Palestine: Creative Compromises Can Conquer Conflict

January 4, 2013 by David Singer
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It has taken less than a month for the euphoria generated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution conferring non-member observer status on the “State of Palestine” to dissolve into a farcical denouement…writes David Singer.

Mahmoud Abbas’s folly in unilaterally approaching the United Nations in breach of the Oslo Accords has been neatly summed up by CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk in her article “Is Palestine now a State?”

“In the end, the Resolution does not change the Palestinians lives on the ground, and it does not “recognize” Palestine as a state.”

UN Special Rapporteur for the West Bank – Professor Richard Falk – offered his own prognosis on 2 January on his blog page:

” At this point, I do not believe that the two-state consensus can be implemented, nor is the one-state alternative politically feasible.”

Demise of the two-state solution is confirmed by the following recent developments:

Firstly – Jamal Muheisen, a member of the Fatah Central Council, has reportedly told the Jerusalem Post that Hamas is conducting secret negotiations in an Arab country to reach agreement with Israel over the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders in the Gaza Strip and Sinai.

Muheisen has claimed that the negotiations were being held under the auspices of the US claiming that:

“Hamas is seeking to establish its own emirate while leaving the West Bank as cantons that are separated by settlements. Hamas’s goal is to foil the establishment of a Palestinian state on all the territories that were occupied in 1967.”

Secondly – The 2003 United States Roadmap proposing a two- state solution has disappeared off the radar with State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland only being able to offer this vision:

“As we turn the calendar to 2013… now is the time for leaders on both sides to display real leadership, to focus on the work that’s necessary to return to direct negotiations,”

That option is unlikely to happen.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have not held direct high level talks since September 2010 – at the tail end of a 10- month Israeli settlement freeze to which Abbas failed to respond until rhe freeze had mearly expired.

The Palestinian Authority still demands that settlement construction stop once again before they engage in talks – which they have said should pick up where they left off with Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008.

These demands will certainly not be met by Israel in the aftermath of November’s General Assembly Resolution.

Abbas has now become firmly stuck on his high horse with no way to get down without considerable loss of face and prestige.

Thirdly – Attempting to salvage something from the wreck – Abbas has let it be known that he would be prepared to consider a confederation with Jordan once a Palestinian State was recognised in the territory lost by Jordan to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

If the creation of such a state has not reached first base after twenty years of tortuous negotiations – then it certainly will not do so after Abbas’s foray at the United Nations.

Creative compromises are now urgently needed to determine the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza that do not involve the creation of a State between Jordan, Israel and Egypt for the first time in recorded history.

Seeds for some such compromises appear to be sprouting from two different sources.

Firstly – Reports emanating from Gaza suggest that discussions are underway with Egypt to supply electricity and natural gas to Gaza to reduce its dependency on Israel.

Egypt has also been permitting freer access and egress to and from the Gaza Strip.

Such moves would materially assist in restoring the close relationship Egypt had with Gaza when it occupied and administered Gaza from 1948-1967.

If this relationship can be creatively nurtured to enable Egypt to provide a sphere of influence that persuades Gaza to look to Egypt for its salvation – rather than targeting Israel in continuing conflict – then the prospects for an improved relationship between Israel and Gaza could well be the end result.

Secondly – Reunification of the West Bank with Jordan as existed between 1950-1967 has now been raised as a possibility by the well respected and well connected Palestinian Arab commentator Daoud Kuttab in his article published in the Atlantic on 26 December – “Are the Palestinians ready to share a State with Jordan?”

Kuttab recalls his exclusive interview in 1993 with Israel’s then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin – the first ever given to a reporter working for a leading Palestinian newspaper.

Kuttab writes:

“I asked Rabin for his vision as to the ultimate political status of the West Bank and Gaza in 15 or 20 years. Rabin, who at the time, we later discovered, had approved the Oslo back-channel, took a puff at a cigarette given to him by one of his aides, and answered that he envisions it being part of an entity with Jordan.”

Kuttab has also dismissed the confederation idea proposed by Abbas:

 “Confederations are political systems that include two independent countries. For some time in the 1980s, this was the most talked-about term in the region. The late Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyyad), the former head of intelligence for the PLO, was quoted as saying that what Palestinians wanted was five minutes of independence and then they would happily agree to a confederation with Jordan. However, the issue became politically poisonous as soon as the late King Hussein of Jordan said publicly that he doesn’t want anyone to ever utter the term “confederation.” And so it has been for the past two decades.”

