How much Land for Peace?

The time has come for all those who believe in the Land for Peace ideal, to face reality and reflect on the situation prior to 1967. During the period between 1948 and 1967, the tortuous and elongated border between Israel and its neighbours was annually the scene of hundreds of Arab raids across the line. Israeli men, women and children, were killed indiscriminately, villages were attacked, houses blown up and civilians kidnapped in unending Arab guerrilla warfare. It is possible, of course, that those who subscribe to the Chamberlainic appeasement policy of land for peace, including Prime Minister Barak, have either forgotten or possibly were not even born when these civil incidents took place, and feel that by giving land for peace, the situation which occurred in the nineteen odd years from 1948 will not repeat itself.

Some statistics to remind those who have forgotten. Between May 1950 (when the armistice lines were guaranteed by the great powers - now we are currently witnessing an attempt of a repeat performance) and October 1953, 421 Israelis were killed or wounded, there were 128 acts of sabotage involving explosives and 866 armed attacks. Or perhaps we should refer to 1955 as a typical year in which there were 257 Israeli casualties along the so called cease fire lines, including 75 dead, 179 wounded and 3 taken prisoner. One can ask where did these terrorists come from and why were the armistice agreements broken by the Arab countries - just as the PA/PLO are repeating today? Egypt and Gaza were the source of 53%, Jordan, including the West Bank were 23%, Syria 22%, and Lebanon 2%. All of this was before the 'occupation' where there was no alien Israeli force imposing its will on the Arab population, unlike that practised by the USA on occupied Germany and Japan after W.W.II. On October 13th 1953 a mother and her two children were murdered in their sleep on Moshav Yahud, just south of Petah Tikvah. Tracks led across the nearby border to the West Bank village of Rantis. In December of that year a member of Kibbutz Ein Shemer was shot by infiltrators while walking near Karkur in central Israel. In March 1954 Arab gunmen ambushed and attacked an Israeli bus at Malei Akribim, south of Beersheva, murdering 11 including women and children. If that is not sufficient, consider June 1954, Jerusalem suddenly became a target with Jordanian machine guns, rifles, grenades and two inch mortars, open fire from the Old City walls. This continued for hours and was repeated several days later. Casualties, four dead, twenty seven wounded. Of course events like these don't tell the whole story for there were hundreds of instances like these where the Israeli Defence Forces succeeded in foiling such attacks.

And so it went on day by day, for years. On other occasions the Fedayin crossed the nearby truce lines, supposedly patrolled by the UN and guaranteed by the Great Powers, to carry out their deadly missions - is not a repeat of the latter now being tabled? Freight trains blown up, farmers murdered in their fields, soldiers ambushed and killed, children attacked by snipers, mines laid as gangs came across to burn, kill steal and destroy. How easy it was in those days. One has to reflect that the width of Israel was in some places less than 15 miles from the cease fire line between Israel and occupied West Bank and the whole of the central Shomron Plain was exposed to these people - as it will be again if Barak's appeasement policy continues.

What did they want in those days? Before the talk of land for peace they already occupied the West Bank under Jordanian rule and Gaza under Egyptian rule. Those who now subscribe to land for peace, including Prime Minister Barak , whose appeasement policy is providing both land and weapons, say there should be a return to the good old days of 1967 because there is no choice. Do they recollect that every Israeli was within firing distance of hostile Arabs either in the West Bank or Gaza, never mind the Golan Heights. There are families today in Israel who mourn members who were killed going around carrying out their peaceful occupations. The list is tragically long. It is time to remember that Israel was not then an occupying power. But this did not deter the Arabs. It is the same story, those who carried out the mass pogroms in Hebron in 1929, who carried out bloody swath in the 1936-9 period, collaborated with Hitler and tried to destroy the infant state before its birth in 1948, are still active.

The Jewish people have been giving land for peace from the time of the First World War and the Balfour Declaration. The original territory assigned by the 52 members of the League of Nations in 1920 extended to 43,075 sq. miles, extending to both banks of the Jordan. The land was subsequently partitioned illegally by the British, granting Arabs the territory of Trans-Jordan (now the Hashimite Kingdom) amounting to 32,460 sq. miles, reducing the size for a Jewish homeland to 10,615 sq. miles, less than 25 percent of the available territory. Was this insufficient for the Arabs ? Of course not ! The world considered then in 1947 as they do today, when they voted on 29 November 1947 in the UN for the establishment of a Jewish State and for further partitioning of the territory, reducing the Jewish area to 5,560 sq. miles, approximately 13 percent of the original land. This was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs who promised to wage "a war of extermination and momentous massacre which would be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades"(BBC May 15 1948).

