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%.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jerusalem's Judgement Day

[Published July 2008]

President Bush’s Road Map to create a new Arab state between Jordan and Israel is in terminal tatters following the bloody events in Jerusalem on 2 July 2008 when an east Jerusalem Arab commandeered a bulldozer and went on a rampage through Jerusalem’s busy streets trying to kill as many people as he could before being killed himself.

Another East Jerusalem Arab had previously murdered 8 Jewish religious seminary students on 5 March as they sat at their desks where tens of thousands of others had done so before them since its establishment in Jerusalem in 1924 under the British Mandate.

The Arab response to President Bush’s Roadmap had embraced the uncompromising demand that millions of Arabs be allowed to emigrate to Israel - a position totally opposed by Israeli negotiators. That demand had been at the centre of Arab proposals to settle the Arab-Israel conflict since 1967 - long before the Roadmap finally saw the light of day in 2003.

President Bush made it clear as long ago as 14 April 2004 that he supported Israel’s rejection of that demand when he wrote to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:
“It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.”

One may well ask then why the Roadmap negotiations have been allowed to run on since 2004 when this clear rejection of the Arab demand was in the public place. Surely no reasonable prospects of settling this intractable dispute could ever eventuate from the Roadmap negotiations unless this Arab demand was dropped.

Yet despite this clearest signpost leading to a complete dead end in the negotiations, they continued on amid statements of ever growing optimism - fuelled perhaps even by desperation - that continued to be made in inverse proportion to what was being achieved in those negotiations.

The Quartet - America, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia - refused to believe that their combined clout could ever hit a brick wall in bringing President Bush’s vision to reality and finality. They did not count on the continued Arab intransigence they were to encounter.

All unequivocally supported the right of the Jewish people to a Jewish State. How could this support be possibly reconciled with supporting the demand that millions of Arabs be given the right to flood Israel and destroy its Jewish character?

No doubt neither Jews nor Arabs wished to be seen as the ones to have ended the negotiations and have upset an American President who had intervened to try and settle a dispute that had escaped the best efforts of the League of Nations and the United Nations over the last 88 years.

There were some - especially among the Israeli negotiators - who believed and hoped the Arab demand was a lot of hot air and that a combination of compensation and a limited entry of perhaps 100000 Arabs into Israel could satisfy this intransigent and entirely irrational Arab demand and bring about the longed for peace. This proposal had been suggested in negotiations in 2000 but was categorically rejected by the Arabs.

1.4 million Arabs are presently Israeli citizens. 250000 Arabs reside in east Jerusalem and are the holders of Israeli blue Identification cards that allow them access throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Arabs make up 20% of Israel’s population. They have been long viewed with suspicion from time to time as a fifth column waiting to spread havoc when ordered to do so. Whilst their loyalty to their country is frequently called into question they have been able to achieve a standard of living and lifestyle that is the envy of those who live in the Arab States that surround Israel.

A recent poll conducted by the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government showed that 77% of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world.

Another poll conducted with 668 adult Israeli Jews for the Knesset Channel shortly after the seminary massacre in March showed that 29% wanted all Israeli Arabs relocated out of Israel into any new Arab state created between Israel and Jordan, 19% said relocation should only apply to settlements in close proximity to any new state, whilst 28% restricted relocation to those whose disloyalty to Israel could be proved. 24% were against any relocation taking place.

Any lingering hopes that any sizable number of Arabs would ever be permitted to legally emigrate to Israel has ended with the last two traumatic events in Jerusalem. No doubt there will be circumstances where some limited emigration is permitted but it will be strictly applied and strenuously enforced.

Israel obviously has enormous problems in trying to prevent terrorist attacks on its citizens by its own Arab population, to appropriately respond to them and is grappling with what it can do to end them.

Any political party in this current climate of suspicion and fear espousing the lawful entry of more Arabs into Israel would be decimated at the polls. Israel’s political parties will unite in resisting the Arab demand and with it kiss goodbye to the Roadmap as the route to achieving peace between Jews and Arabs.

Jerusalem on 2 July 2008 was judgement day for President Bush’s Roadmap - but not in the Christian understanding of the dead being restored to life. Rather the exact opposite happened - the Roadmap was buried that day by the Arabs in the graveyard of lost opportunities ending any hopes of President Bush’s vision ever achieving peace between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem - the city of peace.

Palestinian Parentage Generates Jordanian Jitters

[Published June 2008]

Jordan’s King Abdullah was very edgy this week as he sought to terminate any discussion of the role Jordan will have to ultimately play in ending the standoff caused by the pending demise of President Bush’s Roadmap to create a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan.

Fired up by an unconfirmed report that Republican presumptive nominee John McCain intended to declare the Kingdom of Jordan as the Palestinian State, King Abdullah gave an interview to the Lebanese newspaper As -Safir in which he defiantly proclaimed:
“This country is here to stay. Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine”

Abdullah’s shorthand attempt to deny that the future of the West Bank has anything to do with Jordan flies in the face of the history, geography and demography of both Jordan and the West Bank and the strong ties that bind these two land masses and their Arab populations.

King Abdullah’s great grandfather - the late King Abdullah I - and also his own father - the late King Hussein - had said exactly the opposite to justify Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank.

King Abdullah I had emphasised the territorial connection between Jordan and the West Bank when addressing a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo on 12 April 1948:
“Palestine and Transjordan (now called Jordan - author) are one, for Palestine is the coastline and Transjordan the hinterland of the same country.”

King Hussein had expressed the familial connections between their respective Arab populations in the Jordanian National Assembly on 2 February 1972:
“There is no family on the East Bank of the River (Jordan) that does not have relatives on the West Bank - no family in the West that does not have branches in the East”

Marwan al Hamoud, member of the Jordanian National Consultative Council and former Minister of Agriculture told the Jordanian political journal Al Rai on 24 September 1980:
“Jordan is just not another Arab State with regard to Palestine, but rather, Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan in terms of territory, national identity, sufferings, hopes and aspirations, both day and night.”

King Abdullah’s attempt to re-write the history book this week was driven by his deep concern to thwart any possible move by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) or any other group such as the Moslem Brotherhood to overthrow the King and assume control in Jordan following the inevitable breakdown and inconclusive end of the Roadmap negotiations.

The PLO had tried to overthrow King Abdullah’s father in 1970 from within Jordan - but was routed and driven out to Lebanon. The thought that another coup might possibly be contemplated from territory less than one hour’s drive away from Abdullah’s palace in Amman has never been far from Hashemite thinking - especially since the Arab League made the PLO the sole spokesman for the Palestinian Arabs in 1974 in place of Jordan.

