The original Arab claim from 1919 was neither Jordan, nor «Palestine». It was Syria.
All modern eforts to make pece between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, begins at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919. But already in 1921 the original «peace plan» was changed. 78 percent of what the League of Nations designated as «the national home of the Jewish people» was handed over to the Arabs. The land was presented as a gift to Abdullah, son of Sharif Hussein ibn Ali, the Hashemite emir of Mecca.
In the original peace plan ffrom 1919 between the Jews, Arabs and the Western powers, it was not settlements and Jerusalem that were at the heart of the problem. In fact, the Arabs originally agreed to a Jewish state complete with massive Jewish immigration. For Arabs, the prize was not Palestine, it was Syria.
This was the deal:
The Jews could have an unrestricted Zionist state in Palestine. The British could have Iraq and its fabulous, albeit still undrilled oil. The Arabs only wanted Syria and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Arabian Peninsula.
During the first days of the League of Nations’ Paris Peace Conference, Prince Faisal signed an enlightened and tolerant nine-point agreement endorsing the Balfour Declaration and inviting the Zionists to coexist in Palestine.
«Immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be agreed upon by the parties».
«All such measures shall be adopted as will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government’s [Balfour] Declaration of the 2nd of November 1917».
«All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures, the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development».
What happened and why?
The Arabs are a centuries-old tribal group. But Arab nationalism began in earnest as an early 20th century surge of Arab intellectuals who envied Christian Europe’s international movement to achieve self-determination, autonomy and national independence for its ethnic and religious groups.
Damascus had long been the intellectual epicenter of the Arab national movement, and was for centuries a keystone for the Islamic world. In addition, Faisal and the Hashemites were direct descendants of Muhammad, and the custodians of Mecca and Medina, precious to all Muslims.
But barren Palestine was considered a mere backwater, and Iraq a neglected Ottoman province rich in something the Arabs did not need at all, but the West craved.
The Arabs were assured a seat at the victors’ table in Paris because they fought alongside the British and Lawrence against the Ottomans. Faisal became the face of Arab nationalism to the Peace Conference. On January 1, 1919, he submitted a formal memorandum to the Supreme Council of the Peace Conference outlining his vision for Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East. It was not monolithic or pan-Arab. It sought only one territory: Syria.
Source: Jerusalem Post, historical column.