Not to be forgotten is the double relinquishing of 23,622 sq. miles of Sinai back to, apart from the additional 618 sq. miles west of the Suez Canal that were conquered in the counter offensive in 1973 Egypt, in exchange for a cold peace which is day by day switching into open hostility. Yet today the Egyptian government is promulgating a level of Anti Semitism not seen since the Nazi era, threatening war with Israel should more land not be ceded and denying the Jewish sanctity of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Making border modifications with Jordan has not brought around any Jordanian concessions - King Abdullah now promulgates the demand of total Israeli withdrawal from land that the Jordanians illegally occupied from 1948 to 1967, even though his father relinquished Jordanian rights to the land. As far as Abdullah is concerned he demands Israel return to the good old days before 1967 when Jordan failed to implement the Freedom of Access to Jews to our Holy sites, just as we now see history repeating itself with the actions of the PA in Shechem and Aza. Barak is prepared to assign away Jewish rights to such Holy Sites to the PA. Even the redefining of the Lebanese border in the last weeks has seen Israel conceding more land than that required by not sticking to a correct definition of which international border to use.

Somehow, the land that the Arab authorities usurped from the Jews when they were forced to leave "Arab lands" after 1948 is conveniently forgotten. This land exceeded 38,625 sq. miles, besides the estimated $100 bn of liquid assets.

In the meantime the Arabs who control 5,345,000 sq. miles have yet to relinquish one single grain of Arab soil as a confidence building measure towards peaceful co existence with the Jewish State. The world, through the media, have been duped into believing the rights of the Arabs and fail to acknowledge any Jewish rights. When Egypt was negotiating over the final Israeli withdrawal from land at Taba in Sinai they were resolute not to cede one grain of what they described as holy Arab soil. Today we have witnessed not only more concessions by the Barak government, but to our dismay, the failure of his policies to recognise the Holy grains of soil of Eretz Yisrael. Irrespective of the statement that Camp David II talks are now "null and void" it is heard that the US Administration is seeking ways to breech the gap between the parties - a euphemism for continuing where they left off. Barak does not recognise either the Jewish sanctity of the Temple Mount - preparing to allow the PA to display recognised signs of sovereignty over the Holy Site, nor and more poignantly the fact that Jerusalem, Hevron and Shechem, as recorded in the Bible, belong to the Jewish people, who obtained legal title to the land by its purchase - rejected at the time any notion of accepting the land as a gift.

So to turn to Prime Minister Barak, his minority government, his world wide associates and those who subscribe to the notion of Land for Peace. They should reconsider their simplistic solution, just withdrawal and give away the land to the PLO. Camp David II was certainly not the last chance as PM Barak would have had the world believe before its "failure". No man is indispensable, no date is sacrosanct and there are certainly alternative choices as to which course of action to follow as well . Too many times in the past have the Jewish people followed the policy of appeasement with dire consequences. Even in England, Jews were expelled 1000 years ago because they appeased the rulers by providing funds which the latter were subsequently unable and unwilling to pay back - followed by massacres and expulsion - they probably subscribed to the Yihiyeh B'seder (it will be OK) policy .

The major group of World Powers (G8) have their own agendas to follow which certainly does not include the survival of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael, they have been put to the test too often and have failed every time. Withdrawal must not be at the expense of a secure Israel firmly established in Eretz Yisrael. We must stand firm, without weak hearts and we must convince the world now. In order to achieve this we must root out doubts and the spirits of defeatism and appeasement in our own midst.

Colin Leci, author of this article, is a commentator with extensive knowledge of the Middle East.

This is a modified version of an article first published in 1988, well before Oslo, revised before Camp David II as an "Open Message to Prime Minister Barak before Camp David" and subsequently updated to reflect the post Camp David situation. In December, 2015, a tiny grammatical error in the first sentence was noted and corrected by the Webmaster.

According to the latest statistics the number of civilian casualties since 1993 - Oslo accords is 305. From 1967 to 1997 inclusive the figure is 690.