That singular decision has proved to be a monumental error and has brought nothing but untold misery and suffering for the beleaguered Arab populations of the West Bank and Gaza.

The King is now hanging suspended in mid-air by a thread. There is no realistic outcome to successfully concluding the Roadmap negotiations with the PLO. The PLO demands that it be granted sovereignty in all of the West Bank, that 450000 Jews living there be expelled and that millions of Arabs be allowed to live in Israel are non-negotiable and cannot be possibly accepted by Israel.

Basem Sakkhijha - an analyst with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustor - this week summed up the blind alley into which these negotiations have already led:
“The project of Palestinian independence led by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, was marked by failure and has reached a dead end. The only alternative out of this historical conflict is for Jordan to have a role in the future of the West Bank”

Labib Kamhawi - a Jordanian economist and political analyst - was reported this week in the United Arab Emirates National Newspaper as saying that:
“Jordan had never really relinquished its ambition for a serious role in the West Bank”.

Jordan occupied the West Bank between 1948-1967. Its administrative ties with the West Bank have never been totally severed since Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.
Kamhawi concluded that:
“Jordan cannot turn its back and say “I do not want to be involved.’”

Kamhawi is right. It is only a matter of time before Jordan does become involved. Jordan will have to step into the void left by the collapse of the Roadmap negotiations and bring the West Bank’s Arab population under its jurisdiction and authority. Jordan’s population will demand this action be undertaken to allow family reunion to occur on both sides of the Jordan River. No one - Arab or Jew - will need to leave his existing home or business for this to happen.

Israel and Jordan must redraw and mutually adjust their borders and assume sovereign rule in the West Bank within the agreed areas allocated to each of them. New - and meaningful - negotiations will be relatively easy to conclude when their end objective is not the creation of another Arab state between Israel and Jordan but the division of sovereignty of a postage sized piece of land between the two successor States in former Palestine.

This will continue the process of completing the division of sovereignty in former Palestine - first begun between the Arabs and the Jews in 1920. When concluded, this will leave the issue of sovereignty in just 1% of Palestine - the Gaza Strip - to be finally resolved.

King Abdullah should be proud of the incredible efforts his great grandfather, his father and himself have made to secure 78% of Palestine as a sovereign independent and exclusively Arab State in an area originally proposed by the League of Nations as being part of the site within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted.

Denying Jordan’s parentage and his own patrilineal heritage is the surest way for King Abdullah to increase - not decrease - Jordan’s jitters. He will certainly have to watch his back if he continues to do so.

Petulance And Pandemonium In Petra

[Published June 2008]

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa must have had a brain explosion during a lunch time speech delivered by Israel’s President Shimon Peres to Nobel Laureates attending a conference in Petra to discuss the global food crisis.

Which particular comment by Peres caused the normally urbane and polished Moussa to grab the microphone and verbally attack Peres is unclear but his reaction was quite breathtaking :
“You are a maestro in talking, but don’t take us for granted because we are not fools … You talk about peace, but we did not hear Israel’s opinion about the Arab peace initiative,”

Surely Moussa is aware of Israel’s opinion about the Arab peace initiative first proposed by Saudi Crown Prince Adullah and endorsed by the Arab League in Beirut on 28 March 2002.

Any prospect of that initiative having any bearing in resolving the Arab - Israel conflict was doomed from the time it was announced since it called for:
“full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.”

When President Bush announced the details of his Roadmap on 30 April 2003 he stated it would:
…"resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and end the occupation that began in 1967, based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah – endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit – calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbor living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement.”

These were fine sounding words but Israel was in no mood to accommodate President Bush and commit national suicide by agreeing to return to the borders where it had faced extinction at the hands of the armies of many Arab League members on 4 June 1967.

Israel accordingly presented President Bush with 14 reservations to the Road Map’s implementation.

One of those reservations required:
“The removal of references other than 242 and 338 (1397, the Saudi Initiative and the Arab Initiative adopted in Beirut). A settlement based upon the Roadmap will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity therefrom. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338, and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a permanent settlement.”

On 23 May 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made the following statement from the White House:
“The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace. The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap. The United States shares the view of the Government of Israel that these are real concerns, and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the roadmap to fulfil the President’s vision of June 24, 2002.”

On 25 May 2003, the Israeli Cabinet met and by a majority resolved:
“Based on the 23 May 2003 statement of the United States Government, in which the United States committed to fully and seriously address Israel’s comments to the Roadmap during the implementation phase, the Prime Minister announced on 23 May 2003 that Israel has agreed to accept the steps set out in the Roadmap.
The Government of Israel affirms the Prime Minister’s announcement, and resolves that all of Israel’s comments, as addressed in the Administration’s statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Roadmap.”

Israel’s rejection of the Arab peace initiative could not have been more clearly delivered or underscored.

So what was Moussa hoping to achieve by his petulance in Petra? Clearly he is very frustrated as he sees the Roadmap disappearing down the diplomatic drain as the Arabs continue their intransigent demands that Israel return to the 4 June 1967 borders and 450000 Jews pack up and vacate their homes.

Trying to distance the Arab League from any consequences for maintaining those demands must have been uppermost in his mind as he then publicly admonished Peres:

“Stop building settlements. You keep constructing settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes. What peace are you talking about?”

His remarks repeated the tired old mantra castigating the Jews for wanting to live in any part of their biblical heartland whilst serving to detract any attention from the ineffectual role played by the 22 members of the Arab League in realising the objectives of the Road Map in these four key areas:

1. Failing to prevent Gaza and the West Bank being split into two separate territorial units under two different power structures.

2. Failing to persuade either Egypt or Jordan to offer part of their lands to the Palestinian Arabs as an inducement to moderating the Arab League demand for 100% of the West Bank and Gaza

3. Failing to have the border between Gaza and Egypt opened to allow the humanitarian flow of food and medicine into Gaza or to allow Gazans the opportunity to emigrate through Egypt to other Arab States either temporarily or permanently.

4. Pledging no more than a miserly 20% of the total pledges made at the international donors fund set up in Paris to help their own brothers and allowing many pledges to still remain unpaid.

Arab League members no doubt will cheer Moussa for having stood up to the “Zionist aggressors”. Once again rhetoric has overcome reason and an occasion for goodwill, recognition and mutual respect has been turned into a dummy spit by the Arabs’ top diplomat and negotiator.

