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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

From Balfour to Gaza, mistake after tragic mistake

Jim looks at a century of tragic mistakes that has led to the tragedy unfolding in Gaza. With little confidence, he suggests a solution.

Tragically it is going to be a long time before we can move from the vicious blame game that is the Gaza crisis to, one day a solution. So, who’s to blame? It is apportioned widely.

Because anyone who comments on the situation is almost bound to be attacked by one side or the other (or both), let me state at the beginning that I believe Israel has a right to exist in peace within its 1948 borders, that a demilitarised state of Palestine, should be created. and that Jerusalem should be put under the supervision of the United Nations with all faiths given access to the Holy Places.

Now let’s look at those tragic mistakes. In 1917 the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised the Jews a “national home” in Palestine. He went on to say that it must not prejudice the rights of the non-Jewish population. It was likely to be an unworkable, contradictory proposal in one country.

Exactly a century ago the League of Nations mandated Britain to rule Palestine. We should have created two states in the relatively calm 1920’s. Instead, we allowed things to drift until in the 1930’s there was a considerable growth in the Jewish population fleeing the Nazis. This alarmed the Arabs and by 1947 communal tensions had reached such a point that Britain handed the Palestine problem to the new United Nations which created the state of Israel.

The next, and perhaps biggest mistake came immediately as Israel’s neighbours attacked. This led to the flight and expulsion of 700,000 Palestinian Arabs. They have not returned.

The Arab neighbours made a further mistake in attacking Israel again in 1967. They were defeated losing East Jerusalem and crucially the west bank of the Jordan. The next mistake was Israel’s illegal settlements on the West Bank.

The next mistake was by the relatively moderate Palestinian Authority becoming corrupt and ineffective, allowing Hamas to emerge as the “serious” defenders of the Palestinian cause.

Following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the next mistake was the Palestinians voting in a Hamas government pledged to wiping out the Jewish state.

The final mistake, so far, was the Jewish people voting for a hard right government under Benjamin Netanyahu. He has no interest in a two state solution, preferring to bypass the Palestinian people and do deals with the Arab states.

By vile atrocities Hamas have put the issue back on the world’s agenda. It will only be solved by the United States putting Israel under intense pressure to agree a two state solution. This would allow the Arab states to give industrial investment to the highly enterprising Palestinian people so they could cease to be obsessed with their statehood and bring peace to the region.

This is a compressed version of the history of the area and my suggestions are probably naïve in the current awful circumstances. All I would say to critics is what is your alternative to an endless cycle of horrible violence where the Palestinians live in misery and Israel in fear?

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