Old paradigms die hard. Whether it be that the earth is flat, the sun revolves around our planet, time is a universal constant, or a West Bank Palestinian state is the only answer for the Israeli-Arab conflict, certain people have vested interests in old paradigms. In the late Middle Ages, most of those people were Vatican scholars. More recently, they have been modernists and scientists, wedded to old concepts that refuse to recognize that the universe appears to be finely-tuned and designed for life, and not the other way around. In the US, it’s the liberal think tank “professionals” and the White House “specialists” who can’t seem to understand that the West Bank paradigm has proven sterile. These so-called “experts” don’t seem to understand that to have three political states in an area as small as that from Amman to Tel Aviv (fifty miles!) is not only a geographic nightmare, it is a political one as well.
The Jordanians themselves appear to understand this better than the White House or the political left in Israel. The king himself acknowledges that unless he can dump up to two million Palestinians (living in Jordan) back into Israel proper, a West Bank Palestinian state without this “right of return” is not a scenario that the king could live with. He said as much in a recent meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry. In the king’s mind, the “right of return” for Palestinians is the only paradigm that he is willing to accept. The reason for this is that the king’s base of support is the distinct minority within the Jordanian population. Palestinians are by far the majority in the territory first called the Transjordan, which was the eastern province of the original Palestinian Mandate.
So has the Jordanian king put a spanner into the gears of the left-wing, West Bank state, Palestinian paradigm? It appears so. There is not one Israeli in a million who would agree to the crazed notion of accepting two million Palestinians (from eastern Palestine, no less) back into the body politic of the Jewish state. But that’s what it would take to keep His Royal Highness happy. In order to rule his subjects, the king requires loyal subjects. Palestinians in the majority need not apply, period. But in the Middle East, the US stands behind this absolute monarchy as well as others. For even in this age of democracy promotion, the Obama administration has backed both the West Bank state idea and the royal house in Jordan as if there were no contradiction.
There are 4.5 million Palestinians living in Jordan (eastern Palestine). This out of a population of less than 7 million. As Sir Isaac Newton discovered (1687), the math proves whether a paradigm is true or false. Just do the math. If the King can’t dump a huge percentage of his Palestinian subjects onto the backs of the Israelis, then with a West Bank state, sooner or later, his subjects will want the same democratic rights as their brothers and sisters a mere 25 miles away. Don’t forget that the real demographic problem is not with Israel and the West bank Palestinians. On the contrary, the real demographic problem is with Jordan (eastern Palestine) and the West Bank. Up until now, this has been little understood by the myopic Left. Many of us have been saying for years that if a West Bank state were to come into existence, a second state east of the river would most likely follow. Now the King of Jordan has proven our thesis correct.
This has been the Palestinian strategy all along; it’s called the “phased struggle”. First you establish a state west of the river, then you follow that with a second state east of the river. This is precisely why the PLO accepted the weird notion of a completely demilitarized Palestinian state on the West Bank. Arafat, Abbas and company knew that with the vast Palestinian majority population in Jordan, a West Bank state would act as a magnet for the potential overthrow of the Jordanian king. Then with two Palestinian states, the eastern state would become militarized and most likely linked with Iran and its Shiite Crescent. Remember, Arafat originally embraced the Iranian revolution in 1979. The “old man” was prescient. Arafat understood that sooner or later the regional tilt would go either to the Islamic Republic or the Sunni states. He didn’t care which side became the strongest, only that a West Bank state was achieved as the all-important first step toward the subsequent overthrow of the Jordanian king.
Why must a West Bank Palestinian state be strictly a first step? Simple, because if the East Bank went first and became a majority-ruled Palestinian democracy of some sort, the Israeli right-wing would easily be able to say that a duplicate Palestinian control on the West Bank would mean a dangerous “Greater Palestine”. This potential right-wing claim could only defeat Arafat’s and Abbas’s “phased struggle” scenario. The whole purpose of the “phased struggle” is to remove the Israelis from the West Bank, which is the most strategic military territory on the entire planet (Pentagon assessment, 1967). Once accomplished, then the Jordanian king could be overthrown using Martin Luther King, non-violent, pro-democratic, Palestinian majority tactics. Jordan would be accused of being an Apartheid state (sound familiar). But establishing a West Bank state is the key element to the whole strategy.