Moussa’s grandstanding has only lowered - not elevated - his own standing. The Arabs may not be fools - Moussa certainly is.

Bush's Vision Requires A West Bank Subdivision

[Published June 2008]

Subdivision of the West Bank between Jewish and Arab claimants has always been an essential ingredient of President Bush’s 2002 vision to create a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan.

Indeed such a subdivision had been pursued by President Clinton in 2000 before negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) broke down after Yasser Arafat had demanded all of the West Bank and ended up getting nothing at all as a result.

President Bush made his position on this issue abundantly clear on 14 April 2004 when he declared in a letter to Israel’s then Prime Minister - Ariel Sharon:
“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

Fifteen years of negotiations with the PLO - begun with the much heralded but totally ineffectual Oslo Accords in 1993 - have proved a complete waste of time in achieving the determination of sovereignty in the West Bank - an area that has had no recognised sovereign authority since 1948 when Great Britain terminated the mandate conferred on it by the League of Nations in 1922.

President Bush’s Roadmap - backed by the United Nations, Russia and the European Union - has failed to make the slightest impression on securing PLO agreement to any part of the West Bank remaining in Jewish hands.

The PLO’s continuing intransigence has forfeited its right to continue to negotiate the future of the West Bank on behalf of the Arabs. Its conditions for statehood are incapable of fulfilment.

Jordan was the last sovereign Arab State to occupy the West Bank, which it did from 1948 to 1967 until it was lost to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.

Jordan ceded all claims to the West Bank in 1988 in favour of the PLO in the face of extreme pressure by the Arab League to do so. That decision has proved disastrous for the Arab residents of the West Bank and now requires to be urgently reviewed by the Arab League and reversed.

Jordan needs to be brought back as the appropriate partner to negotiate a subdivision of the West Bank with Israel so as to enable its Arab residents to at least be freed of Israeli military control and restrictions on their freedom of movement and assembly.

Randa Habib of Agence France Presse in an article dated June 10 and posted on titled “Jordan fears new pressure to merge with West Bank” reports of Jordanian concerns at such a possibility quoting “a senior Jordanian official” as stating:
“The only acceptable scenario for us is the merger of Jordan and all of the West Bank”

In the same breath the same official however is quoted as saying:
"Jordan does not want to be linked to 30 or 50 per cent of a territory which it owned from 1950 - 1967. To get half or less of the West Bank with all the Palestinian population would be suicide.”

Jordan need have no fears on this score. Israel was prepared to cede its claim to 93% of the West Bank in 2000 and reportedly to a slightly lesser area in the failed negotiations on President Bush’s Road Map. The radicalization of the Arab population of the West Bank might well necessitate a staged withdrawal by Israel from the areas it agrees to cede to Jordan in direct negotiations.

Jordan represents the only realistic option for removing Israel’s grip on the West Bank’s Arab population. Failure to grasp the opportunity now presented will be a tragedy and end any prospects of a peaceful settlement of the Jewish-Arab conflict in the foreseeable future.

Jordan cannot go it alone. It will need the backing of the Arab League as well as American and hopefully international support - politically, militarily and financially - to secure Jordan against any attempt to overthrow its monarchy and governing structure by Arab terrorist and radical groups who oppose any concessions or any territory in the West Bank being kept by Israel or the recognition of a Jewish State anywhere in the Middle East.

Additionally the implementation of any agreed subdivision will entail a joint co-operative effort between Israel and Jordan to render the West Bank an “arms free” area where the only weapons there are under the control of the Jordanian and Israeli military and police forces.

No doubt demilitarization of the West Bank - partially or totally - would be on the negotiating agenda.

The existence of a peace treaty signed between Israel and Jordan in 1994 puts Israel and Jordan in a position of equal negotiating strength as sovereign States already living side by side in peace - a critical factor never existing in any previous negotiations over the last 70 years.

Substantive issues such as water, refugees and Jerusalem are already covered under the peace treaty and afford ready made, agreed solutions to what has been considered impossible to achieve under previous negotiations.

Redrawing the boundary between these two sovereign states should be a relatively simple task that can be accomplished in a matter of weeks - well before President Bush leaves the Oval Office in January 2009.

Another Arab State in any part of the West Bank would require the joint consent of Jordan and Israel. Maybe when the current environment turns from confrontational to peaceful and cooperative, the opportunity might then be afforded to complete what President Bush’s vision so earnestly desired and what proposals over the last 70 years have been unable to achieve.

That is for the future. The present demands swift and decisive intervention by Jordan.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obama Torpedoes The Palestinian State

[Published June 2008]

Presidential Nominee Barack Obama took only 14 words to effectively ‘put paid to’ the idea that a third Palestinian State - in addition to Israel and Jordan - will be created during his term as President if he wins the forthcoming election in November.

Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington this week Mr Obama declared :
“… any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state”,

Mr Obama had previously made this viewpoint very clear when answering a question put to him at a meeting of 100 members of the Cleveland Jewish Community on 24 February 2008:
“Israel has to remain a Jewish state and what I believe that means is that any negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is going to have to involve the Palestinians relinquishing the right of return as it has been understood in the past. And that doesn’t mean that there may not be conversations about compensation issues “

Mr Obama - like President Bush - has now given his unequivocal support to Israel’s rejection of the 40 years old demand by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) - endorsed by the 22 member States of the Arab League - that millions of former Arab residents or their descendants be allowed to emigrate to Israel.

Arabs already comprise 20% of Israel’s existing population. They all are Israeli citizens enjoying the same rights privileges and opportunities open to the Jewish majority other than being required to serve in the armed forces. Israel is understandably reluctant to allow the Arab sector of its population to expand other than by natural growth.

No political party in Israel espousing a contrary view would have any hope of gaining Government. Agreeing to such a proposal would in a very short time destroy the Jewish identity of Israel and its Jewish majority presently living there and replace it with an Arab identity and an Arab majority.

The reason for this long standing Arab demand being maintained is writ large in the Charters of both Hamas and the PLO. It is considered as the political means by which Arab sovereignty can be established for the first time in history in the totality of Palestine - where at present Arab sovereignty exists in 77% - today called Jordan..

For Hamas - the Islamic Resistance Movement - that right of return is non- negotiable and inviolate and will be pursued until the complete destruction of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state is achieved .

Article 11 of the Hamas Charter makes that very clear when stating :
“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [an inalienable religious endowment - author ] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that”.

