T. Belman. This is an extract from article written by Aryeh Eldad in 2004. I have been promoting a similar plan as set out in my article, “The Ultimate Alternate Israel-Palestine Solution “. I have known and respected him since I arrived in Israel. Lately we began communicating to see how we can further this Plan along. Although it was written in 2004, it remains the only plan that can succeed.
Concurrently, Israel must present an alternative plan. This plan can be proposed during the crisis which will result from the failure of the Road Map.
The alternative plan is based on the fact that the Palestinians already have a state of their own, Jordan, which was established after the territory which was allotted for the Jewish National Home in Mandatory Palestine was divided into two parts, three-quarters given to the Arabs. Palestinians today already constitute 75% of the population of Jordan. Our alternative plan presents the need for a regional solution to the refugee problem by settling the refugees in Jordan; the rate of natural increase of the Palestinians prevents the solution of their problem within the areas of Yesha wherein they live at present, not to mention the three million Palestinians and Palestinian refugees that currently are living in other Arab countries and might be expelled to the territory of “Palestine” if such a state is established according to the Road Map plan.
Any genuine solution of the problem must include all Palestinian refugees, living these past 55 years in refugee camps in Yesha, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The definition of Jordan as a Hashemite-Palestinian state will enable the Arabs of Yesha who are not refugees to obtain Jordanian citizenship, to vote for the Jordanian Parliament in Amman as the Parliament representing the Palestinian nation, and will enable them to express their national identity.
Arabs who will not move to Jordan within the framework of the resettlement of the refugees, will be able to administer their civil needs in seven cantons, solely with autonomous municipal authority without territorial continuity. They will have authority to run their affairs in the spheres of trade, health, education, transportation, religion, agriculture and municipal matters. Israel will be sovereign over the entire area west of the Jordan and shall have exclusive authority in respect to security and defense in the entire area of its sovereign rule. The State of Israel cannot agree to the existence of an additional armed state west of the Jordan with air sovereignty and with control of its external borders. Nor can the State of Israel agree to a Palestinian territorial continuity which will cut the State of Israel into separate parts. On the other hand, in Jordan, a Hashemite-Palestinian state will have full governmental rights with no restraints on negotiation of treaties, on air space and no obligations of demilitarization. Such a state will have territorial continuity and viable economic independence.
The plan which is hereby presented, is of the integration of a number of ideas which have already been raised in the past: “Jordan is Palestine”, “the canton program” and “transfer by consent”, for the solution of the refugee problem.
The Solution: Two States for Two Nations on Two Banks of the Jordan
The Return-to-Zion War has been going on for one hundred and twenty years. Since the birth of Zionism, the Arabs have been at war with us. Whoever claims that the Palestinians have been fighting against “the occupation” which began with the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip in the Six Day War, is ignorant of the history or deliberately twists it to suit his purposes. What has Zionism not done to end the war? The whole of Eretz Israel belongs to the people of Israel by virtue of every historical right and of justice: The Divine Promise of the God of Israel to the people of Israel, historical right, all that Israel has created in its Land and has given to the whole world. Eretz Israel belongs to the people of Israel in accordance with international law and by the laws of war. Israel was prepared to give up these rights, to share the land with the Arabs if only were it allowed to live in peace in part of Eretz Israel. The nations of the world were quite agreeable to divest Jews of all these rights and they divided the land again and again. Eretz Israel of the Mandate and of the Balfour Declaration was cut in two by the Churchill White Paper, and the larger part east of the Jordan River was given to the Bedouin “King”, creating the “Kingdom of Jordan”. Numerous plans sought again and again to divide western Eretz Israel, and failed time and again. The Partition Plan which was approved by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, was rejected by the Arabs because they wanted everything. All the attempts of the Jewish nation to live with the Arabs failed, be they as a “National Home”, being less than an independent state, or as a divided country with its capital carved in two, or as a democratic state granting equal citizenship rights although without equal obligations to its Arab citizens – no solution was acceptable to the Arabs; their object remained to destroy the existence of the Zionist Jewish entity. No power deterred the Arabs from repeated attempts to exterminate the Jews, to drive them out of this land. This is the local symptom of a global disease, a wider collision between western civilizations and the Muslim civilization, so well described in Samuel Huntington’s work, The Clash of Civilizations.
