Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

March 8, 2017

peace arab and hebrewEver since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had his meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on 15th Feb. 2017, Israeli efforts have intensified to develop alternatives to the single-state or two-state solutions. Also the Palestinian leadership is currently holding intense deliberations – both internally as well with its Arab allies, such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – about the regional approach.

Israel and Palestinian Authority have negotiated two decades about solution based on Two-States, and now maybe more than ever one can claim that the roadmap towards it is the dead end. Instead the situation today is drifting towards One-State option, which is unwanted outcome for both parties. New and “out of the box” ideas are needed. 

According Al-Monitor there are currently three main ways to square the circle and bypass the quagmire of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

  • A “regional peace process” instead of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  • The confederation with Jordan idea, newly resuscitated.
  • Trilateral land swaps involving Israel, Egypt and Palestine or even a four-way exchange including Jordan.

 

Regional approach

According Al-Monitor what stood out in US President Donald Trump’s statement at the joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Feb. 15 was the regional approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking – prior to the Trump-Netanyahu meeting, the administration discussed with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan a regional umbrella to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

The Palestinian leadership is currently holding intense deliberations, both internally and also with its Arab allies, primarily Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. According to a senior Fatah security official, Ramallah, in conjunction with its Arab partners, decided to take Trump at his word about the regional approach. Together with Egypt it will suggest to Washington an outline of a new regional approach.

This new outline will be based on three principles. The first principle is that the basis for future peace negotiations is the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. Then, on this basis, the second principle is the US administration should hold in the coming months a summit in Washington with the Arab leadership. This summit should focus on preparing a regional peace conference leading to Israel-Palestinian negotiations based on the Arab Peace Initiative, with the participation of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, chaired by Trump. The third principle concerns advancing the Palestinian statehood issue through an attempt to reach a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation agreement backed by the Arab League. (Source and more in Al-Monitor )

Regional approach does not need – necessary – to be based on Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. From my point of view “regional peace process” can be implemented by Egypt, Jordan and Israel and instead of Arab Paece Initiative be based on Sinai and Jordan options.

Palestine-Jordan confederation, Three-state option

Jordanian Option sinks into oblivion

Unlike any other Arab country, Jordan has a special connection to the Palestinian issue. The West Bank was part of the Hashemite kingdom when it was occupied by Israel in 1967. And since the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, Jordan has been on the receiving end of successive waves of Palestinian refugees from Israel proper, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.

The proposal that the West Bank could be divided between Jordan and Israel, or that Jordan could take responsibility for the Palestinian population in the West Bank, goes as far back as the Allon Plan of 1967. The “Jordan is Palestine” idea suggests that a Palestinian state already exists on the East Bank of the Jordan River, where at least 50 percent of the population is of Palestinian origin.

It’s been decades since the issue of confederation between the Kingdom of Jordan and Palestine was a matter of public debate. The idea gained traction in the mid-1980s and early 1990s as the rift between Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization narrowed and King Hussein and Yasser Arafat appeared to reconcile their differences. In principle, the two leaders agreed that once the state of Palestine is born, it will choose to join Jordan in a confederation between two sovereign states.

But the Oslo process, leading to direct secret negotiations between the PLO and Israel that resulted in the signing of a “declaration of principles” on the White House lawn in 1993, put the idea on hold. Jordan went on to sign its own peace deal with Israel in 1994, and the Palestinians were caught in endless and often fruitless negotiations with Israel under US auspices. That process took a nosedive following the second Palestinian intifada in 2000 and the death of Arafat in 2004.

Under King Abdullah and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the subject of confederation rarely if ever surfaced publicly. Jordan supported the two-state solution and underlined its historical custodianship of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, a subject that often marred relations between Abdullah and Abbas. (Source: Al-Monitor )

 

Reincarnation of Jordanian Option

Some five years ago I wrote an article Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table . There I described how Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran PLO official, dropped a political bomb on 31st Oct. 2012 with a call for “returning” the West Bank to Jordan during an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunisia, said he supported the idea of a federation or confederation between the West Bank and Jordan. His remarks were the first of their kind to be voiced by a senior PLO figure in decades. Kaddoumi is one of the founders of Fatah, and for decades served as head of the PLO’s “political department.”

Recently – 22nd May 2016 – former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali, who negotiated the peace deal with Israel in the 1990s, announced that he personally believes that confederation between an independent Palestine and Jordan is the best option for both people.

He was quoted by a Palestinian news agency as declaring before 100 Nablus notables that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had repeatedly called on Jordan to adopt the confederation option with the Palestinians immediately, and that Jordan had rejected the idea. For Majali, confederation means “a joint legislature and a joint government with equal representation whereby the upper authority will have three main missions — se curity, economy and foreign affairs — and the rest will be the jurisdiction of the joint government.” He also said, “In a confederation, centralization will have to end and the people will have the ultimate choice of how to govern themselves.” (Source: Al-Monitor )

More recently – 20th Feb. 2017 – Israel’s Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, and head of the far-right Jewish Home party, has been referring to the existence of two Palestinian states; one in Gaza and the other in Jordan.

According The Middle East Institute Trump has yet to unveil a detailed vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if any. There is a feeling in Amman that although the U.S. president talked about concluding a “bigger and better deal,” in reality neither he nor Netanyahu can come up with a better alternative to the two-state solution. Nevertheless, while the two-state solution may have been an ideal one, many analysts have conceded that it is dead and buried. Meanwhile, Jordan can do nothing other than pretend that it is still alive: the alternatives represent an existential nightmare for the kingdom.  (Source: The Middle East Institute)

 

Sinai Option

sinai option by Ari RusilaAccording Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report [01 September 2014 ] Egypt offered Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai.   Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas reportedly rejected proposal. Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.” He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” One idea with offer was to resettle “Palestinian refugees” in the Sinai.

At its core, the Sinai Option proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to five times its current size and settling all the Palestinian refugees in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized, Army Radio reported. In addition, the report continued, the Palestinian Authority would be granted autonomy in the Palestinian cities in the West Bank in exchange for relinquishing the Palestinian demand to return to 1967 borders.

 

My conclusion

The geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a planned Palestinian. If Jordanian option will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president; if also Sinai option will come reality so security guarantees will be from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas. Indeed – if both Jordanian and Sinai options were realized the outcome would be Three State (return) Option , which I have been advocating earlier as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Personally it is very refreshing that Jordanian option again is moving on. For decades regional leaders, international community UN etc have sung the praises of Two-State solution as the only option so my views have represented some kind of dissidence. While some prominent politicians now have came to the same conclusion I think that the reasons might be the same as mine: there is some sense with Three-state option, it is both pragmatic and achievable solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now it is also more acceptable than few years ago.

My conclusion is that now is the right moment to explore the regional alternative based on Jordanian and Sinai options. If there is no progress during coming months then the best way forwards from my perspective is Israeli unilateral actions hopefully based on “Constructive Unilateralism” approach (more in Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict).

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

Related article: Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Advertisements

Will Obama Reset The Middle East Peace Process?

March 19, 2013

Coalition negotiations about 33. government of Israel came to an end after six weeks on Freb. 15Th 2013 when the election winners Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi both signed coalition agreements with ruling Likud Beytenu. The swearing-in of a new government will be in early this week – in just two days before the wheels of U.S. Air Force 1 touch down at Ben-Gurion International Airport with President Obama. The situation is pawing the way for new start for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.


The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been at an impasse since the Palestinians pulled out of short lived final status talks in September 2010, after a ten-month Israeli settlement moratorium came to an end. Whilst Israel and Palestinian Authority both claim to support a negotiated two-state agreement, there is no trust between two sets of leaders, with each side doubting the other’s interest in reaching an agreement. In recent months both sides have taken steps deemed provocative by the other, with the PA seeking unilateral recognition at the UN, and Israel announcing new plans for settlement construction in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The new Israeli government

With a Palestinian partner that is willing to hold negotiations in good will, Israel will be ready for a historic compromise that will end the conflict with the Palestinians once and for all.”(PM Netanyahu prior to the swearing in of the country’s thirty third government )

If you get even to an interim agreement… I promise you… we will join your government in order to see through such a move.” (Respose of opposition and Labour Party head Yachimovich)


The new Right-Center government (Netanyahu’s and Lieberman’s Likud-Beiteinu, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Naftan Bennet’s Habayit Hayehudi and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua) marks a significant change of direction for Israeli politics with the exclusion of the ultra-Orthodox parties and the entry of a range of disparate parties who agree on ending ultra-Orthodox exemption from national service and a better deal for the middle class.The roots of this transformation are in the social protest movement in the summer of 2011.

