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Statement by the Prime Minister on the Palestinian Issue

(April 12, 1973)

In the course of an address to the Secretariat of the Israel Labour Party, the Prime Minister put forward her views in respect of the Palestinians and the Palestinian entity:

We Israelis make no pretensions of determining whether there is or is not a "Palestinian entity." This decision is the privilege of the Arabs themselves. As a result of the war imposed upon us in 1948, some of the Arabs of Palestine left and wandered to other places. Nonetheless, I reject the contention that "two and a half million Palestinian Arabs are wandering about the world without a homeland."

There is a complete distortion in any comparison between the Situation of the Jews in the Diaspora who are without a homeland and that of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Arabs live among their brethren, with whom they share a common religion, culture and language. The Arabs themselves declare that they are a single Arab nation - even though it is a nation which stretches over eighteen independent States.

The differences and distinction between an Arab from Judaea or Samaria living today in Amman and an Arab who has for generations lived on the East Bank of the Jordan are much less than the differences and distinction among Jews from various lands - yet we absorb these Jews and blend with them into one nation. Whoever speaks in terms of balance and analogy between the Jewish problem on the one hand and the Palestinian problem on the other is ignoring the fact that this parcel of land in which we have established the State of Israel is the only one in which the Jewish people can be sovereign and in which every Jew can live with his fellow-Jews in independence.

A non-Israeli who hears such a comparison and is persuaded by it is only a step away from accepting the concept of "the plundered earth" and everything implied by it.

The Palestinian refugee problem has not yet been solved only because the Arab States have kept it unsolved for use against us. A shocking example of this was the situation prevailing in the refugee camps in 1967 when we entered the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian Government, for instance, did not extend Egyptian citizenship to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, nor did it allow them to work or to move anywhere else.

In contrast with the unfriendly behaviour of some of the Arab States, the Government of Jordan extended Jordanian citizenship to the Arabs of Palestinian origin within its territory. Citizenship was bestowed upon the residents of Judaea and Samaria as well as upon their brethren on the East Bank. All these - those on the East Bank and those in Judaea and Samaria - are thus Jordanian citizens.

The Palestinian Arabs have in Jordan every opportunity for national selfexpression. They need Jordan - just as Jordan cannot exist without them. There are in Jordan wide spaces with a development potential in which the Palestinians can be rehabilitated.

Some 600,000 or more citizens of Palestinian origin are now living on the East Bank of the Jordan. For many years now, never less than half of the members of the Jordanian Parliament have been of Palestinian origin, as are the majority of the members of the present Jordanian Cabinet.

Between the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern desert, there is room for two States only: a Jewish State, and an Arab State - Israel and Jordan. We oppose the establishment of an additional Arab State in the region between Israel and Jordan.

As I have mentioned, there are at least 600,000 citizens of Palestinian origin living on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. This population is bound to the Arabs of Judaea and Samaria by family ties and by a common origin. For this reason, I am glad that the policy of the open bridges is continuing, a policy that makes it possible to maintain this link between the Arabs of the administered territories and their brothers in Jordan and the Arabs in the neighbouring countries.

During the past two years, about half a million people have crossed those bridges. This figure includes some 210,000 inhabitants of the administered areas who crossed into Jordan for visits to that and other Arab countries, and about 290,000 inhabitants of Arab countries who visited the administered areas and Israel, including 260,000 who came in the framework of the summer visits. The number of Arabs crossing the bridges in both directions is increasing steadily.

We have enacted the policy of the open bridges out of consideration for the needs of the Arabs in Judaea and Samaria and their brethren living on the East Bank of the Jordan. One can imagine the suffering and distress caused this population if the bridges were barred, and with them, the opportunity to maintain family contacts and the large-scale exchange of goods between Judaea and Samaria and the East Bank of the Jordan.

Commenting in the Knesset on King Hussein's speech of 15 March 1972, I said: "We have never interfered in the internal structure or nature of the regime of any country. Should the King of Jordan decide to change the name of his kingdom to "Falastin" or any other name, and to introduce changes in the internal structure of his realm in order to give, within his kingdom, an opportunity for self-expression to those Arabs who call themselves Palestinians, and if, in the course of negotiations between us, we should have agreed on all relevant aspects, including the territorial one, then we should not concern ourselves with taking a stand in internal affairs which are within the sovereign competence of the Arab nation that borders on Israel in the East."

We shall not negotiate with the organizations of murderers and their leaders who endeavour to destroy the State of Israel and to establish instead a Palestinian state on the "plundered earth." All the more so since the murder and terror organizations' claims of representing the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, and Arabs of Palestinian origin in other countries, lack all foundation.

The peace treaties shall include a reiteration of our readiness, which has remained valid throughout the years, to pay compensation for abandoned Arab property, and our willingness to offer all technical aid for the rehabilitation of refugees in Arab countries. The rehabilitation of those refugees who live within the borders of Israel shall be our responsibility. The problem of the Arabs who strive for a Palestinian identity can and must find its solution in the Kingdom of Jordan. At the conclusion of the peace treaties, we shall insist that the advent of peace be accompanied by an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and that it be agreed that the Arabs shall have no further claims on Israel.


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs