Causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus

Causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus

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The causes and explanations of the exodus of Palestinian Arabs
1948 Palestinian exodus
The 1948 Palestinian exodus , also known as the Nakba , occurred when approximately 711,000 to 725,000 Palestinian Arabs left, fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Civil War that preceded it. The exact number of refugees is a matter of dispute...

that arose during the 1947-1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 are a matter of great controversy between historians and journalists, and of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Initial positions and criticisms


In the first decades after the exodus two diametrically opposed schools of analysis could be distinguished. In the words of Erskine Childers: ‘Israel claims that the Arabs left because they were ordered to, and deliberately incited into panic, by their own leaders who wanted the field cleared for the 1948 war’, while ‘The Arabs charge that their people were evicted at bayonet-point and by panic deliberately incited by the Zionists.’

Israeli position


Glazer summarizes the position of Zionist historians, notably Schechtman, Kohn, Jon Kymche and Syrkin, as saying that:
"...the Arabs in Palestine were asked to stay and live as citizens in the Jewish state. Instead, they chose to leave, either because they were unwilling to live with the Jews, or because they expected an Arab military victory which would annihilate the Zionists. They thought they could leave temporarily and return at their leisure. Later, an additional claim was put forth, namely that the Palestinians were ordered to leave, with radio broadcasts instructing them to quit their homes".


Zionist historians generally attribute the Arab leaders’ alleged calls for a mass evacuation to the period before the proclamation of Israeli statehood. They generally believe that, after that period, expulsion became standard policy and was carried out systematically.

Palestinian and Arab position


According to Glazer ‘[t]he Arab view of history has maintained that the Palestinians did not leave their homes voluntarily [but] were expelled by Zionist aggression. […] Sources sympathetic to the Arab viewpoint have seen in the events of 1948 the fulfilment of a long dreamed-of Zionist plan to rid Palestine of its Arab population, thus forcibly transforming Palestine into a Jewish state.’ Nur Masalha and Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi is an Oxford University-educated Palestinian historian who has written extensively on the Palestinian exodus. He is General Secretary and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, established in Beirut in December 1963 as an independent research and publishing center...

 points at the influence of thinking about ‘transfer’ of the Arab population to other Arab countries, among Zionists in the years prior to the exodus. In 1961 Khalidi also said that the Zionists had military superiority and that Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet, or Plan D, was a plan worked out by the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group and the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, in Palestine in autumn 1947 to spring 1948. Its purpose is much debated...

, the Zionists’ military plan executed in April and May 1948, aimed at expelling the Palestinians.

Criticism of traditional positions


Alternative explanations have also been offered. For instance Peretz and Gabbay emphasize the psychological component: panic or hysteria swept the Palestinians and caused the exodus. They attributed this to diverse causes like breakdown of Palestinian leadership, atrocity stories and Jewish military victories. Glazer also says that 'Israeli public opinion has maintained that as the Arabs planned to massacre the Jews, when the Jews began winning the war the Arabs fled, fearing the same treatment would be suffered on them.'.

Globally, in his paper of 1981, Glazer thinks that "both Palestinians and Israeli spokesmen and adherents have sought to link the events of 1948 with their claims to the land today". He claims that one "fundamental [problem of the subject is to deal] with historians who are overtly biased" and try to identify the factors that influence this.

Opening of archives


In the 1980s Israel and United-Kingdom opened up part of their archives for investigation by historians. This favored a more critical and factual analysis of the 1948 events. As a result more detailed and comprehensive description of the Palestinian exodus was published, notably Morris’ The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem.

Morris distinguishes four waves
1948 Palestinian exodus
The 1948 Palestinian exodus , also known as the Nakba , occurred when approximately 711,000 to 725,000 Palestinian Arabs left, fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Civil War that preceded it. The exact number of refugees is a matter of dispute...

 of refugees, the second, third and fourth of them coinciding with Israeli military offensives, when Arab Palestinians fled the fights or were expelled. The initial Israeli position has been replaced by a new version : the exodus was caused by neither Israeli nor Arab policies, but rather was a by-product of the 1948 Palestine War
1948 Palestine war
The 1948 Palestine war refers to the events in the British Mandate of Palestine between the United Nations vote on the partition plan on November 30, 1947, to the end of the first Arab-Israeli war on July 20, 1949.The war is divided into two phases:...

.

A document produced by the Israeli Defence Forces Intelligence Service entitled "The Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine in the Period 1/12/1947/- 1/6/1948" was dated June 30, 1948 and became widely known around 1985.

The document details 11 factors which caused the exodus, and lists them "in order of importance":
  1. Direct, hostile Jewish [ Haganah
    Haganah
    Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

    /IDF
    Israel Defense Forces
    The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

     ] operations against Arab settlements.
  2. The effect of our [Haganah/IDF] hostile operations against nearby [Arab] settlements...... (... especially -the fall of large neighbouring centers).
  3. Operation of [Jewish] dissidents [ Irgun Tzvai Leumi
    Irgun
    The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

     and Lohamei Herut Yisrael
    Lehi (group)
    Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

    ]
  4. Orders and decrees by Arab institutions and gangs [irregulars].
  5. Jewish whispering operations [psychological warfare], aimed at frightening away Arab inhabitants.
  6. Ultimate expulsion orders [by Jewish forces]
  7. Fear of Jewish [retaliatory] response [following] major Arab attack on Jews.
  8. The appearance of gangs [irregular Arab forces] and non-local fighters in the vicinity of a village.
  9. Fear of Arab invasion and its consequences [mainly near the borders].
  10. Isolated Arab villages in purely [predominantly] Jewish areas.
  11. Various local factors and general fear of the future.

Political and sociological influences on the historical debate


Several Israeli sociologists have studied the influence on the historical debate of the political and sociological situations in Israel. Referring to modern sociological schools and commenting historians methodology in the context of the 1948 war and the Palestinian exodus, Uri Ram considers that "contemporary historical revision and debates should be interpreted […] against the backdrop of specific crises in national identities and as an indication of crisis in national identity in the global era."

According to him, "the three leading schools writing Israeli history reflect and articulate [the] political-cultural divisions [in the Israeli society]. Traditional mainstream history is national, mostly the labor movement version. On its fringe, a critical school of history emerged in the 1980s associated with post-Zionism
Post-Zionism
Post-Zionism refers to the opinions of some Israelis, diaspora Jews and others, particularly in academia, that Zionism has fulfilled its ideological mission with the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948, and that Zionist ideology should therefore be considered at an end...

 (even if some of its protagonists identify as Zionists) [and] finally, in the 1990s efforts have been made to create a counterschool of neo-Zionist
Neo-Zionism
Neo-Zionism is a right-wing, nationalistic and religious movement that appeared in Israel following the Six Days War and capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which they consider parts of Israel. It evolved parallel with, and in opposition to Post-Zionism...

 history […]".

Claims that support that the flight was instigated by Arab leaders


Israeli official sources, foreign press, officials present at the time and historians have claimed that the refugee flight was instigated by Arab leaders. For example, Yosef Weitz
Yosef Weitz
Yosef Weitz was the director of the Land and Afforestation Department of the Jewish National Fund. From the 1930s, Weitz played a major role in acquiring land for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine.-Biography:...

 wrote in October 1948: "The migration of the Arabs from the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

 was not caused by persecution, violence, expulsion...[it was] a tactic of war on the part of the Arabs..." Israeli historian Efraim Karsh wrote, "The logic behind this policy was apparently that 'the absence of women and children from Palestine would free the men for fighting', as the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Abd al-Rahman Azzam put it." In his book, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Palestine War 1948, Karsh cited the substantial, active role the Arab Higher Committee
Arab Higher Committee
The Arab Higher Committee was the central political organ of the Arab community of Mandate Palestine. It was established on 25 April 1936, on the initiative of Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and comprised the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans under the mufti's...

 played in the exoduses from Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Tiberias, and Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

 as an important part of understanding what he called the "birth of the Palestinian refugee problem."

A May 3, 1948 Time Magazine article attributed the exodus from the city of Haifa to fear, Arab orders to leave and a Jewish assault. The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

 attributed the exodus from Haifa to orders to leave from the Higher Arab Executive as well as expulsion by Jewish troops.

In the case of the village of Ein Karem, William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

 was told by the villagers that the cause of their flight was twofold: first, it was caused by fear that came out of the Deir Yassin massacre
Deir Yassin massacre
The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people...

, and second because "the villagers were told by the Arab leaders to leave. It apparently was a strategy of mass evacuation, whether or not necessary as a military or public safety measure."

Khalid al-`Azm
Khalid al-Azm
Khalid al-Azm was a Syrian national leader and six-time Prime Minister, as well as Acting President...

 who was prime minister of Syria from December 17, 1948 to March 30, 1949 listed in his memoirs a number of reasons for the Arab defeat in an attack on the Arab leaders including his own predecessor Jamil Mardam Bey
Jamil Mardam Bey
Jamil Mardam Bey ,, was a Syrian politician, Born in Damascus to a prominent aristocratic Sunni Muslim family. He is descended from Ottoman's general, statesman, and Grand Vizier Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha...

:
Fifth: the Arab governments' invitation to the people of Palestine to flee from it and seek refuge in adjacent Arab countries, after terror had spread among their ranks in the wake of the Deir Yassin event. This mass flight has benefited the Jews and the situation stablized in their favor without effort. ... Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homeland, while it is we who constrained them to leave it. Between the invitation extended to the refugees and the request to the United Nations to decide upon their return, there elapsed only a few months.


After the war, a few Arab leaders tried to present the Palestinian exodus as a victory by claiming to have planned it. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Said was later quoted as saying: "We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wive
Wife
A wife is a female partner in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the wife regarding her spouse and others, and her status in the community and in law, varies between cultures and has varied over time.-Origin and etymology:...

s and child
Child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

ren to safe areas until the fighting has died down."

The Arab National Committee of Haifa, the Arab leadership in Haifa in 1948, wrote and delivered a report on the flight of roughly 60,000 Arabs from Haifa. The report said, "[T]he removal of the Arab inhabitants from the town was voluntary and carried out at our request."

A Muslim weekly newspaper in Beirut similarly reported, "Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 as refugees, suffering now from the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders […]? The Arab States [sp], and Lebanon amongst them, did it!"

Jamal Husseini, the brother of Palestinian military and religious leader Hajj Amin
Husseini
Mohammad Amin al-Husayni
Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in the British Mandate of Palestine. From as early as 1920, in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of a violent riot...

, wrote to the Syrian UN representative, "The regular [Arab] armies did not enable the [Arab] inhabitants of [Palestine] to defend themselves, but merely facilitated their escape from Palestine." Furthermore, Palestinian Arab protesters in the West Bank took to the streets on the occasion of "the first anniversary of Israel's establishment" to place blame on "the Arab states for the creation of the refugee problem."

