Settlement and Jewish immigration have laid the foundation for the Zionist project. During the British Mandate period, Ben-Gurion tolerated many issues, including borders and type of sovereignty, but insisted on immigration and settlement. While immigration started to recede within the Zionist project, settlement has continued to be more and more superior and central. In essence, the settlement community means two things. Firstly, while its expansion is permanent, the settlement enterprise neither recognises nor defines its borders. The latter are those of others; they are not demarcated for, or imposed on, it. Combined with Judaising the place and its identity, expansion is intertwined with hostility towards the Palestinian milieu and
As unjust as it was for Palestinians, partition had already been expected, if not almost inevitable. From the outset, the Zionist Jewish settlement enterprise was separate and sought to establish its separation with assistance from, under the aegis of and in the context of the British Mandate. The Zionist settlement enterprise did not involve a group of displaced persons and immigrants, who were willing to integrate into the then existing system and its laws. They arrived as settlers, who carried with them their collective dreams, code, law and moral and symbolic world. Their integration into the Palestinian local community was unthinkable, neither by themselves nor by the Palestinian community who viewed them as an existential threat. This way, two religiously, ethnically and economically parallel communities were born out of the British Mandate. These were mostly like parallel lines, which seldom intersected. The 1936 revolution was a milestone that entrenched this sharp division, albeit some historians such as Hillel Cohen attribute it to the Buraq Uprising events of 1929. The obvious fact stands still: the British Peel Commission had proposed partition ten years before it turned into an official UN resolution. Together with its partition proposal, the Peel Commission was one factor that took the idea of a separate and independent Jewish State out of the deliberate grey area within the Zionist project and turned it into an approved and public project in the Biltmore Conference of 1942.
In the interval between the Peel Commission and 1947 UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was established to submit recommendations on the future of Palestine, several developments took place: the Jewish Yishuv was larger and more powerful with a full panoply of means. The Palestinian community was worn out by the 1936 revolution and global sympathy with the Jewish question reached a climax. Partition was not the only proposal on the table. Of course, the Arabs and Palestinians could not imagine the significant shift in the international awareness of the Jewish question. Morally, nothing would justify the proposition of the idea of a bi-national state by the Arabs and Palestinians at the time. There is no clear justification why the indigenous population would share their land with people, who had just arrived recently. However, if hope had been pinned to overcome and avoid the Partition Plan, the only solution that was qualified to block partition would have been a bi-national state. No one knows how the UN would have dealt with a bi-national state project. However, it was possible that it would bring the initiative back to the Arab side.
At the time, the key question was not as much about partition as it concerned approval of the emerging bi-nationalism in Palestine. An overwhelming majority of states around the world believed that two nationalisms were in place regardless of the form of the solution: one or two states. Despite the minority’s view which rejected partition, the UNSCOP report considered the Jews as a national group who had the right to self-determination, albeit unnecessarily in the form of a state. The dispute addressed whether there was a need for two states. However, the UN did not engage in a genuine discussion of whether there were two nationalisms in Palestine.
Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan because it divided the people and homeland.
Palestinians could not accept such a demographic upheaval which originated in a volcanic eruption made by other nations in another continent. The Palestinian people, too, were a victim of another upheaval they had nothing to do with.
Seventy years after partition, Israel practically rejects the one-state and two-state solutions. Today, Israel counts on the disappearance and dismantlement of the question of Palestine. However, as long as Palestinians exist on the land of Palestine, that is the bet. No matter how long it takes, it is inevitably a bad bet.
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Fifty years of occupation and seventy years from partition, which led to the Nakba and establishment of Israel. Israel is a man in the seventies. He spent the last fifty years of his life as an occupier. Is the occupation merely an incident, a transient illness, in his life? Is it a constituent part of its being and nature? Is the occupation an illness, which Israel has to recover from? Is it evidence for its health, strength and agility?
The more the years pass, the twenty year interval between the Nakba and Naksa appears as a truce that is not quiet. This time marked the massacres of Kafr Qasem and Qubeiba, murder of infiltrators who returned to their homeland, and 1956 war. Overtime, this truce looks like a marginal detail in a project that is more than 120 years old. For example, who recalls that California was not part of the United States when it was established and that it was occupied almost a century later?
This year marks a 100 since the Balfour Declaration, 70 since the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, 50 since the Israeli occupation of the 1967 Palestinian territories, and we could add 120 years since the inaugural conference of the Zionist Organization in Basel. It is rather tempting to view the last three incidents as mere manifestations of a project that was planned for in Basel, and as one of the many occurrences of the 20th century in which a text translated to reality and a legend transformed into settlements. The temptation is strong but it must be resisted.
What is the nature of the foreign relations between Israel and former Soviet Union states?
How can we understand these countries’ policy transformations that were once supportive of Palestinian rights, and that have now sided with Israel in the International arena and the United Nations? The theme of this issue is a preliminary attempt to answer these questions. Within this theme, researcher Muhannad Mustafa offers an analysis of Israel-Azerbaijan relations and its impact on regional politics considering that it is a Muslim country with a Shia majority and for its strategic locality.