Do Palestinians Not Deserve their Own State for Rejecting Past Offers?

Do Palestinians Not Deserve their Own State for Rejecting Past Offers? May 28, 2021

For the past seventy years or more, many Israeli Jews and some Christians, especially evangelicals and Pentecostals, have argued that Palestinians should not be entitled to their own state in the holy land because they rejected the two-state solution offered to them and Jews by the UN Security Council way back in 1947, thus before Israel became a state again. And these people have argued likewise concerning the solution that President Clinton put forward, called Clinton Parameters, which PLO chief Yasser Arafat had rejected as well.

But concerning the 1947 UN Partition Plan, I state in my 1990 book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (pp. 96-97, bold type is original), “Many Israeli Jews have argued that the Palestinians are not entitled to a sovereign state in Palestine because they forfeited that opportunity given them in 1948 by their rejection of the UN Partition Plan. However, in effect, the Zionists rejected it as well. Not content to wait for the plan’s implementation two months later, the Jews proclaimed Israel’s statehood, which they knew would inevitably result in war. The Arab Palestinians had some good reasons for rejecting the UN Partition Plan.” Furthermore, the plan proposed a geographical partition while making clear that it was only a suggestion so that the two parties in dispute would have to agree to final borders.

U.S. President Clinton’s plan in the year 2000 proposed a Palestinian state as then traditionally conceived, in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with Israel annexing 4-6% of the West Bank wherein 80% of the Jewish settlers lived. Everyone knew that any proposed solution must address the supposed “right of return” demanded by the Palestinian refugees. The Clinton plan did address that, but it had no solution for it.

Moreover, those Israeli Jew and Christian interlocutors often ignored that Yasser Arafat said of this Clinton plan, “I couldn’t sell it.” What did he mean? He meant he couldn’t convince the Palestinian refugees of a plan that did not include their “right of return” to their former homelands.

About half of the entire Palestinian population then consisted of refugees. Most of them lived for decades in UN refugee camps located in Jordan and some in Syria. Most of them had fled the path of war in 1948-49 and some in the Six-Day War in 1967, thereby abandoning their homes and land to try to avoid being killed. UN principles had always demanded that Israel restore those refugees to their homelands, which Israel always refused to do. If it did, Israel would no longer be a predominantly Jewish state which the Clinton Parameters recognized.

Now the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is back on the front burner due mostly to the recent eleven-day war between Israel and Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip. The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler has an article today entitled “The dueling histories in the debate over ‘historic Palestine.'” It reviews the history of the use of the word “Palestine” and then mentions the UN Security Council’s 1947 proposal to divide the disputed territory then called Mandate Palestine (today’s Israel, Jordan, Occupied Territories, and Gaza Strip) into two separate states–one for Jews and the other for Palestinians. Kessler concludes his article by saying:

“At the time of the proposed U.N. partition, Jews comprised only 33 percent of the population, owned 7 percent of the land and yet would have been given 56 percent of the former mandate. There was no reason [for Palestinians, then usually called “Arabs”] to accept such a deal. Then when the state of Israel was declared, Jewish forces forced many Palestinian families from their homes. This is documented in a 1948 Israel Defense Forces intelligence report, which said the displacement of about 70 percent of the Arabs during this time should be attributed to military operations carried out by Jewish forces, compared to only 5 percent which could be attributed to orders given by Arab leaders” to Palestinians to flee for safety. However, I might add that the specific this 1947 UN partition plan was only

So, Palestinians have indeed rejected two proposals, in 1947-48 and 2000, for getting their own state. But those proposals fell way short of anything that could be regarded as a just solution for Palestinians.

[Read free half of my book, Palestine Is Coming, at]

Browse Our Archives