Any attempt therefore by any Arab leader to abandon negotiate away or compromise on this issue would bring swift retribution from Hamas.

Article 1 of the PLO Charter - whilst not as strident or inflammatory in its language - makes it clear that Palestine is an Arab homeland - not Jewish .
“Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

No amount of soothing words or diplomatic nuances can bridge the gap that these written words have created for the negotiations that have been ongoing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with very little success for the last 15 years.

When push comes to shove this claim to Arab ownership of Palestine to the exclusion of the Jews will bring any negotiations crashing down to an ignominious end, since American support for the Arab position is absolutely essential if any kind of pressure is to be put on Israel to moderate its opposition to the demanded right of return.

Israel has long offered to resolve the problem by entering into negotiations for the payment of compensation. Such negotiations however would also need to address compensation claims by Jews expelled from Arab countries since Israel’s creation sixty years ago. It would take a very brave Arab leader to agree to such negotiations. His shelf life would be very short and his use by date would soon expire.

An Israeli proposal in 2000 to allow up to 100000 Arabs to return to Israel was firmly rejected by the Arabs. It is unlikely to be offered again given the radicalisation of the Palestinian Arabs since then..

This issue has been one of the major stumbling blocks to President Bush’s Roadmap failing to even make it to first base despite the backing of the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Now - almost at the same time as Mr Obama’s speech to AIPAC - the head of the Palestinian Authority’s negotiating team - Ahmed Qurei - has told PLO activists at a meeting in Ramallah that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority before the new American President takes office next January would require a “miracle”

No doubt conferences, negotiations, press releases and Presidential statements will continue to flow until a new American President is in control and will continue throughout the next Presidential term of office but nothing tangible can possibly emerge until the Arabs drop their demand for the right of return.

For that to happen would also require a miracle.

The region is replete with miracles that form integral parts of the Jewish, Islamic and Christian faiths.

However any hopes that either or both of these current two miracles-in-waiting will eventuate is sheer folly.

Abbas Loses The Plot

[Published May 2008]

PLO Chairman and President of the Palestinian Authority - Mahmoud Abbas - was clearly not happy with the remarks made by President Bush on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of Israel’s reconstitution as an independent Jewish state within its biblical homeland 2000 years after it had last flourished there.

In what the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram’s Publisher Mursi Attallah described as “a Torah (Old Testament) inspired speech”, President Bush told the Knesset:
“We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence, founded on the “natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate.” What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David — a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.”

President Bush’s words affirming such ancient and historical Jewish rights certainly did not break any new ground that would justify Abbas’s outrage as he told a news conference in Sharm El Sheikh:
“What President Bush said at the Knesset made us angry and did not satisfy us. We told him what we need is a balanced position,”

Regrettably a more balanced position is what Abbas needs at this time when it comes to the Jewish people - something he has lacked and continues to lack.

Similar moving and eloquent words to those spoken by President Bush had been used by the Peel Commission in 1937 when attempting to resolve the then escalating conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The Commission’s words were equally as compelling as President Bush’s:
“ While the Jews had thus been dispersed over the world, they had never forgotten Palestine. If Christians have become familiar through the Bible with the physiognomy of the country and its place names and events that happened more than two thousand years ago , the link which binds Jews to Palestine and its past history is to them far closer and more intimate. Judaism and its rituals are rooted in those memories. Among countless illustrations it is enough to cite the fact that Jews, wherever they may be, still pray for rain at the season it is needed in Palestine. And the same devotion to the Land of Israel, Eretz Israel, the same sense of exile from it, permeates Jewish secular thought. Some of the finest Hebrew poetry written in the Diaspora has been inspired, like the Psalms of Captivity , by the longing to return to Zion.” (pp 8-9).

Arab leaders then refused to accept the truth inherent in those words - just as Abbas today refuses to accept the words spoken by President Bush in the Knesset.

President Bush’s Road Map is but the latest in a long line of well intended and serious attempts by the international community to resolve the conflict in Palestine between Jews and Arabs since the League of Nations in 1922 affirmed
“the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”.

This recognition affording the Jewish people the right of self determination in Palestine did not take place in isolation but as part of a series of international obligations that granted the Arabs the right to self determination in what today is called Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan - an area 99.99% larger than the size of former Palestine.

President Bush had made it clear to Abbas four years ago that the successful outcome to his Roadmap involved Abbas accepting Israel as the Jewish State existing alongside a 23rd Arab state that would be created for the Arab residents of former Palestine under the President’s plan.

Yet the idea of a Jewish State has long been anathema for Abbas since his days in exile in Tunis with Yasser Arafat more than 25 years ago. He has been unable to get this monkey off his back as he continues to lead the Palestine Liberation Organisation whose Charter rejects the very words uttered by President Bush in the Knesset last week and by the Peel Commission six decades ago.

The most Abbas has been able to bring himself to grudgingly acknowledge was contained in the following statement made by him last December:
“From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else,”

That is not the historical perspective President Bush expressed in the Knesset last week. Whilst Abbas refuses to recognise the President’s perspective - and his vision - then Abbas’s ability and competence to negotiate any form of settlement with Israel will be rendered totally impotent.

There were Arab leaders such as Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan who were prepared to make the quantum leap and recognise Israel as the Jewish State - a jump that Abbas is still obviously not prepared to take judging by his reaction to President Bush’s speech in the Knesset.

Abbas’s outburst at President Bush’s remarks indicates that he is just one more Arab leader in a long line of failed leaders who refused to accept the idea of Jews having their own state and as a result ensured continued suffering and humiliation for those whose national interest he was supposed to advance.

He - like those failed leaders who preceded him - has surely lost the plot and needs to get off centre stage.

President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Forgotten Letters

[Published May 2008]

President Bush and Condoleezza Rice have a lot on their minds as they grapple with a multitude of the world’s current conflicts which - no doubt - have caused overloading of their respective memory banks

Yet this would be a lame excuse for them forgetting about - or seeking to minimise - the existence and crucial importance of the letters exchanged between President Bush and Israel’s then Prime Minister - Ariel Sharon - on 14 April 2004 and a subsequent letter sent by Sharon’s Chief of Staff - Dov Weinglass - to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 18 April, 2004.

This correspondence resulted in courageous and highly dangerous decisions being taken by Israel to kick start President Bush’s stalled 2003 Road Map - envisioned by him as the key to resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict by 2005.

