Newt Gingrich has opened up an intriguing argument about the nature and longevity of the Palestinian people.
In terms of how or why it matters, Evelyn Gordon in Commentary provides a good overview of why the issue if important to discuss here. Yoram Ettinger, a powerful speaker who visited Australia a few years ago, is quoted as part of the article.
Gordon states that the phrase occupied Palestinian territory “implies that the land belongs to the Palestinians and always has. And if so, why shouldn’t Israel be required to give back every last inch? But if the land hasn’t belonged to the Palestinians “from time immemorial” – if instead, both Palestinians and Jews comprise small indigenous populations augmented by massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the West Bank and Gaza becoming fully Judenrein only after Jordan and Egypt occupied them in 1948 – then there’s no inherent reason why the border must necessarily be in one place rather than another. To create two states, a border must be drawn somewhere, but that “somewhere” should depend only on the parties’ current needs – just as the drafters of Resolution 242 envisioned. Indeed, that resolution explicitly called for “secure” boundaries precisely because the 1967 lines were “notably insecure,” to quote then U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg, and Western statesmen believed the permanent border must be relocated to make it defensible.
Moreover, if Palestinians aren’t the land’s indigenous owners, it becomes possible to implement another important principle: that 64 years of refusing repeated Jewish offers of statehood should entail a territorial price. For if decades of making war rather than peace doesn’t entail a territorial price, that encourages aggressors to keep trying to gain the whole loaf through military action, secure in the knowledge that half a loaf will always still be available if they ever decide otherwise.
On immigration, as in so many other aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it turns out that history matters, and by ignoring it, Israel and its supporters have badly undermined their own cause. Reversing direction at this late date won’t be easy. But if the conflict is ever to be resolved, correcting the historical record is vital.”