by Wallace Edward Brand

It is evident that the Palestinian Arabs are less interested in nation-building a state than destroying the existing Jewish state of Israel. Recently, Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah's central committee spoke in Arabic in a program of Al Jazeera. A translation by MEMRI plainly states that the current demand of Mahmoud Abbas to return to the Armistice Boundaries of pre 1967 as boundaries of the Palestinian State and to tear down Israel's protective fence, is anticipated to result in the destruction of Israel. He suggests that this view be kept secret from the West. [1]

It is clear that during the 400 years the Ottomans ruled the Middle East, Palestine was a wasteland, with sparse vegetation and sparse population -- it was hardly capable of minimal survival, let alone of developing a passion for self-rule. The swamps were drained by the early Jewish settlers, ridding the wasteland of malaria. [2]

The question arises: was there a genuine nationalist movement among the Arabs who lived in Palestine, the majority of whom -- in the period 1880-1948, both Ottoman and post-Ottoman but pre-Israeli -- migrated into the region of the Middle East then known as Mandated Palestine.

In April 1974 a book by the eminent historian, Professor Yehoshua Porath, entitled The Emergence of the Palestine-Arab National Movement 1918-1929[3] purported to document the rise of nationalism in Palestine during that period. More recently, in the late 70's Major General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who had been the highest ranking defector from the Soviet bloc during the Cold War, stated from his personal knowledge that the PLO Charter had been drafted in Moscow in 1964.[4] He had been in charge of Soviet bloc affairs in the Middle East in the 1960s and 1970s. James Woolsey, a former Director of the US CIA says he is personally credible.

I looked diligently but the very first reference to "The Palestinian Arab People" I had seen was in the preamble of the PLO Charter where it is used three times[5]. The preamble also referred to the quest of that people for political self-determination. Pacepa said it was drafted in Moscow. It was affirmed by 422 members of the Palestinian National Council, a body formed contemporaneously in 1964. Each of the members of this Council, according to Pacepa, was hand picked by the KGB.[6]

I was surprised to find that there was evidence of a Palestinian Nationalist Movement prior to 1964. Professor Porath's book is no longer in print and used copies sell for $70 or more but I was able to obtain a copy through an interlibrary loan. When I read his book, I found that the book in fact only documented an Anti-Zionist movement of the Arabs who live in Palestine rather than a Nationalism movement.

This was consistent with an entry in Count Folke Bernadotte's diary.[7] Count Bernadotte was an investigator for the UN during the UNSCOP hearings in 1948, considering whether Palestine should be partitioned. He had noted in his diary that there was no evidence that there was a nationalism movement among the Arabs local to Palestine nor that there ever had been.

"The Palestinian Arabs had at present no will of their own. Neither have they ever developed any specifically Palestinian nationalism. The demand for a separate Arab state in Palestine is consequently relatively weak. It would seem as though in existing circumstances most of the Palestinian Arabs would be quite content to be incorporated in Transjordan."

There is much evidence of a pan Arab nationalism movement before and during Professor Porath's time period particularly focused among Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula. They had been ruled by the Turks from Constantinople for 400 years prior to 1920. Great Britain responded to that movement by offering political self determination to Arabs who fought on the side of the Allies during WWI. The Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula took advantage of that offer as had been popularized in the stories of newsman Lowell Thomas about Lawrence of Arabia although these were overblown to sell newspapers. But according to Winston Churchill, in the debates over the infamous Chamberlin 1939 British White Paper, the Arabs local to Palestine had fought against the Allies in WWI on the side of the Ottomans.

There is some slight evidence that after the war, with Ottoman rule no longer available, there was a pan Syria-Palestine national movement but Professor Porath says that was broken off and became a Palestinian movement because the Syrians were too soft on Zionism. Professor Efraim Karsh who studied under Porath, writes in his recent book Palestine Betrayed that there was no evidence of "cohesion or commonality" among the Arabs in Palestine in the 1948 period — and refers to evidence that shows just the opposite of Professor Porath's view. [8].

Finally, a member of the PLO Executive Committee named Zahir Muhsein gave an interview in 1973 to the Dutch newspaper Trouw[9] also confirming that there was no such thing as "The Palestinian People", that the term was used as a political ploy, and that just as soon as the PLO had annihilated the Jews in Palestine they would merge their country with Jordan.


MANY HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF THE TERM PALESTINIAN PEOPLE commencing in the 1967 time period and noted that there were no "Palestinian People". Golda Meir noted that "Palestinian" was the term applied to Jewish soldiers in the Palestinian Brigade, formed to assist the Allies during the war.[10] Hafez Assad also had stated there was no Palestinian People, that these were citizens of Greater Syria.[11] Professor Porath has been associated with left wing politics, but, has recently moved to the right following the Arab claim to Rachel's Tomb.

