Israel Knesset member Yehuda Glick had this to say at the “Jordan is Palestine Conference” held at Menachem Begin Heritage Center on October 17: “The concept of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria doesn’t exist anymore, and anyone who is genuine knows that. It is wrong, dangerous, and not possible.” He went on to posit that, “Jordan as a Palestinian state is a serious potential [possibility] because the majority of Jordanians are Palestinian. Before 1967, the Palestinians were Jordanian.”
Note: From 1948-1967, King Hussein of Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria and gave Jordanian citizenship to all the Arab residing there.]
All of the above is true, but very few in the Western world want to believe it. What they want to believe is that the Palestinian Authority, captained by the “saintly President” Mahmoud Abbas, is the vehicle which will deliver the State of Palestine to the “poor Palestinians.” This “Palestine” will be located in Judea and Samaria (they call it the West Bank), will be a thriving democracy (unheard of in the Arab Middle East), and will be a prosperous, progressive state, not a terrorist haven intent on usurping the rest of Israeli territory.
Below is the proof that the two-state solution is not the ONLY solution, but a DEFUNCT solution: At President Bill Clinton’s Camp David summit in 2000, Yasser Arafat refused to close the overly generous peace deal proffered to him by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak. (Lesson learned: the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs is not about territory.)
In 2006-7, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew the IDF from Gaza, along with nearly 10,000 Israeli residents. The result: thousands of rockets fired on Israel at civilian targets. (Lesson learned: terrorism works and the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs is not about territory.)
In 2008, Mahmoud Abbas turned down the peace deal that was offered to him by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Again, the Arabs refused to sign an “end of conflict” peace treaty with Israel because ALL of their demands weren’t satisfied. (Lesson learned: the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs is not about territory; it’s about pushing Jews off their land.)
Since then, there has been little negotiating with the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli populace has gradually become disillusioned about trading “land for peace.” In fact, Avi Gabbay, the new head of the left wing Labor Party, has come out against land for peace: “There is no reason to evacuate settlements in a peace agreement. If there is peace, then why evacuate? The dynamics of peacemaking that would require evacuation may not actually be correct. In a peace agreement, solutions can be found that do not require evacuations.” Gabbay emphasized his deviation from the left wing dogma a few days later, when he said that Israel must retain the strategic, indispensable Jordan Valley, which separates Israel from its Arab neighbors to the east.
So, if not the vaunted two-state solution, what is the best alternative? At the “Jordan is Palestine Conference,” which was ably spearheaded by prominent blogger Ted Belman (israpundit.org), many speakers designated Jordan, already a de facto Palestinian-Arab majority country, as the logical home for those Arabs living in Judea and Samaria (not Israeli Arabs). This possibility is dependent on the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah II, either being deposed or leaving the country voluntarily. (Note: The British imported the Hashemite dynasty from now-Saudi Arabia and installed the Hashemites as the rulers of 78% of the original British Mandate for Palestine.)
Expatriate Jordanian leader Mudar Zahran, who spoke to the conference via Skype, is the leading proponent of this option. There are many roadblocks in the way to establishing the Palestinian Arab state in Jordan, mostly because the Arab zealots want “Palestine” to replace Israel.
Numerous speakers at the conference, including Ted Belman, gave the historical background of the British Mandate for Palestine, which originally designated all of what is today Israel AND Jordan as the location of the Jews’ “national home.” Even after the British changed the terms of the Mandate by fiat, designating the territory on the east side of the Jordan River as Arab “Transjordan,” the remaining land, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, was designated for Jewish settlement. Ironically, the Arabs now demand, “Palestine will be free, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.”
For me, the conference’s most eloquent speaker was the Middle East expert, Martin Sherman, who spoke of the impossibility of a “Palestinian” state west of the Jordan River, in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank). Sherman advocates his “Humanitarian Paradigm.” This program offers voluntary expatriation of Palestinian Arabs through a very generous benefit package, which would make the emigrants attractive candidates for entrance to numerous countries in the Middle East or elsewhere.
Briefly, Sherman opines that if Israel fails to address either its “Geographic or Demographic Imperatives” adequately, it will become untenable as the Jewish nation-state. Regarding geography, Sherman says Israel must retain sovereignty over all the territories it won in the Six Day War of 1967, or at least, over a sufficiently large portion of them to make any Palestinian state unfeasible. That is absolutely essential because these areas are the indispensable high ground from which enemies could easily target Ben Gurion Airport and Israel’s most densely populated areas.
Regarding demography, Sherman says that Israel must drastically reduce the non-Jewish presence within those same territories won in 1967, because if the current 20% Muslim proportion of the population were to double (or more) by incorporating hundreds of thousands more Arab Muslims coming to live in “Palestine,” retaining Israel’s character as the “Jewish State” would be untenable.
Sherman’s realistic prediction of consequences arising from the two-state solution, coupled with the historical mistakes Israel has made trying to implement such a plan (land for peace) with an enemy whose purpose is to usurp Israel, not to make peace with it, have convinced many that the dogma of the two-state solution is a futile exercise without a positive outcome.
Any plan to encourage the citizens of the Palestinian Authority, to make better lives for themselves by emigrating, is worth pursuing. The plan to replace the British-established Hashemite rule over Jordan with “Palestine” is attractive, albeit visionary. In any event, the “Jordan is Palestine Conference” was an excellent opportunity to hear various opinions on how Israel can change the world’s preoccupation with the two-state solution.