Sunday, August 25, 2013

Time for a 'Plan B'?

From Arutz 7, 22 August 2013, by Ari Soffer:

Unconvinced by current talks, a controversial new initiative is set to be discussed at a Jerusalem conference next week.

"Two states for two peoples - on two sides of the Jordan River"
... a fresh initiative is emerging, with support from both Israelis and Palestinians.
This coming Sunday, Professors for a Strong Israel (PfSI) will be hosting a conference in Jerusalem's Menachem Begin Center, to discuss an initiative that they term as "Two States for Two People, on Two Sides of the Jordan River."
The initiative calls for the establishment of a Palestinian State on the eastern side of the Jordan River (present-day Jordan), where there is already a Palestinian majority of 65-80% in a country of approximately 6.2 million.
The Kingdom of Jordan (originally known as "Transjordan") was established in 1946, on three quarters of the territory previously allocated for a Jewish state in the famous Balfour Declaration in 1917. It was the result of a partition of the British Mandate of Palestine as a compromise between Jews and Arabs - a compromise which began at the 1922 San Remo Conference, when the Arab population received the lion's share (77%) of the country, to the east of the River Jordan, and the Jews received the remaining portion to its west.
But instead of handing over control to the local Arab population, the British government installed the Hashemite tribe of Jordan's King Abdullah I (grandfather of King Abdullah II), which was sympathetic to British imperial interests. That ushered in an era of autocratic, minority rule which lasted until today, and left the local Jews and Arabs to continue to fight over the remaining 23%.
Despite being the majority, Palestinians in Jordan are subject to widespread discrimination and repression by the government. Recently, sensing the growing threat from disgruntled Palestinians, the Jordanian government began stripping large numbers of their Jordanian citizenship, dealing another blow to their collective civil rights, and illustrating how it relies on their disenfranchisement to survive.

"Not everything has a cure"
Event organizers point towards the uncertain future of the Hashemite regime, amid challenges to its legitimacy from within and the spreading of popular uprisings in the wider region.
"Precisely now, with the Arab world in upheaval and political mayhem, we must examine another alternative, that is: Jordan as the Nation State for the Palestinians," PfSI declared in a statement released this week.
"When the 'Arab Spring' reaches Jordan, a Palestinian State will effectually be established there based on the Palestinian majority," they point out.
As a result, should a Palestinian state be established in Judea and Samaria "it is more than likely that we could awake to a reality wherein there are two separate Palestinian states, both bordering on Israel."
Former MK Professor Aryeh Eldad, who heads the group, said that “scores of attempts have been made in the past to transfer portions of Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Land of Israel, to the Arabs, in response to international pressure."
"Not only did these attempts all fail," he says, "but they invariably ended in war, violent outbreaks, intifadas and waves of terror directly mostly against civilian populations, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
"In spite of this, the ‘peacemaker brigades' persist in imposing the same formula, as if they cannot understand that this conflict is not territorially-based, and therefore the solution cannot be the division of the Land of Israel.
"The conflict between the Jews and the Arabs in the Middle East is an intractable religious war," he continued. "Israel is at the forefront of this war. Any division of the Land of Israel could not possibly be the solution for the conflict, but rather the cause for further war and bloodshed."
When asked by Arutz Sheva how this initiative could succeed in solving a conflict that is "not territorial," Eldad said that it was time for people to recognize that there aren't always comprehensive solutions.
"Almost all common diseases don't have a cure - from diabetes, to hypertension... you can't always 'cure' a problem decisively, but you can still treat it," he emphasized.
"The Israeli-Arab war is a religious war, an ideological war, a clash of civilizations. You cannot cure it by drawing a border on the map.
"What I suggest is a formula that will 'treat' and limit the conflict, without subjecting Israel to an existential threat like placing a Palestinian state in the heart of the country."
Such a formula would also be advantageous to the Palestinian side, he explained, by emancipating millions of Palestinians in Jordan, providing a solution to the ongoing "refugee problem" (Jordan is three times the size of Israel) and satisfying Palestinian Arab demands for self-determination.

"Plan B" 
Eldad cautioned that he was not suggesting Israel actively work to underme the present Jordanian government.
"But we must have a 'Plan B' ready... we must prepare ourselves for the day when there is no longer a Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, but a Palestinian state."
Israel must act quickly to formulate such a plan, he urges, "lest the West Bank turns into another Gaza," referring to the Hamas takeover which followed the handing over of the Gaza Strip to the PA.
Neither the US or Israel have a "Plan B", he pointed out - an incredibly naive and potentially catastrophic position given the volatile and unpredictable nature of regional geopolitics.
When the Jordanian regime falls, he says, "Israel should openly welcome and recognize a Palestinian State there and offer to help it" through trade, security cooperation, and in any other way possible.
In return "they will accept their position as Palestinian state and grant citizenship to their brethren elsewhere in the world, including Judea and Samaria."
There is much support for the plan among Israelis, he said, but many are not yet convinced that it is "realistic" - which is why he says Sunday's conference will focus primarily on "practical issues," from demography and topography to international law.
The problem, he says, is that Israelis have been convinced that the only alternative to surrendering Judea and Samaria is a "bi-national state" which would effectively put an end to Jewish self-determination - a discourse he aims to challenge.
His organization will be releasing the findings of a survey on Sunday morning which he says will back his claims.
Many Jordanian Palestinian leaders are also supportive of the initiative, says Eldad, but most are "not yet ready" to take a public stand, fearing government reprisals.
One Palestinian activist who is taking a public stand in support is Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian-Palestinian dissident who is a leading advocate of the initiative.
Citing comments made at a Congressional hearing on the Syrian conflict, in which King Abdullah was quoted as saying that he could be out of power "within a year," Zahran is confident that, sooner or later,  "the king [of Jordan] will definitely fall."
"It is important to recognize the fact that there are no differences between Palestinians and Jordanians," he said. "We are the same people of Jordan divided by colonial names, therefore I will be there to follow my people’s interest and secure that they move forward in the era to come."
"A huge injustice was done" by partitioning the region in a way that disenfranchised Jordan's Palestinian majority, empowered a foreign minority dictatorship and perpetuated the Arab-Israeli conflict, he says.
Zahran also says that such an initiative is within the interests of the western world. He urged western states not to repeat  the same mistakes they have made elsewhere in the region, calling on them to prevent Islamist groups taking control in the aftermath of the regime's fall by supporting the secular Palestinian opposition, among whom he says there is great support for such a plan.
"The issue is not only founding a Palestinian state in Jordan, but also avoiding the risk of Jordan turning into 'Hamas-stine,'" he explained, referring to the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood opposition there, which is linked to Hamas.
Apart from Professor Eldad and Mudar Zahran, conference notables will include Nobel Prize Winner Professor Israel Aumann, Deputy Minister of Transportation MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), General of Reserves and the Chairman of the Electricity Company Directorate, Yiftah Ron-Tal, and former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
Other dignitaries were invited - including US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk, the Jordanian ambassador to Israel and heads of diplomatic missions in Israel - but it was not clear whether any of them would be attending.
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