In 1920 in the San Remo Agreement the WWI Allies gave Israel exclusive political or national rights over all of Palestine, both West and East of the Jordan River.[12] The boundaries had been defined after the War by a British and French Commission.[13] See the text of the San Remo Agreement and the French process verbal to the Mandate which provided that their understanding of the Mandate was that it did not eliminate any existing right of the non-Jews in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration preserved the civil and religious rights of the non-Jews. It could not preserve their political rights because the non Jews local to Palestine never had had any. It had always been ruled from afar.

The League of Nations adopted the agreement and drafted a trust agreement that it called a Mandate.[14] But it did not issue the first draft; the delay was likely caused by the disagreement of one of the Allies, the United States. The progressive Woodrow Wilson was one of those opposing the granting of exclusive political rights to the Jews who were a minority of the population.

During the period of delay, the French had deposed King Feisal whom the British had placed on the throne of Syria. His brother Abdullah marched his army from the Hejaz to Eastern Palestine and made ready to attack the French. In the Sykes-Picot Agreement between the British and the French,[15] negotiated at the time of the Balfour Declaration, but kept secret, England had agreed to a zone of influence for France that had included Syria. Churchill did not want Abdullah to make war on the French. His solution was to give Abdullah the land "trans-jordan" on the other side of the Jordan River, Palestine's East Bank. He also placed Feisal on the throne in Iraq. With this done, England urged the League to amend its first draft to include a paragraph 25 that it thought would permit the League to remove some 78% of Palestine from the area over which the Jews were to have exclusive political rights. The League accepted the revision and issued the Mandate in 1922 with a new paragraph 25.[16] My own view is that paragraph 25 did not authorize the British to exclude Jewish settlements of the East Bank of the Jordan as they did, an exclusion that Jordan has preserved. A paragraph of the Mandate prohibiting racial discrimination was one that was specially preserved despite paragraph 25.

In 1948 the Arab Legion, supplied and led by Great Britain invaded the Mandate West of the Jordan River and had captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, now referred to as the "West Bank". Egypt, invading from the South, had captured a strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea containing the City of Gaza and referred to as the Gaza Strip. Hence, from 1948 to 1967, there were two parts of Palestine that were ruled by Jordan, and one by Egypt.

During that period one can find no evidence of any nationalism movement by Arabs local to Palestine. In fact the identity of those labeled in the PLO Charter as "The Palestinian Arab People" has varied from time to time. In 1964 when the Soviets drafted the PLO charter they excluded from their definition of "Palestinian Arab People", the Arabs in Jordan and those in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. That left as "the Palestinian Arab People", according to the PLO, only the Arabs inside the Green Line now smarting under the proposition of having to acknowledge Jews as their equals rather than dhimmi second class citizens and even to be humiliated by having to defer to Jewish police at check points. After the 1967 war, the PLO's defined Palestinian Arab People grew rapidly when the PLO removed the some of the exclusions from the definition of Palestinian Arab People. Now this alleged cohesive group were the Arabs INSIDE the Green Line as well as those OUTSIDE in the West Bank and Gaza (but not Jordan). But then came Oslo and the composition of the Palestinian Arab People changed once again. The PLO as sole representative of the Palestinian Arab People claimed that its national group would exclude those Arabs INSIDE the Green Line, a complete volte face. Only those OUTSIDE the Green Line were to be the Palestinian Nationalists (excluding the Jordanians).

A recent poll[17] indicated that many Arabs who live in the West Bank would prefer to live under Israeli rule. Some think that they may soon have a chance if -- in reaction to the so-called Palestinians on September 23rd abandoning the terms of the Oslo agreement by making a bid to have their statehood declared by the UN Security Council -- Israel will annex the West Bank. Corrected numbers for the Arab population of the West Bank, the lower birth rate of Arabs there currently, and the much higher birth rate for Jewish settlers,[18] would appear to permit Israel to annex the West Bank without jeopardizing its Jewish democracy. Excluding Gaza helps too.

Annexing Samaria and Judea would be rubber-stamping what has legally been acknowledged since the Mandate days: that Mandated Palestine is reserved for the Jewish people in an irrevocable trust.[19] A recent symposium brought together some 22 eminent authors have submitted articles in a collection entitled: "Israel's Rights as a Nation State in International Diplomacy"[20] for the purpose of providing a counterpoint to the Arab false canon that the Jewish state has no lawful basis.

One excellent article is by Sir Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill's biographer. His article is reproduced in full in an attachment.[21] In it he quotes from a contemporaneous British Foreign Office Memo.

