1. Introduction of the Issue
Israel Before The British Mandate
The question than, is if there has never been a country approximating Israel that was a Muslim/Arab country, and the original usage of the word for a geographical area "Palestine" by the British explicitly provided for a Jewish State, than why are Arabs in Israel now and since the British Mandate referred to as "Palestinians" as if they are the original citizens of a country called "Palestine"?
The Israeli/Arab Conflict - The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence - 1916
"1. By allying with the British and helping to defeat the Ottomans, the Arabs did earn a national Arab State in the Middle East.
2. The British promise/agreement to the Arabs for an Arab State preceded any such agreement with the Jews for a Jewish State in Israel.
3. The British were clear that not all of the Middle East would be an Arab State and never formally communicated to the Arabs that Palestine would be part of an Arab State.
4. While there never has been an Arab and or Muslim State approximating the area of Israel and under the Ottomans there was no "Palestine" entity or governing area approximating Israel, the British did use the name "Palestine" to refer to the area."
The Israeli/Arab Conflict - The Balfour Declaration - 1917
"Violent Arab rejection of The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the start of the Israeli/Arab conflict which has continued to the present time. We will also see in subsequent posts here that the position of the two sides regarding Jewish and Arab states in Israel has not changed since 1917:
Jewish position - Has always been in favor of and offered Two-State solution.
Arab position - Has always opposed and rejected offer of Two-State solution."
The Israeli/Arab Conflict - The Peel Commission - 1937
Even though the Peel Plan was the first specific partition plan it became the basis for all subsequent partition plans. The Plan favored the Jewish side because of British financial reasons and the thinking that the Jewish need for a State was much greater than the Arab need. From an Arab standpoint the Plan was unfavorable because they would receive the less developed land (even though the Jews were responsible for most of the development), they would receive proportionately less land based on relative populations (even though this would benefit both sides from a budget standpoint), most transfers would be of Arabs and they would not have an independent State but become a part of Jordan.
Violent Arab rejection of The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the start of the Israeli/Arab conflict which has continued to the present time and was the primary Arab reaction to The Peel Commission.
"The Woodhead Commission (officially the Palestine Partition Commission) was a British technical commission established to propose "a detailed" partition scheme for Mandatory Palestine, including recommending the partition boundaries and examination of economic and financial aspects of the Peel Plan.
The Commission was appointed at the end of February 1938 and conducted its investigations from April to early August 1938. It rejected the Peel Commission's plan mainly on the grounds that it required a large transfer of Arabs, and considered two other plans. It preferred a modification of the partition, which forms a satisfactory basis of settlement, if the United Kingdom government accept "the very considerable financial liability involved," that balances the Arab state budget. In this plan, the entire Galilee and a corridor from Jaffa to Jerusalem would remain under British mandate.
It published its conclusions on November 9, 1938, after which the British government rejected the imminent partition of Palestine as involving insurmountable "political, administrative and financial difficulties". Britain called for a conference in London for all relevant parties to work out a compromise."
The Commission developed three plans with the following the recommended plan:
Key related points -
1) Motivation - Britain rejected the Peel Plan because it required a large transfer of Arabs and the Arabs refused to negotiate the Plan.
2) Expectation - Britain was now increasingly aware of the difficulties involved in creating any plan which was acceptable to both sides and thus had much lower expectations now regarding being able to create any currently successful plan.
3) Limitation - Since estimated tax revenue was significantly less among Arabs, if significantly less Arabs were transferred to a Jewish state, then Britain would have to provide significant financial assistance to the Arab state. Britain's related problem was that the smaller the Jewish State, the fewer Arabs would have to be transferred but the fewer the Arabs transferred, the greater Britain's related financial problem. In order to try and accomplish this, the proposed Jewish state would be one fifth the size as that under the Peel Commission, in order to minimize Arab transfer, and this Jewish state would have a significant tax imposed in order to help balance the budget of the Arab state.
4) Development - Disproportionate current and future development of Israel by Jews, which benefited/would benefit all inhabitants, was no longer a key consideration.
Jewish reaction -
To the previous McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1916 promising the Arabs that most of Palestine would be an Arab state = None.
To the Balfour Declaration of 1917 = Acceptance. Hope was turned into possibility and preparations were started for a Jewish State. The emphasis was on the creation of a Jewish State with little thought as to the extent of the Jewish State and whether there would also be a Palestinian state in Israel.
To The Peel Commission of 1937 = Acceptance of the Plan in general but rejection of the specific borders as too small. Created committee to negotiate specific borders.
To the Woodhead Commission of 1938 = Rejection. Since the recommended Plan would give the Jews one fifth the area of the previous plan and they would be required to provide significant financial assistance to the Arab state which would be five times larger, the Plan was summarily rejected with no offer of negotiation.
Arab reaction -
To the previous McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1916 promising the Arabs that most of Palestine would be an Arab state = Acceptance.
To the Balfour Declaration of 1917 = Rejection. The Arabs were clear that not only would they reject the creation of any Jewish state in Israel but they would be violently opposed.
To The Peel Commission of 1937 = Rejection. The primary specific complaint was that it would give the Jews the best land. The Arabs rejected the granting of any land to the Jews under any form of administration and demanded an end to Jewish immigration.
To the Woodhead Commission of 1938 = Ignored. The Woodhead Commission spent three months in Israel, had fifty-five evidence receiving meetings, and no Arabs participated. This even though the proposed Arab state would be five times larger than the Jewish state and receive significant financial assistance from the Jewish state. If instead of having simply a demand that there be no Jewish State the Arab position had been to just minimize the Jewish state and maximize the Arab one, historically, this would have been the best opportunity for the Arabs to do so.
Because the predecessor Plan, The Peel Commission, was accepted in principle by the Jews but not only rejected by the Arabs but created an Arab position of refusing to accept the creation of any Jewish state, Britain tried to create a new Partition Plan which would be much more favorable to the Arabs. The Peel Commission Plan was much more favorable to the Arabs as they would have an independent Palestinian state for Arabs, Jews would be required to contribute substantially to this Arab state and the Jewish state would be one fifth the size of the Palestinian state. As a result though, the Arab position did not change. They would not accept and would violently oppose the creation of any Jewish state.
Violent Arab rejection of The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the start of the Israeli/Arab conflict which has continued to the present time and was the primary Arab reaction to The Woodhead Commission. We will also see in subsequent posts here that the position of the two sides regarding Jewish and Arab states in Israel has not changed since 1917:
Jewish position - Has always been in favor of and offered Two-State solution.
Arab position - Has always opposed and rejected offer of Two-State solution.
In hindsight, the greatest tragedy regarding the failure of a Two-State solution was not that the Arabs still don't have a related State but that 6,000,000 Jews were murdered by a Country with the same main religion as Britain in a Continent with the same religion because there was no Jewish State at the time.
Critics of Israel will try to demonize Israel by posturing and only looking at The Jews/Zionists/Israel's supposed eternal goal of wanting it all. But we need to distinguish between wanting and accepting. It's normal to want more than you are willing to accept but in negotiations what is most important is what you are willing to accept. And that is the difference between Israel and the Arabs and has always been the difference. Regardless of what both sides supposedly want, Israel has always been willing to accept a two-State solution and the Arabs have not.