Where is Palestine

by JODI LEVY - Date: 2007-03-18 - Word Count: 674 Share This!

It's the number one topic on the world's political agenda. It's considered more important than the Iranian nuclear threat or the Iraqi war. The drive for a State in Palestine gains constant momentum, propelled by the iron will of the international community. The Palestine issue is entrenched in the collective conciousness as the single most urgent obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and, by proxy, the world.

And yet, even as road maps and initiatives fly, there seems to be a need to get back to the basic fundamentals of the issue at hand. Since we are talking about a specific people (Palestinians) and a specific geographic landmass (Palestine), these obvious details should surely at this point be redundant. That would be the case, except for the fact that the negotiators are still debating "Israel's right to exist". Since there is clearly some doubt cast over the basic geographic realities on the ground, there is a growing, urgent need to set the record straight.

So where is Palestine?

Well, it depends who you ask. You may be given any number of the folowing answers: Israel, Judea and Samaria, The West Bank and Gaza, Jerusalem, somewhere in the Middle East..... These are the vague responses offered by the world's major media outlets, political delegations, United Nations, Arab experts and even, sadly, some marginal Israeli public doctrine.

The correct answer is, all of the above, and Jordan. That is: Jordan, Israel's neighbour, with whom they share their modern beginnings, a peace treaty, a border, and a common problem: the Palestinians.

Formal use of the term ‘Palestine" returned after WWI. The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement to divide the remains of the Ottoman Empire between the British and French rapidly paved the way for the San Remo Conference and then League of Nations approval of the British Mandate for Palestine in 1922. That geographic area included what is Israel and Jordan today. During the intervening years the British had meanwhile handed over 77% of Palestine, the land east of the jordan river, to Emir Abdullah for administration: Transjordan, today known as Jordan. The other 23%, via the Balfour Declaration, formally accepted by the League of Nations, was slated for a Jewish national homeland, today known as Israel.

By the time the British Mandate for Palestine was formally signed, the area formerly known singularly as Palestine had come to be known as Palestine and Transjordan. Palestine had now legally and officially been divided between Jew and Arab, into 2 sovereign states, 23% for the Jews and 77% for the Arabs, in an international agreement.

From this point onward, history seems to have been frozen in time. Due to an administrative slip of the tongue, the world's collective memory has forgotten that Palestine comprised both Israel and Jordan. The world has forgotten that for decades both Jews and Arabs were known as Palestinians. At no time was there ever a single sovereign nation, or people, of Palestine. In fact, Jordan today comprises over 65% of Palestinians. Israel (including all territories) comprises less than 50%.

What is patently obvious is that trying to solve a geographic problem with the wrong map is bound for disaster. What is not so clear is why such a simple historical fact has been forgotten, or far more sinister, ignored. What is required today is a fresh start. Let's call it the Trio, since the world seems to respond to classical music these days.

The Trio would be comprised of Israel, Jordan, and the British. The 2 successor sovereign states of the British Mandate for Palestine, guided by their original benefactor. Whether there need be a third state in Palestine or not, let the original sovereign signatories expand or contract their own borders to solve both their growing demographic crises. Following that initiative, the Trio could become a new Quartet, to include the deserving Americans. Or a Quintet, say, if the Palestinians were to renounce terror.

The ultimate success would be for the revival of history as an international orchestration. That's when we might see real peace in the Middle East.

Related Tags: quartet, jordan, britain, united nations, palestine. israel, british mandate

Jodi Levy is a designer, copywriter and mother of 3 who is deeply concerned about the world's selective memory when dealing with Israel.

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