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June 1, 2021 11:05 am

Tzipi Livni Flunks History

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /


Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Photo: Reuters / Stefan Wermuth. – The opening line of Sam Cooke’s famous song, “What a Wonderful World,” could be talking about left-wing Israeli politician Tzipi Livni. Her May 28 op-ed in The New York Times epitomized Cooke’s words: “Don’t know much about history.”

From the headline of Livni’s article, “There Is a Solution to the Israeli Palestine Conflict,” one might have thought that the former foreign minister was about to propose some innovative new idea, something that would be at least a little bit original. Nope. Not even close.

Instead, it was just the same, tired old “solution” of creating a sovereign Arab state of “Palestine” in Israel’s backyard. To be more precise, Livni proposed expanding the current de facto state that the Palestinian Authority runs in 40 percent of Judea-Samaria to a much larger and fully sovereign state.

Livni did not spell out the exact borders of her “Palestine,” but one thing we know for certain: They will include forcing Israel back to being nine miles wide at its midsection, as it was prior to 1967.

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How do we know that? Because the 40 percent of the territories that the Palestinian Authority now controls consists of the cities where 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs reside. That includes Tulkarm and Qalqilya, which are the third and fifth largest of those cities, respectively. Obviously, Tulkarm and Qalqilya would be part of any “State of Palestine.” Those cities are not going to revert to Israeli rule.

Tulkarm and Qalqilya are about nine miles from the Mediterranean Sea. So that’s how wide Israel would be if “Palestine” is created. That’s narrower than Washington, DC., or the Bronx, NY.

Livni seems to be unaware of the words of her best-known predecessor as foreign minister, Abba Eban. In an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel on Nov. 5, 1969, here’s what Eban said about the vulnerability of those nine-miles-wide borders: “We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. … This is a situation which will never be repeated in history.”

Livni’s ignorance of Eban is the not only area in which she flunks history. Consider this line from her Times’ op-ed: “The solution of a Jewish state and an Arab state [in Palestine] has actually existed for some 75 years. It was laid out by the United Nations in 1947 as a just solution to the conflict … .”

Seventy-five years? Try 99, Ms. Livni. It was in 1922 that Palestine was divided—actually divided, not just proposed, as the United Nations did in 1947. In 1922, the British occupation regime in Palestine partitioned Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arabs got the 78 percent on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The 22 percent on the western side was supposed to become, according to the Balfour Declaration, the Jewish national home.

In other words, the Palestinian Arabs have already had a sovereign state for the past 99 years, occupying the vast majority of what was then called Palestine. The fact that the local ruling tribe, the Hashemites, decided to call it “Transjordan,” and then later “Jordan,” rather than “Eastern Palestine” makes no difference. It is a Palestinian Arab state, it is fully sovereign, and it occupies most of the land of Palestine.

I understand why Arab propagandists never talk about the Palestinian state that already exists. That would take away their ability to denounce Israel. They prefer to focus the public debate on the fate of western Palestine, not the reality of eastern Palestine. They want to talk about how much of western Palestine the Arabs should get, in addition to the 78 percent that they already got in 1922.

It’s sad that some Israelis fall into the Arab propagandists’ rhetorical traps. After all, it takes only a basic familiarity with the history of British rule in Palestine to understand the truth. But I guess those who flunked history just don’t know any better.

Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”

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