And so it will apparently continue – no matter what Abbas says.

Kuttab concludes:

“While it is unclear if Jordan will ever end up having any sovereign role in the West Bank, support for a greater role for Jordan in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will no doubt increase in the coming months and years if the current decline of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority continues. The one determining factor in all of the discussions will have to come from the Israeli side, which has yet to decide whether it will relinquish sovereignty over the areas occupied in 1967 to any Arab party, whether it be Palestinian or Jordanian.”

Israel has already agreed to cede its claims to sovereignty in more than 90% of those areas in 2000 and 2008 and only needs a willing Arab partner to close the deal.

Jordan is rapidly readying itself to fill that role.

Creative compromises can indeed conquer conflict as a means of resolving even the most intractable and long running disputes.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Comments

17 Responses to “Palestine: Creative Compromises Can Conquer Conflict”
  1. Ben Eleijah says:

    Hello Mr Singer

    You have made the standard hasbara comments without replying to the pointed issues I had raised. East jerusalem, indefinite occupation of strategic areas and control over borders and air space.

    • David says:

      You seem unable to comprehend that you and I are not negotiating a settlement. It will be up to Israel and Jordan to resolve the issues you raise.

      That is what negotiations are about.

  2. Ben Eleijah says:

    david seeems to forget history. Baraks offer was by a falling prime minister and with conditions mentioned – Abu Dis renamed East Jerusalem, indefinite Israeli control over strategic areas, no army or control over borders and air space. The Palestinians refused a bantustan. Sharon campaigned against this and toppled Barak.

    • David says:

      Arafat rejected Israel’s offer – period.

      That was his entitlement.

      Israel rejected Arafat’s counter proposals.

      That was its entitlement.

      Ne’er the twain would meet.

      So it seems more of the same has continued and will continue until agreed terms can be negotiated.

      Jordan is the only Arab negotiating partner in my opinion who can possibly do a deal with Israel.

  3. Ben Eleijah says:

    So Israel will transfer the settlements, outposts and exclusive highways to Jordan ?

    • David says:

      To Ben Eleijah

      Israel would cede its claims to sovereignty in that part of the West Bank as is agreed on in negotiations with Jordan.

      Trying to preempt the outcome of such negotiations is pure speculation and a waste of time.

      • Ben Eleijah says:

        Your proposal was for Israel to transfr the West Bank to Jordan. Withouth the settlements, outposts and exclusive highways and barrier, the West bank is a collection of enclosed open prisons and Jordan can only play the role of policng the palestinians onIsrael’s behalf. There is no viable West Bank withouth these structures cutting it into separate cantons. And Israel will have to tranfer jews to Jordanian rule to ensure a whole West Bank.

        The dishonesty in the argument lies in not acknowledging the facts on the ground.

        • david says:

          Ben

          You and Paul Winter both misrepresent what I wrote which is as follows:

          “Israel has already agreed to cede its claims to sovereignty in more than 90% of those areas in 2000 and 2008 and only needs a willing Arab partner to close the deal.
          Jordan is rapidly readying itself to fill that role.”

          In my opinion a return to the status quo that existed at 5 June 1967 is never going to occur as a result of any negotiations.

          • Ben Eleijah says:

            Sorry to say this. This is a piece of dishonesty. Israel has never agreed to cede sovreignity over the West Bank. netanyahu had often said he would continue building in the West Bank and make Jerusalem the undivided capital. Israel has not agreed to cedeing control over parts of the West Bank “indefenitely” and nor did it agree to a stae with control over its borders, air space and its own army.

        • david says:

          Ben

          What do you think happened in 2000/1 and 2008?

          Sovereignty of more than 90% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza was offered to the Palestinian Authority on conditions that were rejected by the Palestinian Authority including demilitarization and recognizing Israel as the Jewish State.

          The PA was perfectly entitled to reject the offers – as Israel was to reject the claimed right of return demanded by the PA.

          Perhaps having Jordan as a negotiating partner – things could be different this time round.

          For starters:

          1. Jordan and Israel have a signed peace treaty in which the negotiating parameters to deal with contentious issues such as Jerusalem, water and refugees are laid out.