Criticisms of the "endorsement of flight" explanation


Morris, with others of the New Historians
New Historians
The New Historians are a loosely-defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional versions of Israeli history, including Israel's role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace. The term was coined in 1988 by one of the leading New Historians, Benny...

 school, concur that Arab instigation was not the major cause of the refugees' flight. As regards the overall exodus, they state that the major cause of Palestinian flight was not Arab instigation but rather military actions by the Israeli Defence Force and fear of them. In their view, Arab instigation can only explain a small part of the exodus and not a large part of it. Moreover, Morris and Flapan have been among the authors whose research has disputed the official Israeli version claiming that the refugee flight was in large part instigated by Arab leaders.

Additionally, the secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah
Edward Atiyah
Edward Selim Atiyah was a Lebanese author and political activist. He was born in 1903 and died in 1964. He is best known for his 1946 autobiography An Arab Tells His Story, and his 1955 book The Arabs....

, wrote in his book, The Arabs:

This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to reenter and retake possession of their country. But it was also ... largely due to a policy of deliberate terrorism and eviction followed by the Jewish commanders in the areas they occupied, and reaching its peak of brutality in the massacre of Deir Yassin.
There were two good reasons why the Jews should follow such a policy. First, the problem of harbouring within the Jewish State a large and disaffected Arab population had always troubled them. They wanted an exclusively Jewish state, and the presence of such a population that could never be assimilated, that would always resent its inferior position under Jewish rule and stretch a hand across so many frontiers to its Arab cousins in the surrounding countries, would not only detract from the Jewishness of Israel, but also constitute a danger to its existence. Secondly, the Israelis wanted to open the doors of Palestine to unrestricted Jewish immigration. Obviously, the fewer Arabs there were in the country the more room there would be for Jewish immigrants. If the Arabs could be driven out of the land in the course of the fighting, the Jews would have their homes, their lands, whole villages and towns, without even having to purchase them.


Erskine Childers checked transcripts of all Arab radio services monitored by the BBC and CIA in 1948, and discovered that, '(T)here was not a single order, or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948', and that to the contrary broadcasts gave flat orders to civilians to stay put. His point is taken by Glazer (1980, p. 101), who writes that not only did Arab radio stations appeal to the inhabitants not to leave, but also Zionist radio stations urged the population to flee, by exaggerating the course of battle, and, in some cases, fabricating complete lies.

More evidence is presented by Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi is an Oxford University-educated Palestinian historian who has written extensively on the Palestinian exodus. He is General Secretary and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, established in Beirut in December 1963 as an independent research and publishing center...

. In his article the author argues that steps were taken by Arab governments to prevent Palestinians from leaving, ensuring that they remain to fight, including the denial by Lebanon and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 of residency permits to Palestinian males of military age on April 30 and May 6 respectively. He also notes that a number of Arab radio broadcasts urged the inhabitants of Palestine to remain and discussed plans for an Arab administration there.

According to Glazer (1980, p. 105), among those who blame Arab news reports for the resulting panic flight are Polk et al. and Gabbay. They maintain that the Arabs overstated the case of Zionist atrocities, made the situation seem worse than it was and thus caused the population to flee. According to Glazer, Gabbay, in particular, has assembled an impressive listing of sources which describe Zionist cruelty and savagery. In this sense, Glazer (1980, p. 105) cites the work done by Childers who maintains that it was the Zionists who disseminated these stories, at the time when the Arab sources were urging calm. He cites carefully composed 'horror recordings' in which a voice calls out in Arabic for the population to escape because 'the Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons'. In the opinion of Glazer (1980, p. 108) one of the greatest weaknesses of the traditional Zionist argument, which attempts to explain the exodus as a careful, calculated and organized plan by various Arab authorities, is that it cannot account for the totally disorganized way in which the exodus occurred. As regards the evidence provided supporting the idea that Arab leaders incited the flight of Palestinian population, Glazer (1980, p. 106) states, "I am inclined to prefer Childers[' research] because the sources he cites would have reached the masses.... Gabbay's evidence, newspapers and UN documents, were designed for outside consumption, by diplomats and politicians abroad and by the educated and influential Arab decision makers. This is not the kind of material which would necessarily have been in the hands of the common Palestinian."

Flapan further maintains that to support their claim that Arab leaders had incited the flight, Israeli and Zionist sources were constantly "quoting" statements by the Arab Higher Committee to the effect that "in a very short time the armies of our Arab sister countries will overrun Palestine, attacking from the land, the sea, and the air, and they will settle accounts with the Jews." Though he accepts that some such statements were issued, he believes that they were intended to stop the panic that was causing the masses to abandon their villages and that they were issued as a warning to the increasing number of Arabs who were willing to accept partition as irreversible and cease struggling against it. From his point of view, in practice the AHC statements boomeranged and further increased Arab panic and flight. According to Aharon Cohen, head of Mapam's Arab department, the Arab leadership was very critical of the "fifth columnists and rumormongers" behind the flight. When, after April 1948, the flight acquired massive dimensions, Azzam Pasha, secretary of the Arab League, and King 'Abdailah both issued public calls to the Arabs not to leave their homes. Fawzi al-Qawuqji, commander of the Arab Liberation Army, was given instructions to stop the flight by force and to requisition transport for this purpose. Muhammad Adib al-'Umri, deputy director of the Ramallah broadcasting station, appealed to the Arabs to stop the flight from Janin, Tulkarm, and other towns in the Triangle that were bombed by the Israelis. On 10 May Radio Jerusalem broadcast orders on its Arab program from Arab commanders and the AHC to stop the mass flight from Jerusalem and its vicinity. Flapan considers that Palestinian sources offer further evidence that even earlier, in March and April, the Arab Higher Committee broadcasting from Damascus demanded that the population stay put and announced that Palestinians of military age were to return from the Arab countries. All Arab officials in Palestine were also asked to remain at their posts The author claims that such pleas had so little impact because they were outweighed by the cumulative effect of Zionist pressure tactics that ranged from economic and psychological warfare to the systematic ousting of the Arab population by the army.

