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A long time ago, in an alternate universe...
The common anti-Zionist narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based on a few foundation myths, some of which are very popular and persistent in the Middle East. New myths are added to correspond with each actual historical event. To review some of the main ones:
1- Myth: "Zionist Settlement displaced the Palestinian Arabs" - The fact is that Palestinian Arab population multiplied and prospered by any possible measure between 1917 and 1948, and a result of the Zionist settlement and not despite it. (see† Zionism and its Impact and Did the Zionists plan to dispossess the Arabs of Palestine?)
2. Myth: "Massacres and racism of Arab Palestinians was a reaction to Zionist cruelty and massacres"† -† The first Arab-Palestinian massacres were in 1920, and the first anti-Semitic remarks were made about then, if not before.
For example, in† March of 1921, Musa Kazim El Husseini, deposed as Mayor of Jerusalem because of his part in riots earlier that year, told Winston Churchill:
A month later there were bloody Arab pogroms in several towns in Palestine, not against Zionist "settlers" who supposedly displaced Arabs, but rather primarily against ancient Jewish communities such as those in Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed. Worse riots and massacres occurred in 1929 and again in 1936-39.† (see Arab Riots and Massacres of 1929)
3. Myth: "The occupation is the source of Palestinian violence" The PLO and Fateh were formed in 1964 and before, with the aim of "liberating" "Palestine" - that is, destroying Israel. They used terrorism and advocated a pan-Arab war to "liberate" Palestine. The 1967 6-day war was the result of this activity. See - Isn't the occupation the cause of the conflict and violence? and Did the Zionists plan to dispossess the Arabs of Palestine? and Why doesn't Israel withdraw from the Occupied territories and end the occupation if it wants peace?
4. Myth: "The riots and violence in September 2000 broke out because Ariel Sharon entered the holy Al Aqsa mosque." The fact is that Ariel Sharon never entered the Al Aqsa mosque. He walked on the Temple Mount, Haram As Sharif, which is supposed to be a holy place accessible to everyone. Of course the mosque, reputedly the site of the Jewish Temple should in theory be accessible to anyone as well, but Sharon didn't go there.
5. Myth: "Negotiations broke down at the end of 2000 because Israeli PM Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians only "Bantustans" - disconnected islands of Palestinian sovereignty, and failed to offer Palestinian control over holy places in Jerusalem.
This myth has achieved great popularity, but it has no relation to the facts. Below is a brief account of the negotiations adapted from the MidEastWeb Brief History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from which it is evident that:
Palestinian spokespersons and supporters deliberately distorted the offer that was made and claimed that "all what was circulated that Israel proffered to the Palestinian side great concessions is incorrect," and fabricated maps to look like the offer was "Bantustans."
†At a memorial dinner held in November 2005 in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, President Clinton said that Chairman Yasser Arafat had made a "colossal historical blunder" in refusing the terms, causing the breakdown of the peace process. (Haaretz, Nov. 14, 2005). †
Palestinian negotiators present a different version. On November 13, 2005, the Palestinian Authority International Press Center related these remarks of Palestinian Minister of Information, Nabil Sha'at, on the anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat:
He also set out that Israel has never endeavored to reach a final solution during the second Camp David negotiations, putting to rest the rumor which tells that Israel proposed for the Palestinians a state with 97% of the West Bank and 10% of the Jordan Valley.
Minister Sha'at made clear that this point led the negotiations of Camp David II to a gridlock.
What was suggested by Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister, was only to give Arafat a presidential headquarters in the Old City of Jerusalem, but the late president rebuffed this suggestion roundly, he added.
However, Palestinians have never disputed the published version of President Clinton's bridging proposals in which it is quite clear that the Palestinians would have sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem, including the Haram as Sharif (temple mount).
In last minute negotiations at Taba on January 21-27 2001, under European and Egyptian patronage,† the sides failed to reach a settlement despite further Israeli concessions.† Though both sides agreed to a joint communiquť saying they had never been so close to agreement, substantive disagreements remained about the refugee issues and †final settlement maps. Israeli PM Barak broke off negotiations on January 28, 2001, suspending them until after the elections. Barak had hoped to reach a deal he could present to the Israeli public, and was angry and disappointed. Negotiations were terminated because Barak,† who had furthered the peace process, was voted out of office at the beginning of February and replaced by a right wing government headed by Ariel Sharon.
No official maps were actually presented by or to the sides during the negotiations. Following the failure of the negotiations, the Palestinians continued to claim that Israel had offered only "Bantustans" in the West Bank. The Israeli government did not publish any maps. Dennis Ross, who headed the US negotiating team, summarized the proposals presented by the USA in the maps presented above. The Gush Shalom group and the Foundation for Middle East Peace also published a map of an offer supposedly made by the Barak government at Taba.†This map is based on "Palestinian Sources." In this map there is no longer a security Zone in the Jordan valley to be guarded by the UN. You can see this map below at left. The map is deceptive for several reasons.
1. It states "Based on a 5% West Bank Territorial Transfer to Israel." - The map shows a 3% swap of Israeli land to Palestine, but that is not taken into account.
2 The map shows what people took to be Bantustans - areas of dark gray and areas of light grey. In fact all the areas were to become part of the Palestinian state. The dark areas are the current areas A and B, while the light areas were the additional territory ceded to the Palestinian state by Israel.† This bogus color coding was apparently done deliberately, to create the impression that the offer was "bantustans." The correct picture is shown in the same map, modified at right, so that all the territory of the Palestinian state is shown in the same color, as it should be. This map is quite similar to the one shown by Dennis Ross, except that the little area that was to be annexed to Israel in the north is gone, and there are some other minor border changes.
One of the major outstanding questions was the refugee problem. U.S. President Clinton had believed there were only differences of wording between the Israeli and Palestinian approaches. Clinton's Bridging proposals called for allowing refugees to return from abroad to the Palestinian state. They could return to Israel only with the agreement of Israel. However, at Taba, the Palestinian proposal called for eventual return of all the refugees to Israel. This proposal was unacceptable to Israel as it would create an Arab majority in Israel and put an end to Jewish exercise of the right to self-determination. (see Why shouldn't Palestinian Arabs have the Right of Return?)
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See also - History of Anti-Zionism Zionism and its Impact† Campus Doves - Zionism with a difference†
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