          2. No Arab or Jew would have to leave his current home or business in the West Bank.

          Many first marriages end up in divorce and subsequent second marriages achieve harmony and bliss.

          It just needs the right two to tango.

          • Ben Eleijah says:

            As I said both offers were shortlived and excluded Jerusalem other than re-naming Abu Dis East Jerusalem. And Israel was control significant parts of the West Bank indefenitely.

          • Ben says:

            David,

            Its Ben no 2 here. The problem is that neither the current Israeli Gov, and especially not one under a coalition with Mr Bennett, will ever go back to what was proposed by Olmert in 2008 – which was the closest the parties ever got to a compromise and which I think, if reinstated by a non-lame duck Isr PM, would eventually lead to a resolution (a cynic might think that Isr is now deliberately offering the Palestinians a government so right wing that they will accept Olmert’s offer without preconditions just to avoid the horrendous alternative of life under Bennett).

            The reality then is that even at its most optimistic, the areas ceded now under your ‘plan’ are going be far less than what was on offer from Olmert but with an added disincentive for the Palestinians of no Palestinian state.

            Sorry, but like the prospects for peace generally, your idea seems utterly hopeless.

            Ben (no 2)

          • david says:

            Ben

            Both offers were short lived because the Arabs rejected them. That is their entitlement but they have to bear the consequences of their decisions.

            Like the offers the Arabs rejected in 1937, 1947 and 1967 the 2000/1 and 2008 offers are probably not going to be made again to any Arab interlocutor be it Jordan or anyone else.

            Strange to remember as well that the state the Arabs demand now was available to them at any time between 1948-1967 at the stroke of an Arab League pen – when not one Jew lived there after having been driven out in the 1948 War by six invading Arab armies.

            Have you any idea why they agreed to unification of the West Bank and East Jerusalem with Jordan in 1950 rather than an independent state with Jerusalem as its capitol?

            The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    Considering that one previously ( not so long ago ) proscribed entity, Fatah, and one very currently proscribed one, Hamas, are inching toward a united FRONT, converging toward a ONE state “solution” of their own, what kind/extent of concessions, compromises, propositions can Israel make to…accomodate an infelxible, dedicated opponent of anything Israeli in a future (G-d forbid ) singfular Palestinian entity, as envisaged by those who do not look at all likely to sit at any table with the possibly/hopefully concession inclined Israelis !!!???
    The above allows only for a permanent stalemate, something nobody can consider, at least because one may not predict political moves, but mostly because pressures from all directions aim at a resolution of the conflict.
    A resolution of the conflict is only practically possible if the Palestinian issues is relegated to at least indiference by the islamist international forces, coupled with a serious reduction in the international financial assistance given to the current palestinian political entities. Left to their own devices ( corruption, misery and corruption on top ) the current palestinian cellebrated political parties will be forced – the only non-military force – to concede to changes which will be radical enough to invite Israel to the negotiation. Everybody is talking about the palestinians refusing to negotiate. I think Israel is allowed to exercise the same right of refusal – and they do exercise it, this not being a “smart” PR call – considering who/what could be sitting at the oposite side of that table, i.e. inamical intransigence bent on Hamas style shoah – has vSholem !!-.
    To this extent Paul is right; previous “arrangements”, statements and even intents are as relevant as the newly presented/developed realities, the only ones worth considering. Oslo must be one of the most popular jokes on the other side of the Jordan divide. I could be the most popular stand up comic in Ramallah just by delivering a one word “line”, “Oslo” and kill them in the isles………………….what an intersting thought…………………………………….

  5. david says:

    Paul

    You state

    “The idea of Jordan taking over Judea and Samaria is just plain nutty for security and political reasons.”

    You are right.

    Israel would never agree to that proposition.

    But in 2000/1 and 2008 Israel was ready to cede its claims to over 90% of that territory in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority – which was rejected.

    I have no doubt a similar offer would now be made to Jordan – it it comes to the negotiating table.

    I don’t think Kuttab was lying when he writes of his interview with Rabin in 1993.

    As far back as 1985 Rabin had said – as reported in the Australian on May 27, 1985:

    “”the Palestinians should have a sovereign State which includes most of the Palestinians. It should be Jordan with a considerable part of the West Bank and Gaza. East of the Jordan River there is enough room to settle the Palestinian refugees. One tiny State between Israel and Jordan will solve nothing. It will be a time bomb”

    The Rabin speech you refer to was made by him in 1995 when presenting the 300 page “Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”. to the Knesset.

    Rabin by then had changed his mind about the West Bank being “part of an entity with Jordan” (as Kuttab recalls) but you need to carefully consider what Rabin then told the Knesset:

    “We are striving for a permanent solution to the unending bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians and the Arab states. In the framework of the permanent solution, we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Israel as a Jewish state, at least 80% of whose citizens will be, and are, Jews.

    At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel, Muslim, Christian, Druze and others, will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.

    We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

    We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the permanent solution will be beyond those which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

    These are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

    A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev, as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

    B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

    C. Changes which will include the addition to Israel of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Betar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six Day War.

    D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria like the one in Gush Katif””

    I think everyone interested in trying to end the 130 years old conflict should care what Rabin said.

    The problem is that no one remembers his sage and sound advice – notably those who annually recall his murder but make no reference to his vision as outlined above just days before his assassination.

    • Paul Winter says:

      Thanks for that reply David. It is comprehensive, it contains important details and it substantiates my objections to your recommendations regarding Jordan in Judea (and Samaria).

      You kindly quoted Rabin’s vision of Israel’s security border being located in the Jordan valley (your point B). A Jordanian presence in Judea/Samaria excludes the Jordan valley as Israel’s securtiy border.

      And a couple of other points. Firstly, Rabin was no prophet or sage considering that he persevered with the Oslo fraud after Arafat displayed his deceit in Durban (and when he smuggled three terrorists specifically forbidden by Israel into Gaza in his car). Secondly, we dare not disregard history for the fact denying illusion of peace. (One doesn’t even have to refer to the PA’s post assassination acts of war, both the ongoing terror against Jews nor the major conflicts like the one in 1996 when a tunnel under the Temple Mount was opened or Arafat’s 2000 terror war.

      I am aware of the 130 year old Jewish/mohammedan conflict. But then, if one sticks to facts and not self-serving mohammedan propaganda, the lot of Jews in the Ottoman empire was a sorry and precarious one. The conflict will have to go on until: (1) the mohammedans resign themselves to the Jewish state in the mohammedan waqf (2) the local mohammedans abandon their inventions regarding their “history”, their “right of return” and of Jews being alien to the region (3) the local Arabs abandon terror and war in all its manifestation, be it by arms, lawfare or in the diplomatic, educational, religious and propaganda spheres. That will only occur when Israel kicks the living daylights out of them, culls the nihilistic jihadis and tells the interfering powers that it will not tolerate them saving the local Arabs from their folly and aggression, thus allowing them to regroup to continue the war that only serves its international community dependant leadership.

  6. Paul Winter says:

    Oh, not again! The idea of Jordan taking over Judea and Samaria is just plain nutty for security and political reasons. The idea tha Egypt will take over Gaza is equally nutty. Why should Israelis be exposed to mortar attacks on Ben Gurion airport or to Arab armies on the Judean hills and in Gaza, just to try out some peace addict’s fantasies. As I wrote before, it won’t happen. The local Arabs are too jealous of their power and theft opportunities and Israelis are not suicidal having returned to reality after the Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals.

    Qouting Duaud Kuttab is a waste of time. He contributes nothing half reasonable to the bitterlemons blog. His assertion that Rabin envissaged the “West Bank” linked to Jordan differs from Rabin’s last speech to the Knesset in which he stated that the Arabs could have an autonomous demiliterised entity, with Israel in control of the Jordan Valley. It is almost certain that Kuttab is lying and even if by some remote chance there is an element of truth in what he says, it has no relevance as it ignores both the terror wars against Israel and the redicalisation of the Arab world. Finally, who cares what Rabin may or may not have said; he was the fool who signed on to Oslo and then was too gutless to put a stop to it when Arafat reneged. Just keep in mind that just six months after Oslo, Arafat made his speech in Durban stating (in Arabic of course) that he had no intention of making peace and the PLO Charter is still unchanged and as redical as Hamas’.

    Israel can only make peace when it has a partner. And the supposed partnership was fraud from when it was signed in 1993 and pledged that the PLO was abandoning violence i.e.the founding of the PA was its commitment to peace hence the whole notion of peace talks is founded on fraud.

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