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%.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The San Remo Conference 1920

The San Remo Conference has been rightly described as the "Magna Carta of the Jewish People" grounding its right in international law to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine.

The following news item from CBN News on 9 July 2010 explains the importance of this Conference and its relevance 91 years later in 2011

You can view the CBN news item here:

The importance of the San Remo Conference is discussed by Howard Grief at:

A summary of the San Remo Conference and its importance in resolving the current conflict can be seen at:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Return of the Jordanian Option

Asaf Romirowsky's article "Revisiting the Jordanian Option" elicited the following response "Return of the Jordanian Option" on 23 April 2011.

The international community needs to get serious on the issue of sovereignty in the West Bank,East Jerusalem and Gaza.

If the Palestinian Authority is not prepared to get its act together with Hamas and accept sovereignty in the 95% offered to be ceded by Israel (with a land swap of Israeli sovereign territory for that remaining 5%) - then Jordan should be invited to negotiate with Israel on restoring as far as is now possible the status quo that existed at 5 June 1967 within the framework of their 1994 Peace Treaty.

It seems the sensible way to go in an attempt to avoid escalating conflict.

The only thing preventing it happening is the acute embarrassment and loss of face that would be suffered by the United Nations and its member states after pursuing the two-state solution for the last 17 years. Surely by now it must be obvious to them all that such a solution will never be capable of coming to fruition.

If I had to choose between saving Jewish and Arab lives OR eating humble pie - I know which one I would choose.

Return of the Jordanian Option

Because the Palestinian Arabs have perpetually refused to end hostilities with the Jews through accepting a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one, some Israeli Knesset officials are revisiting the Jordanian option.

Amid the unrest now sweeping the Middle East, Israeli government and security officials are quietly discussing an unusual strategy that would pass the Palestinians’ political future off to Jordan. With the odds of a negotiated two-state solution at an all-time low, former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Knesset Member Arieh Eldad, and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin resurrected the “Jordan is Palestine” model for regional peace.

Israeli officials fear that a Palestinian Intifada could break out on both sides of the Jordan River, and they seek to make it as much a Jordanian problem as an Israeli one.

Although anti-Zionist radicals of the sort that frequent Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, and the UK Guardian look upon the Jordanian option with extreme distaste because it means the resolution of the conflict, that is not Israel's problem.

Nor is it mine, of course.

The fact is that Jordan comprises about 77 percent of British mandated Palestine and the Palestinians represent something like 75 percent of the population of that country. This means that Jordan is, essentially, "Palestine."

As a long-time supporter of the two-state solution it is more than a little disappointing that oppressed and occupied Palestinians absolutely refuse to end their oppression and occupation by accepting a state for themselves in peace next to Israel.

It's just very unusual. In the long history of human oppression, I have never heard of any oppressed people who refuse to give up their oppression until their conditions are met.

It's remarkable, in fact.

From early in the twentieth century until today the Palestinians, and before them the Arabs of the British mandate, have never accepted the partition plan and have never accepted a Jewish state on any part of formerly Muslim controlled land. For reasons having to do with extreme, Koranically-sanctioned, hatred toward Jews, as well as the requirements of the Sharia, the Arabs have consistently refused acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state.

As anyone who reads this blog knows my stance is to respect the Palestinians by respecting their decision. Their decision is "no." For almost a hundred years their position has consistently been "no."

No negotiations. No recognition. No peace.

These are the three famous "nos" of Khartoum, issued by the Arab League immediately following the "humiliating" Arab defeat in the 6 Day War, and there is very little, if anything, to indicate that they are not still in effect.

That being the case we need to accept the fact that "no means no." And since "no means no," since the Palestinians have consistently refused to end the conflict via a negotiated settlement, Israel needs to resolve the conflict in a manner that does not depend on a negotiated settlement. One way to do that, the way that I have generally supported, is for Israel to declare its final borders on the western side of the Jordan river and then move the IDF behind those borders.

That represents one potential resolution, but the Jordanian option represents another possibility. Given that its population is three-quarters Palestinian, it makes sense to declare Jordan the Palestinian state, with an annexation of much of the western bank of the river.

At the moment only a relatively small proportion of Israelis see the Jordanian option as viable, but given the circumstances of perpetual Palestinian intransigence and refusal to accept a state for themselves, it's an option that Israel should explore. What's needed is for Israel to come up with the incentives necessary to bring the Jordanian government into agreement.

This will certainly not be easy, but what's there to lose?

Besides, as PLO executive Zuheir Mohsen acknowledged:
"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."

Heck, they'd barely even need to modify their flags.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Revisiting the Jordan Option

The following article appeared on Y Net on 23 April 2011.

Jordan's involvement in resolving the issue of sovereignty in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues to be more likely as the two-state solution continues to go nowhere.


Revisiting the Jordan option

Op-ed: With hopes fading for two-state solution, ‘Jordan is Palestine’ option may be best alternative

Asaf Romirowsky
Published: 04.23.11, 14:21 / Israel Opinion

Amid the unrest now sweeping the Middle East, Israeli government and security officials are quietly discussing an unusual strategy that would pass the Palestinians’ political future off to Jordan. With the odds of a negotiated two-state solution at an all-time low, former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Knesset Member Arieh Eldad, and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin resurrected the “Jordan is Palestine” model for regional peace.

