Who Owns the Land of Palestine?
Every human who has lived from the 20th century till present is aware of the Arab-Israeli problem and the land of Palestine. It is a problem through which many believe will cause the Third World War. Some believe the land belongs to Israel, but others believe it belongs to the Palestinians. Both sides have lost considerable human lives and enormous resources trying to maintain their ownership. Who really owns this land?
To determine who owns the land, I will trace the biblical account to the Jews’ expedition and captivity through out Church history, revealing the religious, economic and social ramifications, why Israel claims the land belongs to her and also the Arabs point of view. This work is not intended to be a defense for any of the two groups.
Origins of the conflict
Abraham has been promised a son. He does not wait but takes in a handmaid called Hagar with whom he has a son called Ishmael. Hagar starts to despise Sarah the wife of Abraham, and they are dispatched from the family. Sarah gives birth to a son called Isaac. Ishmael takes the right part to the country, and Isaac owns the left. Isaac’s offspring are called the Jews while those of Ishmael are called the heathens. God signs a covenant with the Jews but does not with the heathens. The Jews have to keep his commandments and live by it if they want to survive. They later fail and are dispersed. Their dispersion leaves their land; the legacy of their ancestors vacant to be occupied by their neighbors. You should take note of this first dispersion which is the nexus of our current stalemate.
In the course of Jewish migration and expulsions, Israel is making new foes and unexpected friends in search of a peaceful co-existence. They even at one time embrace Islam; in other words the same gods of the heathens that they were prohibited just to survive. During this time of race hatred, the Israelites became a hunted and persecuted people to whom life becomes an endurance and the future; maelstrom to fear or Gory Melodrama.
In this atmosphere, their desire of going back is unquenchable and pernicious. Thenceforth, Zionism is paradoxically born. Israel with the help of the world; from Balfour to UNO finally reinstates itself in the land of Palestine (their ab initio settlement) for good, this time greatly settled by Arabs. All her neighbors will hate her. Surprisingly she will be hypocritically looked again with a suspicious eye by the same outside world that brought her back. Hitherto, the survival of the fittest remains the sole law that governs this land, and the Arab Israeli conflict is now in full gear.
The rights of ownership and existence are now debated all over the world each day there is an incident in the world. The problem is so important that it is the center of politics in the whole world. It influences major decisions in other countries whether they intervene or not. In short, it is the linchpin of world peace! Therefore, knowing who owns this land could be a solution in itself. In reality, because of the frequent changing of rights of ownership, it is now difficult to know who really owns the land. I will peruse five claims of the rights of ownership by both Arabs and Jews.
Arabs Claims to Ownership
Let me start with why the Arabs think it is their land. Long residency. They believe that since 638 A.D when Caliph Omar conquered Palestine it has always been theirs. Remember again conquered. That means ab initio they were not there.
The second is based on the McMahon –Hussein Agreement. During WWI, the British government through McMahon and Churchill promised Arab leaders that the entire area of Palestine will become an Arab state, so it would be their spoils of the WWI. In other words, they fought for the land. Remember Britain does not own the land and so has no right to promise it to whosoever.
Thirdly, they claim that after the advent of the state of Israel, their women were raped and their children molested. That was holocaust and there is nothing that will suffice if not of taking the land. That is, they want the right to the land to compensate all the trouble they have gone through in history from the hands of Israel. It is almost as if saying; if someone rapes your daughter, you seize their home. That will even things out.
Fourthly, they believe that Abraham owned the land and Ishmael was the first-born son of Abraham that above all, gives them the right to the Land. Always remember that, Ishmael was already ditched out by Abraham, thereby nullifying his rights of inheritance.
Their last Claim is that Jerusalem has always been their holy city after Mecca and Medina and as such, they should posses the entire land since Jerusalem is the Capital. The Israelis have not folded their arms to those claims. They too stake their claims as we read below.
Jewish Claims to ownership
The Jews believe they have lived there longer and continuously than the Arabs since the time of Canaan conquest by Joshua in between 1405-1290 BC. That will be 2000 years before the Arabs even took it. The heathens dislodged them and then the Turks in Ottoman Empire, and then the British dislodged the Turks in 1917. As such, they still believe it is their land. Remember, ownership has changed many hands during this time that each child born here; Arab or Jew thinks the land belongs to them. Does Kuwait become Iraqi simply because the Kuwaitis were dislodged by the Iraqis?