According to Flapan
Simha Flapan
Simha Flapan was an Israeli historian and politician. He was the author of The Birth of Israel: Myths And Realities.He is probably best known for his book The Birth of Israel: Myths And Realities, published in the year of his death....

 the idea that Arab leaders ordered the Arab masses to leave their homes in order to open the way for the invading armies, after which they would return to share in the victory, makes no sense at all. In his opinion, the Arab armies, coming long distances and operating in or from the Arab areas of Palestine, needed the help of the local population for food, fuel, water, transport, manpower, and information. The author cites a report of the Jewish Agency's Arab section from January 3, 1948, at the beginning of the flight, which in his view suggests that the Arabs were already concerned with the possibility of flight, "The Arab exodus from Palestine continues, mainly to the countries of the West. Of late, the Arab Higher Executive has succeeded in imposing close scrutiny on those leaving for Arab countries in the Middle East. Flapan maintains that prior to the declaration of statehood, the Arab League's political committee, meeting in Sofar, Lebanon, recommended that the Arab states "open the doors to […] women and children and old people if events in Palestine make it necessary, but that the AHC vigorously opposed the departure of Palestinians and even the granting of visas to women and children.

Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

 has also expressed doubt as to the validity of claims of orders to leave from the Higher Arab Executive.

Arab Evacuation Orders


Morris estimates that Arab orders accounts for at most 5% of the total exodus:
"Arab officers ordered the complete evacuation of specific villages in certain areas, lest their inhabitants ‘treacherously’ acquiesce in Israeli rule or hamper Arab military deployments. […] There can be no exaggerating the importance of these early Arab-initiated evacuations in the demoralization, and eventual exodus, of the remaining rural and urban populations"
Furthermore, in his comprehensive book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Righteous Victims, Morris wrote:
"In some areas Arab commanders ordered the villagers to evacuate to clear the ground for military purposes or to prevent surrender. More than half a dozen villages ... were abandoned during these months as a result of such orders. Elsewhere, in East Jerusalem and in many villages around the country, the [Arab] commanders ordered women, old people, and children to be sent away to be out of harm's way. ... [T]he AHC and the Arab League had periodically endorsed such a move when contemplating the future war in Palestine."
In a 2003 interview with Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

, Morris summed up the conclusions of his revised edition of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem: "In the months of April–May 1948, units of the Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves. At the same time, it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee
Arab Higher Committee
The Arab Higher Committee was the central political organ of the Arab community of Mandate Palestine. It was established on 25 April 1936, on the initiative of Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and comprised the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans under the mufti's...

 and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages."

The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the March 8, 1948, instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, ordered women, children and the elderly in various parts of Jerusalem to leave their homes and move to areas "far away from the dangers. Any opposition to this order […] is an obstacle to the holy war […] and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts."

In a 1959 paper, Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi is an Oxford University-educated Palestinian historian who has written extensively on the Palestinian exodus. He is General Secretary and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, established in Beirut in December 1963 as an independent research and publishing center...

 attributed the "Arab evacuation story" to Joseph Schechtman
Joseph Schechtman
Joseph Boris Schechtman was a writer and Revisionist political activist. He was the author of several books of history, including The Arab Refugee Problem , and a two-volume biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Life and Times of Vladimar Jabotinsky. Rebel and Statesman: The Early Years and...

, who wrote two 1949 pamphlets in which "the evacuation order first makes an elaborate appearance." Morris, too, did not find any blanket orders of evacuation.

The "Concept of Transfer in Zionism"


Discussion of the 'idea of transfer' in political Zionism became popular beginning in the 1980s when Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 declassified documents pertaining to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 period and the so-called New Historians
New Historians
The New Historians are a loosely-defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional versions of Israeli history, including Israel's role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace. The term was coined in 1988 by one of the leading New Historians, Benny...

 began publishing articles and books based on these documents. The Zionist 'concept of transfer' was cited by authors like Nur Masalha and Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi is an Oxford University-educated Palestinian historian who has written extensively on the Palestinian exodus. He is General Secretary and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, established in Beirut in December 1963 as an independent research and publishing center...

 to support their argument that the Zionist Yishuv followed an expulsion policy. Others such as Morris reject the idea that 'transfer' thinking led to a political expulsion policy as such, but invoke the theory to explain that the idea of transfer was endorsed in practice by mainstream Zionist leaders, particularly David Ben-Gurion. Critics of the "transfer principle" theory cite public addresses by the contemporary Zionist leadership that preached co-existence with the Arabs. However proponents of the Zionist "transfer concept" say that Israeli archival documents show that real sentiments were largely discussed behind closed doors, and endorsed the idea of forced transfer of Arabs from the territory of the Jewish state.