Israeli officials fear that a Palestinian Intifada could break out on both sides of the Jordan River, and they seek to make it as much a Jordanian problem as an Israeli one.

In February, Human Rights Watch, the world’s self-proclaimed defender of minority rights, produced a 60-page report entitled, “Stateless Again: Palestinian-Origin Jordanians Deprived of their Nationality.” The paper details how Jordan deprives its Palestinian citizens of West Bank origins their basic rights, such education and healthcare. The report received scant attention back then. But the problem of Jordanian Palestinians, amidst growing unrest in the Hashemite Kingdom, has put the issue back on the front burner.

Israeli analysts worry that if the Jordanian government is to become more representative, it is possible that the country’s 72% Palestinian population could effectively take control. Jordan, in effect, could become “Palestine.”

The notion of a Palestinian controlled polity in Jordan is not new. From the war of Israeli independence in 1948 through the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli politicians on the Left and Right advanced a policy of “Jordan is Palestine.” While defending Israel from Arab aggression, they proposed that Jordan become the Palestinian homeland. Israeli officials proposed various scenarios for a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation that fused the East Bank and West Bank of the Jordan River under one administration.

However, it is not as simple as that. Dan Schueftan, author of A Jordanian Option, correctly noted in 1986 that such an arrangement would be dependent on Israeli-Jordanian relations and how the two parties view potential threats from the Palestinian populations in their midst.

Inseparable security needs

To be sure, in the years after the Six-Day War, the Jordanian monarchy was wary of the Palestinians. Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat challenged the sovereignty of the country in 1970. After that, the kingdom had blocked the flow of Palestinians from the West Bank into the East Bank in order to preserve the kingdom’s Hashemite political structure. To a certain extent, the Jordanians renounced all claims to the West Bank in 1988, backed the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the early 1990s, and then made peace with Israel in 1994 in an attempt to prevent further flooding of Palestinians into their country.

To a certain extent Jerusalem has long looked to the Hashemite monarchy to maintain stability and security on both sides of the river. Both Amman and Jerusalem, in fact, recognize that their security needs are inseparable. Jordan has benefited from the periods of relative quiet and prosperity in Israel. Accordingly, Jordanian security forces have been increasingly involved in the West Bank, where they conduct joint training sessions with Palestinian forces. It has been a win-win-win situation for Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians.

The problem now is that Jordan’s traditional power centers are unhappy with the rise of Palestinian influence in the country. Tribal leaders resent Jordan’s Queen Rania, born in Kuwait to a family with roots in the West Bank, for her vocal advocacy of the Palestinian cause. In fact, 36 tribal leaders recently published their objections to Rania’s position, fearing that it will accelerate a slow Palestinian takeover of the kingdom.

With hopes fading for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this seemingly far-flung notion may become the last, best option. The problem is that it could embolden Palestinian radical groups, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, which derive much of their power from disillusioned Palestinians in the West and East Banks. With the rise of such groups in Jordan, the peace agreement between Amman and Jerusalem would be in peril.

Nevertheless, as uncomfortable as it might be for Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians to admit, the Jordanian option might be the best one they have.

Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former liaison officer from the Israeli Defense Forces to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Obama Won't Become Israel's Embalmer

[Published April 2010]

Speculation is rife that a far-reaching shift is taking place in how the United States views the Jewish-Arab conflict - and how aggressively America might push for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Whilst nothing concrete has yet emerged to confirm such speculation - there is plenty of evidence available to suggest that President Obama will not be attempting to publicly impose any settlement on Israel that would not have first been approved of by Israel before its release.

America’s special relationship with and commitment to the future of the Jewish people extends over 90 years and was first made by United States President Woodrow Wilson on 3 March 1919 when he declared:
“I am persuaded that the Allied Nations, with the fullest consent of our own Government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth”

The reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Palestine subsequently became accepted at the San Remo Conference on 25 April 1920, was confirmed by Article 95 of the Treaty of Sevres on 10 August 1920 and adopted by the unanimous approval of the League of Nations in the Mandate for Palestine on 24 July 1922.

America was not a member of the League of Nations but on 30 June 1922 a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the Mandate.

On September 21, 1922 President Harding signed the joint declaration of approval to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Two days later a Memorandum was presented to the League of Nations by the British Government denying the Jews the right to establish their national home in 77% of Mandatory Palestine - today called Jordan.

This left the remaining 23% of Palestine west of the Jordan River - today called Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - as the only remaining location available for fulfilling the Mandate’s Jewish National Home objective

The Mandate was clear in stating that:
1.The Jewish National Home was to be established in Palestine whilst safeguarding the civil and religious - (but not any political) - rights of “the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” irrespective of race and religion.

2.Jewish immigration and close settlement on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public purposes was to be encouraged.

The demise of the League of Nations in 1945 did not mean an end to these rights vested in the Jewish people. They were preserved by the introduction of Article 80 - known as “the Palestine Clause” - in the United Nations Charter. America took a leading role in the drafting and inclusion of Article 80.

At midnight on May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed a new State of Israel. 11 minutes later the United States, in the person of President Truman, recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the Jewish state (de jure recognition was extended on January 31, 1949).