The focus of the government will be socioeconomic issues, changing the electoral system, matters of religion and state, which topped the election’s agenda, and the security issues that were not brought up in the campaign because they were a matter of consensus.The new government encompasses a wide range of views on the peace process, from Tzipi Livni, who believes a deal is vitally in Israel’s interests, to Naftali Bennett, who rejects the two-state solution, while PM Netanyahu is somewhere between of them. Government’s combination of doves and hawks may help push peace process forward.

The chief negotiator with the Palestinians will be Livni, whose appointment – a source close to Netanyahu said – would eliminate Palestinian excuses for not coming to the negotiating table. Hatnuah’s election campaign centred on a call to revive peace talks with the Palestinians and Livni herself spearheaded such negotiations during her time as foreign minister in Ehud Olmert’s government. An aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the news of Livni receiving authority to conduct diplomatic negotiations, calling it a positive sign.”She has the knowledge and experience required of the peace process and she knows the Palestinian side’s point of view on the solution,” Nimer Hamad said about Livni. (Source Israel Hayom)

However the cabinet and smaller Septet (or Octet or Nonet, depending, of course, on the number of members) will determine the next government’s most important decisions in key areas of diplomacy and national security. Livni will also be a member of Netanyahu’s inner cabinet. In the meantime, the IDF is already preparing to receive a new defense minister. Ya’alon’s learning curve on the job won’t be a steep one; he has already served as an IDF chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, head of Army Intelligence and GOC of Central Command and has complete professional fluency. Ya’alon’s position on Israeli-Palestinian issue is that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is not a viable peace partner at this time. On the other hand Ya’alon has repeatedly condemned acts of far-right “price tag” violence, comparing them to firing a bullet “at the leg of the state of the Israel and the head of settlements.”

Obama facilitating peace process

“There is no EU plan. The plan is to support the Americans and be ready to be helpful.”
(Andreas Reinicke, the EU’s special representative for the Middle East Process)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has informed that three security issues will take top priority during his meetings with President Barack Obama on his visit, expected to begin on March 20. “The first item is Iran’s advancement toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately, their progress continues and Iran has even accelerated their nuclear activities as of late. The second topic will be the Syrian government’s collapse. Finally, we will discuss reigniting the peace process with the Palestinians.The Prime Minister’s Office has asked the public to help decide on the official logo for the U.S. president’s Israel trip, which will be under the slogan “Unbreakable Alliance.”

To ease the blocked talks Israel is considering some gestures for PA during Obama’s visit. These gestures could be for example a specific transfer of land from Area C in the West Bank (which is under full Israeli control) to an Area A status (full Palestinian control). This concerns the transfer of the access roads planned to serve the new city of Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city under PA rule, near Birzeit and Ramallah, with 10,000 homes, with a population of 40,000. An additional gesture under review is the approval of master plans for ten Palestinian settlements in the Israeli-controlled Area C. These are all Palestinian neighborhoods which today are considered illegal and concerning which the Civil Administration has issued demolition orders. If these master plans are approved, these settlements will be connected to the infrastructure and all construction there will be approved.Two additional gestures are the release of a significant number of Fatah prisoners, arrested before the signing of the Oslo Accords; and the transfer of light ammunition to the Palestinian security forces.

An interesting detail with Obama’s visit in Israel is, that his main speech will not be in Knesset. Instead the US administration announced that President Obama would be addressing university students at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. However rumors began to spread that they chose to sideline students who attend Israel’s newest academic heavyweight: Ariel University which unfortunately is located east of the Green Line. 

Ariel as pioneer

Ariel’s visionary, founder and longstanding mayor, the late Ron Nachman, often told journalists that “Israel is not a laboratory. We don’t have the luxury of experimenting with our future. One mistake and that’s it.” Instead of experimenting with political theory, Ron Nachman created a sustainable reality. He connected the nearby Arab villages to Israel’s electric and water lines and established industrial parks that provide thousands of Palestinians with employment. Ariel’s academic institution, which educates over 500 Arab students while conducting consistent joint research projects with Palestinian academic institutions received recently full recognition as Israel’s eighth and newest university.

Settlements as obstacle of peace?

Obama is willing to play “facilitating role” in peace process during Middle East trip. Considerable diplomatic pressure is now likely to build on Israel to offer gestures to the Palestinians in return for which the Palestinians would re-enter negotiations and hold off further unilateral steps. In the first year of his last term Netanyahu imposed a ten month settlement moratorium, and some measure to rein in settlement construction may come back onto the table.

After PA’s UN bid Israel’s plan to create a settlement called E1 has rise concern in some European capitals. It was claimed that E1 by joining with Maa’ale Adumim community would cut the West Bank in two and separate it from East Jerusalem which would make any two-state solution impossible. Ma’ale Adumim is one of those communities that were expected to become part of Israel in any negotiated settlement. As a a map created by HonestReporting shows the Palestinian waistline — between Ma’ale Adumim and the Dead Sea, is roughly 15 km wide. That’s a corridor no different than the Israeli waistline. Indeed, that has never caused a problem of Israeli territorial contiguity.”

westBank-E1
To improve better traffic flow between the northern and southern WB Israel has already made some investments. In October 2007, the Israeli government expropriated 1,100 dunams of land from four Palestinian villages to build an access road that was given the moniker “the Palestinian quality of life road.” Most of the territory was state property. The road was designed to provide for a freer flow of Palestinian traffic between the Ramallah area and Bethlehem. The northern sector of the highway, which runs from Hizma and bypasses Anata from the east, and continues southward toward the A-Zaim checkpoint, has already been paved. Israel invested about NIS 300 million in building the highway. The roadway passes through a tunnel that was dug underneath the Jerusalem-Maaleh Adumim highway. Moreover, Israel proposes to build tunnels or overpasses to obviate the need for Palestinians to detour to the east through the corridor.

Good change of succeeding for peace talks

This time I see a good negotiation slot – a window of opportunity – between Israel and Palestine Authority. I think that now is the time to abandon the old fashioned principal that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Even if peace talks will start without any preconditions the parties involved have a common history and experience what has been agreed in previous negotiations. Tzipi Livni led Israel’s negotiating team on final status issues with the Palestinians under the Annapolis process in 2008. They were a detailed and extensive set of talks that made progress on a number of core issues, though with still significant gaps between the parties when the process was brought to an end by the collapse of the Olmert government. This process I have treated more in my previous article PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace.

If or hopefully when the Israeli-Palestinian talks start the best ground in my opinion is sc Olmert’s proposal on 2008 , which so far cleared most part of obstacles to reach sustainable peace for Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the main points in this proposal were e.g following:

a) Israel would annex 6.8% of the West Bank, including the four main settlement “blocs” of Gush Etzion (with Efrata, Ma’ale Adumim, Giv’at Ze’ev and Ariel), as well as all of the settlements in East Jerusalem (with Har Homa) in exchange for the equivalent of 5.5% from Israeli territory.
b) The “safe passage” (i.e. territorial link) between Gaza and the West Bank would be under Israeli sovereignty with Palestinian control, and is not included in the above percentages.
c) There will be a special road connecting Bethlehem with Ramallah. thus by-passing East Jerusalem (most likely the same road currently planned around Adumim).
d) Israel would take in 1,000 refugees per year for a period of 5 years on “humanitarian” grounds. In addition. programs of “family reunification” would continue.
e) Israel would contribute to the compensation of the refugees through the mechanism and based on suffering.

Olmertpage002

If the peaceprocess however does not start so the thread and the alternative scenario could be a unilateral actions of both sides: The Palestinians continue building the institutions of their state, gaining international recognition for their state, and Israel could withdraw from 60-70% of the West Bank and annex the rest officially to Israel.

