Back to the Jordanian option

Four reasons why final-status agreement with Palestinians is unfeasible

Giora Eiland

The prime minister continues to meet with Mahmoud Abbas often, high- ranking American guests visit here constantly in order to advance an agreement with the Palestinians, and Foreign Minister Livni explains that the only obstacle to a final-status agreement is the existence of the radicals opposed to it.

Seemingly everything is clear about the deal being discussed – two stations between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, with the border being more or less the 1967 lines. Anyone who goes into detail will reach more or less what President Clinton proposed seven and a half years ago.

Back then, conditions were better than they are today. The US president threw his full weight, personally, behind the process’ success, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak was determined to succeed, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, as problematic as he was, was at least recognized by its people as a leader. In addition, at the time, before the second Intifada, greater trust prevailed between the sides.

So why should we believe that what failed back then will succeed now?
There are four reasons why such final-status agreement is unfeasible in the foreseeable future.

1. The most an Israeli government can offer to the Palestinians and still survive politically is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian government can accept and survive politically. The gap between the sides is large and is growing with the passage of time, rather than the other way around.

2. There is no trust in the desire for a deal or in the ability to implement it. When an agreement is signed, the assumption is that the other side intends to implement it and would be able to do so. This is not the reality when it comes to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The absence of Palestinian desire (to get a small and split state and view it as the end of the conflict) is the bothersome aspect. Let’s assume that a referendum was held among the Palestinians regarding the nature of the solution to the conflict, with two possible answers:
First, two states to the two peoples on the basis of the Clinton plan.

Second, no Palestinian state, but also no State of Israel, with the entire Land of Israel area being divided among Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. What would be the result of such imaginary referendum? I estimate that more than 50% would vote without hesitation for the second option. A Palestinian state was never the Palestinian ethos.

The Palestinian ethos is based on other aspirations such as “justice,” “revenge,” recognition of their victimization, etc.

3. Hamas. It will continue to be strong enough to torpedo any diplomatic agreement that puts an end to the conflict.

4. Even if a miracle happens and a final-status agreement is reached, and even if it is successfully implemented, it will not achieve stability, but rather, the opposite. There is no chance that the small, split, and resource-poor Palestinian state will constitute the homeland of satisfied people.

So what should we do? We should reshuffle the cards and try to think about other solutions as well. One of them is a return to the Jordanian option. The Jordanians won’t admit this publicly, yet a Palestinian state in the West Bank is the worst solution for them.

They too know that within a short period of time such state would be ruled by Hamas. The moment Jordan – which features a Palestinian majority as well as powerful Muslim Brotherhood opposition – will share a border with a Hamas state, the Hashemite regime will face immediate danger.

Other options are regional solutions whereby both Egypt and Jordan will contribute territory to the Palestinian state. As opposed to common perceptions as if this has no chance of materializing, we can prove that the great winners in such arrangement could in fact be Egypt and Jordan.

What is clear is that continued negotiations that cannot bring about any positive result are a waste of time at best and could lead to a third Intifada at worst.

Giora Eiland is a retired IDF major-general and former head of the National Security Council

April 18, 2008 | 4 Comments »

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  1. Lesly,

    There is a general lack of good and persuasive evidence to believe that the U.S. and the EU that pressure Israel to make concessions for peace are anti-Semitic.

    That said, amongst the advisers to various Western leaders are some whose views that see the light of day in the media sometimes do reveal and anti-Israel – pro-Arab bias.

    Why Western nations, predominantly the U.S. and the E.U. push Israel to make concessions for peace that common sense tells many of us undermines Israel’s current and long term security, can best be answered by looking to how these nations perceive their own self interest and how best to advance it.

    Western nation pushing Israel towards a future fraught with danger for Israel, can I think thus be better explained by seeing Western nations as being pro-West then anti-Israel.

    The issue for the Palestinians/Arabs in this Israel-Palestinian war is not about territory as the war is characterized by the West and Israel.

