With the Israeli-Palestinian peace process all but dead, I think it’s time that somebody put forward some new ideas to resolve this seemingly never-ending conflict. I have my own idea of what a peace agreement should look like. I know that I’m not a diplomat or world leader, but I would like to share my own personal peace plan with anyone that reads this. My plan involves a type of Palestinian-Jordanian confederation where the Palestinians and the Hashemite dynasty would share power. Those of you who have read some of my previous blogs about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict know that I am no fan of the Hashemite regime in Jordan, now led by King Abdullah II, and in an ideal world, the Hashemites would be overthrown and the Palestinian majority would assume control of what has always rightfully been theirs. But of course, we don’t live in an ideal world and I believe that a compromise can be reached that would allow power-sharing between the Palestinians and the Hashemites.
Framework for the Government of the Palestinian-Jordanian Confederation
My plan would re-work the Jordanian parliament so that the lower house would be chosen based on direct elections using the same method of proportional representation used to elect the Israeli Knesset. As it stands now, the lower house of parliament in Jordan is theoretically based on representation by population, but in practice its electoral districts have been rigged so that the Hashemites’ supporters, most of whom live in the south of the country, are overrepresented. My plan abolishes these electoral districts and makes all of the Palestinian-Jordanian Confederation one electoral district so that the end result is actual majority rule. And since the Palestinians are the majority, they would ultimately control the lower house of parliament.
The Palestinians would also control the government, as is not the case today. Although today’s Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s lower house is elected by the people, the parliament’s other chamber, the Senate, is appointed by the king. Moreover, it is the king and not the parliament, which rules the country in practice. He is the one that chooses the prime minister, whereas in all free parliamentary democracies, including Israel and my home country of Canada, the common practice is that the leader of the party with the most seats, or at least the leader who is most likely to be able to form a government, is the one selected as prime minister. The Hashemite king even has the power to dissolve parliament as he pleases and rule by direct decree, which has been done throughout Jordan’s history. None of this would be allowed under my plan, which would have the prime minister chosen the same way he or she is chosen in all genuine parliamentary democracies. The king will not be able to dissolve parliament unless requested to by the prime minister. He will still be official head of state, control the Senate and remain commander of the military, but these will be the limits of his power.
The Status of the West Bank
The West Bank will be subject to a joint sovereignty arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian-Jordanian Confederation, hereafter known by the initials PJC. The arrangement will see Israel maintain security control of the territory, however, the government of the PJC will control the civil affairs of its Palestinian citizens, most of whom hold Jordanian citizenship from before the 1967 war when Jordan controlled the West Bank. The PJC will also be responsible for local policing in the Palestinian cities, towns and villages, as is done today by the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords. As for the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, they will all be given the status of permanent residents of Israel. The will be given Israeli ID cards, but will not receive citizenship. And since they will not be Israeli citizens and not have any representation in the Israeli government, they will not pay be required to pay Israeli taxes. Instead, they will pay taxes to the government of the PJC and will have the right to vote in PJC elections and to be represented in its parliament just as if they were within the borders of today’s Jordanian state.
Prior to the implementation of the agreement, negotiators for the Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians would map out the areas of the West Bank in which both Israel and the PJC could create new communities or expand current communities. They would also agree on a registry of private property that all parties would abide by so that no illegal seizure of private property, Jewish or Arab, occurs.
This arrangement is similar to the arrangement that is now in place in some parts of the West Bank known as Area B. Under my plan, however, there will eventually be freedom of movement for all goods and people within and between pre-1967 Israel and the West Bank.
The Status of the Gaza Strip
Under my plan, the Gaza Strip will become part of the PJC. It will ultimately be up to them to decide whether or not they want to use its military forces to gain control of the territory. The military of the PJC, by the way, will not be allowed to deploy west of the Jordan river without the consent of the Israeli government. In the future, an above or below ground highway and/or rail network under PJC sovereignty could be built to link the Strip and what is now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The Status of Jerusalem
Jerusalem will remain under full Israeli control. As a gesture of goodwill, however, Israel could allow a new PJC parliament to be built on the eastern side of the city formerly controlled by Jordan. The grounds of the parliament would be considered PJC soil. This arrangement would resemble the one in Rome where the grounds of the Vatican are not considered part of Italy, but rather a sovereign state in and of itself. Hence, the PJC could proclaim Jerusalem as its capital, even if its sovereign control is limited to the parliament.
Since there will be free movement within and between pre-1967 Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian refugees residing in the West Bank will be allowed to live wherever they want therein. They may even be able to return to their actual homes if Israeli law allows it. For those who cannot return to their actual homes, they must be given just compensation subject to agreement between Israel and the PJC. Palestinian refugees living in what is now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Gaza Strip or anywhere else will also receive just compensation, but will not be allowed to enter the West Bank or pre-1967 Israel without the consent of the Israeli government. These refugees will have to be resettled either within what is now Jordan or the Gaza Strip as these are the territories over which the PJC will have full control.
Again, I am not a diplomat or world leader, nor am I a security expert of any kind. I’m just an ordinary person presenting a blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that I will be fair and work for both sides. As you can imagine, there are plenty of details that would need to be worked out by the negotiators, such as special security arrangements and the division of natural resources in the jointly administered West Bank, especially water. But when all is said and done, I think that my framework would be a good starting point.