Prof Asher Susser proposes that if peace deal or solution are impossible so one could talk about armistage instead of solution as in the creation of this two-state solution it is an armistice of sorts also. Now, if Israel aims for an armistice, Hamas can live with that. Susser says: ‘Deterrence as an alternative to occupation. That’s the name of the game. Can we develop an effective deterrent as an alternative to occupation? We have done it in Gaza, we have done it in Southern Lebanon, maybe we should look for ways and means for doing it in the West Bank.” (Source. Bicom )

PA as partner?

Obama’s planned visit has had a negative impact on the Palestinian reconciliation discussions.” (Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri)

Supposedly the Palestinian Authority is in power there thanks to the presence of the Israel Defense Force. Ironically, ending Israeli “occupation” would also bring an end to Abbas’s rule. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to reach any agreement with Israel: his term in office expired in January 2009. Hamas claims that the U.S. Administration has been exerting pressure on PA President to refrain from signing any deal with Hamas. Another round of talks between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo few weeks before Obama’s visit failed to produce agreement on the formation of a new Palestinian unity government and holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Hamas, ending the dispute means the Islamist movement would have to cede exclusive control over the Gaza Strip — an area that has been turned into a semi-independent Islamic emirate over the past five years. As for Fatah, unity with Hamas means paving the way for the Islamist movement to extend its control to West Bank — something Abbas and his supporters are afraid of and cannot afford.

One can wonder what are Abbas’ real motivations for declaring the “State of Palestine,” as it has been based on false hopes and the depravation of his own people. In the absence of real state-building and direct talks with Israel we will more likely see a third intifada (which many claim has already started with increasing demonstrations and violence on West Bank). However one mustn’t forget that Abbas is Israel’s closest neighbor, only 10 kilometers away from the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

New approach

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland, former IDF planning directorate chief and national security advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, brings one interesting aspect to discussion. Eiland claims that If solution is limited only between Jordan river and Mediterrain the change for deal is zero – a broader regional context is needed to boost the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A good place to start would be the proposals for regional solutions and multiparty land swaps. Eiland concludes that widening the circle of actors taking part in a settlement can transform the current deadlock from a zero-sum situation to a win-win scenario. Negotiators need to move, he says, towards a regional approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which Arab states take responsibility for solving the conflict and invest concrete, tangible resources in the solution. Options that have to be considered, he says, are a Palestinian-Jordanian federation; shared sovereignty in the West Bank; a three- or four-way land swap involving Egypt and Jordan; and, most likely, a combination of all these approaches. (Source: Resetting the peace process by David M. Weinberg)


Most interesting scenario from my point of view for new peace talks is the new pro-American Sunni Muslim-led axis which American diplomats established in Cairo on December 2012. In my opinion this axis makes views of Giora Eiland more feasible. This opens possibilities for alternative solutions instead of old brain-dead two-state solution and its road map. The process would then move towards a regional approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which Arab states take responsibility for solving the conflict and invest concrete, tangible resources in the solution. (More this in my previous article
A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move ) Indeed this kind of approach is quite near Three State (return) Option which I have been advocating long as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One obstacle with this new approach could be a Jordanian national movement who are anti-Palestinian, more than most Israelis and Right Wing. They don’t want the West Bank, they want the Palestinians in Jordan to go back to Palestine. Therefore, they are the most emphatic supporters of the two-state solution. Not because they like the Palestinians, but because they dislike the Palestinians! However a way to circumvent this problem could be creation a Jordan-Palestine confederation.

In my opinion Obama’s visit could lead to new jump-start of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; besides Israel and Palestinian Authority President Obama will have discussions also with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. How Israel and PA will use – or will they use – this window of opportunity, remains to see.


A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move

January 1, 2013

Article first published as A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move on Technorati.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II had a secret meeting in Jordan during Xmas. After leak to media it was officially confirmed (PM press office) that the two leaders discussed Syria’s Chemicals – whether Syrian President Bashar Assad would use chemical weapons against rebels in the civil war and whether they could fall into the hands of radical elements. However the real agenda of the meeting is more interesting. Debkafile’s sources reveal that the issue was the aspects of a possible confederation between a Palestinian West Bank state and the Hashemite Kingdom. The meeting can be seen also in wider context as part of the new Sunni-Muslim-led pro-US axis.


According Debkafile the Jordanian option has become a focal talking point in Amman, Washington and Palestinian centers. Netanyahu brought some pointed questions to the highly confidential one-on-one at the Hashemite palace: He asked the king how much responsibility would Jordan undertake in controlling West Bank security and intelligence activity? What were his plans for extending such control from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip? And how would Jordan’s intentions fit into the security arrangements demanded by Israel in both territories as part of any accord with the Palestinians?

Jordanian option on the move

As Jordan has already recognized Israel and the two nations maintain full diplomatic relations the recognition process – a Palestinian state by Israel and Israel by the Palestinians as the national state of the Jewish people – would be skated round. While the UN General Assembly’s Nov. 29 upgraded the Palestinians to non-member observer status the Palestinian Authority is acting like representing an independent state and therefore eligible to join Jordan as a confederation partner. This kind of approach might be easier also for Hamas which would be saved from having to recognize the state of Israel.

There are more straws in the wind attesting to the confederation project being on the move. According Debkafile’s sources in early December, the Palestinian Authority’s Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) secretly advised certain Palestinian leaders “to be prepared for a new confederation project with Jordan and other parties in the international community.” With these he probably was referring to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Qatar – these are the members of the pro-American Sunni Muslim-led axis which American diplomats established in Cairo last month in the course of Israel’s Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza and the negotiations that led to an Israel-Hamas ceasefire.

On Xmas eve 2012 it was revealed that Turkey had assumed its role in this new bloc by dropping its two-year boycott of military cooperation with Israel within the framework of NATO. Ankara initially cut off ties of cooperation over the IDF raid of the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship which was on a mission to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. In recent months, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and the Turkish MIT intelligence director Fidan Hakan maintained back-channel interchanges and laid the groundwork for the two governments to start working together.


New boost for new approach

Nearly two months ago I wrote an article Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table . There I described how Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran PLO official, dropped a political bomb on 31st Oct. 2012 with a call for “returning” the West Bank to Jordan during an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunisia, said he supported the idea of a federation or confederation between the West Bank and Jordan. His remarks are the first of their kind to be voiced by a senior PLO figure in decades. Kaddoumi is one of the founders of Fatah, and for decades served as head of the PLO’s “political department.”

In the same article I reported about statement made by Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, who served as crown prince between 1965 and 1999. Recently October 2012 in a meeting with Palestinian citizens in Jordan, Prince Hassan bin Talal made an unusual statement, saying that the territories of the West Bank are actually part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He added that the two state solution is irrelevant in the current stage.


Some background

The Jordanian option has on occasion been raised as a promising approach. Given some of the facts from history this is not surprising, after all, most of Jordan’s population is Palestinian. In 1948, Arab armies attacked the newborn State of Israel. Transjordan annexed the area intended for an Arab state, and renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan, calling the annexed area the “West Bank”. In 1967 West Bank came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967.

Jordanian option is implementing three-state solution – in its no-state meaning – if both West Bank and Gaza are annexed to Jordan. However more practical solution on the ground might be to annex Gaza to Egypt as this would be the three-state solution in its full meaning advocated e.g. I. Since 1967 Israel has maintained the separation between the West Bank and Gaza through different political and security means, such as leaving Jordanian laws in effect in the West Bank while leaving Egyptian laws in effect in Gaza, and substituting some of those laws with military statutes.

I have been advocating long Three State Option as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a Palestinian state that was planned to be established in the area. If three state solution will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president as well from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas.

Further development after Israeli elections

Die Zukunft zeigt sich in uns – lange bevor sie eintritt” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

The Aim for the next stage of Israel-Palestinian negotiations after Israeli elections on January 2013 seems to be a long-term interim accord, while the core disputes on permanent borders, Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees and the future of Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria would be leaved to a later round of negotiations at some unspecified time in the future.