Their second claim is the Balfour Declaration; an annex or appendix of the Versailles Treaty. It gave the League of Nations the rights to establish a Jewish State as part of Weizman’s contribution to the war efforts. Remember the British are pledging the land now to two groups; Arabs and Jews.
Thirdly, they claim that they have gone through a holocaust and taking that land will be mere compensation and approval for the Jews to survive in a world that hates them. This problem was already solved in 1948 when Arabs were give seven national homes from the defunct Ottoman Empire. It should be recalled that the Jews were not given anything but told to wait for the creation of their own state. They had no homeland. Meanwhile the Arabs were already given homes.
Fourthly, the Jews like the Arabs claim the land because of the Abrahamic covenant. The land of Canaan; present day Palestine was promised to Abraham and his seed forever. They claimed that the seed of Abraham here is Isaac and not Ishmael they say.
Finally, the Jews think because of their religious attachment to Jerusalem they should be given the land. It is the center of Jewish historical and religious traditions. That is why Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Now, who owns the land?
Concerning the right due to long residency, we will give it to the Jews because Canaan has been their land since time immemorial as an edict of God to whom all lands belong. However, if you check who lived there during the time when the problem was current then you will give it to the Arabs. Perhaps using an anecdote during the Bakassi scuffle could establish ownership. The Cameroonian government took the Nigerian government to Hague on a rich piece of Oil peninsula called Bakassi. The Nigerian Government reacted by questioning why the Cameroonian government abandoned it for that long if it was theirs. But the then minister of communications Augustine Kontchou Komengni responded by saying “does abandoning my house and grass is growing on it mean resignation from ownership? Is that a transfer of ownership to my neighbor?” That is a very serious statement. If all kids were seized from absentee parents, property confiscated from absentee landlords, then very few people today will be parents of children and owners of property. As such this claim goes to Israel.
Concerning the British machinations of promising both sides it was stated that a Jewish state will be created but the non Jewish groups will be protected. Unfortunately, it was never implemented. Neither the British nor any other country had the right to distribute land in the Middle East. Since all Land belongs to God and God gave it to the Jews then the balance tilts to the Jews. This claim on religious grounds goes to Israel.
The fourth claim of Jerusalem tilts towards the Jews because the Jewish temple was God ordained and it encompasses Jewish life meanwhile for the Muslims, Jerusalem shrines are third to Mecca and Medina. That is, they have been doing without these shrines in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, if Jerusalem is taken from the Jews they will not have any shrines in the world to carry their daily worship.
The last claim is that of being the descendants of Abraham. Again it goes to the Jews because Ishmael was already banished from home thereby forfeiting his rights of inheritance as was usually the Jewish custom. Isaac being a descendant of the Jews helps them acquire the land through the Federal Head Theory. Yet ownership presently does not matter for peace sake. It will be insufficient to solve the problem.
I will quickly suggest that there can be only two solutions to this problem, carving out a Palestinian State side by side to Israel or integrating Palestinian refugees into Arab countries. The Arabs have failed to show that there is brotherliness in Islam because after 1948 Jews from all places were integrated into Israel with no problem whereas, Palestinians refuges were kept as political pawns by Arab neighbors and never integrated. They still keep them as refugees until today. The existence of a group of humans as refugees will never solve the problem. For the problem to be solved, a Palestinian state should be created and those Palestinian refugees in other countries integrated. Or they should be fully integrated into other Arab countries which will quickly kill the dream of a land of their own. This again will be a bitter pill to swallow for the old guard. However, in the absence of reality, the losers should be contented with shadows.
Left to me, people should be free to settle where they like because the earth is the Lord and the fullness thereof (Ps 24:1) so that I can take all British to the Middle East, Ethiopians to America and the families of African governments to Ethiopia. Hmmm that would be nice. Doesn’t it sound good?
Until then, God alone can bring peace in the Middle East
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk