Lisa Liel

A Three State Solution, Hurrah!

The Ottoman province of al-Sham. Image taken from
Yet another option for where the Palestinians should go (because they can't stay)

Yes, another historical review. Relax; it’s not that long.

Let’s talk about Palestine. Let’s go back to 1920, or any time prior to that.

Palestine was a name given by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to the Roman occupied province of Judea after the Bar Kochba Revolt of 132-135 CE. He renamed the whole province “Palestina”, and renamed Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina”. The Aelia came from his own name, Publius Aelius Hadrianus, and Capitolina was one of the Roman names for Jupiter, the head of their pantheon. Palestine came from the Philistines, who had been enemies of the Jews in biblical times, but had since ceased to exist.

For the next 1913 years, the European successors of Rome referred to this land as Palestine, partially because they were Christian, and Christianity was virulently anti-Jew, and calling the area “Israel” would have been distasteful in the extreme. Hadn’t the Jews lost their land because they rejected the Christian god?

It is this European colonialist name, “Palestine”, which the Arabs living there rejected flatly, referring to the area of Syria (including Lebanon) and Palestine (including Jordan) as al-Sham, which is now used by their descendants.

The Ottoman province of al-Sham. Image taken from

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, the European victors, with the agreement of the predecessor organization to the United Nations, the League of Nations, created two “mandates” in this area, and one in Iraq. They named them Mesopotamia (for Iraq), Syria (for northern al-Sham), and Palestine (for southern al-Sham).

Palestine was comprised of the area that is now held by Jordan and Israel (including those parts of Israel that had been occupied by Egypt and Jordan from 1948 to 1967).

Britain was given the Mandate for Palestine, with the explicit objective of fostering the creation of a Jewish homeland there, because, as the Mandate noted, it was the historic homeland of the Jews. France was given the Mandate for Syria.

Just before the Mandate went into effect in 1922, Britain, citing an earlier agreement it had made, detached the 79% of Palestine east of the Jordan River, and gave it as an emirate to the Arabian prince Abdullah. All of the Jews who had bought land in this area during the Ottoman period and had settled there were expelled. Transjordan (later Jordan) was to be Jew-free. To this day, it is illegal for a Jew to live in Jordan.

The important thing to understand, however, is that all of that area is what was called Palestine by the Europeans. Not merely the 21% of it west of the Jordan River, where Israel now exists.

When Israel declared independance at the expiration of the British Mandate, the armies of six Arab countries invaded. They ordered the local Arabs, many of whom had only been living there for 20-30 years, to evacuate, and promised them that when the Jews had been pushed into the sea, their land would be given to their Arab neighbors.

As it happened, the Arabs failed to push the Jews into the sea. Those Arabs who remained in Israel became citizens, equal in rights to the Jews, permitted to serve in the Israel Defense Force, but unlike Jews, not required to, since they might have to fight relatives.

Those Arabs who fled, or who were living in the areas occupied by Egypt and Jordan at the end of the war in 1949, were not incorporated as citizens of those countries. They were herded into refugee camps. And the United Nations, which had an organization dedicated to refugees and tasked with resettling them (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR), created a special organization specifically for these refugees, which was tasked with never resettling them. The United Nations Relief Works Agency, or UNRWA, was tasked with maintaining them as permanent refugees, and even designated those who moved to other countries, obtained citizenship, and settled down, as refugees.

It is possible to feel sorrow and horror for what was done to these Arabs by the UN and by their fellow Arabs. The results were horrific. Generation after generation was raised on a steady diet of resentment and fury. They were taught by UNRWA, and by their parents, that they were victims of Israel. That their only hope for redemption was to destroy Israel, by any means necessary. To rain terror and madness down on the entire world until they were given what they wanted.

In 1964, the Arab League and the Soviet KGB created an organization called the PLO. The Palestine Liberation Organization. The “Palestine” they referred to was not Jordan. It was not the area of Judea and Samaria illegally occupied by Jordan and called by them “the West Bank” (because it was on the west bank of the Jordan River). It was not the area of the Gaza Strip illegally occupied by Egypt.

It was Israel itself. The entire country was the “Palestine” that needed to be liberated. A slice of land making up 11% of the original area called Palestine.

After the Six Day War, and Israel’s liberation of those occupied lands, people began referring to their Arab residents as “Palestinians”.