During election campaign Netanyahu and his party has been described as extreme right-wing nationalists who consistently refused to talk peace with the Palestinians. This is usual in Israel where hard rethoric transforms more moderate after elections. So if and when PM Netanyahu wins the poll it is possible that he also will return to the peace track after forming his next government, indeed it has also claimed that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to resume peace negotiations in March 2013. Recently Israeli media published reports that PM Netanyahu planned to invite opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni to join the next cabinet in her old job as lead negotiator in talks with the Palestinians. However it is estimated that Netanyahu has reserved that role for himself.


The bottom line

Man muss das Unmögliche versuchen, um das Mögliche zu erreichen” (Hermann Hesse)

Personally it is very refreshing that Jordanian option is moving on. For decades regional leaders, international community UN etc have sung the praises of two-state solution as the only option so my view has represented some kind of dissidence. While some prominent politicians now have came to the same conclusion I think that the reasons might be the same as mine: there is some sense with Three-state option, it is both pragmatic and achievable. Now it is also more acceptable than few years ago.

Some of my related articles:


Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

November 4, 2012

Article (short version) first published as Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table on Technorati.

Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran PLO official, dropped a political bomb (on 31st Oct. 2012) with a call for “returning” the West Bank to Jordan during an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunisia, said he supported the idea of a federation or confederation between the West Bank and Jordan. His remarks are the first of their kind to be voiced by a senior PLO figure in decades.

Kaddoumi is one of the founders of Fatah, and for decades served as head of the PLO’s “political department.” He is one of the few PLO leaders who refused to move from Tunisia to the Palestinian territories after the signing of the Oslo Accords, which he had strongly opposed. Kaddoumi told the newspaper that giving the West Bank back to Jordan would be a “positive move.”; however he added that the Palestinians should not drop their demand for a right to return to Israel proper. He also said the Palestinians had lost hope of reaching an agreement with Israel that would ensure them their minimal rights. “Unfortunately, Israel has seized most of the lands of the West Bank and the only way left for us is the national resistance,” he said. “Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority and its president do not want any kind of resistance after they got rid of the fighters who say that resistance is the only want to liberate the land.” (Source: JPost )

Kaddoumi’s remarks about returning the West Bank to Jordan apparently came in response to recent statements made by Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal, who served as crown prince between 1965 and 1999. Recently in a meeting with Palestinian citizens in Jordan, Prince Hassan bin Talal made an unusual statement, saying that the territories of the West Bank are actually part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He added that the two state solution is irrelevant in the current stage.

The Jordanian option has on occasion been raised as a promising approach. Given some of the facts from history this is not surprising, after all, most of Jordan’s population is Palestinian. In 1948, Arab armies attacked the newborn State of Israel. Transjordan annexed the area intended for an Arab state, and renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan, calling the annexed area the “West Bank”. In 1967 West Bank came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967.

From Israeli point of view many Israelis view the involvement of the two Arab states that have signed peace treaties with Israel as central in providing security and stability in the territories from which Israel has departed.

UN bid

Since we can’t defeat Israel in war, we must do it in stages, we must take whatever area of Palestine we can get, establish sovereignty there, and then at the right time, we will have to convince the Arab nations to join us in dealing the final blow to Israel. (Yasser Arafat)

Palestinians are now implementing a diplomatic offensive to get votes in favor of their partial statehood bid, or better say in favor of giving Palestinians non-member observer status, at the United Nations. Palestinians say they intend to ask the U.N.’s General Assembly to vote on the matter on either 15th or 29th Nov. 2012.

Israel and the United States are opposed to the move, saying Palestinians should negotiate their statehood with Israel, not conduct unilateral moves. Also if a Palestinian state is established there, many fear that it would be taken over by Hamas. Last year Palestinians tried and failed to achieve status as a full member state at the U.N. Security Council.

PLO had obtained membership in the international organization in 1974. Mr. Kaddoumi made quite good remark during his interview, mentioned above, that the UN had recognized the Palestinian state declared by Yasser Arafat in 1988, adding that 105 countries had since lent their own recognition. “By going back to the UN, Abbas is falsely creating the impression that he is making achievements that were already achieved,” he said.

My view

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been 3 (Israel, WB, Gaza), 2 (Israel, Palestine) and 1 (Isralestine) state scenarios, then of course allways easy option is a ”status quo” scenario. Here I connect three-state scenario (sometimes described also as nostate option) with Egyptian-Jordanian solution aka Jordan-Egypt option aka Shared Jordanian-Egyptian rule: Amman rules the West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza.

The three-state solution essentially replicates the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War. Beginning in 1949, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and no Palestinian Arab state existed. In 1950, Jordan officially annexed the West Bank and granted the Arab residents Jordanian citizenship.

Land Gained and Returned

I have been advocating long Three State Option as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For 19 years, Judea and Samaria were part of Jordan, its population Jordanian citizens, and the geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a Palestinian state that might be established in the area. If three state solution will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president as well from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas.


As Egypt now is opening Rafah border crossing and when its current leadership better cooperates with Hamas it would be easier than before logistically and politically annex Gaza with Egypt e.g. as autonomous province with cultural and economical independence. Annexing Palestinian West Bank areas similar way with Jordan could decrease Israeli security concerns and hence allow smaller buffer zones and less fragmented area for Palestinians. Once the three-state option is reality the work can begin of building infrastructure and maybe even freedom, democracy, and the rule of law in Egypt and Jordan. (More e.g. in
The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

An excerpt from historical background of disputed territories

I generally ignore Israel’s biblical rights (e.g that the borders of Israel in accordance with the divine promise in the Bible: from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt) related to Judea and Samaria aka Westbank but as they explain one part of Israeli’s arguments today I would like to mention from historical rights the era of tribal periods when the Israelite tribes lived as a confederation. The Torah traces the Israelites to the patriarch Jacob, grandson of Abraham, who was later renamed Israel. Jacob’s twelve sons “Israelites” (also the “Twelve Tribes” or “Children of Israel”) means both the direct descendants of the patriarch Jacob/Israel as well as the historical populations of the United Kingdom of Israel.This united monarchy was established in around 1020 BCE when the tribes united.

 David, the second King of Israel, created a strong unified Israelite monarchy in c. 1006 BCE and also established Jerusalem as its national capital 3,000 years ago. Beginning in the 5th century BCE, the remnants of the Israelite tribes came to be referred to as Jews.

Contemporary history gives more relevant view to present conflict. From Israeli point of view the legal rights to the land are based to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the League of Nations San Remo Conference of 1920. The geographical area called Palestine was to become a homeland for the Jewish Homeland. The land was administered as British mandate. Britain split off 75% of Palestine to establish the Emirate of Transjordan split off 75% of Palestine to establish the Emirate of Transjordan on the eastern bank of the Jordan river. This part is now known as the modern Kingdom of Jordan. The Peel Commission of the late 1930’s endeavored to partition the western portion of the original Jewish Homeland into Jewish and Arab mini-states, the latter to mollify Arab rioters fomented by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, an close ally with Hitler during WWII.

In 1948, Arab armies and volunteers – from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Morocco – attacked the newborn State of Israel. Transjordan annexed the area intended for an Arab state, and renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan, calling the annexed area the “West Bank”. Egypt took over Gaza. These areas controlled by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 to 1967 came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967.

As a result of the 1978 Camp David accords – in which Egypt recognized the right of Israel to exist and normal relations were established and Sinai was returned to Egypt. A peace treaty was also made with Jordan and which officially renounced its claim to the West Bank in 1988 when the late King Hussein announced his kingdom was cutting off its administrative and legal ties to the area.

Some of my related articles:


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Negotiation Slot for a Month

July 31, 2011

While Palestinians try to unite (Hamas-Fatah deal) and promote their case in UN (recognition of independence) and on the ground (flopped air-flotilla and failed Flotilla II on July) and while so-called Middle East Quartet and EU foreign ministers are making their empty outdated statements to reopen stagnated Israeli-Palestinian negotiations also in Israel there is some need for new initiatives or refresh the old ones.

