Extracted From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters
Historian Arnold Toynbee observed in 1918 that the “desolate” land “which lies east of the Jordan stream,”3 was
capable of supporting a large population if irrigated and cultivated scientifically. … The Zionists have as much right to this no-man’s land as the Arabs, or more.
Thus, the territory known variously as “Palestine,” as “South Syria,” as “Eastern and Western Palestine,” or as part of “Turkey” had been designated by international mandate as a “Jewish National Home,” concerning which the United States declared,
That there be established a separate state of Palestine…. placed under Great Britain as a mandatory of the League of Nations … that the Jews be invited to return to Palestine and settle there…. and being further assured that it will be the policy of the League of Nations to recognize Palestine as a Jewish state as soon as it is a Jewish state in fact. . . . England, as mandatory, can be relied on to give the Jews the privileged position they should have without sacrificing the [religious and property] rights of non-Jews.4[..]
Winston Churchill proposed his plan for Transjordan to Prime Minister Lloyd George in March 1921:
We do not expect or particularly desire, indeed, Abdullah himself to undertake the Governorship. He will, as the Cabinet rightly apprehend, almost certainly think it too small…. The actual solution which we have always had in mind and for which I shall work is that which you described as follows: while preserving Arab character of area and administration to treat it as an Arab province or adjunct of Palestine.11
Feisal got his wishes and became King of Iraq;13 his brother Abdullah was installed in the British mandatory area as ruler of the “temporary” emirate on the land of eastern Palestine, which became known as the “Kingdom of Transjordan.”
Palestine High Commissioner Harold MacMichael later offered some evidence — of the original “temporary” nature of British intentions in a “private, personal and most secret” cipher; MacMichael reported in 1941 that Abdullah now harbored greater ambitions, because of
the part he [Abdullah] played in the last war, his position in the Arab world as a senior member of a royal house, [and] the purelytemporary arrangements whereby in 1921 having narrowly missed being made King (a) of Iraq and (b) of Syria in turn, he was left to look after Trans-Jordan …. 14
Britain nevertheless quietly gouged out roughly three-fourths of the Palestine territory mandated for the Jewish homeland15 into an Arab emirate, Transjordan,16 while the Mandate ostensibly remained in force but in violation of its terms.17 Historians and official government documents concerned with the area continued to call it “Eastern Palestine,” despite the new appellation. That seventy-five percent of the Palestine mandate was described by England’s envoy to Eastern Palestine:18 “a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs [from Western Palestine], once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine”* resulted in the “Jewish independent state.”
The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine remained unchanged even though Britain had unilaterally altered its map and its purpose.19 The Mandate included Transjordan until 1946, when that land was declared an independent state.20 Transjordan had finally become the de jure Arab state in Palestine just two years before Israel gained its Jewish statehood in the remaining one-quarter of Palestine; Transjordan comprised nearly 38,000 square miles; Israel, less than 8,000 square miles.
[* As the next chapters will illustrate, instead, Arabs poured from Eastern Palestine as well as from Arab areas within Western Palestine — into the Jewish — settled areas in Western Palestine. The course of action which followed from that unrecognized population movement brought ramifications which are as critical to the question of political “justice” as they are unknown or disregarded today.]
Thus, about seventy-five percent of Palestine’s “native soil,” east of the Jordan River, called Jordan, is literally an independent Palestinian-Arab state located on the majority of the land of Palestine; it contains a majority of Palestinian Arabs in its army as well as its population. In April 1948,21 just before the formal hostilities were launched against Israel’s statehood, Abdullah of Transjordan22 declared: “Palestine and Transjordan are one, for Palestine is the coastline and Transjordan the hinterland of the same country.” Abdullah’s policy was defended against “Arab challengers” by Prime Minister Hazza al-Majali:
We are the army of Palestine…. the overwhelming majority of the Palestine Arabs … are living in Jordan.23
Although Abdullah’s acknowledgment of Palestinian identity was not in keeping with the policy of his grandson, the present King Hussein, Jordan is nonetheless undeniably Palestine, protecting a predominantly Arab Palestinian population with an army containing a majority of Arab Palestinians, and often governed by them as well. Jordan remains an independent Arab Palestinian state where a Palestinian Arab “law of return” applies: its nationality code states categorically that all Palestinians are entitled to citizenship by right unless they are Jews.24 In most demographic studies, and wherever peoples are designated, including contemporary Arab studies, the term applied to citizens of Jordan is “Palestinian/Jordanian.” In 1966 PLO spokesman Ahmed Shukeiry declared that25
The Kingdom of Palestine must become the Palestinian Republic….
Yasser Arafat has stated that Jordan is Palestine. Other Arab leaders, even King Hussein and Prince Hassan of Jordan, from time to time have affirmed that “Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine.” Moreover, in 1970-1971, later called the “Black September” period, when King Hussein waged war against Yasser Arafat’s Arab PLO forces, who had been operating freely in Jordan until then, it was considered not an invasion of foreign terrorists but a civil war. It was “a final crackdown” against those of “his people”26 whom he accused of trying to establish a separate Palestinian state, under Arab Palestinian rule instead of his own, “criminals and conspirators who use the commando movement to disguise their treasonable plots,” to “destroy the unity of the Jordanian and Palestinian people.”27
Indeed, the “native soil” of Arab and Jewish “Palestines” each gained independence within the same two-year period, Transjordan in 1946 and Israel in 1948. Yet today, in references to the “Palestine” conflict, even the most serious expositions of the problem refer to Palestine as though it consisted only of Israel — as in the statement, “In 1948 Palestine became Israel.”28 The term “Israel” is commonly used as if it were the sum total of “Palestine.”
However, within what Lord Balfour had referred to as that “small notch” sometimes called Palestine, the “Jewish National Home” had been split into two separate unequal Palestines: Eastern Palestine-or the Arab emirate of Transjordan-and Western Palestine, which comprised less than one-fourth of the League of Nations Mandate. The portion of the “notch” of land on which the Jews settled and in which most Jews actually lived — from the 1870s and 1880s through the 1940s — was in fact only a segment of the area of Western Palestine.