The President’s letter provided the catalyst - and the political justification - for Israel unilaterally evacuating the entire Jewish population of 8,000 from Gaza and withdrawing Israel’s army totally from there without any preconditions or undertakings from Gaza’s highly hostile Arab population..

The Presidential letter also set out the framework that President Bush would support as Israel attempted to progress the Road Map that would create a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan.

President Bush’s letter clearly - and unambiguously - stated that;

1. The borders of the new Arab State would not encompass the entire West Bank despite successive Arab leaders having demanded this outcome for the previous 37 years,

2. Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank would be incorporated into the borders of Israel

3. The Arabs would have to forego their demand to be given the right to emigrate to Israel and

4. Israel’s existence as a Jewish State would be assured

Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz joined a group of Israeli journalists who met with President Bush in the Oval Office last week prior to the President’s visit to Israel to take part in its 60th Anniversary celebrations. In his editorial - published on 14 May 2008 - Mr Horovitz revealed the extent of the American loss of memory concerning the President’s 2004 letter in the following terms:
“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, has been known to minimize the significance of this four-year-old letter. Just last week, for instance, she told reporters that the 2004 letter “talked about realities at that time. And there are realities for both sides...” …
Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has also given briefings to the effect that Israel has tried to overstate the importance of a rather vague letter, which was issued at a time when Sharon was seeking to bolster support for the pullout from Gaza.
And in answering my question, Bush did not at first even realize that I was referring to the 2004 letter. Hadley, who was also in the Oval Office, had to prompt him. “Okay, the letters,” the president then said, remembering.”


This is not simply memory loss but something far worse and more sinister.

In their apparent desperation to do any deal before losing the reins of power in eight months time, the President and his Secretary of State are treading on extremely dangerous ground in giving out signals that they are possibly prepared to renege on their solemn undertakings to Israel.

Israel has already paid a high price in relying on the President’s letter.

Gaza has been turned into a de facto terrorist Palestinian State. Israel has had to sustain a never ending barrage of rockets and mortars fired indiscriminately into Israeli population centres from Gaza by a bewildering variety of terrorist groups and sub-groups who would have had no chance of becoming so firmly entrenched in Gaza if the Israeli Army had remained there.

The latest shelling of a shopping mall in Ashkelon using an Iranian Katyusha rocket fired from Gaza signifies a highly dangerous escalation of the conflict. It also indicates the ease with which such sophisticated weaponry can be smuggled into Gaza through the Philadelphi corridor under the noses of the Egyptians despite Condoleezza Rice’s assurances to the Israelis that this would not occur.

Israel needs to make it perfectly clear to President Bush and his Secretary of State that any attempt to resile from the President’s letter will lead to the immediate termination of all further negotiations - that the President then will have no one but himself to blame for bringing his own vision to an ignominious end.

Israel’s Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - has not forgotten - or overlooked - the critical significance of the President’s letter in any ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

President Bush and Ms Rice were quick to claim credit at the international conference held in Annapolis last November for a breakthrough in the resumption of those negotiations that would see the three clearly defined stages of the Road Map now being dealt with simultaneously rather than stage by stage.

Maybe the President and Madam Secretary were so overcome by their apparent success that they failed to hear - or perhaps hoped everyone might overlook - what Prime Minister Olmert told the gathered world leaders about the course of those future negotiations:
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

Jews have accumulated many memories - both pleasant and unpleasant - since losing their State, being expelled from there 2000 years ago and being dispersed to all corners of the globe. The Jews steeled themselves to ensure they never forgot who they were, where they came from and to where they would one day return.

Strength comes from remembering - not forgetting.

The President and his Secretary of State would do well to remember - and heed - this lesson as the State of Israel remembers the 60th Anniversary of its reconstitution on and in its ancient biblical homeland.

Abbas Tears Up The Roadmap

[Published May 2008]

President Bush’s Road Map was publicly shredded by PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President - Mahmoud Abbas - in Ramallah this week. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was there when it happened.

Ms Rice was making all the right noises and uttering the usual buzzwords and trite phrases designed to impress everyone with the supposed progress of the negotiations. “Trilaterals”, “bilaterals” ,"quantitative metrics”, “ the first really serious discussions on all of the core issues that have taken place between the parties for almost seven years” - were just a few choice terms that she managed to drop when answering questions from the assembled press corps.

However her optimism dissipated as President Abbas dropped the following bombshell at the joint media conference held with the Secretary of State:
“On this occasion we reiterate the need to stress that Gaza and the West Bank are one unified entity. And, therefore, we call up on Hamas to withdraw back from its coup and to accept immediately — and we are ready for that, to accept the calling for immediate Presidential and legislative elections and, therefore, we repeat our — what we mentioned earlier, that we are ready to go for early Presidential and legislative elections.

President Abbas with these few carefully crafted words made it absolutely clear that:

1. Any new State must be established on the whole of the West Bank and Gaza

2. Any talk of dividing the West Bank between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or separating the West Bank from Gaza would not be acceptable

3. Hamas - a declared terrorist organization - would be permitted - after ending its coup - to take part in new elections which could lead to it ending up in control of the new State . This would allow it to then engage in - and continue to implement - its declared policy of trying to destroy Israel using an army and State apparatus set up, trained and financed with American and international aid.

Abbas in making his outrageous remarks was repudiating a cardinal tenet of President Bush’s Road Map which states:
“A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty,”

Israel - in accepting the Road Map - had its own ideas of what ending violence and terrorism meant and expressed it as follows in one of the 14 reservations it stipulated when accepting the Road Map:
“In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aqsa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure; collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed; cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority; activation of the full prevention apparatus and cessation of incitement.”

Abbas’s failure to dismantle Hamas and the other terror organisations prior to his ouster from Gaza has been the real obstacle to any new State ever having the remotest chance of being created. Whilst these terrorist organisations remain unexpurgated from Palestinian society any negotiations continue to be futile and offer no chance of success.

The Hamas coup in Gaza last year transformed President Abbas into a political eunuch. Yet he still managed to retain the confidence of the international community to progress President Bush’s Road Map to fruition. US$7.4 billion pledged to him in Paris at an international donors’ conference last year indicated the extent to which the international community was prepared to back Abbas.

Many of those donors are now also calling for Israel to negotiate with Hamas - having taken note of the meetings held by former US President Jimmy Carter with Hamas and the ostensible legitimacy that afforded to the terror organization.

In making his most recent comments President Abbas may have just finally tipped the scales enough to lose the support of President Bush and many others who saw him as the light at the end of the tunnel.