On 15 May 1948 six Arab armies invaded Palestine.

At the conclusion of hostilities Egypt had occupied Gaza and Jordan had occupied the West Bank. Both continued to do so until Israel assumed control of both areas on 10 June 1967 following the conclusion of the Six Day War.

America led the drafting of Security Council Resolution 242 - passed on 22 November 1967 - which did not require Israel to return to the armistice lines existing since 1949 - but only to secure and recognized boundaries.

The conditional acceptance by Israel of President Bush’s Roadmap issued on 30 April 2003 led to Israel proposing a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza - but only after it had received the following written assurances from President Bush on 14 April 2004:
•The United States would do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan.

•The United States reiterated its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, 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.

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

•The United States was strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state.

•It seemed clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement would need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

•As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it was unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations would be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution had reached the same conclusion. It was realistic to expect that any final status agreement would only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

The importance of these American commitments to Israel was stressed in a speech given in the Knesset by Prime Minister Sharon on 22 April 2004 when he stated:
“The political support we received during my visit to the United States is an unprecedented accomplishment for Israel. Since the establishment of the State, we have not received such vast and staunch political support, as was expressed in the President’s letter.”

President Bush’s letter of commitment to Israel was subsequently approved by the US Senate and House of Representatives on 23 June and 24 June 2004.

On 11 April 2005 President Bush again confirmed these American commitments to Prime Minister Sharon in Crawford - Texas.

At the Annapolis Conference convened on 27 November 2007, Israel made its future negotiating stance clear when Israel’s then Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - said in the presence of President Bush:
” The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

For President Obama to unilaterally seek to impose a settlement contrary to these American commitments extending over 90 years would be a complete abnegation of America’s credibility in the international arena. America would be exposed as a nation whose commitments are not worth the paper they are written on. America’s proud record of standing by and honoring the commitments it makes would be shattered forever.

Israel’s enemies are unceasing in their determination to end the Jewish State’s existence. President Obama is not going to oblige them and become Israel’s embalmer by breaching any of America’s solemn commitments made to the Jewish people.

Palestine and Paranoia - Jordan, Jerusalem and Jitters

[Published April 2010]

King Abdullah’s recent interview in the Wall Street Journal indicates the extent of His Majesty’s concern at the continuing failure to achieve the slightest breakthrough in creating a new Arab state between Jordan, Israel and Egypt following 17 years of failed international diplomacy to bring such a new state into existence.

The King is clearly worried that other solutions will need to be looked at if:
•the lives of the West Bank Arab population are to be transformed,

•there is to be any resolution on the future status of Jerusalem and

•the refugee status of those former Arab residents of Palestine now living in Syria and Lebanon is ended.

King Abdullah understands that any such solutions must involve Jordan and that Jordan cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. He is not at all happy with facing the challenges that will throw the spotlight on Jordan and the role it will have to play if the current status quo is to be changed

Jordan has allowed Israel to shoulder the sole responsibility for changing the status quo of the West Bank since ceding any claims to the West Bank in 1988 - and has happily sat back and let Israel bear the international odium for failing to do so - although :
1.Jordan comprises 77% of the former territory of Palestine and together with Israel constitute the two successor States to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine

2.Jordan unified and incorporated the West Bank into the state boundaries of Jordan between 1948-1967 with the acquiescence and consent of the West Bank Arab population and granted Jordanian citizenship to its residents

3.Jordan refused to negotiate with Israel to return to the status quo existing at 6 June 1967 after the conclusion of the Six Day War when not one Jew lived in the West Bank.

4.The overwhelming majority of Jordan’s residents were born in - or are descendants of - Arabs originating from that part of former Palestine west of the Jordan River that is today called Israel and the West Bank.

King Abdullah’s concerns are particularly frank and very revealing as indicated by his following comments during the above interview:
“the status quo is not acceptable; what will happen is that we will continue to go around in circles until the conflict erupts, and there will be suffering by peoples because there will be a war.”
Jordan surely now has a responsibility to prevent any such war or suffering occurring and must embark on a diplomatic path to avoid these outcomes .

The way to achieve this is for Jordan to negotiate and divide the future sovereignty of the West Bank with Israel thereby freeing the majority of the existing Arab population from continuing Israeli control whilst making them citizens of Jordan once again .
“Jerusalem specifically engages Jordan because we are the custodians of the Muslim and Christian holy places and this is a flash point that goes beyond Jordanian-Israeli relations.”

As such custodians Jordan has an obligation to negotiate with Israel on Jordan’s role in the future of those holy places - and can do so under the framework of the signed existing 1993 peace treaty concluded between Israel and Jordan which acknowledges Jordan’s role in this regard.

King Abdullah however seeks to instill a climate of fear into the West Bank’s existing Arab population and to totally mislead and misrepresent what Jordan’s return to the West Bank will entail for the refugees in Syria and Lebanon when he states:
“In America specifically, you hear, well, why doesn’t Jordan take the Palestinians into our country? … That would create tremendous instability. So if the Israelis want to push the Palestinians into Jordan, I don’t see how that makes sense and how the international community will accept that because that would be an exodus of 1.8 million Palestinians from their homes into Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.”

Negotiations between Jordan and Israel on the future status of the West Bank need not involve one Arab having to pack up and leave his current residence or business in the West Bank, He will stay where he currently is with Jordanian citizenship in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Where the West Bank Arab population falls within the expanded borders of Greater Israel - those Arabs affected can be offered Israeli citizenship or compensation to move to the other side of the new international boundary between Israel and Jordan if that is their wish. A similar option will be afforded to those West Bank Jews finding themselves within the boundaries of Greater Jordan.

Those refugees living in Syria and Lebanon can be offered the alternatives of absorption and citizenship in Syria or Lebanon or offered financial compensation to move and settle within the expanded borders of Greater Jordan and being granted Jordanian citizenship. Their miserable existence as stateless refugees will be ended after 62 years of interminable hardship and suffering.

These arrangements may not end the Arab-Jewish conflict but will certainly bring about a major change in the existing status quo and hopefully avert the consequences of war and suffering predicted by King Abdullah.

The King can continue to sit on the sidelines and criticize and deprecate. He will be committing a gross error of judgment if he does so.

It could ultimately see an attempt to overthrow his ruling Hashemite regime in Jordan - as was attempted in 1970 by the PLO but ultimately failed. The King is already jittery at the thought of such a possibility.

International financial aid and international military assistance should be offered as inducements to Jordan to assist its re-entry into the West Bank once again - coupled with a mutual defense pact between Israel and Jordan to prevent any attempted takeover of Jordan by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Brotherhood or Islamic Jihad.

Jordan must be ruing the day in 1967 when it decided to join in the Six Day War in defiance of Israel’s request not to do so - and lost the then Jew-free West Bank and East Jerusalem as a result.

Now is the time for Jordan to make amends for that decision. The sooner it does so - the sooner the world might be able to focus and concentrate its efforts on resolving far more serious issues involving human and political rights in places such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, Thailand, Sri Lanka and North Korea.

Palestine - The Lord High Executioner Comes To Jerusalem

[Published March 2010]

In the best traditions of Ko Ko - the Lord High Executioner in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set Jerusalem alight as his entourage trumpeted the words -
“Behold the Secretary-General
A personage of noble rank and title-
A dignified and potent officer,
Whose functions are particularly vital!
Defer, defer,
To the Lord High Executioner!”

The Secretary General had flown in from Moscow - where the Quartet comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations had called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations - declaring:
“These negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its neighbours,”

It is hard to believe the Secretary -General - and indeed the Quartet - could spout such nonsense bearing in mind that the strict time frames laid down to achieve precisely this outcome in the 1993 Oslo Agreement , the 2003 Road Map and at Annapolis in 2007 had all come and gone with the same goal - the inappropriately named “two -state solution“ - never having got off the ground.

The Secretary General continues to demean whatever authority and credibility the United Nations might think it has - and the Quartet also does likewise - by seeking to pursue a solution that has no possible chance of coming to fruition.

A dignified officer the Secretary-General Mr Ban may be - but a decidedly impotent one for sure.

Our modern version of the Lord High Executioner had an additional message to convey as he made the short trip from Jerusalem to Ramallah to meet Mahmoud Abbas - the modern counterpart of Pooh Bah in the Mikado .

Abbas - like Pooh Bah - claims to be self-important or high-ranking yet possesses limited authority while taking impressive titles.

Abbas clings to the title of the President of the Palestinian Authority although his use by date expired 15 months ago. His Parliament and Prime Minister are self appointed whilst the elected Parliament and elected Prime Minister languishes powerless in Gaza.

Abbas has been politically neutered by Hamas and cannot guarantee the Palestinian Authority to honour any agreement with Israel.

Abbas still calls himself the Chairman of the PLO and wears two hats - one that calls for Israel’s destruction and the other that supposedly is anxious to negotiate with Israel and recognize Israel as the Jewish State.

Yet this is the man whom the Secretary-General comes to visit - taking the opportunity to repeat the following canard that has been part of the United Nations flawed thinking for the last 43 years:
“Let us be clear. All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped.”
Let me be absolutely clear - and let the Secretary-General use the vast resources at his power to prove me wrong. There are no binding authorities in international law that support the Secretary-General’s statement.

There are legal opinions that support the Secretary-General’s view that are based on the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention.

The most notable of these is the “top secret” legal opinion given in September 1967 by Theodor Meron - then legal counsel to the Israeli Foreign Ministry - only retrieved by a historian Gershom Gorenberg when researching material to include in his book - The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 - which was published in 2007.

As Gorenberg tells the story:
” As for that legal opinion: It was written by Foreign Ministry legal counsel Theodor Meron, a Holocaust survivor with a doctorate in international law from Harvard. Meron was the government’s top expert in the field. A decade later, he accepted an academic appointment in the United States and became a world-renowned authority on international law. Today he is a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

His status gives particular weight to the words he wrote 41 years ago: “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Meron’s opinion - and others that support him - certainly must be considered but they are not the be all and end all of legal opinions on the right of the Jews to build settlements in the West Bank.

There are other legal opinions - by people of similar status to Meron - that take the contrary view who determine that the settlements are legal based on the provisions of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and Article 80 of the 1945 United Nations Charter - two crucial pieces of international law that were not even considered by Meron or as far as I am aware by any of those supporting Meron‘s opinion.

These opinions include:

•The International Court of Justice in an advisory legal opinion on the effect of article 80 on 21 June 1971.

•Professor Paul Riebenfeld - an international lawyer who spent his life researching the Mandate Archives in Geneva and was present at the debates that took place at the San Francisco Conference in 1945 that led to the inclusion of Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

•Judge El Araby - a member of the International Court of Justice.

•Eugene Rostow former Dean of Yale Law School and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the Johnson Administration and Director of Disarmament and and Arms Control in the Reagan Administration.

The Secretary General would do well to heed the following words sung by Ko Ko:
“Wafted by a favouring gale
As one sometimes is in trances,
To a height that few can scale,
Save by long and weary dances”

Few can indeed ascend to the dizzying heights to which the Secretary-General of the United Nations can lay claim.

However that position carries with it the responsibility to be very careful about what he says. Being scrupulously honest and unbiased - especially when it comes to the provisions of the United Nations Charter that he is sworn to uphold - is essential.

Wafted by a gale of Jew hatred that seeks the elimination of the Jewish State promised by the Mandate for Palestine and the United Nations Charter - has blinded the Secretary General to his obligations. If he wants to play the role of the Lord High Executioner and have people defer to and respect his pronouncements - the Secretary General needs to be sure of his facts before chopping the head off his intended victim.

Hillary Huffs,Arab League Puffs,Abbas Blows The House Down

[Published March 2010]

It may seem discourteous to Jews and Arabs to refer to their current spat in the same breath as the tale of the three little pigs.

There is rare unanimity between Jews and Arabs when it comes to pigs - both religions forbid the eating of pig or any product derived from pig.

However this common bond has been trashed into pig swill when it comes to Jews and Arabs living within cooee of each other on a postage sized piece of land comprising 5% of historic Palestine with an area approximating the size of Delaware.

The squeals and snorts emanating from the Arab side at the thought of Israel building 1600 housing units in East Jerusalem to accommodate the burgeoning population growth among religious Jewish families averaging 5-6 children continues with ever piercing ferocity. It is almost certain to erupt in a frenzy of demonstrations and stone throwing.

You would think the Arabs were being led to the slaughter and were being pushed out of their existing residences to make way for the Jews. Certainly there have been Court ordered evictions of Arab squatters on Jewish owned properties in East Jerusalem but the 1600 planned units were not slated to be built on the site of those disputed properties.

Israel certainly did commit a huge PR gaffe in announcing its intention to build those 1600 housing units in East Jerusalem for a group of religious Jews who do not even support the existence of Israel as a Jewish State.

To make that announcement was extremely naïve and provocative at precisely the time that the Vice President of the United States - Joseph Biden - was visiting Jerusalem - with an entourage that had booked out 200 hotel rooms - to launch the beginning of proximity negotiations to supposedly advance the resolution of competing Arab and Jewish claims to sovereignty in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Arab League - believing it could now renege on giving its blessing to those negotiations commencing - - then promptly committed its own PR gaffe in withdrawing its consent to those proximity talks being held - - just two days after agreeing those talks should go ahead .

The American Vice President however appeared to accept Israel’s apology unreservedly.

There the matter should have ended and the proximity talks begun but for the intervention of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who roundly condemned Israel for spoiling what would have been seen as a triumph of American diplomacy in bringing a recalcitrant Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating pen.

Clinton’s verbal onslaught on Israel encouraged Abbas to believe he could now get America to demand Israel halt all building activity in East Jerusalem before the proximity talks were begun.

America - albeit reluctantly - had accepted Israel’s position almost four months ago that there would be no such halt as a condition to the resumption of any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas now mistakenly sniffed a new opportunity to wheedle out of the proximity negotiations with an enraged Hillary Clinton’s backing.

The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator - Saeb Erekat - certainly conveyed that impression when making the following statement:
“The PA “welcomes the statements from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Quartet condemning the Israeli government decision to build settlements in the eastern sector of Jerusalem…

We want these positions to become binding and for Israel to scrap its settlement decisions, especially its plan to build 1600 homes in Jerusalem…

We want a total halt… we want to stop this Israeli policy that is useless and destructive for the peace process, especially for the US administration’s honest efforts to relaunch real and serious negotiations.”

Hillary Clinton’s huff however had more to do with something ingrained in Arab culture - the loss of face and the need to regain face as soon as possible.

Abbas already had found himself suffering a distinct loss of face when he agreed to commence proximity negotiations - and only after the Arab League provided him with the face saving cover to do so.

His political opponents - Hamas - and other radical Palestinian Arab groups had ridiculed his decision and denigrated his authority when commenting on Abbas’s decision:
“This decision will have serious repercussions for the Palestinians and their cause,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip. “This decision will help Israel in ending the state of isolation it has been in because of its war crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Another Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, condemned the decision to resume the negotiations as a “crime” against the Palestinians.
“We consider these negotiations, which will take place in the wake of Israeli escalation against our people and holy sites, a national crime,” he said. “Anyone who negotiates with the occupation is a criminal against our people.”

Abbas was feeling decidedly threatened by his own brethren until Israel’s intemperate announcement provided the Arab League and himself with what he thought was an opportunity for another opportunity to miss an opportunity and regain the loss of face he had sustained by bending to American pressure to agree to proximity negotiations in the first place.