The idea that 'transfer ideology' contributed to the exodus was first brought up by several Palestinian authors, and supported by Erskine Childers
Erskine Childers (UN)
Erskine Barton Childers was a writer, BBC correspondent and United Nations senior civil servant. He was the eldest son of Erskine Hamilton Childers and Ruth Ellen Dow Childers...

 in his 1971 article, "The wordless wish". In 1961 Walid Khalidi referred to the transfer idea to support his idea that the Yishuv followed an expulsion policy in April and May 1948. In the 1980s, historian Benny Morris
Benny Morris
Benny Morris is professor of History in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the city of Be'er Sheva, Israel...

 became the most well-known advocate of the existence of the 'transfer idea'. According to Morris, while not discounting other reasons for the exodus, the 'transfer principle' theory suggests that this prevalent 'attitude of transfer' is what made it easy for the Jewish population to accept it and for local Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 and IDF
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 commanders to resort to various means of expelling the Arab population.

He also notes that the attempt to achieve a demographic shift through aliyah
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 (Jewish immigration to the land of Israel) had not been successful. As a result, some Zionist leaders adopted the transfer of a large Arab population as the only viable solution. Morris also points out that "[if] Zionist support for 'Transfer' really is 'unambiguous'; the connection between that support and what actually happened during the war is far more tenuous than Arabs propagandists will allow" (Morris, p. 6).

To this he adds that "From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created."

Origins of the ‘Transfer Idea’


Morris concludes that Zionism's aim was "to transform a land which was ‘Arab’ into a ‘Jewish’ state and a Jewish state could not have arisen without a major displacement of Arab population". According to Morris only after Arab resistance emerged did this become a rationale for transfer. Other authors, including Palestinian writers and Israeli New Historians
New Historians
The New Historians are a loosely-defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional versions of Israeli history, including Israel's role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace. The term was coined in 1988 by one of the leading New Historians, Benny...

, have also described this attitude as a prevalent notion in Zionist thinking and as a major factor in the exodus.

The Peel Commission's plan and the Yishuv's reaction


The idea of population transfer
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

 was briefly placed on the Mandate's political agenda in 1937 by the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

. The commission recommended that Britain should withdraw from Palestine and that the land be partitioned between Jews and Arabs. It called for a "transfer of land and an exchange of population", including the removal of 250,000 Palestinian Arabs from what would become the Jewish state, along the lines of the mutual population exchange between the Turkish and Greek populations after the Greco-Turkish War of 1922. According to the plan 'in the last resort' the transfer of Arabs from the Jewish part would be compulsory. The transfer would be voluntary in as far as Arab leaders were required to agree with it, but after that it would be almost inevitable that it would have to be forced upon the population.

According to Nur Masalha, heavy Zionist lobbying had been necessary for the Peel commission to propose this 'in the last resort' compulsory transfer. Shertok, Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

 and Ben-Gurion had travelled to London to talk it over, not only with members of the commission, but also with numerous politicians and officials whom the commission would be likely to consult. This solution was embraced by Zionist leaders. Masalha also says that Ben-Gurion saw partition only as an intermediate stage in the establishment of Israel, before the Jewish state could expand to all of Palestine using force.

According to Morris, Arab leaders, such as Emir Abdullah
Abdullah I of Jordan
Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan [‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn] عبد الله الأول بن الحسين born in Mecca, Second Saudi State, was the second of three sons of Sherif Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca and his first wife Abdiyya bint Abdullah...

 of Transjordan and Nuri as-Said
Nuri as-Said
Nuri Pasha al-Said was an Iraqi politician during the British Mandate and during the Kingdom of Iraq. He served in various key cabinet positions, and served seven terms as Prime Minister of Iraq....

 of Iraq, supported the idea of a population transfer. However, while Ben-Gurion was in favor of the Peel plan, he and other Zionist leaders considered it important that it be publicized as a British plan and not a Zionist plan. To this end, Morris quotes Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

, director of the Jewish Agency's Political Department, who said (during a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive on 7 May 1944) to consider the British Labour Party Executive's
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 resolution supporting transfer: "Transfer could be the crowning achievements, the final stage in the development of [our] policy, but certainly not the point of departure. By [speaking publicly and prematurely] we could mobilizing vast forces against the matter and cause it to fail, in advance. […] What will happen once the Jewish state is established - it is very possible that the result will be the transfer of Arabs".

All of the other members of the JAE present, including Yitzhak Gruenbaum
Yitzhak Gruenbaum
Yitzhak Gruenbaum was a noted leader of the Zionist movement among Polish Jewry between the two world wars and of the Yishuv in Mandatory Palestine, and the first Interior Minister of Israel.-Education and journalistic career:Gruenbaum was born in Warsaw, Poland...

 (later Israel's first interior minister), Eliyahu Dobkin
Eliyahu Dobkin
Eliyahu Dobkin was a leading figure of the Labor Zionism movement, a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence and a founder of the Israel Museum. He was also heavily involved with the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organisation.-Biography:...

 (director of the immigration department), Eliezer Kaplan
Eliezer Kaplan
Eliezer Kaplan was a Zionist activist, Israeli politician, one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence and the country's first Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister.-Biography:...

 (Israel's first finance minister), Dov Yosef
Dov Yosef
Dov Yosef was an Israeli politician and statesman. Yosef served in a variety of ministerial positions during the first two Knessets and was the country's second Minister of Justice, serving twice .-Background:...

