Jordan and Egypt need to replace the Palestinian Authority as the Arab partner to negotiate with Israel on the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem according to a paper entitled “Regional Alternatives To The Two State Solution” written by Israel’s former National Security Advisor - Giora Eiland
Eiland’s paper contains two suggested alternatives to the “two-state solution”. He states that there are other creative alternatives that will present themselves once Jordan and Egypt replace the Palestinian Authority as Israel’s negotiating partner.
Eiland presented his paper to a special Ambassadors’ Forum briefing for members of the diplomatic community representing around 30 countries in Israel and at a conference hosted by the University’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies last week.
In an introduction to Eiland’s paper BESA’s Director - Professor Efraim Inbar - commented:
“It is clearly a study that challenges conventional wisdom. The great difficulty of changing thought patterns that have become entrenched within dominant paradigms, such as the widespread notion of the need to establish a Palestinian state, is well known.”
The time to change those entrenched thought patterns has now emerged for the following reasons:
1.Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have gone nowhere in the last 16 years
2.The Palestinian Authority now refuses to further negotiate with Israel until Israel ceases all building activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - which Israel is not prepared to do
3.The Palestinian Authority shows no preparedness to change the negotiating position which its alter ego - the PLO - has adopted for the last 42 years - namely a sovereign and fully independent state in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza with its capital situated in Jerusalem and no recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
4.The Palestinian Authority has lost its status as sole spokesman for the Palestinian Arabs since 2007 and is now locked in a bitter power struggle with Fatah for total control of the Palestinian Arabs and the government of any future state
5.Gaza and the West Bank have been split into separate fiefdoms governed respectively by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and no unification of the two areas under one government appears likely to occur.
Eiland asserts that Israel made a grave mistake in trying to resolve the Palestinian problem on its own without the involvement of Egypt and Jordan. The position has now been reached in his opinion where no allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem will ever occur without the direct involvement of these two nation states.
There are very strong and supportive views for this position:
•Egypt was the last Arab State to occupy Gaza between 1948-1967 and Jordan the last Arab State to occupy east Jerusalem and the West Bank during the same period of 19 years.
•During those 19 years no Jew resided in these areas and the “two state solution” could have been implemented at any time by Jordan and Egypt in that period if the Arabs had wanted to do so.
•The loss of those areas to Israel in 1967 and the fact that 500000 Jews now live there makes it impossible to return to the 1967 armistice lines that then separated the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem from Israel.
•Since 1967 both Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel - Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 - that have been maintained and respected by all signatories.
•Jordan - with Israel - are the two successor States to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and currently exercise sovereignty in 94% of Mandatory Palestine. They are obviously the best negotiating partners - with Egypt - to resolve Arab and Jewish claims to sovereignty in the remaining 6% - the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Egyptian response to Eiland’s proposal has been less than lukewarm.
A representative of the Egyptian embassy in Israel said that the Palestinian problem should not be turned into an Egyptian problem.
This view is hard to accept since Egypt partially created the problem by doing nothing between 1948-1967 in Gaza when it had the opportunity to do so.
Jordan severed its ties with - and any claims to sovereignty of - the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1988 to the PLO. The failure of the PLO and its successor - the Palestinian Authority - to achieve Arab sovereignty in the last 22 years only highlights the need for Jordan to resume negotiations with Israel to try and achieve a better outcome.
This is especially so since the signing of Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel in 1994 already deals with such contentious issues as refugees, water and Jerusalem. The only issue still to be resolved is the new border to be drawn between these two sovereign states.
Whilst there has been no official response from Jordan to Eiland’s suggestion, it is interesting to note that a Jordanian prosecutor agreed on 21 January to hear a lawsuit against two Israeli lawmakers - Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Arye Eldad - after they called for turning Jordan into a Palestinian state.
Arye Eldad - made the following response to such news:
“Apparently in Jordan, telling the truth is against the law. This is a ridiculous attempt to impose Jordanian law on Israel - which allows freedom of speech. No lawsuit can change the fact that Jordan is Palestinian and that the Hashemites are ruling over the Palestinian majority in a dictatorship.”
Eldad said he would continue his efforts to persuade American congressmen and leaders all over the world that Jordan must be the Palestinian state.
“There need to be two states for two peoples,” Eldad said. “The Palestinians have a state, Jordan, and I will continue my campaign to make sure the world realizes this. The next time the world sees a stalemate in the diplomatic process, they must know that this is as a realistic option.”
Eiland’s proposal for negotiations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt indeed remains the only possible way to finally resolve sovereignty in the West Bank ,Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Perhaps Eiland should replicate the advice given by US Embassy spokesman in Israel - Keith Hoyer - when commenting on American Special Envoy George Mitchell’s shuttle diplomacy:
“He’s just trying to persuade, and sometimes you persuade by restating your position, again and again and again, until you get an agreement”
As time goes by and the “two state solution” sinks slowly to the bottom of the harbour - Eiland’s message - if repeated often and loud enough - will be eventually heard by the international community and the Arab League looking for a lifeline to avoid them all going down with the ship.