With the Middle East peace process at a standstill, the Palestinians, backed by the Arab League, have decided to seek full admission to the United Nations as part of what they are describing as a new approach to their national struggle. Israel opposes the Palestinian bid for UN membership and launched a diplomatic counteroffensive in Europe and beyond to oppose the UN vote. It is relying heavily on the United States to persuade the Palestinians to abandon the plan or veto the Security Council vote.

One of newest parts of Israeli counter-offensive is a video on YouTube, where Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon answers the use of such terms as “West Bank,” “occupied territories,” and “1967-lines,” and makes Israel’s case in clear, factual terms without equivocation. Ayalon says Judea and Samaria were taken from the occupying Jordanians during a defensive war and therefore the “settlements” are legal. “The idea behind the creation of the video is distributed in an innovative way and explains the Israeli position in fighting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state,” Ayalon said.

The Truth About the West Bank -video
Israel’s Deputy FM Danny Ayalon explains the historical facts relating to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The video explains where the terms “West Bank”, “occupied territories” and “67 Borders” originated and how they are incorrectly used and applied.

Following the release of the video, the Palestinian Authority put out an official press release condemning the video claiming that it was a “cynical and falsified account of history and international law”. Chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erakat demanded an official explanation for the video. In reaction to the condemnation, Ayalon said: “For too long the Palestinian narrative of international law and rights has gone unchallenged and this over the top reaction to a public diplomacy video proves that they are acting like spoilt children who have had their way for too long. They are unable to challenge a single fact in the video and have completely avoided a legitimate and honest discussion on the issues.”

Earlier, Ayalon had proposed a public debate on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after Erekat sent out an official press release calling mentioned YouTube video “a falsified account of history and international law”. Erekat rejected offer. “Erekat is used to telling the world that Israel ‘s policies are illegal and against international law and I offered him the chance to back up his own statements and he is proving unable or unwilling to do so,” Ayalon added. “It demonstrates that their rhetoric is just empty words and slogans and folds like a house of cards once it is tested.” (Source: Press release of Minister Ayalon on 31st July, 2011)

Some new paradigms

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline B. Glick claims in her new article that Israel has only two options: The Jewish state’s choices are to either annex Judea and Samaria or be destroyed by its neighbors. She concludes following:

If the Palestinians take control, they will establish a terror state in the areas, which – like their terror state in Gaza – will use its territory as a starting point for continued war against Israel. It isn’t only Israel’s experience with post-withdrawal Gaza and South Lebanon that make it clear that a post-withdrawal Palestinian-controlled Judea and Samaria will become a terror state.

The second option is for Israel to annex Judea and Samaria, complete with its hostile Arab population. Absorbing the Arab population of Judea and Samaria would increase Israel’s Arab minority from 20% to 33% of the overall population.Obviously such a scenario would present Israel with new and complex legal, social and law enforcement challenges. Israel would have to begin enforcing its laws toward its Arab citizens in a manner identical to the way it enforces its laws against its Jewish citizens.  But it would also provide Israel with substantial advantages and opportunities. On the other side, annexing Judea and Samaria holds unmistakable advantages for Israel. For instance, Israel would regain complete military control over the areas. Israel ceded much of this control to the PLO in 1996.

Indeed annexation won’t be easy, but if the alternative really is national suicide there could be some sense. A number of peace proposals have included the caveat found in President Obama’s recent speech: that the pre-1967 border can be modified as a result of mutually agreeable land swaps to permit Israeli settlers in areas close to Jerusalem to remain in what is now occupied Palestinian territory, with an equivalent amount of Israeli land to be transferred to the Palestinians.

A totally different approach to one-state solution is the one proposed by Maath Musleh, a Palestinian from Jerusalem and an activist in the Palestinian youth movement. His solution is to combine Israel, West-Bank, Gaza and Jordan together.

A one-state solution that would include the historic land of Palestine and what’s now known as Jordan. This solution could be the answer for all the concerned parties in the conflict; the Zionists, the Palestinians, and the Jordanians. The Jordanian monarchy was established in the early-mid 20th century. After being promised a united Arab kingdom, Abdullah was given a princedom based in Amman. This princedom has evolved to a kingdom due to the influx of Palestinians who were expelled from their homeland. In 1948, Jordan was happy to annex the West Bank to its territories before the disengagement in the 1980s. The king would not have a problem with a one-state solution that includes both historic Palestine and Jordan if he was still the king. This would have to be an honorary position like in the UK. But the refugee question is the core of the conflict. Most Palestinian refugees reside in Jordan. Thus, the large one-state solution would solve the issue without posing a demographic threat to the Jewish presence. With an honorary king ruled by a parliament formed by the residents, equality could be applied to all citizens. (Source Ma’an News Agency)

The proposal of mr Maath Musleh is a bit different than earlier sc Jordanian option. Israel considered a proposal by King Hussein (3/72) to join the West Bank with Jordan as a federation under Jordanian leadership. In the “London Agreement” (4/87) Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and King Hussein unofficially agreed on Jordanian involvement in any resolution for the West Bank. Since then Jordanian option has not been out from agenda but during last years it has been refreshed as part of three-state solution, which also I have been propagated few years.

Jordanian option based to 1922 mandate

Delaying UN bid?

On Palestinian side there has been some discussions to delay UN-bid planed to on September. One reason is the money; first the US Aid money and second Aid from Arab neighbours. A Palestinian-led UN fight over Israel may provoke Congress to call for suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority, which is estimated to have been average of $600 million in annual support to the Palestinian Authority since 2008. The United States is also the single largest donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is charged with aiding Palestinian refugees, including those in Gaza. Also Palestinians PM Salam Fayyad reported that of the $971 million in pledges made by donors so far this year, only $330 million had actually been paid. Those arguing most strongly for Palestinian unilateralism, the PA’s Arab neighbors, are among the stingiest with aid — among them, only the UAE, Oman, and Algeria have fulfilled their aid pledges.

Some members in Palestinian leadership are worried it would put the Palestinians on a collision course with the Americans and Europeans, who are the Palestinians’ major founders. One government official noted that “anyone who knows the reality, understands the UN path is a dead end, and the only way to peace and Palestinian statehood is through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

Besides money there is also some uncertainty between not only Hamas and Fatah (implementation of their recent deal) but between Hamas and other groups in Gaza. According Debkafile Hamas began building fortifications to block the territory’s western boundary with Egyptian Sinai. Hamas is said to be anxious to ward off the spillover of

Libyian cars in Gaza

post-revolutionary chaos from Egypt and Sinai into the Gaza Strip and curtail the new influx of fighters and smugglers from Libya and Sinai Bedouin affiliated with al Qaeda. These groups have gone into the smuggling tunnel business on their own account and are causing mayhem. Hamas blames them for the resurgence of rocket fire into Israel in violation of the informal ceasefire agreed with Israel four months ago. Debkafile reports from sources familiar with the situation in the Gaza Strip report around a thousand shiny new Kia cars with Libyan number plates currently stocked in the Gaza Strip awaiting buyers in Arab countries. Hamas now finds the mafia shaping up between the Libyan intruders in flight from the war racking their country and al-Qaeda affiliates in Gaza and Sinai as a threat to its rule in the Gaza Strip.

On the Egyptian side over Gaza tensions are rising. Israel Hayom reported  on 31.07.2011 that gunmen launched rocket-propelled grenades at the al-Shulaq natural gas terminal (Sinai Peninsula), hitting the pipeline that directs gas to Israel and Jordan. The line, which has not been repaired since a previous attack on July 12, did not contain any gas. In a related development, Egyptian state media reported that at least six people were killed and at least 21 were injured in unrest that began Friday, when more than 100 armed men rode into the town of El-Arish in Sinai and tried to storm a police station. Authorities said some of the attackers waved flags bearing Islamic slogans as they fired shots into the air. Six people reported killed after 100 armed men try to storm El-Arish police station. After the attack on the pipeline and a separate weekend attack on a police station in the port town of El-Arish, Egyptian security sources told Israel Hayom that the new government in Cairo was losing control over part of the peninsula.