 (later Israel's justice minister) and Werner David Senator (a Hebrew University executive) spoke favorably of the transfer principle. Morris summarises the attitude of the Jewish Agency Executive on 12 June 1938 as: "all preferred a ‘voluntary’ transfer; but most were also agreeable to a compulsory transfer".

At the twentieth Zionist Congress, held in Zurich in August 1937, the Peel Commission's plan was discussed and rejected on the ground that a larger part of Palestine should be assigned to them. According to Masalha, compulsory transfer was accepted as morally just by a majority although many doubted its feasibility. Partition, however, was not acceptable for Ussishkin, head of the Jewish National Fund
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

, who said, "The Arab people have immense areas of land at their disposal; our people have nothing except a grave's plot. We demand that our inheritance, Palestine, be returned to us, and if there is no room for Arabs, they have the opportunity of going to Iraq."

The immediately succeeding Woodhead Commission
Woodhead Commission
The Woodhead Commission, properly known as the Palestine Partition Commission, was established in 1938 in the British Mandate of Palestine to investigate the implementation of the Peel Commission's plan for a partition of Palestine....

, called to "examine the Peel Commission plan in detail and to recommend an actual partition plan" effectively removed the idea of transfer from the options under consideration by the British, and the 1939 White Paper proposed a complete end to immigration.

According to Masalha 'the defeat of the partition plan in no way diminished the determination of the Ben-Gurion camp […] to continue working for the removal of the native population' In November 1937 a Population Transfer Committee was appointed to investigate the practicalities of transfer. It discussed details of the costs, specific places for relocation of the Palestinians, and the order in which they should be transferred. In view of the need for land it concluded that the rural population should be transferred before the townspeople, and that a village by village manner would be best. In June 1938 Ben-Gurion summed up the mood in the JAE: 'I support compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it'. Regarding the unwillingness of the British to implement it, land expropriation was seen as a major mechanism to precipitate a Palestinian exodus. Also the remaining Palestinians should not be left with substantial landholdings.

The ‘Transfer Idea’ during 1947–1949



In early November 1947, some weeks before the UN partition resolution, the Jewish Agency Executive decided that it would be best to deny Israeli citizenship to as many Arabs as possible. As Ben-Gurion explained, in the event of hostilities, if the Arabs also held citizenship of the Arab state it would be possible to expel them as resident aliens, which was better than imprisoning them.

In Flapan's view, with the proclamation of the birth of Israel and the Arab governments' invasion into the new state, those Arabs who had remained in Israel after 15 May were viewed as "a security problem," a potential fifth column, even though they had not participated in the war and had stayed in Israel hoping to live in peace and equality, as promised in the Declaration of Independence. In the opinion of the author, that document had not altered Ben-Gurion's overall conception: once the Arab areas he considered vital to the constitution of the new state had been brought under Israeli control, there still remained the problem of their inhabitants.

According to Flapan "Ben-Gurion appointed what became known as the transfer committee, composed of Weitz, Danin, and Zalman Lipshitz, a cartographer. At the basis of its recommendations, presented to Ben-Gurion in October 1948, was the idea that the number of Arabs should not amount to more than 15 percent of Israel's total population, which at that time meant about 100,000".

In the view of Flapan records are available from archives and diaries which while not revealing a specific plan or precise orders for expulsion, they provide overwhelming circumstantial evidence to show that a design was being implemented by the Haganah, and later by the IDF, to reduce the number of Arabs in the Jewish state to a minimum and to make use of most of their lands, properties, and habitats to absorb the masses of Jewish immigrants. According to Michael Bar-Zohar, appeals to "the Arabs to stay" were political gestures for external audiences whereas "[i]n internal discussions," Ben-Gurion communicated that "it was better that the smallest possible number of Arabs remain within the area of the state."

Flapan quotes Ben-Gurion several times in order to prove this basic stand:
  • After the flight of the Arabs began Ben-Gurion himself wrote in his diary, "We must afford civic and human equality to every Arab who remains, [but, he insisted,] it is not our task to worry about the return of the Arabs".
  • On 11 May Ben-Gurion noted that he had given orders "for the destruction of Arab islands in Jewish population areas".
  • During the early years of the state, Ben-Gurion stated that "the Arabs cannot accept the existence of Israel. Those who accept it are not normal. The best solution for the Arabs in Israel is to go and live in the Arab states-in the framework of a peace treaty or transfer.".


Nur Masalha also gives several quotes of Ben-Gurion supporting it:
  • On 7 February 1948, commenting on the de-Arabisation of parts of Western Jerusalem he told the Mapai Council: 'What happened in Jerusalem […] is likely to happen in many parts of the country […] in six, eight or ten months of the campaign there will certainly be great changes in the composition of the population in the country.'
  • On 6 April he told the Zionist Actions Committee: 'We will not be able to win the war if we do not, during the war, populate upper and lower, eastern and western Galilee, the Negev and Jerusalem area […] I believe that war will also bring in its wake a great change in the distribution of the Arab population.'


Flapan considers that "hand in hand with measures to ensure the continued exodus of Arabs from Israel was a determination not to permit any of the refugees to return. He claims that all of the Zionist leaders (Ben-Gurion, Sharett, and Weizmann) agreed on this point".

Criticisms of the ‘Transfer Idea’


The 'transfer principle' theory was attacked by Efraim Karsh
Efraim Karsh
Efraim Karsh is professor and head of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, and director of the Philadelphia-based think tank, the Middle East Forum...