Oslo was Arafat’s strategic triumph. Appear the peacemaker now, only to tear up the treaties later. The Israeli right-wing understood the devious policy of the PLO. Apparently, so too did the Jordanian king. But the king also took the so-called “right of return” seriously. Because without it, he knew that his days might soon be numbered. So when word got out that Abbas might drop the “right of return”, the king’s anxiety level began to rise. A potential successful culmination to the Oslo paradigm had the Jordanian king in an uproar. It must have been at that very moment when John Kerry finally understood that, without a huge population transfer of Jordanian Palestinians, the Oslo process couldn’t possibly work. All along, the Israeli right-wing had been correct: The PLO was not to be trusted, and “facts on the ground” needed to be built in order to assure an historic Israeli presence on the strategic West Bank.
Thank G-d the Israeli Left has been stymied since the failed negotiations in 2000. What was Arafat thinking back then? He could have had a West Bank state, and his “phased struggle” could have proceeded apace. But at the last second, he backed out. Abbas did the same thing in 2008. Finally now, in 2014, the Jordanian king has stepped in, and the whole faulty process has been exposed. But why did Abbas and Arafat hesitate for fourteen years? It was the Israeli demand for a permanent military presence in the Jordan Valley that the PLO could simply not live with. If the so-called two-state-solution would in fact engender an eventual second Palestinian state east of the river, the last thing the PLO wanted was an Israeli military in between. For some reason or another, the Jordanian king must have feared that the most recent negotiations might somehow bear fruit. Why else would he bring up the issue of the “right of return”? Perhaps he overreacted.
However it works out, the “cat is out of the bag”, so to speak. Nearly five million Palestinians in Jordan (eastern Palestine) cannot be denied their place in the peace process. Back in 1985, when I won the prestigious Christian Science Monitor’s Peace 2010 contest, I did it with a four-point Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The first plank of that plan was a democratic election for all citizens of Jordan on both the East Bank and West Bank of the Jordan River. Second, the plan called for a condominium (shared-rule) between a democratic Israeli state and the new democratic Palestinian-Jordanian state, for the disputed territory of the West Bank. Third, the plan called for mutual recognition between the two democratic states, both of which would occupy and share the three territories of the original Palestinian Mandate (Transjordan, Israel, and the West Bank). Finally, Jerusalem would become an open city and the capital of the two nations, with a shared territory in the center.
Later, I found out through two of the contest’s judges ( Director of the CIA Stansfield Turner and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim) that both King Hussein of Jordan and Yasir Arafat of the PLO had rejected my plan. I was not surprised. The time was not ripe, obviously. Within a year or so, the king had given up on Arafat, and then finally on the West Bank itself. By the 1990’s the Israeli Left had signed the Oslo Accords with Arafat, and a new paradigm had begun. Now, over twenty years later, that paradigm has proven fruitless, and the Palestinians threaten unilateral action. Meanwhile, in the US think tanks, the Liberal establishment has proven itself to be intellectually bankrupt. So too have the State Department and the White House. Even elements in the Likud Party (Bibi is one of them) had accepted the false paradigm of a West Bank Palestinian state.
Now the ball is back in both Washington’s and Jerusalem’s court. Obama and Kerry will most likely adhere to the old dogma because, as they see it, “there are no alternatives”. As for the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, I would advise him to reread his own excellent book– “A Place Among the Nations”. In that book, he emphasized that Jordan is Palestine. I would suggest he alter his view only slightly: Jordan is a part of historic Palestine, eastern Palestine. As for the King of Jordan, I wish him well. But as his own ex-Prime Minister Marwan Muasher recently said on any number of occasions across the US and Britain: “In Jordan the old model is just not sustainable”.
The Arab world needs a democratic champion. I’m hoping that King Abdullah of eastern Palestine (and potentially Jerusalem) will be that champion.