Even the attempted national suicide which we have witnessed during the last decade, called the Oslo Accords, did not satisfy the Palestinians, not even the agreement to surrender Judea, Samaria, the Gaza District and half of Jerusalem (Camp David Summit 2000) – this present war proves the point. All proposals to divide western Eretz Israel between the Jewish people and the Arabs have resulted in war and destruction. The time has come to present a solution to the bloodshed which has been continuing for 55 years. We must find another solution.
There is no geopolitical logic to partitioning western Eretz Israel. Nor is there any demographic logic. It is not logical and it is not economically viable. There cannot be two independent states with military power and with rights of development and of sovereignty west of the Jordan. Even were it a case of two friendly European nations, it would not be possible to lock into this prison cell area two independent sovereign states. And such a situation is unthinkable here after generations of incitement to hatred and murder. In a situation in which the Palestinian educational system “educates” generations of murderers and suicide killers and pronounces that on the map of Palestine, Israel does not exist, it is incomprehensible that two states can exist alongside each other, bearing in mind all the vast differences in standards of living and also the huge chasm in standards of human rights. The security of Israel would be imperiled by the presence of a foreign army west of the Jordan River and by a state which sponsors terrorism.
The Kingdom of Jordan which was born in sin – the separation of Trans-Jordan from the Jewish national home – has become over recent years a de facto Palestinian state, 75% of its population being Palestinians. Some of them still live in the refugee camps where they were installed willingly or by force after the War of Independence. Some of them became citizens of this vast empty kingdom and “solved the refugee problem” on their own, just as millions of other refugees did throughout the world, and just as hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries have done. Jordan is in fact Palestine as proven by its demography. “Jordan is part of Palestine” in accordance with the claims of Palestinians who tried to get control of the Kingdom (and failed). The Palestinians are delaying a further such attempt until they succeed in establishing another Palestinian state west of the Jordan. Jordan is Palestine and there is in Jordan a real chance to solve the Arab refugee problem. But Jordan is not yet Palestine because the present rulers of Jordan do not want it and because the Bedouin minority hates the Palestinians far more than any Jew in Israel is hostile to the Arabs.
This truth and this solution were proposed also by (Israel’s then-Minister of Foreign Affairs and wise Prime Minister) Yigal Alon and by Ariel Sharon. Alon stopped preaching this solution because of the sharp objection of King Hussein and because of the “historic alliance” with him. Another reason for objection to the plan was the estimation that a friendly Jordanian kingdom constitutes an important strategic barrier between Israel and Iraq. As a dominant power in the east, Iraq threatening Israel, is gone even if temporarily. If the “Jordan is Palestine” program is indeed the realistic solution which can give the Palestinians a state and can ensure the existence of the State of Israel as a Zionist Jewish state capable of self-defense, the obstacle of the objection of the Hashemite royal house ruling Jordan can be overcome, when international, as well as Israeli guarantees are given to this regime, that the new Hashemite-Palestinian state is needed by the international community, as the only way to stabilize the region.
Is it a realistic plan to settle the refugees in Jordan and to make it Palestine also de jure? Is the plan feasible economically? Is there sufficient water in Jordan for all Palestinians? Can international support be enlisted for this plan? How can the possible refusal of the refugees to leave the refugee camps and to give up the dream of their return to Jaffa, Jerusalem, Haifa and Safed be overcome?