. Karsh argued that transferist thinking was a fringe philosophy within Zionism, and had no significant effect on expulsions. He gives two specific points of criticism:
  • Karsh cites evidence supporting the idea that Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency Executive (JAE) did not agree on transfer of Palestinian Arabs but rather had a much more tolerant vision of Arab-Jewish coexistence:
  • Ben-Gurion's at a JAE meeting in 1936: "We do not deny the right of the Arab inhabitants of the country, and we do not see this right as a hindrance to the realization of Zionism."
  • Ben-Gurion to his party members:"In our state there will be non-Jews as well—and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well."
  • in an October 1941 internal policy paper: "Jewish immigration and colonization in Palestine on a large scale can be carried out without displacing Arabs," and: "in a Jewish Palestine the position of the Arabs will not be worse than the position of the Jews themselves."
  • explicit instructions of Israel Galili, the Haganah's commander-in-chief: "acknowledgement of the full rights, needs, and freedom of the Arabs in the Hebrew state without any discrimination, and a desire for coexistence on the basis of mutual freedom and dignity."
  • According to Karsh there was never any Zionist attempt to inculcate the "transfer" idea in the hearts and minds of Jews. He could find no evidence of any press campaign, radio broadcasts, public rallies, or political gatherings, for none existed". Furthermore, in Karsh's opinion the idea of transfer was forced on the Zionist agenda by the British (in the recommendations of the 1937 Peel Royal Commission on Palestine) rather than being self-generated.

The "Master Plan" explanation


Based on the aforementioned alleged prevalent idea of transfer, and on actual expulsions that took place in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, Walid Khalidi, a Palestinian historian, introduced a thesis in 1961 according to which the Palestinian exodus was planned in advance by the Zionist leadership.

Khalidi based his thesis on Plan D, a plan devised by the Haganah high command in March 1948, which stipulated, among other things that if Palestinians in villages controlled by the Jewish troops resist, they should be expelled (Khalidi, 1961). Plan D was aimed to establish Jewish sovereignty over the land allocated to the Jews by the United Nations (Resolution 181), and to prepare the ground toward the expected invasion of Palestine by Arab states after the imminent establishment of the state of Israel. In addition, it was introduced while Jewish-Palestinian fighting was already underway and while thousands of Palestinians had already fled. Nevertheless, Khalidi argued that the plan was a master-plan for the expulsion of the Palestinians from the territories controlled by the Jews. He argued that there was an omnipresent understanding during the war that as many Palestinian Arabs as possible had to be transferred out of the Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

, and that this understanding stood behind many of the expulsions that the commanders in the field carried out.

In the opinion of Glazer (1980, p. 113), there is evidence that Zionist leaders were already thinking about removal of the Palestinian population before the actual occurrence. On February 7, 1948, Ben-Gurion told the Central Committee of Mapai (the largest Zionist political party in Palestine) "it is most probable that in the 6, 8 or 10 coming months of the struggle many great changes will take place, very great in this country and not all of them to our disadvantage, and surely a great change in the composition of the population in the country". Glazer (1980, p. 113) states that the 1947 Partition Resolution awarded an area to the Jewish state whose population was 46 percent Arab and where much of this land was owned by Arabs. He considers that "it has been argued by the Zionists that they were prepared to make special accommodations for this large population; yet it is difficult to see how such accommodations could have coalesced with their plans for large-scale Jewish immigration; moreover, by August 1, 1948, the Israeli government had already stated that it was "economically unfeasible" to allow the return of the Arabs, at the very time when Jewish refugees were already entering the country and being settled on abandoned Arab property".

According to Ilan Pappé
Ilan Pappé
Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist...

 the Palestinian exodus can be described as ethnic cleansing. In his book ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine is a controversial book about the 1948 Palestinian exodus authored by Ilan Pappé and published in 2006 by Oneworld Publications.Ilan Pappé is one of the New Historians...

’ Pappé analyses the causes of the exodus. He describes the aims the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) had, the way it prepared in the years before the war to be able to achieve these aims and the way in which a pragmatic ethnic cleansing policy was devised and implemented in 1947-1949.

Planning by Ben-Gurion and the ‘Consultancy’


According to Flapan 'the Jewish army […] under the leadership of Ben-Gurion, planned and executed the expulsion in the wake of the UN Partition Resolution.'

Pappé gives more details of this planning process. According to Pappé Ben-Gurion was the architect of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. ‘His central role in deciding the fate of the Palestinians stemmed from the complete control he exercised over all issues of security and defence in the Jewish community in Palestine.’ In 1947 Ben-Gurion created what Pappé calls the ‘Consultancy’. This was a group of eleven people, a combination of military and security figures and specialists on Arab affairs. From October 1947 this group met weekly to discuss issues of security and strategy towards the Arab world and the Palestinians.

At a meeting on 10 March the consultancy put the final touches on Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet, or Plan D, was a plan worked out by the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group and the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, in Palestine in autumn 1947 to spring 1948. Its purpose is much debated...

, according to Pappé the blueprint for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. According to plan Dalet a Palestinian village was to expelled if it was located on a strategic spot or if it put up some sort of resistance when it was occupied by Yishuv forces. According to Pappé ‘it was clear that occupation would always provoke some resistance and that therefore no village would be immune, either because of its location or because it would not allow itself to be occupied. After 15 May the Consultancy started meeting less frequently because according to Pappé ‘ever since plan Dalet had been put into motion it had been working well, and needed no further coordination and direction.’

