The 21st Century Phenomenon



The first International committee sent to Palestine in order to solve the conflict between Jews and Arabs was the King-Crane Commission in 1919. At that time there were about 500,000 Arabs inhabitants in Palestine and only about 80,000 Jews. King-Crane Comission reported a strong opposition of the Arabs to any Jewish emigration to Palestine and their recommendations were, therefore, to put strong limitation to any further Jewish immigration in order to solve the source of tension in Palestine, which reflected on all the Middle East. At that point of time almost 90% of the land was in the hands of Arabs, there was no “occupation” or a Palestinian refugee problem.

Since King-Crane Commission there were more then 100 international committees, international envoys and International interferences to put an end to the conflict between Jews and Arabs in Israel-Palestine. Looking back 90 years there was much in common between all the attempts:

A. They all represented foreign interests of foreign powers. As such their global interests overshadowed the real aspirations of the local peoples. While the foreign powers referred to the conflict as a solvable conflict on borders where the main problem was to draw the line it was, in fact, a conflict of aspirations and identities rather the a real-estate conflict. It is one of the explanations to the huge international effort to solve the Palestinian Israeli conflict while ignoring, at the same time, much larger and bloody conflicts elsewhere in the world.

B. All the committees agreed that basically, the Jewish immigration and expansion is the real source of instability in the region and therefore a limitation to Jewish expansion is necessary. In order to please the Arabs, all committees recommended to step back from the current situation to the previous one – King-Crane commission, for example, suggested that UK will withdrawal from its Balfur Declaration from 11/02/1917, which promised a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The last “Saudi Initiative” or the President’s Bush “Road Map” suggests that Israel will return to the 1967 borders although the Palestinians never accepted the 1967 borders and before the six days war in 1967 they repeatedly demanded Israel to withdrawal to the 1947 borders.     

C. All foreign initiatives were focused to put a final end to the conflict but failed, since the Arabs constantly refused to accept any “end of the conflict” if it included a sort of Jewish sovereignty in Palestine. Even when the Jews agreed, in 1937, on Phil Committee suggestion, to limit the Jewish immigration to 12,000 a year and to accept Jewish sovereignty on only 6,000 km, about 20% of Palestine, the suggestions were rejected by the Arabs since they contained recognition of the right of the Jews to a part of Palestine.  

D. Furthermore – when a bold attempt to reach an “end of the conflict” was made, intensively and aggressively, as the new USA president Barack Obama put it, and both sides where asked to let go of their dreams and aspirations for a pragmatic solution, it resulted an immediate outburst of bloodshed. The Phil Committee resulted in the “Big Arab Rebellion” of the years 1936-9, with over 4,000 Palestinian killed (by the British army). The UN Partition resolution from 11/29/1947 to divide Palestine to two states – one for the Arabs and one for the Jews – resulted in the 1948 war with many thousands casualties. The Oslo Accord, from 09/13/1993, resulted in the first wave of Palestinian suicide bombers and the bold attempt of Israeli PM Ehud Barack, in Camp David, in 08/2000, to reach an “end of the conflict” agreement with the Palestinians resulted in the second Palestinian uprising (in fact the third considering the 1936-9 rebellion) with over 1,200 Israelis and 7,000 Palestinian dead.


In the Middle East the temporary is always more durable and stable then any “final” agreement. The best way to cope with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not to seek a final solution or the “end of the conflict” but a temporary long term understanding which can enable both sides to live side by sides without resigning from their aspirations, dreams and narratives. The point is that the foreign powers never enabled the Arabs and the Jews to build their relations gradually but always pushed to the “final agreement” which, in historical perspective, caused more damage then good. 


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