"The peace agreement between Israel and Egypt is crumbling." | Photo credit: AFP

Prospects of Violence

According analysis ( A Coming Storm? Prospects and Implications of UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood ) made be The Washington Institute for Near East Policy there are increasing signs of a potential outbreak of Palestinian violence in the near term, with some analysts predicting the eruption of a “third intifada.” The influence of the Arab Spring, the prolonged deadlock in negotiations, and the prospect of a breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation (following the Fatah-Hamas agreement and the potential for the suspension of U.S. funding for the PA) all tend in this direction. In addition, there is growing popular and political support for Palestinian civil disobedience initiatives, which, in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations, have often deteriorated into violent confrontation. There are mitigating factors as well, most notably the improvement of economic conditions in the West Bank and the lasting impact of the recent war in Gaza, that may make many Palestinians reluctant to return to violence.

According analysis mentioned there are bad options, and worse options, not good ones. Policy-makers may need to face the uncomfortable conclusion that whether efforts to frustrate the Palestinian UN initiative succeed or not, things are likely to get worse before there is even the prospect of them getting better. Whether or not Palestine is recognized at the UN, the downward spiral away from peacemaking seems to be intensifying at an alarming pace.

Israel is continuing to strengthen its defence for possible threads. It has successfully tested its Arrow 3 anti-missile interception system, a locally developed system designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles while they are still in the earth’s atmosphere. Once operational, Arrow 3 will become the upper tier of the Israel Defense Force’s multi-tiered active air defense concept, which aims to provide a comprehensive shield against a multitude of rocket and missile threats. Israel currently deploys the improved Arrow 2, which can shoot down long-range ballistic missiles. The Magic Wand and Iron Dome anti-missile systems were developed to shoot down shorter range projectiles. Magic Wand is still in production, while Iron Dome has already proven itself in operational incidents and is being deployed countrywide. (Source Israelhayom , more about Israel’s missile defence e.g in Will Iron Dome balance the HamasTerror? ). This year Israel has also developed both tactics and equipment of IDF to respond possible civilian upraisings (3rd Intifada) over borders and possible war with Hizbollah, which already has transferred more upgraded missiles from Syria to southern Libanon.

Concept of Demilitarized Palestinian state

As one part of solution Israel has called for any future Palestinian state to be demilitarized. During the Oslo Process, Israel insisted on maintaining full control over the external security perimeter of the Palestinian Authority (PA) while granting the Palestinians responsibility for internal security.

The main components of demilitarization are according the analysis made by The Reut Institute following:

  • Entity with no Military, but Police Force
  • Arms Restrictions
  • Israel is Responsible for External Security and Passages
  • Prohibition on Defense Pacts
  • Prohibition on Foreign Militaries or Armed Forces from Entering the PA
  • Special security arrangements for the border regime,
  • Israeli deployment in the West Bank during emergencies
  • IDF early warning stations on Palestinian territory

Negotiated solution is possible in coming months

We cannot underestimate the danger of long-range missiles and short-range minds.” (Ron Prosor)

International community and even both sides admit that a negotiated solution would be the best alternative to end conflict however regretting the stagnancy of them during last years. Anyway there has been whole time informal, clandestine talks between parties. According newspaper Haaretz President Shimon Peres has been holding intensive talks with Ramallah in an effort to resume negotiations and head off a unilateral Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in September. A senior Palestinian source in Ramallah confirmed that Erekat met a number of times with Peres, last time end of July 2011. The meetings are being held in complete coordination with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According Haaretz article ( Peres holds secret talks with Palestinians in bid to restart negotiations by Akiva Eldar ) Peres held Tuesday night – 26th July 2011 – a long meeting with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat. The two went over maps of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to find a formula that would bypass the dispute over establishing the June 4, 1967 border as a basis for negotiations toward a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. One option explored was the exchange of territory, and others was to compensate the Palestinians for settlement blocs annexed into Israel, on the basis of the U.S. proposal that the area of a Palestinian state be equal to the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“I speak with all sides,” Peres said. “I know that there are exchanges in order to prevent [the crisis] in September and that the differences are very minor… Such a political move (negotiations) will allow for a breakthrough and will transform September into a month of hope,” he said. “I have noted the Palestinian preference for an agreement instead of continuing the conflict in a UN resolution.”

Israel Hayom reports , that Obama administration has ratified George Bush’s 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon guaranteeing settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal. A quote:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday (1st Aug. 2011) that he had reached a written agreement with the Obama administration according to which Israel would not be required to return to the 1967 borders in any future peace deal with the Palestinians. In addition, any future peace talks would take into account established “realities on the ground” – a term generally used in reference to Israel’s large settlement blocs of Ariel, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion.

This means, that U.S. believes negotiations should be based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and not the borders that existed on June 4, 1967. so taking into consideration the changes on the ground during any future talks. The same sources claim that PM Netanyahu is ready to negotiate with Palestinians based to mentioned principle.

My conclusions

In my opinion UN process – with whatever outcome – does not bring any solution for Israeli-Palestinian conflict more near, even opposite is possible. Unilateral actions or imposed solutions are not sustainable like has be seen e.g with Kosovo case. Thus the negotiation slot during coming one-two months should be used. From my viewpoint real talks can start only without any preconditions. This should be also applied to the paradigms of possible outcome. With two-state solutions also one-state (bi-national or confederation model), Jordanian option and three-state solution should be considered.

I have propagated long for sc “threestate” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution could also be more economically sustainable than other options. It could be a bit further developed by making a buffer zone between Israel and hard-liners in Gaza. With borders agreed by all main parties it is possible to look forwards, build new infrastructure to meet meet the needs of people with refugee status and transform them normal citizens with help of economic-social programmes backed with sufficient international Aid money. (More in The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” )

If the outcome will be the two-state solution so then in my opinion the best base is sc Olmert’s proposal on 2008 , which so far in my opinion cleared most part of obstacles to reach sustainable peace for Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One proposal related to two-state solution and land swaps is earlier PM Ariel Sharon ‘s  2005 where for settlements Israel could as exchange land comprising a corridor between Gaza and the West Bank (about 35 miles), on which a railroad and highway could be built. It would be provided security by Israelis but owned and operated by Palestinians. This is just one possibility. (More recent peace proposals in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace).

And finally below a pragmatic hard-line view to issue (The relocation option):


The Third Intifada – To Fade or Escalate

May 16, 2011

An upraising sweeping through the Middle East has acquired a new dimension with the eruption of the Palestinian masses along Israel’s borders last weekend. Palestinian groups on Facebook have been calling months for violent uprisings against the citizens of Israel, openly planning a Third Intifada on May 15th, 2011. Thousands of Palestinians and their supporters were embroiled in deadly confrontations with the Israeli army as protests erupting across the Palestinian territories, Israel and its borders with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan were met with live fire, rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas.

Previous intifadas resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians through suicide bombings and other horrific acts of terror. Every 15 May, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe) of the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on 15 May 1948. This is the first year that Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon tried to breach the Israeli military border in marches inspired by recent popular protests around the Arab world.

“Nakba Day”– the Day of Disaster- is commemorated on the 15th of May, the day of Israel’s founding. Today’s demonstrators and rioters were protesting not against the events of 1967, but against Israel’s very existence.The leaders of these violent demonstrations have personally stated that their struggle is not over the ’67 lines, but rather to undermine the very existence of the State of Israel, which they define as a disaster which must be corrected.

The 1st Intifada

The First Intifada (1987–1993) (also “intufada”) was a Palestinian uprising against Israel in the Palestinian Territories. The background of uprising included also socio-economic aspects; e.g. the high birth rates in the Palestinian territories combined with limited allocation of land for new houses and agriculture were increasing population density and a rising of unemployment. At the time of the Intifada, only one in eight college-educated Palestinians could find degree-related work. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The main components of 1st intifada were civil disobedience and resistance movement, acts such as general strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, refusal to pay taxes, graffiti, and barricades, but also stone-throwing by youths against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

However some violent acts took place and only between IDF and demonstrators. Intra-Palestinian violence was a prominent feature of the 1st Intifada, with widespread executions of alleged Israeli collaborators. While Israeli forces killed an estimated 1,100 Palestinians and Palestinians killed 164 Israelis, Palestinians killed an estimated 1,000 other Palestinians as alleged collaborators. Indeed the number of Palestinians murdered by their fellow Palestinians equaled the number of Palestinians who died in clashes with Israeli soldiers.

