Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jordan's King Abdullah - The Ham In The Sandwich

[Published March 2007]

Jordan's King Abdullah is a desperate man judging by his historic speech to the United States Congress on 7 March 2007 - and with good reason.

The Road Map - designed to create a second Arab state in former Palestine, in addition to Jordan -has unfolded in total disarray.

The Road Map had begun as a vision of President George Bush on 24 June 2002. It was an answer to, and a rejection of, the Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Arab League in Beirut just three months earlier.

The detailed provisions of the Road Map were finally endorsed and launched in a blaze of publicity in April 2003 by the strongest negotiating team ever assembled in world history -America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - affectionately dubbed the Quartet.

The Quartet's newly created State was to be born by 2005. But as of today, it is still only a twinkle in the eyes of its' sponsors and any prospects of conception, let alone its' birth, passed long ago.

On the face of it the Road Map was a sure fire winner. However its' failure to predict intransigent Arab negotiating positions was to prove its' downfall.

Only 6000 square kilometres of land known as the West Bank and Gaza was involved - an area about the size of Tokyo or Chicago.

Israel had already agreed to forego its' claims to at least 4000 square kilometres and possibly even more - depending on whose version you accept - in negotiations at Camp David presided over by President Clinton in 2000.

Surely all that was needed was a push and a shove, a tweak here and a tweak there, to divide the remaining 2000 square kilometres between the disputants thus ending what the Quartet seriously claimed to be the most intractable problem facing the world.

This has not occurred for two reasons - the Arabs wanted it all and they demanded that the 400000 Jews living there be thrown out.

Now King Abdullah has appeared before the US Congress to promote the Arab Peace Initiative as the way forward out of the Quartet's dilemma. But this Initiative demands precisely these very same unacceptable outcomes.

One must feel sorry for the predicament of King Abdullah being caught up as the unwilling filling in the Road Map - Arab Peace Initiative sandwich.

Arab unity demands he stand by the Arab Initiative and be seen to be one of its' major sponsors as the Arab world tries to rally international support for this totally flawed and outdated plan.

History and his heart should tell him something else - he needs to give the hapless Quartet the opportunity to re-route its' Road Map by announcing his readiness to negotiate the division of sovereignty of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel.

The reasons for this are compelling:

(i) Jordan was the last sovereign Arab occupier of the West Bank from 1948 -1967 during which time its' Arab residents were Jordanian citizens and subject to Jordanian law.

(ii) Such negotiations would conclude the division of the land contained in the Mandate for Palestine between the two successor States to the Mandate - Jordan and Israel.

(iii) The negotiations would take place within the parameters of the existing peace treaty signed by Israel and Jordan in 1994, where "deal breakers" such as refugees, Jerusalem and water have already been identified and solutions prescribed.

(iv) The negotiations could be concluded within a relatively short period of time based on the general principle that the heavily populated Arab areas would become part of Jordan whilst the heavily populated Jewish areas would become part of Israel

(v) No Arabs or Jews would be forced to leave their present homes. Where Jews or Arabs found themselves on the wrong side of the new border, they could be given the option of staying as citizens or being compensated if they wanted to move.

Jordan clearly does not have the strength to announce and enter into these negotiations of its own volition.

It needs the political, financial, and military support of the Quartet and the endorsement of the Arab League.

King Abdullah's plea to the Congress for "America's leadership in a peace process that delivers results not next year, not in five years, but this year" must be understood in the light of the choices now facing the Quartet, Jordan and the Arab League.

Following the Road Map in the direction of the Arab Peace Initiative can only lead to a dead end and guarantee many more years of death and suffering for the Jewish and Arab inhabitants in the region.

Dividing the West Bank between Jordan and Israel can open a new page in the Road Map that will answer His Majesty's emotional plea before the Congress for all people in the region to be allowed to live in peace and harmony.

Let us hope that the ingredients for the new peace sandwich will include lashings of encouragement and support by the Quartet and the Arab League for Jordan's central role in resolving the conflict.