President Bush’s Road Map required the elimination - not the legitimisation - of terrorism if there was to be any successful outcome. Embracing terrorists rather than fighting them is the very antithesis of the Road Map provisions.

President Abbas’s remarks have effectively consigned the Road Map to the waste paper basket and ensured the end of any hope of a new Arab State being created between Israel and Jordan.

Ms Rice stood by silently as President Abbas rammed his message home. Hopefully she delivered a stern rebuke to President Abbas in the confines of their private discussions. However the damage has been done and President Abbas will now find it exceedingly difficult to retract his comments. He certainly has indicated he is prepared to embrace - not dismantle - Hamas if the coup is ended in Gaza.

The Executive Council of the PLO was quick to endorse the Abbas remarks just one day later.

To the eternal shame of the press corps gathered there, not one question was put to either Ms Rice or President Abbas as to the impact his ground breaking statement would have on the current negotiations. The reporters present were too busy trotting out the tired old questions on roadblocks and settlements to even comprehend the enormity of President Abbas’s remarks.

President Abbas in those few words once again demonstrated the inability of the Arabs to understand that negotiations mean compromise - not intransigence. The body blow he delivered to the successful implementation of the Road Map is lethal.

Certainly his remarks were the last thing Ms Rice - and President Bush - would have wanted to hear.

Lunchtime - and Crunchtime - in Amman

[Published May 2008]

Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert certainly had a lot to talk about when Mr Olmert made a surprise visit to Amman yesterday for a two hour working lunch with the King.

High on their agenda would have been the disastrous performance of PLO Chairman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this past week after he had left the White House “bitterly disappointed” and empty handed following his meeting with President George Bush.

Statements made after that visit by Abbas and his advisors have made it glaringly obvious that the idea of a new Arab State between Jordan and Israel is rapidly disappearing down the kitchen sink.

This was reflected in the following statement made by Abbas to Reuters on April 26:
“We have discussed all the final issues with the Americans in detail. I told them we do not want them to present their own ideas for a solution because it will be difficult for us to reject them—and it would be even more difficult to accept them,”

The Americans’ ideas for a solution are certainly not a secret. Any suggestion by Abbas that they are is ingenuous to say the least.

President Bush laid out those ideas on 14 April 2004 making it quite clear that the proposed new Arab state could not realistically be expected to be established in all of the West Bank and Gaza.

Yet on April 27 Reuters further reported “a senior aide” to Abbas remarking - as though this was something new and entirely unexpected:
“ …Israel wants to annex settlement blocs, and so in short, what we are being offered is much less than the 1967 borders”

In the same report Abbas himself was quoted as saying:
“I am concerned ...we could be offered less land. I asked Mr Bush during our talks to publicly reiterate his position for the creation of a state on lands occupied in 1967,”

Abbas needs to be jolted back to reality. Apart from the fact that this statement completely contradicts what he said just the day before, the idea that the new State should be established on 100% of the West Bank and Gaza has been Mr Abbas’ demand and that of his predecessor Yasser Arafat for the last 40 years - never President Bush’s position.

The President is savvy enough to realise that you can’t expect 450000 Jews to abandon their homes and livelihoods after living there for more than 40 years and that there has to be some division of the West Bank with Israel.

In persisting with his intransigent demand to the contrary Abbas is ensuring that this “all or nothing” approach on borders is a recipe for total failure of President Bush’s Road Map.

That Abbas intends to persist with this nonsensical position was confirmed just two days later when his top negotiator Ahmed Qureia angrily rejected a proposed map presented to him by Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni showing the areas of the West Bank that Israel proposed annexing.

In doing so Qureia said according to a report in Israelinsider:
“On principle, we know what our rights are and will fight for them using all means and ways. We reject any demand, any position, or any Israeli statement regarding territory outside the 1967 borders.”

Apart from the fact that there are no 1967 borders - only armistice lines - all of these statements fly in the face of the outcome that President Bush has laid down as being able to be achieved if his Road Map is to succeed - and which have been quite clear and unambiguous to Abbas since 2004.

Abbas is now clearly swimming against the tide - pressuring President Bush to change his position to save Abbas’s hide in an effort to suppress the rise of Hamas as it steadily erodes Abbas’s authority and threatens a takeover in the West Bank.

Abbas knows that to back down on the so- called “moderate” Palestinian position - a state in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza - could sound his death knell. Hamas would have great delight in branding him a traitor, ignore any such deal and call for his head as the price for selling the Palestinians out.

Loss of face is usually not tolerated or forgiven in the Arab world. Assassination is often the punishment meted out to those who do not toe the line.

Fortunately however there have been a handful of Arabs with the courage and wisdom of the late Anwar Sadat, the late King Hussein and now his son the present King Abdullah to recognise the reality of Israel and its right to exist, to stop arguing over postage sized pieces of land and to get on with life.

Abbas looks as though he does not fit into the mould of those brave leaders.

Judged by the above statements it is clear that Abbas has decided to tough it out knowing full well his demands will not be accepted - giving him the opportunity to then leave the negotiations with his head supposedly still held high saying he tried the peaceful route but Israel refused to play ball.

He hopes then to triumphantly return into the welcoming arms of Hamas and join with them in taking the violent route to pursue the common objective which both the PLO and Hamas have always shared - the destruction of Israel. He may find out that in doing so he has bitten off more than he can chew.

Having to digest Abbas’s unpalatable conduct this past week and its possible impact on the region would certainly have not whetted the appetites of the King and Mr Olmert for the lunch they were served. They must surely realise that crunch time is now rapidly approaching for both of them.

They need to draw up a plan for joint action to protect the national interests of both Jordan and Israel to ensure that the West Bank does not become a bloodbath that could spill over into either or both countries if Abbas does not show real intestinal fortitude and lower his demands.

Their message to Abbas should be clear and uncompromising - swallow your pride, eat a bit of humble pie and share some of it with Israel - or end up getting your just desserts.

The Abdullah-Abbas Circus Comes To Washington

[Published April 2008]

King Abdullah - the sovereign ruler of 77% of former Palestine (now called Jordan) - and Mahmoud Abbas - the touted President of another proposed Arab State in 6% of former Palestine (now called the West Bank and Gaza) - were both in Washington this week for talks with President Bush.

Their talks centred on the urgency of implementing Mr Bush’s Road Map calling for the creation of Abbas’s new State prior to the President’s departure from office in January 2009.

Their visit was in reality a complete waste of time.

