Toward Peace in the Holy Land

Courtesy Reuters

The uprising that began in December 1987 in the territories Israel has occupied for over twenty years ranks as the fourth major attempt by the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine to stem the Zionist colonization of the country. First was the rebellion of 1936-39 against Britain’s policy, exercised under its League of Nations mandate, for a Jewish National Home; then came the resistance to the 1947 U.N. General Assembly resolution to partition Palestine, which developed into a civil war before the regular war that broke out when the British left on May 15, 1948. Third, from 1964-65 onward, came the rise among the Palestinian diaspora of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and guerrilla movements against the status quo.

Today, in contrast to the three earlier instances, the Palestinians on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip are face-to-face with their perceived dispossessors, with no third party or geographic distance intervening. While the Israelis wield all state powers, the chief weapons of the Palestinians are the stones of the countryside. If the areas of Israel proper and those in the occupied territories already colonized, requisitioned or annexed are subtracted from the total area of Mandatory Palestine, the Palestinians in the occupied territories today stand on no more than 15 percent of the soil of the country.

In a statement read out at a Jerusalem hotel on January 14, 1988, which might be called the Jerusalem Program, leading representatives of the uprising outlined their aspirations and demands for lifting the oppression of the occupation and achieving "real peace" between Israel and the Palestinian people.

A certain Masada-like poignancy attaches to this latest manifestation of the Palestinian collective will, and with it a legitimate claim to the attention and concern of the outside world.


The Palestinian national identity had already begun to take shape at the beginning of World War I. It crystallized during the British Mandate (1918-48) in the resistance to Zionism. The notion that the Palestinians were a people, and merited a

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