Role of the Yishuv's official decision-making bodies


Flapan says that "it must be understood that official Jewish decision-making bodies (the provisional government, the National Council, and the Jewish Agency Executive) neither discussed nor approved a design for expulsion, and any proposal of the sort would have been opposed and probably rejected. These bodies were heavily influenced by liberal, progressive labor, and socialist Zionist parties. The Zionist movement as a whole, both the left and the right, had consistently stressed that the Jewish people, who had always suffered persecution and discrimination as a national and religious minority, would provide a model of fair treatment of minorities in their own state". The author later maintains that "once the flight began, however, Jewish leaders encouraged it. Sharett, for example, immediately declared that no mass return of Palestinians to Israel would be permitted". According to Flapan '[Aharon] Cohen [head of Mapam's Arab department] insisted in October 1948 that "the Arab exodus was not part of a preconceived plan." But, he acknowledged, "a part of the flight was due to official policy […] Once it started, the flight received encouragement from the most important Jewish sources, for both military and political reasons."'

Criticisms of "Master Plan" explanation


Historians skeptical of the 'Master Plan' emphasize that no central directive has surfaced from the archives and argue that, had such an understanding been widespread, it would have left a mark in the vast documentation produced by the Zionist leadership at the time. Furthermore, Yosef Weitz
Yosef Weitz
Yosef Weitz was the director of the Land and Afforestation Department of the Jewish National Fund. From the 1930s, Weitz played a major role in acquiring land for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine.-Biography:...

, who was strongly in favor of expulsion, had explicitly asked Ben-Gurion for such a directive and was turned down. Finally, settlement policy guidelines drawn up between December 1947 and February 1948, designed to handle the absorption of the anticipated first million immigrants, planned for some 150 new settlements, of which about half were located in the Negev, while the remainder were sited along the lines of the UN partition map (29 November 1947) in the north and centre of the country.

The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East states that 'recent studies, based on official Israeli archives, have shown that there was no official policy or instructions to bring about the expulsion.' According to Efraim Karsh:
"Israeli forces did on occsasion expel Palestinians. But this accounted for only a small fraction of the total exodus, occurred not within the framework of a premeditated plan but in the heat of battle, and was dictated predominantly by military ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

 considerations (notably the need to deny strategic sites to the enemy if there were no available Jewish forces to hold them). […] Indeed, even the largest expulsions, during the battle for Lydda
Lod
Lod is a city located on the Sharon Plain southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. At the end of 2010, it had a population of 70,000, roughly 75 percent Jewish and 25 percent Arab.The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod...

 in July 1948, emanated from a string of unexpected developments on the ground and in no way foreseen in military plans for the capture of the town."


New historian Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim FBA is a British/Israeli historian. He is a professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow of the British Academy.Shlaim is especially well known as a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict...

 considers that the Plan D is not a policy of expulsion but is a military plan dedicated to secure areas allocated to Jewish state.

Benny Morris
Benny Morris
Benny Morris is professor of History in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the city of Be'er Sheva, Israel...

 considers that there was no master plan nor ethnic cleansing. Morris wrote, "[T]he fact […] that during 1948 Ben-Gurion and most of the Yishuv's leaders wished to see as few Arabs remaining as possible, does not mean that the Yishuv adopted and implemented a policy of expulsion." He later expounded:
"There was no Zionist 'plan' or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of 'ethnic cleansing.' Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications), was the master plan of the Haganah - the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) - to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state."
In his 2004 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Morris wrote, "My feeling is that the transfer thinking and near-consensus that emerged in the 1930s and early 1940s was not tantamount to pre-planning and did not issue in the production of a policy or master-plan of expulsion; the Yishuv and its military forces did not enter the 1948 War, which was initiated by the Arab side, with a policy or plan for expulsion." Morris also states that he could not find anything in the Israeli archives that would prove the existence of a Zionist plan to expel Palestinians in 1948. Elsewhere Morris has said that the explusion of the Palestinians did amount to ethnic cleansing, and that the action was justifiable considering the circumstances.

Yoav Gelber
Yoav Gelber
Yoav Gelber is a professor of history at the University of Haifa, and was formerly a visiting professor at The University of Texas at Austin....

 notes that documentation exists showing that Ben Gurion
Ben Gurion
Ben Gurion can refer to the following persons:* Nicodemus ben Gurion, a Biblical figure, probably a rich Jewish member of the Sanhedrin that felt sympathetic to Jesus Christ...

 'regarded the escape as a calculated withdrawal of non-combatant population upon the orders of Arab commanders and out of military considerations', which is contradictory to the hypothesis of a master plan he may have drawn up.

Concerning the Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet, or Plan D, was a plan worked out by the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group and the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, in Palestine in autumn 1947 to spring 1948. Its purpose is much debated...

, Gelber argues that Khalidi and Pappe's interpretation relies only on a single paragraph in a document of 75 pages, that has been taken out of its context. Describing the plan in reference to the announced intervention of the Arab armies, he argues that 'it was a practical response to an emerging threat' Gelber also argues that the occupation and destruction of Arab villages described in the paragraph quoted in Khalidi's paper had the military purpose of preventing Arabs from cutting roads facilitating incursions by Arab armies, while eliminating villages that might have served as bases for attacking Jewish settlements. He also remarks that if Master Plan had been one dedicated to resolving the Arab question, it would have been written by Ben Gurion's advisors on Arab affairs and by military officers under the supervision of the chief-of-staff Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin on 21 March 1917, died 28 June 1984) was an Israeli archeologist, politician, and the second Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.-Early life and military career:...

.