Palestinians didn’t define themselves as such until the 1960s. The original Palestinian nationalists of 1920s-40s, such as Istiqlal—the most radical party—spoke of Syro-Palestinian identity or Greater Syria. Syria, however, was under French occupation while Palestine was under the British. The British, accordingly, resisted Syro-Palestinian nationalism and evicted its proponents first to Syria, and then arranged for them to be expelled from Syria. Palestinian nationalism is the result of simple and efficient British measures to quash Syro-Palestinian nationalism. Such was a typical colonial policy of creating non-viable entities which cut across tribal lines, divide et impera.

In a historically typical manner, Palestinian nationalism was invented by local bourgeoisie, political bureaucracy, and relatively educated young people. They preferred to rule a non-viable state rather than continue as Ottoman, British, or Syrian administrators. The population preferred to belong to the larger (Syro-Palestinian) entity, but population doesn’t own media and have little say in immediate policies. Palestinian nationalism was never strong: Arafat’s nationalism crystallized in Cairo, and the early Fatah was concentrated in Jordan and lacked a support base in the West Bank. The vast majority of Palestinians, whether in Israel proper or on the West Bank, dislike Israel but don’t care to fight her. The rumors of a Jordan-West Bank confederacy caused no outrage among the West Bank Palestinians. Palestinians in Jordan still don’t protest the attribution to them of Jordanian nationality. Palestinian Arabs differ from Egyptian Arabs about as much as Texans differ from New Yorkers.

The Christian partition of the Land of Israel in 1947 was an ad hoc solution. At the time, Westerners were searching for a one-size-fits-all solution to international conflicts. The Wilsonian utopia had failed miserably, and diplomats saw partitioning as another wonder pill. Scores of countries, from Germany to India, were partitioned at the dawn of the new world order to satisfy all major contenders. That approach proved erroneous: artificial borders are either abrogated (Germany) or soaked with blood (India-Pakistan). The Palestinian state was of the same diplomatic stock as East Germany: a non-viable entity liable to continuously ignite nationalism on both sides. Saudi Shiites are more numerous than Palestinian Arabs, more different from Saudi Sunni than Palestinians are from Syrians, and more viable—they sit on Saudi oil deposits. Yet Saudi Shia didn’t get a state of their own. Transjordanian settled Arabs are more different from Transjordanian Bedouin than East and West Bank Arabs are different from each other; still, Transjordanian Arabs were lumped into a single state, while the East and West Bankers (in fact, the East Bank refugees from the West Bank) separated into two states. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria has nothing to do with national rights or justice, but is a rare remnant of the failed post-WWII diplomatic doctrine of partitioning problematic states.

The British Peel Commission didn’t even consider a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but allocated that territory to the already huge Transjordan, carved from the land allocated to Jews by the League of Nations. In 1945, after the Holocaust, Britain restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine even further. If not for Jewish terrorist groups like Etzel and Lehi, the British would have reneged on their promises entirely, and no Jewish state would have come into being. They envisaged Transjordan alongside a mixed Jewish-Arab statelet in Palestine.