The Fundamental Question

Do the Palestinians want a state?

I would submit that the most fundamental question to ask concerning the Long Arab War Against the Jews of the Middle East is this:

Do the Palestinian-Arabs want a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one or not?

It is an obvious question, but the answer to this question determines how the Jewish people, both Israeli and diaspora, should proceed going forward.   If the answer to this question is “yes” then Israel and the Jewish people should embrace the ongoing peace process.  However, if the answer to this question is “no” then Israel and the Jewish people should reject the ongoing peace process because it cannot possibly lead to peace.

Is it not obvious that if the Palestinian-Arabs truly wanted a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one that at some point in the past they might have accepted such a state?  The fact is that they have perpetually refused a state for themselves and did so long before they even conceived of themselves as “Palestinians.”  They refused statehood for themselves in 1937 and in 1947 and in 1967 and in 2000 and in 2001 and in 2008.

One would think that if the Palestinian-Arabs wanted a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one that they might have accepted at least one of the numerous offers, but they did not.  Some people might argue that none of those offers were good enough, but in that case “some people” would be entirely mistaken.

Here is a map of the British Peel Commission partition proposal from 1937.  If the Arabs had accepted this deal they would have ended up with well over 90 percent of the British Mandate of Palestine and the Jews would have ended up with a tiny sliver of land between Tel Aviv and Haifa, extending east toward Nazareth.  It is impossible to imagine a better offer to the Palestinian-Arabs than the Peel Commission proposal yet they even turned that down.

Ehuds Barak and Olmert offered Yassir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas the entirety of Gaza, well over 90 percent of Judea and Samaria, and the predominately Arab eastern sections of Jerusalem as a state for their people, yet they turned down these offers in both 2000 and 2008.  This being the case, one begins to think that maybe – just maybe – the goal is not an independent Palestinian-Arab state in peace next to the Jewish one.  One begins to wonder if perhaps the objective is something else entirely.

If this is true, which of course it is, the onus should not always and forever be entirely upon Israel to make concessions.  If the Palestinian-Arabs do not wish to have a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one then Israel should cease begging for negotiations.  If this is the case, and it is, then the entire peace process is a farce and John Kerry would do better to expend his energies elsewhere.

It is long past time for Israel to take matters into its own hands.  Because the Palestinian-Arabs have no intention of making peace with Israel then Israel should act unilaterally.  There is no point in negotiating with people who have no intention of coming to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Declare your final borders and be done with it.  What those borders should be is entirely up to you, but you should declare them and remove the IDF to behind them.

Wrap it up.


Mike Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.

About the Author
Mike Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He regularly publishes on the Arab-Israel conflict at the Times of Israel and at his own blog, Israel Thrives ( He has in recent years given conference papers on American cultural and intellectual history at The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at the Western Historical Association in Phoenix, Arizona and the American Cultural Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lumish is also the founding editor of the scholarly on-line discussion forum H-1960s. He can be contacted at