In the Public Prints: The "Jordan Option" Is Based upon Blatant Falsification of History

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In the Public Prints: The "Jordan Option" Is Based Upon Blatant Falsification of History

By Sheldon L. Richman

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli official whom my colleague Leon Hadar calls the "Joe Isuzu of the Middle East," lived up to his billing during his service as spokesman for the Israeli delegation at the December peace talks in Washington. "We think," he said, "that the Palestinian problem should be resolved within the context of Jordan, that is the national aspiration side, which would be solved within that context."

For anyone still tuned in, Netanyahu continued: "We envision an ultimate settlement that has from the desert to the sea two states. A state--an Arab state--that is Jordan of course, that comprises a Palestinian majority and satisfies the national aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs--and a Jewish state."

In other words, there already is a state for the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians: Jordan. The Arabs, he said, "are trying to create an artificial state [in the occupied territories] on the false assumption that there is a separate peoplehood, Palestinian...on this small rock, this barren rock, called the West Bank. They're saying that a new people has formed. That's simply not true. No one will tell me that an Arab living in Nablus or an Arab living in Hebron, or an Arab living in Bethlehem, a Palestinian living there, is of a different people than his brother or his cousin or his mother that is living 20 miles away in Amman or in Irbid."

Meir's Invidious Remark: "There Was No Such Thing as Palestinians"

All this recalls Golda Meir's invidious remark: "How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to...There was no such thing as Palestinians. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself a Palestinian people, and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist."

Netanyahu's tack is so ridiculously false to the historical reality as to call into question his good faith. The fraudulent history upon which both Meir and Netanyahu draw was elaborated in one of those propaganda pieces by the organization amusingly called Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME). As the ad put it, "All of `Palestine'--east and west of the Jordan River--was part of the League of Nations mandate. Under the Balfour Declaration all of it was to be the `national home for the Jewish people.' In violation of this mandate, Great Britain severed the entire area east of the Jordan--about 75 percent of Palestine--and gave it to the Arabs, who created on it the kingdom of Transjordan."

In fact, the British never promised the entire mandate area to the Zionists. The Balfour Declaration said only that the British government approved of the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." The British had rejected the Zionist draft declaration calling for "recognizing Palestine as the National Home for the Jewish people."

Transjordan was not Britain's to give to the Arabs, who already had it, just as Palestine was not Britain's to give to the Zionists.

Contrary to FLAME's contention that Britain violated the mandate by severing Transjordan from Palestine, what the British actually did was violate the evolution of the Middle East by severing Transjordan from Syria. During the 400-year rule by the Ottoman Turks, Palestine and Transjordan were part of separate administrative divisions. …