Of palestinism and pragmatism

Personal Archive
posted on:
26 In dec 1975
An article by Begin about the dangers posed to Israel by 'Palestinianism,' the belief that there should be a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. First begin takes apart the idea of giving the land to King Hussein of Jordan, as King Hussein refuses to even mediate on the matter and instead has given all negotiating authority to the PLO. He also insists on a complete withdrawal to the pre-Six Day War lines and references the borders of the 1947 partition resolution, implying that he will want a further withdrawal to those borders at a later date. Some say that they can accept a Palestinian state as long as Arafat is not in power, and Begin points out how there is no way to keep Arafat from assuming power in a sovereign Palestinian state that would almost certainly invite him to lead, putting Israel and its citizens in mortal danger. Because there is no way to stop Arafat from taking over a Palestinian state there is nothing pragmatic about wanting to create such a state.
keywords: 207279
selected quotes from article new search

Menachem Begin


The Alignment is all at sixes and sevens over the question to whom the areas of Judea and Samaria, which were liberated from Hashemite occupation in the Six Day War, should be handed over.  Some claim that Hussein should be the recipient.  Changing times and fashions cause others to be prepared to hand them over to a rule that is being defined as Palestinian.  The moral, historical tragedy is that those Zionists do not even consider a third possibility, which should of course be the first; to maintain Hebrew sovereignty in these parts of Eretz Israel.  We ask them from time to time, in the Knesset and elsewhere, whether that is the only alternative for Judea and Samaria: one Arab rule or another, what about the Jewish people and the rights it has had ever since it became a people?

By presenting this basic question one does not absolve oneself from answering any problem of policy or security.  On the contrary, rejecting the paradoxical alternative means seeing the facts of life as they are.  There is no difference or distinction between the historic right, which is always a present one, and the right to security, which is a matter of everyday life.  If Judea and Samaria were taken from us, the basis of our security would be destroyed, and with it, inevitably, every prospect of peace.  In order to prove that this is true, there is no need for projections of the future; past experience is enough.  Did we have security, did we enjoy a single day of peace, when the enemy stood at Bethlehem, at Nablus, at Tulkarem and Kalkiliyeh?  People's memories are short: facts are soon forgotten, particularly if there is someone who is interested that they should be forgotten.  But if we want to assure the future by learning the lesson of the past, we must be aware that the occupation of parts of the homeland has always meant continuous bloodshed and threats of pushing us into the sea.  The short distance between the line which was called the border and the sea encouraged those threats and made the Arabs less inclined to think in terms of making peace with Israel.

We must therefore stress again that our right to Eretz Israel is not an "abstract" one, as the humourless mockers try to pretend in their irresponsibility.  It is a very substantial, present right.  It means our life and security.  But those who want to be (only) pragmatical and are proud of it, must ask themselves whether, in view of the foreseeable developments, they are not daydreaming when they speak of the first alternative (Hussein) and would expose us all to immediate disaster by choosing the second (a Palestinian state).  Let them consider carefully where their so-called pragmatism leads, and perhaps, on thinking it over, they will reach the conclusion that they would do well to change their ways.


Hussein has also been interviewed by NEWSWEEK's well known correspondent De Borchgrave.  For our purposes, a few of the King's answers to the interviewer's questions are relevant.

Q.: Will Jordan be prepared to take part (at the Geneva Conference)?

A.: We are no longer directly involved in negotiations for the return of the West Bank; since the PLO has been authorized to negotiate for the return of the occupied Palestinian territory, we think the PLO should take part at the Geneva Conference from the beginning, even without us.

  1. What could, in your opinion, be the outcome of the Security Council debate on January 12, with the PLO taking part?
  2. What matters, is that the Security Council has decided to discuss the entire Middle East problem on the basis of all relevant UN resolutions. It follows that Resolution 242 is now equally important as the original resolution of 1947 on the partition of Palestine…
  3. In view of Israel's uncompromising position that there can be no third (Arab) state, would it not be better to seek a Palestinian solution through the mediation of Jordan?
  4. We Arabs cannot be expected to determine our policy according to Israel's positions. Jordanian mediation on the matter is not relevant.
  5. The PLO believes that it can isolate and liquidate Israel….How can one establish trust in order to provide an incentive to peace?
  6. Israel is the country that wants to expand in the region. The Arabs are the ones who need an assurance that Israel is prepared to live in peace within its original borders.
  7. Which borders—those of 1947 or those of 1967?
  8. The agreed Arab position now (my italics-M.B.) refers to the borders of 1967.