Vice President Biden’s immediate acceptance of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apology however left the Arab League and Abbas high and dry yet again and subject to even further loss of face if Abbas limply crawled back to the negotiating table in the face of Israel’s provocative announcement to build those 1600 units in East Jerusalem. Hamas would have had a real field day in denouncing Abbas.

Hillary’s attempt to play piggy in the middle by rapping Israel severely over the knuckles thereby restoring Abbas’s loss of face among his own power base, saving his bacon and enabling him to once again agree to conducting proximity negotiations - had backfired.

Abbas misinterpreted Hillary’s huff as a signal that America would now pressure Israel to cease all building activity in East Jerusalem before he was required to commence any proximity negotiations.

If Abbas believes that America will insist Israel do that - then pigs might really fly.

Reuters Reprehensible Report Requires Retraction

[Published March 2010]

Reuters - considered the world’s top news source - has allowed its credibility to be seriously damaged with the publication of its “Timeline: Path to new Israel-Palestinian talks” on 7 March 2010.

Its cursory - almost totally dismissive - omission of Jewish claims to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine - are made blatantly clear at the beginning of its Timeline which states:
“Here are key dates on the path to this point:
1897 - European Jews in Zionist movement declare goal of creating a Jewish state in Ottoman Turkish-ruled Palestine.

1917 - British forces take Palestine from collapsing Ottoman empire in World War One. British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declares support for Jewish “national home” there.

1945 - Revelation of Nazi Holocaust and new Jewish migration to Palestine bolster Western support for creating Jewish state.

1948 - Britain quits and great powers recognize Israel as U.N. partition plan dissolves in war that leaves Jewish state on 78 percent of land and half of Palestine’s Arabs as refugees.”

1967 - In what it calls pre-emptive strikes on Arab states, Israeli forces seize rest of British-mandate Palestine, taking West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and Gaza Strip from Egypt. Israel captures Golan Heights from Syria.

1988 - After a year of Intifada (uprising), exiled PLO leader Yasser Arafat, widely acknowledged as speaking for Palestinians, renounces “terrorism” and accepts Israel’s right to exist.

Omitted from this hastily concocted version are the following crucial - and critical - dates:
1920: Treaty of Sevres entrusts the administration of Palestine to a Mandatory for putting into effect the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

1922: Britain appointed Mandatory for Palestine by unanimous vote of the League of Nations. 78% of Mandate Palestine excluded from inclusion in the future Jewish National Home in area known as Transjordan which is exclusively reserved for Arab homeland.

1937: Peel Commission recommends division of Palestine into two States - one Jewish, one Arab . Arabs reject recommendation.

1939: Britain severely limits Jewish emigration to Palestine in breach of Mandate for duration of World War Two.

1945: League of Nations wound up and United Nations created. Article 80 inserted in United Nations Charter preserves Jewish rights to establish Jewish National Home in Palestine.

1946: Britain grants Transjordan independence in 78% of Mandate Palestine.

1947: United Nations votes to divide remaining 22% of Mandate Palestine into two states - one Jewish, one Arab. Arabs reject recommendation. Fighting breaks out between Jews and Arabs.

1948: Reuters omits to mention that

•six Arab armies invaded Palestine
•Egypt occupied Gaza and Transordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem
•The Palestinian National Conference decides to place the West Bank under the sovereignty of Transjordan and
•Erroneously states that Israel ended up with 78% - not 17% - of the land

1949: Transjordan changes its name to Jordan

1950: The West Bank and Jordan are unified into one country by the Jordanian Parliament comprising equal number of West Bank and Jordanian representatives

1967: Reuters omits to mention Security Council Resolution 242 requiring Israel to only withdraw to secure and recognized boundaries.

1988: Jordan cedes any claims to the West Bank

This perversion of the history of Palestine is either induced by ignorance or a deliberate suppression of critical information that goes to the heart of the debate currently raging at the moment.

Inclusion of the above dates in Reuters Timeline would substantiate Jewish claims to be entitled to sovereignty in all or part of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to build settlements there based on the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter - rights grounded in international law.

Their absence from the Timeline needs to be explained or justified by Reuters if it is to regain any credibility in its reporting in the Middle East.

This Timeline has now been distributed throughout Reuters extensive network and can be viewed on its American, British and Indian websites and has been published and reproduced by other web sites and news services.

It has also been distributed on Reuters AlertNet site which proudly claims:
“AlertNet attracts upwards of ten million users a year, has a network of 400 contributing humanitarian organizations and its weekly email digest is received by more than 26,000 readers

It was started in 1997 by Reuters Foundation - an educational and humanitarian trust - to place Reuters’ core skills of speed, accuracy and freedom from bias at the service of the humanitarian community.”

Any claim to Reuters possessing these core skills is exposed as a sham and continues the gross media bias that continues to bury Jewish claims in international law to the West Bank and Gaza and to settle there to reconstitute the Jewish National Home.

Reuters continues the practice of the United Nations which similarly omitted any mention of many of these critical dates when seeking an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 2004 on the legality of the construction of the security barrier on and over the 1967 armistice lines.