The area of Jordan (90,000 sq. kms.) is 13 times the area of Yesha and is 4.3 times the area of the State of Israel within the “Green Line”. Whoever proposes to constrict the “Palestinian state” within Areas A and B, in accordance with the interim phases of the failed Oslo Accords, misleads and deceives himself and the world. The natural increase of the Arab population in Eretz Israel is the greatest in the world. The natural increase in the Arab state of Egypt has been restrained. Even in an extremely Islamically orthodox country like Iran, it has been limited by intensive action of the Muslim authorities. But the Palestinian population is “exploding”, this being part of a deliberate demographic policy of its spiritual leadership – defeating the Zionist entity with the aid of the Palestinian mother’s womb. Whoever suggests locking up a population increasing at this rate in a portion of the area west of the Jordan condemns Israel to death. The Palestinians will always try to get into Israel and to gain control over it from within, for the lack of any other demographic course open to them. The present economic condition of the Palestinian refugees is bad. Their average income per person is one of the lowest in the world. If there is any intention of improving this situation, investment of tens of billions of dollars from outside sources will be necessary. Such investments, if they were to be channeled to Jordan, could turn it into a state capable of supporting all the Arab refugee population. These investments could also be a lever to enable Jordan to interest a wider international community in support of the program, since in the course of time these investments would be likely to bear fruit. On the other hand, any investment in the rehabilitation of refugees in their present locations is risk capital par excellence which will eventually go down the drain, in the next war.
Jordan is an arid land. Already at present it is dependent on water supply from Israel in order to irrigate the agricultural plantations in the Jordan Valley. A plan which will seek to settle some two million Palestinian refugees in Jordan will demand the solution of the water problem in the region. Such a solution can be reached by means of nuclear or conventional desalination installations, their source of energy being the natural gas reserved on the Mediterranean coast. A large desalination plant can be established also in the Jordan Valley itself, its source of energy being a hydroelectric station exploiting the differences in height between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea which is gradually drying. The cost of building such plants is great, but it is lower even than the resources which the United States was prepared to invest in Turkey in exchange for the right of passage during the Iraqi War (about $20 billion). Therefore, the problem of the basic infrastructure which might have prevented the settling of Palestinian refugees in the wide areas of Jordan is both soluble and attractive.
The two principal objections to the project are likely to come from the Jordanians and from the Palestinians themselves. Can these objections be overcome?
Jordan will become Palestine sooner or later. Sooner – if it will be wise enough to navigate this change to satisfy Israel’s needs. Later – if Israel will consent to the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan. The Palestinians’ next step would be obtaining control over the Kingdom of Jordan and the creation of a Greater Palestine, one further phase in their plan for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of Palestine over the whole of Mandatory Eretz Israel. The Hashemite Kingdom also fears this intention of the Palestinians. This intention was displayed in the summer of 1969. The determination of King Hussein in his war against the Palestinians, and the intervention of the State of Israel on his behalf in blocking the Syrians, rescued the Hashemite royal house and prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state in Jordan. This was one of Israel’s most historic and serious mistakes. Had the Palestinians achieved a state already thirty years ago, their claim “a nation without a land” would have been groundless, and it would have been much simpler then for the international community to accept the solution of two states for two nations on both sides of the Jordan River. The Jordanian royal house is therefore fully aware that it is surviving on borrowed time, and that if a Palestinian state were to come into being west of the Jordan, it would become the principal base of the effort to enable the Palestinian majority in Jordan to take over the Kingdom. The sole chance of the Hashemite royal house is to adopt the plan of converting the Kingdom into a Hashemite-Palestinian state enjoying international support, and benefiting from vast development budgets for desalination and industrialization. Only a continuing Israeli guarantee of the stability of the regime in Jordan, by prevention of the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan – a state which would constantly threaten Jordan – only such an Israeli guarantee, i.e. a joint interest in restricting the power of the common enemy, only this can assure the long-term survival of the Hashemite regime and therefore secure the support of Jordan for this process.