    For the Palestinians it is all about Israel’s right to exist and their dream fueled by both their Jew hatred and their Islamic fundamentalist beliefs or inspiration derived from those beliefs and extremist Muslim culture, that Israel must die and all of Israel’s lands revert to Islam, be it in one fell swoop or in stages.

    Israel must recognize this reality and then get the West to see it as well if it is to change strategies and refuse to even talk about conceding even one more inch of territory until Palestinian/Arab Jew hatred and their current dream for Israel’s destruction dies.

    If such dramatic change in characterizing the Arab/Palestinian war for both Israel and the West, from one that has been based on willful blindness and illusions to one that is reality based, Israel would find the way open to next demand that what Israel has given away to the Arabs/Palestinians in exchange for nothing but their lies and empty promises, will revert back to Israel.

    Both Israel and West are far from being ready, willing and able to make that change in their thinking.

  2. What really needs to happen for a solution to take hold is for the world powers that push Israel and the Palestinians towards the mirage of peace, to come to openly admit that Jew hatred shapes much of the Palestinian and Muslim Middle East thinking and it is that Jew hatred that makes it impossible for Israeli – Arab peace to ever be anything but a mirage.

    In order for this to occur, the world powers you refer to would have to acknowledge their own hatred of Jews. Why else would the US and Europe continually lobby for concessions that undermine Israeli security.

    If Israel wants peace with her Muslim/Arab neighbors, she must be strong and stop negotiating away “land for peace.” Every concession, to date, has proven to her neighbors that Israel is weak, but if you recall, after the Six-Day War, the world respected Israel. Jews will never be liked but that is of no consequence as long as we have a safe and prosperous Israel.

  3. The fundamental roadblock in either of Eiland’s two suggested optional solutions is that it would mean the death of the Muslim Middle East dream that Israel cease to exist and all its lands revert to Muslim land, either under the authority of a Palestinian state or the authority of one or more Arab nations that wanted the lands for themselves, which in my view would be the probable end result outcome.

    The neighboring Arab states either would not want to have a potentially unstable Palestinian state or in short order, the Palestinian state would be absorbed into whichever neighboring Arab state wanted the land more.

    It is no secret, the Palestinians are loved by the neighboring Arab states only to the extent that the Palestinians prove useful to their overarching desire to be rid of Israel.

    Further, as to the first suggestion, it means Jordan would absorb the Palestinians which entails population transfer.

    Jordan already has enough headaches from radical factions rooted there and growing. To import more Palestinian radicals would be like drinking poison. Also if Jordan were to even give a hint of such a move, would be seen by Jordan’s Arab brethren as giving up on the Muslim Middle East dream and offering to solve the problem of their enemy, Israel. I expect Jordan’s monarchy would fall either by a coup d’etat from within or an attack by enraged Arab states.

    As to the second, it would mean two detached Palestinian states unless Israel divided itself by throwing in a land bridge between the two Palestinian territories.

    Given past experience that none of the Arab nations want to contribute anything but advice to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, they cannot be counted on to give up pieces of their own territory for the Palestinians they revile, except as pointed out they support only for so long as the Palestinians serve their overarching goal of ridding the region of Israel and Jews.

    What really needs to happen for a solution to take hold is for the world powers that push Israel and the Palestinians towards the mirage of peace, to come to openly admit that Jew hatred shapes much of the Palestinian and Muslim Middle East thinking and it is that Jew hatred that makes it impossible for Israeli – Arab peace to ever be anything but a mirage.

    Once the world comes to grips with that reality and with that truly wants such peace, then and only then will the world begin to set about helping or forcing the Muslim Middle East to transform themselves to eliminate their Jew hatred.

    That is one tall order that as of now has little chance of happening for so long as things such as the power of Arab oil and Western fear of consequences for offending the Muslim world, remain about the same.

    So in the end, what is in store is more of the continuing unstable and sometimes deadly and dangerous stalemate in the region between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and her other Arab neighbors.