinian National Council, which is affiliated with the PLO, affirmed in a statement on Sunday that Palestinian rights are "preserved, immutable, inalienable, and will not go away."

It called on the UN and the countries that stood behind Israel, especially Britain, to assume their legal and moral responsibilities and implement the other part of the partition resolution, by establishing the state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

The body also urged parliaments across the world to show their solidarity with the rights of the Palestinian people and condemn the Israeli occupation and its settlement policies.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar

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