Judge Elaraby - gave this warning to his fellow 14 judges sitting on that case:
“,,, the international legal status of the Palestinian Territory merits more comprehensive treatment”.

Judge Elaraby identified the need for such a review saying:
“A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on one or more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently sidestepped.”

Judge Elaraby continued:
“The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date, is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain”

The bias of the United Nations against Israel in omitting to refer to the Mandate when approaching the International Court is par for the course.

Reuters omission to similarly inform its millions of readers now places it on a similar pedestal following the publication of its grossly inaccurate and misleading Timeline.

The best thing Reuters can do is immediately withdraw its Timeline. I would hope it has the integrity and honesty to do so with an appropriate - and prominent - apology for its publication in the first place.

Palestine - Israeli Bombshell Bounces Off Mediterranean Parliamentarians

[Published March 2010]

A bombshell was lobbed into an International Meeting in support of Israeli- Palestinian Peace organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Union [PAM] and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People [CEIRPP] of the United Nations in Malta on 12 and 13 February 2010.

Yet the explosion passed over the heads of those present without scarcely a ripple.

The meeting was attended by a number of Member delegations of PAM, parliamentarians from other national and regional assemblies, government officials, experts including Israeli and Palestinians, UN Member States and observers, intergovernmental and civil society organisations.

In all there were 35 countries, 13 Inter-Governmental Organizations, 14 Civil Society Organizations and Academic Institutions, totaling around 200 participants.

Israel Parliamentarians were not officially represented at the Conference. The two members of the Israeli Knesset were reported by the Malta Times to have pulled out of the conference after they objected to comments by Palestinian officials about the situation in Gaza and the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The bombshell nevertheless was delivered by one of the two Israelis present at the conference - Mr Alon Liel.

Described in the official transcript of the proceedings as “Lecturer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem” Mr Liel told the Conference (as recorded in the transcript):
“he was not representing the Israeli Government, adding that, unfortunately, there was no member of the Israeli Government at the present Meeting. He said that many in Israel felt that the peace process had crashed to the extent that the two-State solution looked impossible at the moment, adding, “You need an unbelievable earthquake, 8 on the Richter scale, on the political map of Israel, to bridge the gap between Israel and the Palestinians”. The talks between Palestinians and Mr. Olmert were over. Even if the Americans managed to arrange proximity talks and enter a hotel and sit in one room, with the existing political map in Israel, “the gap is unbridgeable”. He acknowledged that with a broken heart, but did not see the possibility of a Palestinian State being created in the foreseeable future. And he was not even speaking of Jerusalem or refugees, but about borders only, he said.“

Mr Liel’s modest qualifications as recorded in the transcript belied his extensive diplomatic experience and public service which includes:
•Nov 2000 - April 2001 Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

•1997-1999 Foreign Affairs advisor to Ehud Barak, Chairman of the Labor Party

•1992-94 Israeli Ambassador to South Africa (Non-resident Ambassador to Mozambique and Zimbabwe)

•1990-1992 Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States (based in Atlanta, Georgia)

•1988-1989 Foreign Ministry Spokesman; Member of Israeli delegation to the United Nations General Assembly; Member of the Israeli negotiating team at the Taba talks with Egypt

•President of the Israel-Syria Peace Society

Only two people present at the Conference seemed to have absorbed the import of Mr Liel’s statement.

One - a representative from Tunis said he had been optimistic at the start of the Meeting, but he was very pessimistic now after having listened to Mr. Liel.

The other was the Palestine Authority’s chief negotiator - Saeb Erekat who was reported as saying:
“what Mr. Liel had done was “transparent and honest”. He had reflected the facts as they were. The Coalition Government in Israel today was not up to the two-State solution with the 1967 borders. The Palestinian leadership had reached the same conclusion. But that did not mean the Palestinians should give up.“

Mr Erekat’s last comment seemed rather hollow considering the Palestinian Authority’s steadfast refusal to resume negotiations with Israel for the last three months following Israel‘s ten months freeze on residential construction in the West Bank announced last November.

What else can now be possibly done to achieve the “two-state option” - the creation of a new Arab state between Israel , Jordan and Egypt - after 16 years of failed diplomacy and negotiations in attempting to make even the slightest breakthrough?

Mr Liel had previously warned in an interview in Asharq Alawsat on 18 March 2008:
“…we think that peace with the Palestinians today is unrealistic. There is a split between Hamas and Fatah, and there is a coup in Gaza, which has exacerbated the situation. There are burning issues the present government cannot resolve now, such as the issues of Jerusalem, the refugees, and the borders. These are very difficult issues.”

What was true in 2008 is even more valid in 2010. Nothing has changed in those two years.

Further negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will assuredly prove to be a complete waste of time and effort.

The Palestinian Authority’s use by date and credentials to negotiate the future sovereignty of the West Bank have well and truly expired.

Yet those present at the Malta Conference continued to repeat the need for the Jewish-Arab conflict to be resolved by the creation of yet another Arab State in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Like ostriches with their heads in the sand - they failed to listen to what Mr Liel and Mr Erekat were telling them.

