Monday, July 30, 2007

Settling Sovereignty

Most people take it for granted that most of the disputed territories must ultimately end up under control of the Palestinian Arabs. For many Israelis, the determining factor is the need to maintain the character of their state as the homeland of the Jewish people while simultaneously maintaining Israel as a democracy.

This may explain why Israelis want to rid themselves of parts of the disputed territories, but it doesn't explain why anyone else would, with the exception of those enemies who really just want Israel to disappear completely.

Historically, Israel certainly has a greater connection to those territories than anyone else.

Legally, those territories were part of the British Mandate over Palestine, intended by the League of Nations to be the Jewish Homeland. Since the Arabs rejected the United Nations Partition Plan, making that proposal null and void, the Palestinian Arabs can't make a claim based on the Partition Plan.

The only legitimate basis for a claim for any of that territory by the Palestinian Arabs is the purely practical one that, for whatever reason, many of them now live there and should have the right to choose their own government and should not be forced to move.

By the same logic, the Israelis living in portions of those territories, for whatever reason, should have the right to choose their own government and should not be forced to move.

In other words, the logic behind any legitimate territorial claims by the Palestinian Arabs also further legitimizes territorial claims by Israelis, leading to a division of the disputed territories.

It's worth emphasizing that's a division, not a swap. There's no legal, historical or moral reason for "compensating" the Palestinian Arabs for not giving them all the disputed territories by also giving them parts of what has been part of Israel since 1948 -- unless Jordan was going to compensate Israel for the portions of the disputed territories given to the Palestinian Arabs by giving Israel parts of what has been part of Jordan during the same period.

Much of the same reasoning applies to the Golan Heights; more on that another day.

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