Can Palestinian support for this process be obtained? During the 1970s, Yasser Arafat considered that Jordan was Palestine. He changed his demand and claim under pressure of the Arab League. Today the Palestinians are convinced that they should avoid any step towards taking over Jordan before they (the Palestinians) have secured an independent state at Israel’s expense west of the Jordan. The absolute prevention of such a scenario will once again channel the pressure to obtain an independent state, in the direction of Jordan, as in the 1960s. There is no doubt however that the likelihood of the Palestinians choosing this course of their own will, is remote. The settlement of refugees in Jordan is contrary to their understanding of their sole chance to realize the “right of return” to Israel. If this “right” will be totally blocked, there is a possibility that the population of the refugee camps will see no further purpose in their continued dwelling in the camps, since it will no longer be able to yield to them the fruit of return. Wide international support for the settlement of the refugees in Jordan, backed by large investments in water desalination, housing and establishment of work places, could be attractive to many of them as individuals, even if their leadership prefers to pursue a harsh and extreme line. The forcible removal of this leadership would also bring about the solution of the refugee problem.
The Arabs who live in Yesha and are not defined as “refugees” in the list of refugees of the United Nations Work and Relief Agency, who will opt to stay where they are, will, as part of a long-term and agreed process, receive Hashemite-Palestinian citizenship. They will vote for the Parliament in Amman, and will be entitled to manage their social, municipal, commercial, agricultural, transportation, education and religious affairs in seven cantons, not connected territorially (two in the Gaza District and one each in Jenin, Shechem, Ramallah, a Christian canton in Bethlehem, and a canton in the Hebron Hills). The residents of these areas will enjoy the standing of “Resident” (without Israeli citizenship) without the right of moving their place of residence outside of their cantons (avoidance of “infiltration”). In the Peace Treaty it will be made clear that, like the Israeli Arabs, they will not have the right of political organization as an independent entity. The Arabs of Yesha will have a limited policing authority in their areas, with no authority at international sea, air or land border controls and they will not be entitled to enter into international agreements or covenants. Israel will have complete air, sea and electromagnetic authority, and it will be the sole legal authority also in the areas populated by Arabs. Israel is the exclusive sovereign west of the Jordan.
United States support for this plan can be obtained with greater ease than the support of the Europeans. There is already a majority of Senators and Representatives who condition agreement to the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan upon the fulfillment of far-reaching restrictions, and these therefore make such a state impossible to achieve. The fact that Americans throughout the world have become targets of Muslim terror places the Americans in a position which is unwilling to compromise with any form of terror. It seems that the sole objection in the United States to this scenario is at the Department of State which is the prime supporter of the Road Map.
The Europeans, on the other hand, are traditional warm supporters of the Arab position. This results from a combination of motives: economic (dependence on Arab oil) plus political-international motives (the desire to create for themselves an independent stand differing from that of the United States), in order to become an international power. This attitude was particularly evident on the eve of the Iraqi War when France, Germany and Russia strongly opposed the policies of the United States and Britain. In recent years, this equation has been influenced also by the growing Muslim minorities in some of the European countries. Moreover, an emotional subconscious anti-Semitic attitude is also bound up with this behavior, under a diplomatic cloak in accordance with traditional European nicety. Therefore, Europe almost always supports the Arab position, because it pays them and because it blends with the traditional European anti-Jewish stand.
A change in this stand can occur if the rules of the game of the world oil economy were to change, or if other plans – such as the Road Map – were to reach a dead end, and Europe were no longer able to be a contributor of any worth to the advancement of Arab aspirations. The Road Map plans presented to the international community and to the parties in the Middle East, demand enormous concessions of Israel, and do not offer it any real advantages. These plans place the security and peace of Israel within the close range of the Palestinians. They will not fight terror for Israel’s sake, they will even initiate and operate it. These plans will place Israel’s security in the hands of an international force which will enter Israel to supervise and guarantee the implementation of the plans and will prevent Israel from taking any measures in the war on terror. They also include elements which threaten the very existence of Israel in the medium and long term, and destroy the moral basis of the existence of the state. These schemes enjoy Arab support and the support of Europe and the Department of State in Washington. Unless these plans are completely removed from the table, no alternative plan, like the one presented here – has any chance to materialize. It seems that the world will need a colossal demonstration of the failure of the Road Map plan, in order to abandon it. If this plan were to continue on its current course – the unavoidable war that will follow could give the world such a demonstration. It is very unfortunate that such proofs are still needed.