The Road Map - conceived in 2002 - has already passed its 2005 “use by date” unimplemented in even the smallest detail. Events since then - especially Israel’s unilateral evacuation from Gaza, the war in Lebanon and the rise of Hamas to supreme power in Gaza - have rendered the Road Map totally obsolete and of no real consequence.

Yet the major players continue to cling to this lifeline as it rapidly frays into total disintegration.

Abdullah and Abbas held separate meetings - rather than a joint meeting - with President Bush. The reasons for this are unexplained. It certainly indicates the growing divergence of any common interests between Abdullah and Abbas as a result of the intransigent stance of Abbas on the Road map negotiations.

Both Abdullah and Abbas sought President Bush’s direct involvement in pressuring Israel to make a number of concessions. Yet the visitors were unable to let the President know what concessions they were prepared to support to end the current deadlock in relation to two crucial issues:

1. Renouncing the demand that millions of Arabs be allowed to emigrate to Israel.

2. Abandoning the claim that every square meter of the West Bank and Gaza be ceded by Israel in favour of the proposed Arab State.

President Bush has already made his position clear on both theses issues:

1. The Arabs must renounce their emigration demand.

2. The Arabs cannot realistically expect that Israel will cede all of the West Bank and Gaza to them.

Without any movement on these two issues by the Arabs, President Bush can say goodbye to his Road Map leading anywhere but to ignominy and humiliation.

Significantly neither Abdullah nor Abbas was able to advance any proposal to end the power struggle between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Hamas that has wreaked havoc on Abbas’ hold on Gaza, threatens to undermine his authority in the West Bank and stymied President Bush’s objectives under the Road Map.

Abbas - the head of the PLO - is walking a tightrope from which he threatens to topple when the Road Map is finally declared dead and buried. Hamas will certainly not be holding a safety net under it to break his fall. Hamas will be more than prepared to then take centre stage in the West Bank and perform acts that will blow away both Jews and Arabs without compunction.

Facing these developments in Gaza and the West Bank, King Abdullah continues performing his own dangerous trapeze act - swinging from rung to rung in a desperate effort to maintain the 88 years old rule of the Hashemite family in Jordan against possible efforts to topple it from power - as the PLO attempted to do in 1970.

King Abdullah’s subjects are all Palestinian Arabs - born either in eastern (Transjordan) or western (Cisjordan) Palestine. They far outnumber the Palestinian Arabs residing in the immediately adjacent West Bank. Culturally, socially and religiously there are no discernable differences between them that would justify the need for two adjoining States - rather than just one combined State - in which they could enjoy the right to self determination.

Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel is unlikely to ever be emulated by either the PLO or Hamas whose joint goal is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State - only differing in the way it is to be achieved.

The Hashemites ( who originally came from what is now Saudi Arabia to Palestine in 1920) are entitled to be regarded as - and have earned the right to be - the legitimate source of authority for all the Arabs of former Palestine. They were responsible for securing all of former Palestine east of the Jordan River as an exclusively Arab State in 1946 to the total exclusion of the Jews to whom it had been promised initially by the League of Nations.

Abdullah knows that if Hamas seizes power in the West Bank it will spell serious trouble for the future role of the Hashemites in Jordan. “Liberating” the 77% of former Palestine that King Abdullah presently controls would certainly be high on Hamas’s agenda.

Abdullah therefore has no option but to support Abbas in the Road Map negotiating process even though it continues to go nowhere and even though he still remains suspicious of the PLO’s motives after its attempted 1970 coup.

When that process inevitably hits a brick wall Abdullah will need to turn to Israel to conserve his family’s rule in Jordan and keep Hamas out of his sphere of influence which still includes the West Bank - ruled by the self same Hashemites from 1948-1967 until it was lost to Israel in the Six Day War.

King Abdullah will have to maintain the struggle to free the Arab population of the West Bank from Israeli control. Arab unity will demand Abdullah do so. He will find Israel more than ready to accommodate him by the simple expedient of redrawing the international boundary between Jordan and Israel within the framework of the existing Israel-Jordan peace treaty.

More importantly for Abdullah it would see Hamas in control of no part of the West Bank.

In the meantime the current circus will continue on its merry way - playing to a large media entourage in a dazzling array of countries and exotic locations. Plenty of fairy floss will be sold for public consumption and many trial balloons floated over the next nine months.

One outcome is guaranteed - this is one circus that won’t be getting any rave reviews.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Smarter Jimmy Carter Charter

[Published April 2008]

Ex-President Jimmy Carter has hogged the media spotlight this week over his intended - and subsequent - meetings with Hamas head honcho Khaled Meshaal and other Hamas leaders - thereby incurring the wrath of Israel, the United States, the European Union and the Palestinian Authority.

Meeting with terrorists whose charter demands the elimination of Israel and the Jewish people is a total waste of time and undermines genuine efforts to end the long running conflict between Jews and Arabs.

It appears Mr Carter has yet to discover this truth as the visit to the grave of his “dear friend” the late Yasser Arafat this past week has demonstrated.

Arafat refused to accept the offer made by Israel in 2000 to create a second sovereign Arab state in former Palestine (in addition to the already existing state of Jordan). Arafat was unable to abandon his own charter calling for Israel’s destruction and found the choice of peace with Israel too difficult to make when it was presented to him on a plate.

President Bush’s Road Map attempted to revive the idea of such a State in 2002 and was supported diplomatically by Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. Yet it has failed to make even the slightest dent on the diplomatic horizon to this very day and is doomed to failure.

These lost opportunities will not come back again as the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza continues to rapidly descend into ever increasing violence.

What therefore motivated Mr Carter to arrange his meeting with Mr Meshaal at this point of time and what he hoped to achieve by doing so remains a real mystery.

One thing is certain - Mr Carter’s meeting will prove to be a definite non-starter in progressing the diplomatic comings and goings that pass for well intended - but totally misguided - attempts to end the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Yet Mr Carter himself had hit on a definite starter to solve the Israel-Arab conflict more than 25 years ago. If pursued by him now, it could prove of immeasurable assistance in ending the 125 years old struggle between Jews and Arabs over the territory once called Palestine.

In Time Magazine dated 11 October 1982, Mr Carter spoke about” the inherent weakness of Jordan” and stated:
“As a nation, it is a contrivance, arbitrarily devised by a few strokes of the pen.”

Mr Carter would have been mindful of the statement made at that time by Hassan Bin Talal - the Crown Prince of Jordan - in the American magazine “Foreign Affairs” when His Royal Highness stated:
“Small as Jordan is, our country is politically, socially, economically, militarily and historically inseparable from the Palestinian issue.”