The 2nd Intifada

In 1st Intifada the PLO had limited control of the situation and it never expected the uprising to make any direct gains against the Israeli state, it was a grassroots, mass movement. The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000–2005) had different approach. Imposing factors included the Lebanese example, the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on July 25, 2000 and appreciation in the international community of Palestinian responsibility with this. Palestinian violence might be planned by the PA leadership, and aimed at provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative. Immediate reason – or excuse – for upraising was On September 28, the Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount (where al Aqsa is located) on September 28, 2000 which the Palestinians saw as a provocation and an incursion.

Palestinian acts were mass protests and general strikes, similar to the First Intifada, but this time there was much more armed attacks on Israeli soldiers, security forces, police, settlers, and civilians, suicide bombing attacks, and launching Qassam rockets into Israel. Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, announced in June 2004 completed in August 2005, is seen as the end of the 2nd Intifada.

The death toll, including both military and civilian, is estimated to be 6500 Palestinians and over 1100 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners. Some 70 % of killed Israelis were civilians, and about 10 % of killed Palestinians were implemented by Palestinians.

3rd Intifada

In general the 3rd Intifada has not gained open or wide support among Palestinian nor other Authorities. In Gaza the Hamas police stopped buses carrying protesters near the main crossing into Israel, but dozens of demonstrators walked on foot and reached a point closer to the Israeli border than they had reached in years. Hezbollah, which controls Lebanon’s southern villages had given tacit support for the protest but the crowd was dispersed by Lebanese troops firing into the air as the Lebanese Army tried to prevent provocation in cooperation with IDF. In Egypt, thousands rallied in Cairo in a Facebook-organized campaign aimed at marching all the way to Gaza. Thousands of Egyptians had planned to march to the Egypt-Gaza border to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, but Egyptian security forces prevented buses from carrying them. Egyptian riot police fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters outside the Israeli Embassy.

Syria however is exception. Hundreds of Syrian rioters infiltrated the Israeli-Syrian border into the village Majdal Shams, and in the center of the village violently rioted against IDF forces. In attempt to turn the rioters back to Syria, forces fired selectively towards rioters who were targeting security infrastructure and some were injured as a result. It seemed likely that President Bashar al-Assad Syria was seeking to divert attention from his troubles caused by popular uprisings there in recent weeks by allowing confrontations on the Golan Heights for the first time in decades. (Updated information – from Israeli side – available e.g. from IDF and Tweets of IDF Spokesperson )

The neglected side of “Nakba”

The other side story is that of some 900,000 Jews, uprooted since 1948 from thousands of Jewish communities that had existed in the region for 2,500 years. While those Arabs who fled or left mandatory Palestine and Israel numbered roughly 750,000, there were more than 900,000 Jewish refugees subsequently expelled or forced out from Arab lands at around the same time. Before the state of Israel was re-established in 1948, there were almost 1 million Jews in Arab lands; today there are around 5,000.  While many of the Palestinian refugees were newcomers and fresh economic migrants, the Jewish refugees by contrast were being pushed out of the lands that they had lived in for thousands of years. Little is heard about these Jewish refugees from Arab countries because they did not remain refugees long. Some two-thirds went to Israel while the rest found safe haven in Europe, North America and elsewhere.


One aspect with “right of return” should also be highlighted: A recent ruling by the European court of human rights declared that due to the time that had elapsed, Greek refugees expelled from northern Cyprus in 1974 would not be allowed to return to their homes. Anyway my point is that besides “Nabka” the issue of the Jewish refugees should be remembered and recognized.

My conclusion

The IDF, like any other army in the world, has the right and duty to protect its citizens” (Christopher Gunness, the spokesperson for the UNWRA)

Kornet missile

Now after first days of 3rd Intifada it seem that the whole upraising fade before it even really started.To be more than hooliganism the demonstration should attract at least hundred times more participants. In my opinion crucial is if the new Palestinian Authority and Hizbollah are deciding to use upraising as a mean to achieve their political aims and allow using old violent methods (suiside bombings, Qassams …) as well their most modern weaponery e.g. such as Fatah-110 surface missiles, its Syrian equivalent the M-600, the mobile SA-8 (Gecko) anti-air battery with 18 warheads and Kornet second generation anti-tank missile (recently fired at a israeli children’s school bus from the Gaza Strip).

The Israel-Palestine conflict is at crucial stage. In my opinion there is now a few months negotiations slot before UN decides its position towards Palestinian state; when or if UN decision is made it might be harder to achieve a negotiated solution.

View of international community is not important only due political reasons, economical ones are significant too. The Palestinian Authority receives $100 million annually in military aid from the United States, and $2 billion in global financial aid, including “$526 million from Arab League, $651m. from the European Union, $300m. from the US and about $238m from the World Bank.” According to the United Nations, the Palestinian territories are among the leading humanitarian aid recipients.

If two state solution still is relevant aim so in my opinion good starting point could be the latest Olmert’s proposal on 2008 which may be most far reaching compromise so far (More this and other recent peace proposals in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace ). Saying this I still consider sc Three State-Option the most pragmatic solution for israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 


Fatah-Hamas Deal: Three Scenarios

May 3, 2011

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” (Hamas Charter: Article 7)

The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas came to a draft agreement in last week. The core of the new Hamas-Fatah deal is agreeing to a unity and power-sharing of two parties mentioned. Palestinian division, playing so-called “moderates” against “extremists”, has been key element of US/EU and Israeli policy almost a decade. If the Palestinian unity deal holds it can open the Middle-East deadlock – but which way remains too see. I see at least three different scenarios as outcome:

  1. Israel makes a deal with Palestinian representatives

  2. No Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – UN recognises Palestine

  3. Israel annexes part of West Bank – cold peace

Some background

“This is our answer to the enemy: We have no other home.” (President Peres)


Similar Hamas-Fatah agreements were made in March 2007 In Mecca, which lasted for three months until the outbreak of a five-day war in Gaza, which ended with Hamas taking complete control of the territory. The second agreement was signed in Saana, Yemen on March 2008 by the same signatories as now and it lasted just two days. Last year negotiations were mediated by Germany and Turkey in Damascus, but now entered into a definitive agreement, assisted by the Egyptian intelligence service in Cairo.

After failed previous agreements The Palestinian Authority (excluding Hamas) has had fruitless round of talks with Israel meditated mainly by US, PaliLeaks are giving clear picture offers nad responses to them (more e.g. PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace). During negotiations The Palestinian Authority lost its rest authority as well credibility to achieve any results. Uprisings in Arabstreet this Sring may have been the main reason for Hamas-Fatah deal now as the Palestinian president, Abu Mazen/Abbas, lost his allies – Hosni Mubarak and Omar Suleiman in Egypt. Also Hamas is losing its Syrian protector, Bashar al-Assad. But The Guardian editorial highlights also the third reason which had little to do with either of the above: Abu Mazen’s faith in Barack Obama finally snapped. US failed to deliver even the limited and partial extension of Netanyahu settlement moratorium. The PLO forced a vote on settlements at the UN security council, despite US pressure, leaving the US alone to cast its veto in a 14-1 vote. Preparations for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood proceed apace (again, in opposition to US policy).

The Israeli government immediately sounded the alarm over the prospect of having to deal with Hamas. “The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both,” said prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu warned that the deal could lead to a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. “Hamas aspires to destroy the state of Israel and says so explicitly. The idea of reconciliation with Hamas demonstrates the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and makes one wonder whether Hamas will seize control of (the West Bank) the way it seized control of the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli prime minister said. (Source: The Guardian )

Directly related to the agreement it stopped the joint Israeli-Palestinian security panel because Hamas is of course not allowed into the meetings where joint Israeli-Palestinian (covert) operations against Hamas are planned. The United States is considering to remove its USD 475 million economic support for PA, the EU’s position as a major funder is not yet clear. From its side Israel will hold up an USD 89 million cash transfer to the Palestinian Authority planned for this week to assure that any money transferred to the Palestinians will not reach the militant Hamas organisation.

