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Was the Palestine problem a unifying or disuniting factor in Pan-Arabism?
It is argued that the Palestine problem was a unifying factor in Pan-Arabism in that it brought the new Arab nation-states together in support of their common people, the Arab Palestinians. However, the motives of the states in the Palestinian conflict are often overlooked; upon analyzing these, one sees that the states were truly acting out of their own self-interest and not out of a strong sense of kinfolk. In fact, the Palestinian problem even generated conflict between Arab states, causing it to be a disuniting factor.
All throughout the war there was much disagreement between the Arab states on the position to be taken in Palestine. Jordan and sidestepped the rest of the Arab League, entering into direct negotiation with the Jewish Agency over territorial claims (Pappe, 125). The Arab Legion, Jordan’s armed force, did not coordinate with the rest of the Arab Salvation Army as well (Pappe, 127-128).
Arab involvement was also marked by distrust between the local Palestinian Arabs and the military troops sent by the League. Many troops were ineffective and condescending towards the local populace, behaving almost as military rulers in the regions they occupied, and this led to a sense of insecurity among many Palestinians (Pappe, 128). This Arab-Arab distrust obviously worked to defy the principles of Pan-Arabism.
During the Palestine War, the Arab effort was marked by self-interest and lack of coordination. Many countries simply wanted to annex as much of Palestine as possible (Pappe, 131). Egypt and Jordan spent more time trying to recruit Palestinian support against each other than supporting a common war effort against the Israelis (Owen, 61). The way the Arab states treated war refugees also indicated high levels of self-interest as opposed to humanitarian sentiments of Pan-Arabism. In Jordan, all Palestinians were regarded as “potentially subversive” and requiring high levels of control, due to fears of a
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