By Yoav Sorek, The Israeli Initiative
The War of Independence erupted in 1948, when the Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan and attacked the young State of Israel. During the fighting, a large number of the area’s Arabs left their homes with the expectation of returning later, accompanied by the victorious Arab armies. Israel succeeded in forming a sovereign country, and the Arabs that fled became refugees.
For many years, refugees sat in camps, while their Arab brethren chose not to rehabilitate them – perhaps out of hope that the State of Israel would disappear.
Rather than properly taking care of the refugee problem, it became a political tool. When the PLO was established in the 1960s, before the Six Day War, it used the hardship in the refugee camps to promote the cause of “Free Palestine.” In other words, according to the PLO, the problem was not the status and lives if these people, but rather the fact that they do not have a state of their own; that the Arabs do not rule over Palestine. The humanitarian problem was translated into a political one.
The Palestinians succeeded in promoting their cause. Today, the whole world talks about “two states for two nations,” as if Israel took sovereignty away from the Palestinians. Hardly anyone remembers that there has never been a Palestinian state, other than Jordan, and that the problem created in 1948 is not political, it is a humanitarian crisis.
Once we realize that this is a humanitarian issue, it can be solved.
If the problem is political, we cannot solve it.
Palestine can only rise from the ashes of a destroyed Israel – this is a matter of us or them. If we choose to treat the problem as political, it will not be solved, despite the enormous funds and effort expended towards this end.
The key to getting out of this dead-end situation is to see the issue for what it is: a humanitarian, not a political problem.