In parallel, Journal of the Kuwait Al-Rai, referring to Syrian security men, whereas the event of war with Israel, Syria will play a “strong hand” and to compete with Hamas in Tel Aviv bombing missiles. (Both are in possession of Scud missiles; Israel’s new missile defense to respond this threat is described e.g. in my article Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror?)

Deal with united Hamas-Fatah front

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (Hamas Charter: Preamble)


Hamas-Fatah deal means that now Israel may have got a strong
counterpart on the Palestinian side as any significant Israeli-Palestinian agreement demands involvement of Hamas. So far the reluctance of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Israel is his lack of political legitimacy, he officially holds no power (in January 2009 he unilaterally awarded himself a one-year extension as president). Also Abbas’ prime minister, Salam Fayyad’ authority is limited, he ran in the 2006 parliamentary elections and won two seats out of 132.

Fatah is seen as the more secular organisation, which has supported the Oslo Accords which led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Hamas, an Islamic group, opposed the Oslo Accords and continues to refuse to honour past agreements with Israel. The US and EU both view Hamas as a terrorist organisation, anyway its successful imposition of law and order in Gaza have persuaded analysts that peace between Israel and Palestinians is impossible without its involvement.

The factor, which in fact can nullify this negotiation slot, is that Hamas will continue to aim the establishment of an Islamic state in Gaza, the West Bank and the current Israeli territories by force if necessary. Now approved the draft agreement, which final form is planned to sign next week, does not give any indication that the Hamas / Fatah would agree to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past agreements with Israel. Senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmud A-Zahar, makes it clear that despite reconciliation agreement his organization with Fatah, Hamas has no intention of changing its attitude toward Israel: “The transition government will not take part in the diplomatic process.” (Source e.g. Ynetnews)

Haarez editorial gives interesting alternative view to deal compared to the one of PM Netanyahu’s, who hastened to denounce the reconciliation agreement. Here Haarez perspective:

Israel can improve its status if it takes its fate into its own hands. It can be the first to welcome the establishment of a Palestinian sister-state, wish it luck, hold out its hand in peace and express a desire to discuss borders, refugees and settlements issues, this time on an entirely different level − as two sovereign states…On the tactical level, Israel will be able to pass the responsibilities required of a state to the Palestinian side as well, whatever its government.

One base for negotiated peace deal could be the latest Olmert proposal 2008 which may be most far reaching compromise so far.

UN option and the effect of unilateral Palestine actions

Since we can’t defeat Israel in war, we must do it in stages, we must take whatever area of Palestine we can get, establish sovereignty there, and then at the right time, we will have to convince the Arab nations to join us in dealing the final blow to Israel. (Yasser Arafat)


Israel-Palestine conflict is now on crucial stage as September is shaping up to be a key month for peace efforts. The Palestinians say that in the absence of a peace deal, they will take their case to the United Nations. It appears now that a Palestinian state will be imposed – or better say tried to impose – on Israel by the international community as overwhelming majority of U.N. members will vote to give them a state. However since the U.N. General Assembly’s decisions are not legally binding, the vote would be largely symbolic, and it remains unclear what the Palestinians will do after that. International support for the Palestinians has put heavy pressure on Netanyahu to offer his own diplomatic plan to end the impasse. Netanyahu is expected to deliver a major policy speech to U.S. Congress next month. But officials close to the prime minister say he has not yet decided what he plans to say.

Some 110-140 countries is estimated to support Palestinian case in UN, there is also a slight possibility that UNSC will make similar resolution. Besides sending again letter to Jerusalem at its worst there can be discussions about sanctions against Israel; however even today Israel is more diplomatically isolated than ever before and also outside governments there is a growing civil BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel. Despite this economically life in Israel has never been better. According latest data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010, international trade is rising steeply as in the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. compared grew of 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose respectively 34.7% and 38.9%. Despite hard statements EU remains Israel’s largest trading partner and even ally of Hamas and Iran Turkey’s trade with Israel reached an all time high last year. So international isolation does not seem effect very much.


Unilateral Israeli actions

“(Peace) initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels as arbitrators in the lands of Islam… There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.” (Hamas Charter: Article 13)

Jerusalem Post reports that ‘Annexation for declaration’ idea advancing in Knesset . True, the Israeli Likud party is already preparing a draft law, which accompanied Israel in Judea and Samaria, or at least its a lot areas with Jewish mayority as well as the Jordan River Valley; this in case that the PA government take its proposal at the UN.

As Likud MK Danny Danon said, that

A Palestinian declaration of statehood would officially bury the Oslo Accords, which state that final borders will be decided via negotiations and that unilateral actions constitute violation of the accords…The Palestinians declaring a state would free us of all the diplomatic, security, and economic commitments we made in the Oslo Accords.

Danon favors responding to a Palestinian declaration of statehood by annexing all of Area C, which includes all the West Bank’s Jewish settlements and empty land. He said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should follow the example of his predecessors Levi Eshkol, who annexed eastern Jerusalem, and Menachem Begin, who annexed the Golan Heights. Area C Israeli 59% of WB land and 4% of WB Palestinians.

Israel’s unilateral actions can be understood from its security driven policy. The main thread from Hamas-Fatah deal is that as more motivated, well organised partner with popular support Hamas will override Fatah in West Bank like they have done in Gaza. If Hamas keeps its aim the destruction of Israel, the deal and Hamas takeover would allow it to deploy Iranian and Syrian-supplied Katyusha missiles near all Israel urban centers. From Israel security perspective this brings most of Israel population under thread of hostile missiles and rockets. Be’er Sheva already has been attacked by Grad Katyusha missiles from Gaza, as have been Haifa and the Galilee from Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.

Map by Americans for a Safe Israel (ASFI)


My conclusion

For the Palestinians internal unity creates a change for developing a new national platform, strategy and representative PLO, which can also implement agreements if needed. If Hamas-Fatah deal makes a commitment to non-violence and recognises also Israel’s right to existence it might be a partner for Israel to make new peace deal. The effect and nature of Hamas-Fatah deal will be tested soon as Palestinian groups on Facebook are calling for violent uprisings against the citizens of Israel, openly planning a Third Intifada on May 15th, 2011. Previous intifadas resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians through suicide bombings and other horrific acts of terror. They are aggressively pursuing their goal of reaching one million supporters.


If Hamas-Fatah deal is neutralizing terrorism it may boost the international community and especially US to put pressure to both Israel and Palestine authorities to find negotiated common solution. This way the deal really can be what Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called “a key window of opportunity” for the entire region. One crucial point for outcome will be PM Netanyahu’s speech before the US Congress next month, will it appease Obama admistration and EU-3 (Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel) about Israeli intentions in peace process.


One can guess that I am not very hopeful about the peace deal soon after Hamas-Fatah agreement, at least in its current form. Hamas should first change its fundamential course to apply non-violent methods and accept Israel security concerns, and Israel needs time to trust Hamas intentions. Perhaps the best outcome related to three scenarios mentioned could be limited cold peace or truce, plus restricted trade agreements.

Earlier and now I still consider sc Three State-Option the most pragmatic solution. As Egypt now is opening Rafah border crossing and when its current leadership better cooperates with Hamas it would be easier than before logistically and politically annex Gaza with Egypt e.g. as autonomius province with cultural and economical independence. Annexing Palestinian West Bank areas similar way with Jordan could decrease Israeli security concerns and hence allow smaller buffer zones and less fragmented area for Palestinians. (More e.g. in The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

Background Annex

Conflicting Views of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Every year in USA, campus hate groups such as the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine join a festival called “Israel Apartheid Week”, which also is part of the growing BDS movement (BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel). As response the David Horowitz Freedom Center is sponsoring counter-protests on more than 50 college campuses, as part of its Islamo-Fascism Awareness Campaign. From banner below one can open some of the claims from Palestinian side and counter claims from Israeli side to highlight the big difference of views in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

%d bloggers like this: