[Published 8 November 2012]
The idea of reunifying a substantial part of the West Bank with Jordan received a further boost this week - when former head of the PLO Political Department - Farouk Kaddoumi - told the newspaper London-based newspaper Al - Quds Al - Arabi that giving the West Bank back to Jordan would be a “positive move.”
His remarks are the first of their kind to be voiced by a senior PLO figure in decades.
His statement follows hard on the comment recently made by Jordan’s Prince Hassan that the West Bank was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
It was back in March 1977 that Kaddoumi himself told Newsweek:
“There should be a kind of linkage because Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people,”
His viewpoint was echoed by another PLO leader - Zuheir Mohsen - who told the Dutch newspaper Trouw in the same month:
“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.
For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”
The greatest criticism of the international community since then has been the failure to heed these statements and recognise there is no difference at all between the Arab residents living in the West Bank and the Arab residents living in Jordan. Both reside in an area comprising almost 80% of former Palestine and live within one hours drive of each other. Both were citizens of Jordan and had Jordanian passports from 1950-1988. Both have families that live on both sides of the Jordan River. No country was ever called “Jordan” until 1950.
The attempt to create two separate national identities and two separate peoples - Jordanians and Palestinians - has always been nothing but misleading and deceptive fairy tales.
Even the 1968 PLO Charter itself makes this abundantly clear in its opening two articles which state:
Article 1: 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.
Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.
These clear and unambiguous provisions of the PLO Charter were reiterated and confirmed at the 8th Palestinian National Council meeting in February-March 1971 - which declared:
” Jordan is linked to Palestine by a national relationship and a national unity forged by history and culture from the earliest times. The creation of one political entity in Transjordan and another in Palestine would have no basis either in legality or as to the elements universally accepted as fundamental to a political entity. .. In raising the slogan of the liberation of Palestine and presenting the problem of the Palestine revolution, it was not the intention of the Palestine revolution to separate the east of the River from the West, nor did it believe the struggle of the Palestinian people can be separated from the struggle of the masses in Jordan…”
Despite similar statements by many other Arab spokesmen - the Quartet - Russia, America, the European Union and the United Nations - still remain foolishly fixated on creating an independent Arab State between Israel and Jordan in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - thus separating the East Bank of the Jordan River from the West Bank and dividing the Arabs who live on each side of the Jordan River from one another.
Reunification of the West Bank with Jordan - so far as is now possible given the changed circumstances since Jordan’s loss of it to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War - remains the only realistic option available to the Jews and Arabs to advance the cause of peace and reconciliation.
Any such agreement reached on the territorial dimensions of the dispute will not - however - herald an end to the conflict.
Kaddoumi himself made this clear when he added:
“We launched our revolution for all of Palestine, and that’s why we need to be very cautious. We must safeguard our people’s right to return. We must insist on the right of return for all refugees, because this is the minimum that we could accept.”
Whilst the temperature may be lowered once the reunification of the two banks of the Jordan River into an expanded and enlarged Jordan has been achieved - attitudes such as the above espoused by Kaddoumi and likewise by Hamas and the myriad number of terrorist groups who continue to conduct their murderous campaign to eradicate the Jewish State - will not end overnight.
Yet there is hope that even the vexed right of return is slowly being recognised as a right of return to the 80% of former Palestine that will be encompassed within the newly redrawn borders of Jordan - and not to the remaining 20% of former Palestine that will become the established borders of Israel.
PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas caused raised eyebrows when he stated this week that although he is a refugee from the town of Safed - he does not have the right to live there although he likes to visit the town as a tourist.
“I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah, I believe that West Bank and Gaza is Palestine, and the other parts is Israel.”
How anyone can be classified as a refugee whilst living in any part of one’s country is perhaps a question that Abbas should be asked by one of the intrepid reporters that frequently interview him.
Nevertheless the growing focus on Jordan being part of the solution to the Arab-Jewish conflict is a welcome development that should be encouraged and fostered.
Fairy tales usually have happy endings.
Perhaps an energised and reinvigorated Barack Obama can wave his Presidential wand this time round by facing up to the above realities and help everyone’s dreams come true.