Palestine – Perpetuating Propaganda Prevents Peace


By: David Singer

Propaganda can be a very effective ploy in promoting false viewpoints and opinions and has been used by the Arabs with great success in the Israel-Arab conflict.

No more has this been evident than in their concerted and continuing efforts to mislead and confuse world opinion in relation to the location of the geographical entity once called “Palestine” and the allocation of sovereignty that has taken place within that territory between Jews and Arabs over the last 90 years.

These are not esoteric statements but have real practical consequences for any lasting solution – be it “the two state solution”, “the one state solution” or any other solution that might be proposed for ending the territorial claims by both Arabs and Jews to the territory once called “Palestine”.

Arab propaganda has created the impression that Israel is located on 78% of Palestine whilst the West Bank and Gaza comprise the remaining 22% of Palestine – thereby claiming that the Jews possess sovereignty in the major part of Palestine.

In fact Israel is only 16% of historic Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza is 6% of historic Palestine and Jordan is 78% of historic Palestine – which substantiates that it is in fact the Arabs that possess sovereignty in the major part of Palestine.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as recently as 4 November 2009 Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator with Israel still continued to promote this canard against the Jews stating:

“We have accepted and recognized Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine and accepted to have our state on the remaining 22 percent of the land. Now, it seems to me that Mr. Netanyahu wants to partition this 22 percent. If this is the case, this is a non-starter.”

Ms Amanpour accepted Mr Erekat’s response without demur. She obviously believed what he was telling her – and so did the hundreds of thousands of viewers watching the interview.

This statement was repeated as fact not once – but twice – by well known Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar on 21 December when he wrote the following in an article in Haaretz:

“Without receiving anything from Israel in return, the Palestinian National Security Council declared a state [in 1988] on territory captured in the Six-Day War – 22 percent of Mandatory Palestine”

and was repeated later in the same article:

“In the eyes of the world in general, not to mention the Arab world, this 22 percent is not up for negotiation.”

These statements are utter nonsense, factually misleading and hinder – rather than assist – in efforts to find a negotiated settlement for the following reasons:

1. They fail to take into account that a sovereign Arab state already exists in 78% of Palestine and that any negotiations on the allocation of sovereignty in remaining 6% of Palestine – without the inclusion of Jordan – are destined to fail.
2. The world has recognized by the passing of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 that Israel will not be required to withdraw from the entire West Bank and Gaza but only to “secure and recognized borders.”
3. America has indicated that circumstances on the ground – namely the presence of 500000 Jews living in territory captured by Israel in 1967 – make it impossible for 100% of the West Bank and Gaza to become sovereign Arab territory.
4. The declaration of statehood by the PLO in 1988 was meaningless since the PLO never had and until this day has not achieved effective control over the area claimed by it.

Mr Eldar – not content with supporting Mr Erekat’s propaganda on the false geographical location of Palestine – also in the same article promotes another piece of choice propaganda uttered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as recently as 15 December when he stated:

“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,”

Mr Eldar’s article is itself titled “ Talk about 1967 borders, not settlement blocs.”

In the body of the article he makes mention of this fact once again when writing:

“ Until we [ Israel] reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 borders…

However the references to “1967 borders” by both President Abbas and Mr Eldar are factually incorrect and misleading.

There were no “1967 borders” between Jordan and Israel or Egypt and Israel in 1967. They were only armistice lines that had been fixed in 1949 after the Jews had repelled six Arab armies that had invaded the fledgling Jewish State of Israel the day after it announced its independence on 14 May 1948.

1949-1967 Armistice Lines

It was not until 1979 that Israel’s border with Egypt was settled in negotiations. It was not until 1994 that Israel’s border with Jordan was demarcated in negotiations.

Specifically the 1994 Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel stipulated that the defined and agreed boundary between their respective states:

“ … is the permanent, secure and recognised international boundary between Israel and Jordan, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.”

The permanent boundary in the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt is

“..the recognized international boundary between Egypt and the former mandated territory of Palestine … without prejudice to the issue of the status of the Gaza Strip.”

The status of both the West Bank and Gaza are therefore still undetermined and have to be decided between the current negotiating parties – Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Both maintain claims to exercise sovereignty in these areas in which at present neither has sovereignty.

Abbas’s demand that he be granted sovereignty in 100% of the territory is a demand and nothing more.

Describing the armistice lines as “borders” has become an integral part of propaganda used by the Arabs to suggest that the West Bank and Gaza are and have always been under Arab sovereignty. This is wrong and needs to be corrected whenever the term “1967 borders” is used. The Arabs have no monopoly or entitlement to any part of the West Bank or Gaza until their claim and Israel’s claim have been negotiated and settled.

The terms appearing in Mr Eldar’s article in Haaretz to describe the 1967 armistice lines as “1967 borders” and the West Bank and Gaza as being “22% of mandatory Palestine” are very concerning and does the paper’s editor no credit.

Accuracy in reporting should be a primary goal of one of Israel‘s major newspapers. Adopting the incorrect language of your enemies is shameful and misleads its readers into adopting views based on false facts.

I cannot believe that Mr Eldar is not fully aware of the true facts concerning these two fundamental issues that must materially impact on the conduct of negotiations designed to end the Israel-Arab conflict.

If Mr Eldar is innocently parroting the falsehoods of Mr Erekat and President Abbas then he really shouldn’t be writing op-eds on current issues involving Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Haaretz needs to raise its game or risk losing a substantial part of its readership and its journalistic integrity as well.

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