Courtesy Reuters

ARAB PALESTINE: PHOENIX OR PHANTOM?

Because many Palestine Arabs are stateless under inter national law, their importance has frequently been overlooked in the numerous parleys and in the skein of complex international negotiations over the Middle East crisis. The Palestine dispute, as it is euphemistically labeled in the United Nations, has appeared on the annual agenda of the U. N. General Assembly for over twenty years, generally under the guise of assistance to refugees. Neither the principal antagonists nor the major powers officially acknowledge existence of the Palestinians as a nation-party to the dispute.

In a recent interview Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir emphasized that there is no such thing as either a Palestinian nation or people. Palestine Arabs are considered by the Government of Israel as little different from those of the surrounding Arab states. When queried about creation of a new Arab Palestine on the West Bank, Prime Minister Meir pointed out that it would be too small; only if it were part of Jordan or Israel could the area remain viable. Furthermore, she emphasized, there is no representative body speaking for the so-called Palestinians. Had the Arabs who fled in 1948 not urged Jordan's King Hussein into the June 1967 war the Hashemite Kingdom might well have become the successor state to Palestine. Israel's experience with the already existing fourteen Arab states discourages it from supporting the creation of still another. Furthermore, to treat the Palestinians as a political entity would be inconsistent with Israel's internal and external policies. At present the Israeli Government considers its principal antagonists to be the Arab states of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and, to a greater extent, the United Arab Republic. The major goal of Israel's Arab policy is to reach agreement with the U.A.R., whose President Nasser is considered the chief obstacle to peace. The Israelis believe that only after he has been convinced of the need to come to terms with Israel will other Arab nations follow suit.

The reluctance of Israel and the major powers

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