A Just Solution to the Middle East Crisis

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We, the undersigned, request that the United Nations, the United States and Europe work with the Arab countries to resettle the Palestinian Arab refugees and their offspring in Arab ruled territories. It is a blemish on the Arab world that they have allowed their brethren to remain refugees for over 50 years. It is a blemish on the United Nations that it has allowed this situation to remain unsolved. The World leaders should use their leadership to implement a just solution and work with the Arab countries to solve the Palestinian Arab refugee issue now.

Currently, the creation of a Palestinian State is the accepted solution for the Palestinian refugee issue. However, this solution is not just, it does not solve the core issues of the Middle East conflict and it will therefore fail to provide peace and security in the Middle East.

Fact - Arabs from Palestine became refugees in 1948 because the Arab countries attacked the newly created Jewish State instead of accepting the UN Partition Plan.

Fact The Palestinian Arabs remained refugees in refugee camps for 19 years (1948-1967) while living under Arab rule in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan (in the West Bank) and Egypt (in the Gaza Strip).

Fact - Palestinian Arab refugees and their offspring are still refugees today living in refugee camps supported by the United Nations.

1. Why are these people still refugees living in refugee camps after over 50 years?
2. Why have the Arab countries not worked to solve the Palestinian Arab refugee problem for over 50 years? They created the problem in 1948! And they ruled over their Palestinian brethren for 19 years in which they did not work to resettle the refugees!

The State of Israel is NOT responsible for the Palestinian Arab refugee crisis and a Palestinian State will NOT solve the problems of the Middle East because a pragmatic solution for a problem based on misinformation does not solve the problem!

Israeli Settlements are NOT obstacles to peace because the Arab world ruled out making peace with Israel years before the first settlement was ever created. In addition, the PLO, with Arafat as its leader, was created to fight and obliterate the Jewish State in 1964, 3 years before Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza strip from Egypt (in a defensive war)!

A United Jerusalem under Israeli rule is NOT an obstacle to peace because Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible as the holiest city for the Jewish people and it is never mentioned once in the Koran as being holy to the Muslims. In addition, Jerusalem has never been a capital city for any Arab ruler, while it was the capital of the Jewish Kingdom under the rule of King David.

These issues are red herring issues created by the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab world to place the blame of the Middle East conflict on Israel. However, the real issue is the Palestinian refugee crisis created by the Arab world itself in 1948. The Arab States who attacked Israel and created the refugee crisis should be held responsible for solving their plight.

True peace and security will only begin to blossom in the Middle East if the Arab countries that created the refugee crisis will work to solve it. By forcing Israel to provide the solution for the refugees by creating a State for the Palestinian Arabs, the Middle East crisis will continue to plague the world. By creating a Palestinian State, the world will be allowing the Arab States to have rid themselves of the responsibility of the plight of the Arab refugees, while encouraging them to continue their aggression against Israel, since they never have to pay the consequences for their actions.

Only by holding the Arab countries responsible for resettling their Palestinian brethren will justice be served and peace and security begin to envelop the Middle East region.

With a possible war on Iraq upon us, many changes may take place in the Middle East. Now is the time to act upon this just solution as well.

The undersigned,

In 1947, while Britain was disengaging from Palestine, it was also withdrawing from India, leading to the birth of independent Pakistani and Indian states. Whereas the Arab- Israeli conflict created hundreds of thousands of refugees, the Indians and Pakistanis wisely agreed to transfer millions of their people across the border in order to defuse ethnic and religious tensions. India sent Muslims to Pakistan, which in turn sent Hindus to India. Both states granted citizenship to these refugees.
The much smaller - and perhaps even more easily solvable - problem of Arab refugees is a sad paradox, in that it has cost the Western world so many billions of dollars in humanitarian aid that only perpetuates the refugees' plight, and has monopolized its media attention for over half a century, when alternatives in refugee transfers such as the one between India and Pakistan have proven effective.
Excerpted from The Arabs in History (Oxford University Press)
- Prof. Bernard Lewis,
leading expert on Islamic and Middle Eastern history.