The Palestinian problem is the problem of providing a homeland for the Arab refuges from Palestine. Palestine is a small country in the Arab Peninsula situated on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Its strategic importance is great. It is situated at the cross roads of the Asian and African continents, it dominates one bank of the Suez Canal and it lies across the naval route to India and the Far East. The strategic importance of this mall country has made it a bone of contention among the great powers of the world and is the root cause of the Palestinian tragedy. Traditionally, it has been a Muslim ruled state. Its culture and population were predominantly Arab, the Jews, and the Christians forming only a small part of it.
The Palestinian problem, or the problem of a homeland for the Arab refugees from Palestine, is the result of the well calculated policy of Great Britain and its allies and its consequence has been gross injustice to the Palestine Arabs over the years. The slogan, “a homeland for the Jews”, was used as a cover for British plans to control this strategic area. A home was promised to the Jews in Palestine so that, “Britain would have Palestine and the Jews would have a home in it.” The Palestinian Arabs thus have been the victims of the global interest and strategies of the imperialists, and the Palestinian problem is to be viewed in this context.
With the end of World War II, and the liquidation of the British Empire, the U.S.A. took over the role of the patron of the Jews. The Jews went on offence from the beginning of April 1948, according to a well prepared plan, with the aim of acquiring as much additional Palestinian territory, meant for the proposed Arab State, as possible, and to drive the Arab Palestinian population from the Jewish controlled areas by means of naked terror and selective mass murders. The Palestinian Arabs were no match to the fully armed and militarily organized Jewish forces, as their organized resistance had been smashed by the British rulers and the entire Arab Palestinian population had been totally disarmed with possession even of a primitive rifle carrying the penalty of imprisonment or death.
The Jews are an intelligent and hard-working people, with an immense capacity of assimilating and using foreign arms. The poor, unarmed Arabs and for the matter of that the neighbouring Arab states, were no match for the well-organized, well trained, and well-equipped Jewish forces. The Palestinian Arabs fled their homeland in terror and sought refuge in the environing Arab States. The genocide of the Arabs continued as there was no one to rescue and protect them. There was no Palestinian Arab presence in Lebanon and no P.L.L. Indeed Lebanon kept away from the 1948-1949 Arab-Jewish War.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O) came into existence as late as 1964. Under the dynamic leadership of its Chairman, Yasser Arafat, a vigorous campaign was carried out to focus world attention on the plight of the Arab refugees, and the gross injustice that had been done to them. Even more moderate and rational of the Jews were contacted, and they were convinced of the justness of the Palestinian cause. The leaders of the nonaligned movement, including the late Prime Minister Nehru of India and late Prime Minister, Mrs. Gandhi, staunchly supported the Palestinian cause. The non-aligned, the third world countries, openly expressed themselves in favor of the Palestinian refugees, and strongly advocated their demand for a homeland.
Under the able leadership of Mr. Araft, the Palestinians grouped themselves in Lebanon, with over three lakhs of them living there in refugee camps. As Israel acts of terrorism and genocide continued, more of the homeless Arabs sought shelter in the small, adjacent country. This was intolerable to the expansionist and militarist Israeli Government. On frivolous pretext, a massive invasion of Lebanon was set a foot. The Arabs fought bravely, but there were no match to the fully equipped Jewish armies, and were rapidly pushed to the wall. The world looked on helplessly as violence and terror continued unabashed. Resolutions after resolution of the U.N. were flouted with the active encouragement and connivance of the U.S.A. and its Western allies.
The result was that the Arabs had to surrender and seek respite on Israeli terms. The refugees agreed to leave Lebanon and seek shelter in the various Arab States that were prepared to take them. The evacuation was carried on under international supervision. But the Jewish acts of terrorism and violence continued. When the majority of the Arabs had left Beirut (Lebanon,) the Israelis did not hesitate to massacre in cold blood in one night over thirty thousand of the Arabs refugees in refugee camps waiting evacuation. They were mostly helpless old men, women and children, not at all capable of any acts of terrorism against the Jewish state. But brutality and rapacity of Israel knew no bound. The conscience of the world was roused and the carnage was condemned, almost universally, through a number of U.N. resolutions. The shock and anger were worldwide. Israeli Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, Mr. Begin, first denied any complicity in the bloody affair, but later had to admit that it was Israel which transported to Beirut the commandos who mercilessly gunned down the helpless and innocent Arab refugees.
The Israelis are still nursing the illusion that as a result of the withdrawal of the P.L.O. fighters and the shifting of the P.L.O. Head-quarters from Beirut, they can liquidate the P.L.O. as a military and political diplomatic force, and if they succeed in this, then they believe they can subdue the Palestinians still living in their homeland under Israel’s harsh military occupation. But in nurturing this illusion they forget that the Palestinian resistance fighters have a very significant advantage and decisive element which they do not have, namely, the revolutionary determination based on justice. The justice of the cause of the Palestinian people is the main factor which gives them a energy, will and determination to continue the fight.
The P.L.O. is determined to go ahead and the people of the world are with the Palestinian Arabs in their fight for justice. Their cause is just, and victory must be theirs in the long run. They must get a homeland; this is the only key to the solution of the West Asian Crisis. There can be no lasting peace till their just demand is conceded and they are securely settled. The problem has become still more acute as the P.L.O. has now formed a government in exile, and a number of countries have already granted recognition to it.
This was a great triumph for P.L.O Long-drawn out negotiations followed with the Israelis. The U.S.A. acted as the mediator. Difficulties in the way of a settlement were tremendous. But at last the P.L.O. gained its point, the Arabs were conceded homeland. They were given a part of the Ghaza strip along with the city of Jericho. This is an important achievement. The Arabs will now have a homeland and a state of their own. It is hoped that in the long men the whole of Ghaza strip will be an Arab state. Let us hope for the best.