Why No Arab or Muslim Nation Has Been Willing to Accept Palestinian Refugees from Gaza

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Middle East & Israel

The only reason that Ireland, Norway and Spain can safely recognize a Palestinian state is that they do not have to live with the consequences.

Israel has long been the primary supporter of the Palestinian people, both on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Israelis have opened their borders to Palestinian workers, to whom they pay high wages. They have accepted Palestinian patients, including even terrorists, into their excellent hospitals. Some of the Israeli kibbutz residents who helped Gazans were murdered by them on October 7. Even during the current Gaza war, Israel has provided more food, medicine and humanitarian aid to Palestinians than any country has ever done during wartime.

What have other countries done? Very little. Norway, Ireland and Spain, on May 28, “formally recognized a Palestinian state.” How does that help the Palestinian people? It doesn’t. Indeed, it hurts them by raising unrealistic expectations. The only way a Palestinian state will exist is through hard compromises and the difficult direct negotiations to which the Palestinians agreed in the 1993-1995 Oslo Accords.

Consider the fact that no Arab or Muslim nation has been willing to accept Palestinian refugees from Gaza. Perhaps these nations recall that anyone who has tried to help the Palestinians has lived to regret it. When Jordan took them in, the Palestinians tried to overthrow the government of King Hussein in 1970. The attempted coup, known as Black September, ended with the Palestinians being expelled to Lebanon. Once there, a civil war erupted between the Muslims, backed by the PLO, and the Christians, resulting in the PLO being expelled once again, this time to Tunisia in 1982. After Kuwait offered roughly 400,000 Palestiniansvisas and jobs, and Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990,the PLO sided with Iraq. After the liberation of Kuwait, an estimated 200,000 were expelled and another 200,000 were not allowed back.

After Israel forced its own people out of Gaza in 2005 to allow a Palestinian “Singapore on the Mediterranean,” instead, in 2006, the Palestinians elected Hamas, which built more than 350 miles of terror tunnels, a “city under a city.”

No wonder their neighbors prefer not to take Gazans in.

Perhaps Ireland, Norway and Spain might extend invitations to the Palestinians to become residents there?

On April 13, more than 1,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Hamburg, Germany and demanded that the country become a Caliphate, with Shariah law.

The only reason that Ireland, Norway and Spain can safely recognize a Palestinian state is that they do not have to live with the consequences.

Egypt, which has its own history of terrorism in the Sinai, has closed its borders to Palestinians. Lebanon has kept much of its Palestinian population in refugee camps for decades. Jordan killed Palestinians who were building a state within a state, during Black September. Saudi Arabia has shut its doors. Qatar has taken a few Gazans in need of medical care but has refused to accept large numbers of refugees.

The preening hypocrisy of the international community and the real thoughts of Arab and Muslim governments — many of which might feel obligated officially to support the Palestinians and a “two-state solution,” but behind closed doors will admit that a Palestinian state is the last thing they want (here and here) — are apparent for all to see. It seems the world prefers to close its eyes.

The civilians who currently live in Rafah could easily be temporarily transported to the safety of Egypt while Israel achieves its legitimate military goal of destroying Hamas, but Egypt, understandably, has refused to cooperate.

The truth is that few outside of Israel really care about the plight of the Palestinian people. The demonstrations on college campuses which purport to be “pro-Palestine” are far more about condemning Israel than about helping the Palestinians. We never see signs calling for a two-state solution, probably because most of these demonstrators do not want Israel to exist. “From the river to the sea” means no Israel and no Jews. If a Palestinian state were to be substituted for Israel in that area, it would be a tyrannical regime. The conflict would be between those who want to see it more like Iran, a theocracy that murders dissidents, or more like China, a communist tyranny that also murders dissidents. As long as Hamas remains a viable military and political force, there is no prospect for a democratic Palestine or a two-state solution.

Those who really want to help Palestinians should be supporting Israel’s efforts to have Hamas stop terrorizing is neighbor and return the hostages. That would end the bloodshed in Gaza and would start a process which might ultimately culminate in a disarmed Palestinian state that recognized Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

So let us stop all the virtue-signaling about Palestine and Palestinians and urge the international community, and especially the Arab and Muslim world, to do something to help Palestinian families. That help can come in the form of education, healthcare, employment opportunities, acceptance of refugees and other humanitarian actions.

It is not the responsibility of Israel to make life better for the Palestinians. Israel withdrew all its soldiers and expelled all its civilians from Gaza in 2005, and it was up to the Gazans to make life better for themselves. But instead they chose Hamas, which turned Gaza into a military base with an underground tunnel system and above-ground rocket launchers. In 2000, 2001 and again in 2007, Israel offered the Palestinians the West Bank and to move toward the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state, but the Palestinian leadership rejected these opportunities, without even a counter-offer. As an Israeli scholar once put it, “Palestinian leadership does not know how to take yes for an answer.”

Those who claim to support the Palestinians ought to put up or shut up. Instead of constantly attacking Israel for its imperfections, they ought to be urging Arab and Muslim nations to help the Palestinians in material ways. These would include demanding the end of incitement to violence and the end of the Palestinians’ murder-for-hire “pay-for-slay” program, which incentivizes terrorism by paying the terrorists’ families for life if they murder Jews.

Those who really want to help the Palestinians need to place strict conditions on their funding, and demand accountability on how their money is spent — actually enforced. Those who claim to support the Palestinians should insist on revising their textbooks, as Saudi Arabia is now doing, and should establish institutions of democracy, as laid out by Natan Sharansky in 2006 in The Case for Democracy.

First, before a Palestinian state is “recognized,” it is crucial to guide the Palestinians out of a society of fear and into a society of freedom, a government that would include freedom of speech and of the press, equal justice under law, property rights, human rights and, above all, preparing the Palestinians for peace.

Until that is done, all the Palestinian people will get are hollow demonstrations on university campuses, empty recognitions from anti-Israel governments, irrelevant United Nations resolutions and bigoted demonization of Israel. None of this helps the Palestinian people. It only encourages more hatred, more terrorism and more war.

Alan Dershowitz is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and the author of “Get Trump,” “Guilt by Accusation” and “The Price of Principle.” Active in litigation, writing, and defense of civil liberties and human rights. Visit his substack and follow him at @AlanDersh.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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