Now-with self-evident stress.  Let us consider the political, practical meaning of these answers, which cannot be accused of lacking clarity.  Our official spokesmen still speak of a Jordanian-Palestinian State in Judea, Samaria, and Transjordan.  They talk about yesterday as if it had become today.  They completely disregard the Rabat Conference; but the king of their dreams insists on waking them from their sleep.  He states in so many words that it is the PLO (to borrow the language of the enemy) that is authorized to negotiate for the future of Judea and Samaria, while he, Hussein, has decided to stay away even from mediation.  Israel must talk directly to Arafat and vacate those parts of Eretz Israel for him.

But we should also note the word "now," which I italicized in Hussein's last answer.  The Arabs agree now to an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines…please note that the moderate, charming king-who more moderate than he?-when he speaks of the Security Council resolution about "all relevant UN resolutions," draws attention to the equal importance of the resolution of 1947.  In other words, a withdrawal to the 1967 line now, and later there will be a demand for the implementation of the resolution of 1947.

And if after all that, we are again told by those who govern us in majesty and deep isolation that the solution of the Palestinian problem will be found in negotiations with Jordan and by means of the establishment of a Jordanian-Palestinian State including Judea and Samaria, then this means that those who call themselves pragmatists have become dogmatists, that they have ears and cannot hear, eyes and cannot read, and feet set firmly in the clouds.  The connection between their political evaluations and reality is not even coincidental; in is simply nonexistent.


If that is the case, others in the Alignment say, we should agree and even propose to establish a Palestinian State in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.  Those who say so, adding something about self-determination for the Palestinian people, are very proud of themselves: they keep pace with the spirit of the times, they are concerned for human progress, so why should they not be proud?  In certain circles, there is now something like a Palestinian fashion: a new measuring rod of progressive thinking.  Who recognizes the Palestinian entity, is progressive, who regards it as an instrument of Israel's destruction, is a reactionary.  This is the inversion of the truth, just as it was when the hallmark of progressiveness was a man's attitude to the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.  Well I remember how our papers wrote in those days that whoever is in favour of the Soviet regime is progressive, and whoever is against it is reactionary.  Now the years have passed, and everyone realizes, even if not everyone admits, that that was the opposite of the truth.

I am sure that the day will come when it will be realized that Palestinianism is also highly reactionary; for it wants to take us back to those dark days when there was no Jewish State, when the Jewish people was deprived from its land, from its historical home.  To make injustice undone is progressive; to bring it back is reactionary.  Bur for the present, dark reaction celebrates its relative success in its progressive guise; which is why our people also believe that they are most progressive when they are in favour of a Palestinian State in Western Eretz Israel.  Even the Pope thinks as they do.

But at the same time they will swear that the Palestinian State which they would establish must not be an Arafat State.  They do not deny that an Arab State within Eretz Israel which would be ruled by Arafat and his cohorts, would be a mortal danger to Israel. Palestinians-si; Arafat-no-as it is the fashion to put that kind of thing today.

They should ask themselves, though, whether their yes or no or any combination of the two has any realistic meaning.  It is our duty to make them open their eyes, so that they shall not, in their self-induced blindness, bring a disaster over our people, over our children.  Say that a State which called itself Palestine would be established in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza under the rule of, for instance, a number of mayors of Arab towns; it would not take twenty-four hours before those sovereign rulers would call on Arafat and his associates to take over.  That would be an entirely inevitable process in the wake of the Rabat resolutions and the invitation of Arafat's representatives to the Security Council.  Overnight, victory arches would be set up for Arafat, and he would make his triumphant entry in Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jericho to an applause of which the world has not witnessed the like since Hitler marched into Vienna.  And what could Israel do then?  Arafat would have been invited by the sovereign act of a sovereign State.  Would Israel have the right to intervene to prevent that?

It would be part of the implementation of the right of national self-determination of the Palestinians which we had recognized of our own free will, and we could not very well interfere.  If we would intervene by military force, that would inevitably mean a war on all fronts; and we would not want that.  There are therefore grounds for assuming that Arafat would be allowed, also because of worldwide pressure, to put himself into control of Judea and Samaria.  There would be no way of avoiding such a development.  Thus we would have the establishment, overnight, of what we all rightly call an Arafat State.  It appears that there is nothing pragmatic about the Jewish Palestinism.  It is entirely a miscalculation and self-deception.  There is no Palestinian State but an Arafat State.  To say no to Arafat, but yes to a Palestinian State, is contradicting oneself.  The facts themselves show hat to invite the Arabs of Eretz Israel to establish a Palestinian State, means inviting Arafat to rule them and run their affairs.  That is pragmatism.