Published: 12/16/10, 8:04 PM / Last Update: 12/16/10, 8:06 PM
Erekat Pulls Wool Over 'Guardian' Readers' Eyes
by Gil Ronen
Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat penned an opinion piece for the British Guardian last Friday in which he defended the PA's insistence on the "Right of Return" - the demand that Israel allow into its borders Arabs who fled Israel in 1948, as well as their descendants, numbered in the millions.. However, Erekat did some rewriting of history in the process.
Erekat opened his article by mentioning Count Folke Bernadotte, the first UN mediator to the Arab-Israeli conflict, who stated: "It would be an offense against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent [Arab] victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine."
Israel's recognition of the Arabs' "refugee rights," Erekat argued, "will lead to a lasting peace – the kind of peace envisaged by Lord Bernadotte and hoped for by Palestinians and Israelis alike."
What Erekat failed to note was that the Arab world bluntly rejected Bernadotte's plan for peace between Jews and Arabs and opted for war against the nascent state of Israel instead. As Syrian officer Muhammad Nimr al-Khatib said at the time, “Most of these mediators are spies for the Jews anyway.”
Bernadotte was appointed mediator by the UN General Assembly on May 20, 1948, and on June 11, succeeded in arranging a 30-day cease-fire. After visiting Cairo, Beirut, Amman and Tel Aviv, he proposed that the UN partition plan for the Land of Israel be scrapped, and proposed instead a plan to unite Arabs and Jews in one state consisting of a very small Jewish entity on the coast and in the Galilee, and an enlarged Transjordan. Jerusalem would be under Arab sovereignty, as would the entire Negev.
The Arabs refused to accept even this plan, however, and the Jews rejected the plan after the Arabs did.
Bernadotte noted in his journal that the "Palestinian" Arabs had little desire for independence.
The Palestinian Arabs had at present no will of their own. Neither have they ever developed any specifically Palestinian nationalism. The demand for a separate Arab state in Palestine is consequently relatively weak. It would seem as though in existing circumstances most of the Palestinian Arabs would be quite content to be incorporated in Transjordan.
Bernadotte was later assassinated by Jewish nationalists from the Lechi group - hated by the British, who named them the "Stern Gang" after their founding leader, Avraham 'Yair' Stern, who was killed by the British occupying forces.
Erekat is presumably aware of British sensitivities and probably chose Bernadotte for a reason. However, as noted - it was the Arab side that was first to reject Bernadotte's generous plan. The Arabs then launched a genocidal war against Israel - and lost it. The result included many more refugees, whom the Arabs now wish to put back into Israeli territory, along with their descendants.