"How these laws [adopting the policy of the Balfour Declaration] were to be regarded was explained in a Foreign Office memorandum of 19 December 1917 by Arnold Toynbee and Lewis Namier, the latter a Galician-born Jew, who wrote jointly: 'The objection raised against the Jews being given exclusive political rights in Palestine on a basis that would be undemocratic with regard to the local Christian and Mohammedan population,' they wrote 'is certainly the most important which the anti-Zionists have hitherto raised, but the difficulty is imaginary. Palestine might be held in trust by Great Britain or America until there was a sufficient population in the country fit to govern it on European lines. Then no undemocratic restrictions of the kind indicated in the memorandum would be required any longer.'"

The Americans voted on this policy adopted in the Mandate separately as we were not members of the League. In 1922 the Mandate was approved by a Joint Resolution of Congress over the opposition of Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives.[22] In 1924, under a new American Administration, it was incorporated in a treaty, the Anglo American Convention of 1924 and as treaty law became the domestic law of the US and England as well as International Law based on the San Remo Agreement and the League confirmation of it in the British Palestine Mandate.[23]

One also needs to realize that if it is acceptable that U.N. create another Arab state in Mandated land, thus repudiating a major responsibility and breaking the irrevocable trust that it undertook when the U.N. was created, then are not the other divisions of the Ottoman Empire -- the creation of independent Arab states such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Yemen and United Arab Emirates as well as the absorption of parts of the Empire into Saudi Arabia and Yemen -- also in legal jeopardy? These states were created under the same authority as was the Jewish state.

End Notes


[2] See: George Gilder, "The Economics of Settlement" george-gilder-the-economics-of-settlement/

[3] Yehoshua Porath, The Emer/gence of the Palestine-Arab National Movement 1918-1929 (Routledge, 1995), ISBN-10: 0714641812, ISBN-13: 978-0714641812

[4] Wallace Brand, "Russia, The Creators Of The PLO And The Palestinian People",

[5]  The preamble to the Charter is available at "The emphasis [is] on the view of Palestine as part of an Arab collective homeland. [Article 3] The pan-Arab objective in the Arab-Israeli conflict is rather pervasive — the destruction (al-qada-ala) of Israel. However, noticeably missing is the call for a Palestinian state and the subordinate position of the Palestinians in what is expressed as a battle for their rights and homeland." Pan-arabism is deemphasized in the 1968 revised Charter, available at, Netaxs writes, "Note, however, that the PLO's translation sometimes deviates from the original Arabic so as to be more palatable to Western readers. For example, in Article 15, the Arabic is translated as 'the elimination of Zionism,' whereas the correct translation is "the liquidation of the Zionist presence.' 'The Zionist presence' is a common Arabic euphemism for the State of Israel, so this clause in fact calls for the destruction of Israel, not just the end of Zionism."

[6]  Wallace Brand, "Soviet Russia, the creators of the PLO and the Palestinian people," soviet-russia-creators-of-plo-and_31.html

 [7] Cited as "New York Post, (July 14, 1948). Folke Bernadotte, To Jerusalem (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951), p. 113," by the Jewish Virtual Library ( See also: Wallace Edward Brand, "The Year the Arabs Discovered Palestine"

[8] Efraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed (Yale University Press, April 2011), ISB ISBN-13: 9780300172348, ISBN: 0300172346, Pp. 239-241


[10] "Who are the 'Palestinians?'"


[12] San Remo Convention, Text_of_the_Resolution

[13] Franco-British Boundary Agreement of 1920, final report approved by the British and French on 7 March, 1923


[15] Sykes-Picot Agreement,

[16] Excerpt from the final version of the British Mandate for Palestine Article 25.

In the territories Iying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.

[17] Debbie Schussel, "No Surprise: 70% of Palestinians Prefer Israeli Rule,"

[18]  Yoram Ettinger, "Demographic optimism in the new year,"

[19]  Howard Grief, "Legal Rights And Title Of Sovereignty Of The Jewish People To The Land Of Israel And Palestine Under International Law,"

[20] Conference - "The Rights of Israel as a Nation-State of the Jewish People in International Diplomacy", 19 September 2011. The full collection can be downloaded from

[21] Sir Martin Gilbert, 'An Overwhelmingly Jewish State" - From the Balfour Declaration to the Palestine Mandate,

[22] Eli E. Hertz, "The U.S. Congress in 1922,"

[23] Office for Israeli Constitutional Law, "The Anglo American Treaty of 1924,"


Wallace Edward Brand is a retired lawyer living in Virginia. Contact him by email at

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