Mr Carter would have also been well aware of the following remarks reported as having been made by “the almost certain Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan” in the Jerusalem Post on 11 May 1980 :
“He (Mr Reagan) pointed out that the land of the former Palestine Mandate originally included both sides of the Jordan River before Transjordan was established in 1922 in 80% of historic Palestine. The remaining 20%, he said, is today in Israel’s control.”.

Mr Carter was correct in his assessment of Jordan - as was Mr Reagan and Crown Prince Hassan.

Jordan is indeed a contrivance - the artificial creation of Britain, which in 1922 laid the groundwork that was to result in Jordan becoming a sovereign independent Arab state in 80% of Palestine in 1946. No Jews would be permitted to settle there - and are still so excluded - although it had been originally designated in 1920 as part of the area within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted.

Jordan’s crucial role is bringing to a successful resolution the claims by Jews and Arabs to sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza - a mere 6% of the area of the former Palestine Mandate - is as relevant today as it was in 1982 when Mr Carter made his defining statement.

Jordan indeed was in the diplomatic spotlight until 1988 when Yasser Arafat then declared the independence of a non-existent entity called “Palestine” and Jordan ceded all claims to the West Bank in favour of Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization sworn - like Hamas - to the total destruction of Israel.

Israel also believed it could negotiate with Arafat and his terrorist organisation and signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 - a decision that failed to bring the peace that was so triumphantly postulated at the time.

Mr Carter hopped on the Arafat bandwagon and thereafter totally ignored the role Jordan had to play in any negotiated settlement. He has done the cause of peace no service in adopting this illusory approach.

Peacemaking attempts with those sworn to Israel’s elimination have thus proved an abysmal failure.

Mr Carter now needs to go back to his original thinking and use his prestige and influence in encouraging Jordan to join in talks with Israel on the division of the West Bank between them. This has been and remains the only possible way forward to end the fighting between Arabs and Jews.

Jordan already has a signed peace treaty with Israel - a treaty that has withstood many pressures that could have led to its termination since it was executed in 1994. It is a tribute to Israel and Jordan’s successive governments that they have maintained - and in many areas strengthened - their areas of co-operation and understanding whilst all other proposed arrangements with the Palestinian Authority have collapsed into a diplomatic shambles around them.

Talking realistically to Jordan’s leaders and encouraging and supporting Jordan’s pivotal role in ending the conflict can certainly bear dividends of real benefit for both Jews and Arabs.

Jimmy Carter raised expectations that he would pursue this charter in 1982. His abandonment of it since 1988 has proved to be a poor error of judgement.

Running with the bulls has many dangers - one of which is they can suddenly turn around and bite you where it really hurts. Terrorist leaders like Khaled Meshaal are no different as Mr Carter will find out.

Now is the time for Mr Carter to get smart, realise his error, revisit his 1982 thinking and pursue it to its inevitable conclusion.

Palestine After Bush - Vision or Mirage?

[Published April 2008]

14 April 2008 marks the fourth anniversary of the date when the signposts pointing the direction towards realizing President Bush’s vision for a Palestinian State were emblazoned on the diplomatic horizon.

Few however have grasped the significance of - or conveniently wish to forget - what occurred that day when President Bush and Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met in Washington.

A historic exchange of letters took place between them with Israel announcing it would unilaterally initiate a process of gradual disengagement starting with the intention “to relocate military installations and all Israeli villages and towns in the Gaza Strip” as well as “other military installations and a small number of villages in Samaria”.

In addition Israel planned to accelerate the construction of the Security Fence which it stated would be a security rather than a political barrier, temporary rather than permanent and therefore would not prejudice any final status issues including final borders.

This Disengagement Plan was to be undertaken with the hope of reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians, to improve the economy of the Palestinian Authority and to enhance the welfare of its people. It was designed to improve security for Israel and stabilize its political and economic situation. It was clearly expressed to be an initiative not being undertaken under President Bush’s Road Map but was an independent Israeli plan whilst not being inconsistent with the Road Map.

President Bush in his letter to Mr Sharon acknowledged the Disengagement Plan to be “a bold and historic initiative that can make an important contribution to peace” and a “courageous decision “.

The President’s letter stated the United States appreciated the risks such an undertaking represented and gave Mr Sharon the following written assurances:

1. The United States would do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any plan other than the Road Map.

2. The United States reiterated its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including defensible borders and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself - by itself - against any threat or possible combination of threats .

3. Israel would retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organisations.

4. The United States was committed to Israel’s well being as a Jewish State,

5. The United States understood that after Israel withdrew from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters and land passages would continue pending agreement on other arrangements.

6. An agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for the solution of the Palestinian refugee issue would need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian State, and the settling of the Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

7. In the light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it would be unrealistic to expect that the outcome of the final status negotiations would be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.

The Disengagement Plan proved an absolute disaster with none of its defined goals or objectives being attained. Indeed the seizure by Hamas of absolute power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and the complete failure of the Palestinian Authority to now have any influence over political decisions being made there represents a diplomatic denouement of massive proportions.

The Road Map remains but a twinkle in the eye of President Bush with not one single step put into operation despite six years of intense diplomacy. Any chances of it being fully implemented by the end of this year when the President leaves office is a hopeless exercise in wishful thinking.

The only people who keep talking up this possibility are President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Special Envoy Tony Blair.

The Presidential aspirants - John McCain, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton - remain remarkably tight-lipped as to the policies they intend to pursue if President Bush’s “June 24, 2002 vision” remains unrealised when one of them is elected the next President of the United States.

Each candidate needs to answer the following questions before polling day:

1. Will you remain committed to President Bush’s vision and to its implementation as described in the Road Map?

2. Will you confirm that you intend to honour the assurances given by President Bush in his letter to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004?

There is no room for equivocation by the candidates. A simple “yes” or “no” to each question is required.

Israel cannot be expected to accept - nor should it have to confront - any attempt by the next President to walk away from - or seek to alter - the assurances made by President Bush.

If the next President fails to honour the 14 April 2004 assurances, he (or she) will be held entirely responsible for seeing the window of opportunity for creating an independent State of Palestine for the first time ever in history slammed unceremoniously in his (or her) face.

“Palestine” after Bush will then no longer be a vision but only a mere mirage that will finally disappear when the international community opens its eyes, erases the thought completely from its mind and finally focuses on the division of the West Bank and Gaza between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.