Had Israel forced Jordan to take the Arabs of Judea and Samaria at the end of the Six Day War, and forced the Gazan Arabs to relocate into the Sinai, all would have been well. Israel would have sane and defensible borders, and there would be no nonsense about “occupied territories”. But the leaders of Israel had greater plans. They believed that they could trade those lands to the Arabs in exchange for peace.

The Arabs had no interest in this. Eventually, Anwar Sadat of Egypt, having lost his son in the Yom Kippur War, decided that he would offer a peace treaty in exchange for Israel returning the Sinai, which it had also taken during the Six Day War, and billions of dollars from the United States. He believed that getting this territory back would soften the blow of having had to make peace with the hated Jews. It didn’t, of course, and he was assassinated a few years later.

Meanwhile, the PLO was teaching the world about terrorism. About trying to achieve political aims through senseless acts of butchery and mayhem. Many people today believe that airport security was the result of 9/11. This is untrue. It became vastly more intrusive and inconvenient following 9/11, but it was the terrorism of the PLO, and the other Soviet-inspired and funded terror groups they trained with, which resulted in the beginnings of the current Kafkaesque security at airports.

Which brings us to today

And now, the entire world wants Israel to cede the Palestinians a state. A state which would be Gaza writ large. Sixteen times as large, and protruding into the center of Israel. To give you a feel for what this means, imagine the United States having its own “West Bank”:

Graphic created by Lisa Liel, free for anyone to use.

Now imagine that this area is populated by cartels and their gang members, and that they insist the entire continental United States is theirs, by right. Would America be willing to recognize that area as a sovereign nation? It’s highly unlikely

The logical and just thing to do would be for all of the Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, to move to Jordan. Britain’s unilateral removal of that land from historical Palestine does not change the fact that it is every bit as much Palestine as the west side of the river.

King Abdullah II of Jordan might be averse to taking in a population of Palestinians who have in the past tried to overthrow his kingdom, and who already make up 90% of his population. So I want to suggest a three state solution, one that I don’t believe has been suggested before.

Graphic created by Lisa Liel, free for anyone to use.

In this solution, approximately 30% of Jordan would be carved off to serve as an independent and sovereign homeland for Arabs who identify as Palestinian. This plan has much to recommend it. The area is barely populated by Jordanians. Removing it would make Jordan more defensible. It would no longer border Iraq, and its border both with Syria and with Saudi Arabia would be significantly shorter.

Their own sources of fresh water, an already built airport, and highway access to both Jordan and Iraq

This new Palestine would not border Israel. This would be even better than removing them to Jordan, since Jordan does border Israel, and if the Palestinians were simply to move to Jordan, Israeli communities in the Jordan Valley would be under constant threat from cross-border attacks.

The land area of this new Palestine would be comparable to all of the area “from the river to the sea”. They would border Saudi Arabia — making it easier to go on pilgrimage to Mecca — as well as Syria and Iraq. While it is true that this new country would be landlocked, the area is described this way in Wikipedia:

Ruwaished has a desert climate with an average annual precipitation of 82.9 mm. About eight wadis converge in the plains of Ruwaished, making it the second largest water basin in the northern desert region after Azraq. The water floods from these wadis in the winter compensate for the low annual precipitation rate of Ruwaished. The town is at an elevation of 683 meters above sea level. It is also located on the desert highway connecting Jordan to Iraq. The town has a strategic importance from its location as a rest area for travelers to and from Iraq. There is also a military airport in Ruwaished.

So they would have their own sources of fresh water, an already-built airport, and highway access to both Jordan and Iraq.

The Palestinians would have their own sovereign and independent state, not demilitarized, not blockaded, not controlled by anyone else, in historic Palestine. It is true that they would have to accept only having 21% of historic Palestine, but that’s exactly what Israel has had to do. UNRWA could be disbanded, and the monies currently going to UNRWA (and from there to the pockets of the corrupt leaders of Hamas in Qatar) could be used to build up the new state without endangering any of its neighbors.

I present this as a rational and just solution to the “Palestinian/Israeli” conflict, and I ask that readers share it with everyone they know, particularly those in the Israeli government.

About the Author
Lisa Liel lives in Karmiel with her family. She works as a programmer/developer, reads a lot, watches too much TV, does research in Bronze/Iron Age archaeology of the Middle East, and argues a lot on Facebook.
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