If it doesn't, who will eat the stale sandwiches and who will be left to pick up the crumbs?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Arab League, Apple Pie and Indigestion

[Published March 2007}

Jordan's King Abdullah is at it again repeating the mantra of the Arab League of which Jordan is a foundation member:

"The principal problem in the region is the Palestinian issue and, if it is not solved, it will be impossible to solve other problems." [Jerusalem Post 2 March 2007]

Palestine comprised an area of about 120000 square kilometres, which has now been divided into two sovereign States - Israel (22000 square kilometres) and Jordan (92000 square kilometres) - plus an area of 6000 square kilometres called the West Bank and Gaza in which statehood still remains undeclared.

The Arab League has called for full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank and Israel's acceptance of an independent Arab State there with East Jerusalem as its capitol.

This means

(i) the expulsion of some 400000 Jews presently living in the West Bank who have lived there for all or part of the last 40 years.

(ii) the perpetual abandonment by Jews of all claims to reconstitute their national home in the West Bank and Gaza as conferred on them by the League of Nations and confirmed by the United Nations.

(iii) The severance of the Jews from their biblical heartland where they lived as an independent nation long before any Arabs came to the area as foreign conquerors and occupiers seven centuries after the birth of Jesus.

The Arab League has shown no indication of any readiness to abandon this "all or nothing approach" by agreeing to the Jews retaining and living in a portion of this disputed territory whilst the remainder and its Arab residents becomes part of Jordan as it was between 1948 and 1967.

A second Arab State in Palestine, which has been propounded for the last 20 years, is as ridiculous as suggesting a second Jewish State in Palestine.

Two peoples - the Jews and the Arabs - need two States in former Palestine not three.

Whilst the Arab League persists with this intransigent attitude there is indeed a problem, but one solely of the Arab League's choosing.

The Arab League presently is made up of 22 member States covering almost 14 million square kilometres in which almost 320 million Arabs reside.

It is incredulous and completely false to continually advocate that a dispute over 6000 square kilometres housing 3 million Arabs must first be settled before all the other problems in the region can be resolved.

Yet this is precisely what the Arab League has sold to the Quartet - America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. - and they have swallowed it hook line and sinker

Besotted by this tale that could have come from the Arabian Nights, the Quartet has thrown billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours in aid and diplomatic manoeuvring in trying to solve this problem. They have not got the disputants to even move off the starting blocks.

Meanwhile the Arab League has allowed far more serious bushfires to rage out of control in some of its' own member States, that threaten to eventually consume the Arab League itself.

In fact some League members such as Syria are actively helping to fan the fires by providing arms, money and safe transit for terrorists to bring down the Governments of other member States where life is anything but pleasant.

The League's biggest problem involves a non Arab state - Iran - as it seeks leadership of the Islamic world through the supremacy of Shia Islam as the dominant Islamic religion over Sunni Islam , the religion of the majority of the Arabs.

This is the clash of ideologies that must first take place before militant Islam can hope to achieve its aim of making Islam the world's dominant religion.

Islam can only have one leader not two to achieve this objective. Will that leader be Shia or Sunni?

The Arab League's failure to prevent Iran interfering in the affairs of Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Iraq has given Iran and the Shiites easy entrée into the Arab World and put the Arab League's very future existence under serious threat.

The white ants are on the march and the Arab edifice is in danger of total collapse.

Perhaps it is time for the Quartet to tell the Arab League to start solving the problems affecting their own member States such as Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Somalia and Sudan where the lives of 100 million people are at risk every day and where the sight of Moslem blowing up Moslem and mosque after mosque being bombed is unbelievable

The Quartet should also put the Palestinian question on the backburner and focus their attention, effort and political clout (if any is left) on the real and pressing issues outlined above.

Creating another Arab State on 6000 square kilometres of land when you already have 22 Arab States on 14 million square kilometres of land reminds me of the glutton who was given 99.5% of the apple pie but still was not satisfied and demanded the rest.

He ended up with severe indigestion.

