To be recognized as a sovereign state, under international law, certain requirements must be met. The requirements are to have recognized boundaries, to have a population that is resident on an ongoing basis, to be able to regulate its own foreign and domestic trade as well as be able to print its own currency, provide social services, have a transportation system for moving goods and people, have a government that provides police and military forces, to independently handle foreign affairs and enforce domestic decisions, and to have external recognition.
Based on these requirements, the difference between Hamas’s Gaza and the Fatah’s PA becomes glaring. While Abbas’s PA has no recognized borders, Gaza’s boundaries are recognized and undisputed. While the PA does not have full legal authority over its own foreign or domestic trade and is unable to print its own currency even if it desired to do so, Hamas in Gaza has full authority and control to regulate trade both foreign and domestic and if they desire they can even print their own currency. Both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the PA provide social services to their people, have police, and have roads for transportation of goods and people, but only Hamas in Gaza has the legal authority to establish a limitless police force and a military force. Unlike Abbas’s PA, only Hamas in Gaza can make international agreements independent of any third party.
True, neither Gaza nor the PA satisfies the requirement of external recognition. However, even if Abbas’s PA receives adequate recognition tomorrow, it will still be unable to meet the legal definition of a Sovereign State as it would be lacking in most of the other requirements! Gaza already meets every single requirement necessary to be recognized officially as a Sovereign State.
It would appear that while Abbas is kicking and screaming for his PA to be recognized as a State by Israel and the UN, there already exists a Palestinian State, de facto: Gaza. It is a reality regardless of the fact that Hamas denies the existence of the State of Israel, Hamas is still the government in Gaza and is led by popularly elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Furthermore, if we are already looking at Two States in Palestine for Two Peoples of Palestine, then everyone should be very happy. After all, Israel doesn’t have to violate its own basic security needs and the Palestinians have a large and contiguous territory for their national home.
Whether Gaza is officially recognized or not is irrelevant, the reality is the same. It is so obvious, were anyone to actually look, all recognition should require is for the Israeli leadership or any other country to point at Gaza.
Yet, there is another Palestinian State besides Gaza.
In the early 1920s Britain removed roughly 80% of the territory included in the Mandate for a Jewish Homeland to establish a specific territory for the Arabs of the Palestine region. This was done with the acquiescence of the Jewish people. The territory for the Arabs of Palestine was called Trans-Jordan. The precise chronology surrounding this event is provided by Becker, “The PLO”, p. 243:
“On 24 April 1920 Britain was granted a mandate over the Palestine region by the San Remo peace conference. On 1 July 1920, Sir Herbert Samuel took over from the military administration and established a Civil Administration in Palestine on both sides of the Jordan river…In March 1921 Abdullah was installed as Governor of ‘Transjordan’. This decision to treat‘ Transjordan’ differently was not internationally sanctioned until it was confirmed as part of a text of the Mandate terms by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 (Article 25 declared that in the ‘territory’ lying between the Jordan River and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined’ the Mandatory might ‘postpone or withhold’ application of certain provisions of the Mandate) Only on 23 September 1922 did the League specifically approve a memorandum relating to article 25 which specifically exempted the area of Transjordan from the original Mandate’s requirements concerning the establishment of a Jewish National Home.”
Today this State, forever separated from the Jewish National Home, is known as Jordan. Jordan has always had a population made up of a Palestinian majority, fully half of the nation’s parliament is made up of Palestinian lawmakers, and its chambers of commerce report an even higher Palestinian membership. Palestinians have reached every position in government, including the Prime Minister. The Queen herself is Palestinian, and when King Abdullah II’s half-Palestinian son ascends the Hashemite throne, Jordan will finally have a Palestinian king.
Yet, so much of the world disregards the origin and characteristics of both Gaza and Jordan, to insist that Israel continue to carve pieces of itself for the purpose of the creation of a third Palestinian State. Is any rational person really to believe that there exist not one but at least two Palestinian peoples? One man living in Ramallah is one kind of Palestinian national, while his own cousin if not his brother living just a few miles away is another distinct kind of Palestinian nationality?
If any Western minds actually think so, you can be quite certain that Hamas and the various Palestinian groups are not similarly confused. From the late 1950s to the late 1970s, both Jordan’s Prime Minister and King repeatedly and publicly acknowledged Jordan as the Palestinian State. Jordan and the Palestinian groups have not forgotten those statements. On January 28 of this year, King Abdullah II of Jordan met with then head of Hamas Khaled Mashaal and said to him that a confederation between a future Palestinian State (composed of the West Bank and Gaza) and Jordan would be discussed once that Palestinian State is recognized. This is despite the fact that just last year the King said to his western audience “Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine”.
Since both Gaza and Jordan already meet the requirements for sovereign statehood, and Jordan has long been a recognized sovereignty, they should be recognized by the international community for what they already are and consider Abbas’s PA to be nationals either of Gaza or Jordan. The Arabs of the disputed territory would therefore be legal residents of Israel, with full civil rights, living in an autonomy if they wish.
It appears if we continue to ignore not only Jordan but Gaza as a more practical solution, we are simply allowing for there to be three Palestinian States. After all, even if Israel and Abbas’s PA come to a final agreement tomorrow that allows a new Palestinian State to be established and recognized in the “West Bank” and Gaza, such a State would not exist in Gaza as Hamas and Fatah have parted ways politically, organizationally, and militarily. Fatah is unable to take control of Gaza. In essence, there would be three independent sovereign countries, each of which led by separate Palestinian governments and made up of separate Palestinian majorities.
Is this what we mean when we say Two States for Two Peoples?