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Understanding The Conflicting Rights & Claims over the West Bank

At that time, in the view of European statesmen, the concern was not over conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, but rather the fear that Jewish and Arab nationalists would join hands against the imperial powers (p. 17).

A generation later, after World War II, the hope of unity among Jews and Arabs in Palestine had vanished. The rising scale of Jewish immigration had already led to tensions by 1920, but the critical turning point was the rise of Haji Amin as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the city's chief Sunni cleric, in 1921. Haji Amin mobilized an explosive combination of Arab nationalism and what would now be called Islamic fundamentalism (Johnson, 1987, pp. 438-39). The current of Islamic fundamentalism, totally inflexible and rejecting all compromise, is one that continues to run through Palestinian Arab politics.

As Jewish immigration into Palestine continued, predominantly Jewish and Arab areas came to form a patchwork throughout the region. In the course of the rising struggle, Jews were driven out of some areas, notably Hebron, where they had previously lived since biblical times. In 1947, the U.N. partition plan for Palestine called for both Jewish and Arab states, separated by an elaborately drawn border that more or less separated the chief areas of settlement. The Jewish Agency, the nascent Israeli state, accepted the partition plan, though it produced a very hard-to-defend border and greatly complicated even normal state administration. It also placed many of those areas most linked to Jewish history -- such as Hebron itself, and above all the Old City of Jerusalem -- in the Arab sector (Johnson, 1987, p. 532).

The Arab states did not accept the U.N. partition plan, and went to war with the avowed purpose of "driving the Jews into the sea." Instead, Israel won the war, and the 1949 truce line redrew the map of Palestine considerably in Israel's favor. Nevertheless, the West Bank and Gaza remained in Ar...

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