[The writer acknowledges Wikipedia as the source for the statistics appearing in this article]

Friday, October 5, 2007

Going Gaga over Gaza

[Published February 2007]

Gaza has all the trappings of a State except declared Statehood.

The Quartet - America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - and the 22 members of the Arab League have allowed this farce to continue for the last 18 months.

Gaza, larger in area than Malta, has a President, a Parliament, a Prime Minister, a full complement of Ministers, a burgeoning bureaucracy, observers to every United Nations Committee you can think of, delegations to countries all around the world, a flag and an anthem and most importantly of all - not one Jew.

It is as racially pure as you could imagine, making South Africa’s apartheid regime pale in comparison.

The 7000 Jews living in Gaza were forcibly removed from their homes and businesses 18 months ago. That they were so evicted by other Jews, supposedly for their safety, is shameful. However given half a chance the Gazan Arabs would have willingly expelled the Jews. They even boasted that it was their campaign of terror and violence that finally forced the Jews to leave. Ethnic cleansing is apparently acceptable where Jews are the victims.

The violence against Jews has been replaced by the killing and intimidation of Gaza’s now exclusively Arab citizenry, as Hamas and Fatah each battle to assert their authority over the other in an internecine struggle that shows no signs of abating.

The people without a land who had been yearning for a land for the last 40 years suddenly found itself in full possession and control of part of that land but just couldn’t bring itself to utter the magic words of independence. Figuratively speaking the jilted bride was left waiting at the mosque.

The occupation had ended, the occupiers had gone but the population acted as though nothing had changed.

There was no rejoicing and dancing in the streets, no hugs embraces and tears among the populace who now found themselves in full control of their destiny and self-determination. Instead the liberated population could not quickly enough destroy, burn and gut, synagogues, schools, houses and infrastructure left behind by the Jews and then turn around and try to destroy each other.

There have been no exciting nation building programs implemented to give new direction and vision to Gaza’s population. Destruction, not creation, has become the buzzword in Gaza.

Sadly statehood is the last thing that Gaza wanted because it would put an end to the claim of statelessness, terminate the claim to refugee status by a large proportion of its population and signal the end of the perpetual financial support received from UNWRA.

Furthermore statehood might be taken to be an abandonment of further claims to any land that formerly comprised the Mandate of Palestine.

The reticence of the Arab League in these circumstances was misplaced. True, Statehood for Gaza would pull the rug from under the feet of this cartel and put pressure on it to end its refusal to recognise or negotiate with the State of Israel. But the League’s policy of silence and its’ failure to intervene has seen Gaza’s population become a killing field of ever growing proportions.

The Quartet however need not have been so coy. It had a different agenda aimed at solving “the Palestinian question” which it considered to be the most intractable problem in the Middle East.

The removal of all Jews from Gaza presented the Quartet with the opening it had been desperately seeking to take a giant step forward in solving this problem. Yet the Quartet faltered dismally in failing to demand that the Parliament in Gaza declare statehood within the boundaries that separate it from Israel and Egypt.

This single act could have been the circuit breaker towards ending 130 years of conflict between Jews and Arabs over the same land.

Instead the Quartet misguidedly focused its efforts on attempting to achieve an overall rather than a partial solution to Arab claims in the West Bank and Gaza in fulfilment of its‘ misconceived Road Map aimed at creating a third State in Mandatory Palestine.

It has now paid the price for its’ folly.

The Quartet’s failure to insist on Gaza declaring its independence has created a void into which Hamas has stepped making it impossible now to achieve statehood in Gaza.

The frantic shuttle diplomacy and endless meetings that seem to never have any outcome other than the accumulation of frequent flyer points for their participants will continue to be held, and the killing and mayhem in Gaza will continue to head the news bulletins.

It is time to call on Jordan and Egypt to play a constructive role in cleaning up the mess in Gaza, which is quickly sinking into the arms smuggling tunnels it has been so busily excavating under its very foundations.

The time for playing semantic word games, holding joint press conferences and grabbing photo opportunities is surely over.