Perhaps those present at the conference should heed what Mr Liel had to say almost ten years ago on 1 November 2000 when taking up the position of Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in the aftermath of the failed Camp David negotiations brokered by President Clinton:
“The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has suffered a terrible blow, just as Israel and the Palestinians were on the very brink of realizing their dreams of peace and reconciliation. At the last kilometer of the marathon, as we were nearing the finishing line, Arafat turned around and ran back in the opposite direction. This retrogressive and illogical action goes against the tide of history, it is contrary to the wishes of the international community, and it is surely detrimental to the interests of his own people. Arafat started running in the opposite direction, and he has not stopped for a moment. In doing so, he has harmed the peace process, while undermining his own standing and personal reputation. Arafat has chosen to renounce his status as a statesman, preferring instead to revert to his old role as the leader of a campaign of incitement, violence and terrorism. Arafat has a golden opportunity to lead his people to a new and promising future. Instead, he has taken a dangerous step backwards towards the abyss.”

Mr Liel’s words could be just as appropriately applied today to Mahmoud Abbas’s rejection of the peace offer made by Israel’s former Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - in 2008.

Whilst the international community continues talking - and not listening to those with intimate knowledge and understanding of the hopelessness inherent in bringing the two-state option to fruition - both Jews and Arabs are set to endure a lot more suffering and trauma before the reality sinks in and a new course is charted to try and bring some closure to the conflict.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palestine - Mediterranean Union Misses Making Its Mark

[Published February 2010]

An International Meeting in support of Israeli- Palestinian Peace was organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Union and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People [CEIRPP] of the United Nations in Malta on 12 and 13 February 2010.

The Union now includes all 27 member states of the European Union, along with 16 partners across the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The meeting turned out to be the usual talkfest in flogging a dead horse - the creation of a 22nd Arab State between Jordan, Israel and Egypt - also known as “the two-state solution“. This solution has been unsuccessfully pursued for the last 16 years and there is no possible chance that such a resolution will be achieved at any time in the future.

The two-state solution could have been availed of in 1937,1947, between 1948-1967, in 2000/2001 and 2008 but was rejected on each occasion by the Arabs. It will continue to be rejected by the Arabs who are not prepared to tolerate Israel gaining sovereignty in any part of the West Bank.

Despite the hopelessness of ever reaching the two-state solution - those present in Malta still concluded in their final communique :
“The Organizers appreciated that the participants had stated their firm commitment to ending Israeli occupation which started on 4 June 1967 in order to achieve a permanent two-State solution in which Israel and Palestine would live side by side in peace and security within mutually recognized borders. …

The Organizers support the firm stance by the international community not to recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to occupied Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

These statements go to the heart of explaining why the two-state solution can never be achieved for the following reasons:
•Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as a consequence of the Six Day War in 1967 is conveniently forgotten

•The use of the term “borders” is clearly wrong. There were in 1967 - and still are in 2010 - only armistice lines - a legacy of the Arab League‘s refusal to recognize Israel and settle the final boundaries between Israel, Jordan and Egypt following the conclusion of hostilities in 1948.

•No recognition is given to Security Council resolution 242 which does not require Israel to withdraw from the entire West Bank but only to withdraw to secure and recognized boundaries

•The statement ignores the Palestinan Authority’s continuing refusal to surrender its claim to even one square metre of the West Bank to Israel.

•America has recognized that a change to the 1967 armistice lines is necessary given the changed circumstances on the ground where 500000 Jews now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The notion that these Jews can be forcibly evicted from their homes is racist and offensive.

•No account has been taken of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine which provides that the West Bank and East Jerusalem were to form part of the area within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted and that such right has been preserved by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

No doubt the tone and language of the final communique was inevitable given the involvement of the CEIRPP, whose participation ensured that no attention would be paid to Arab intransigence and lost opportunities over 62 years - which has been largely responsible for any progress in finalizing the two-state solution.

What was particularly interesting was the frequent reference to the importance, observance and respect for the rule of international law in resolving the conflict to achieve the two-state solution. Such a reference appears on six separate occasions in the communique.

Yet the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter didn’t rate a mention in Malta.

Strangely enough these critical documents were also omitted from inclusion by the United Nations Secretary General in the brief submitted to the World Court when seeking the advisory opinion of the Court on the legality of the construction of Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank.

One wonders whether any of these august bodies will eventually take the time to read the Mandate and article 80 and fully understand what was determined by the League of Nations in 1922 following the Treaty of Sevres in 1920.

This is not ancient history but has been kept alive and is relevant today by virtue of Article 80.

Whilst the United Nations and its member States flagrantly breach the terms of the UN Charter pursuing a course of conduct that is completely devoid of compliance with and acknowledgment of international law, any hope of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Jews and Arabs relating to the territory once called “Palestine” will be impossible.

The reference by the Malta Meeting to the West Bank as “occupied Palestinian land” rather than “territory disputed between Jew and Arabs” further indicates an Arab bias that needs to be eradicated if the Mediterranean Union wishes to play any future role in resolving the conflict.

A hint of things to come was apparent in the following terms of the final communique:
“They [the participants] expressed their hope that the ten-month freeze of settlement expansion declared by the Israeli Government would be comprehensive, extended to East Jerusalem and retained indefinitely. “

Israel will no doubt be subjected to intense pressure to comply with this demand - irrespective of whether the Palestinian Authority resumes negotiations within the ten months time frame or not.

Rather than exploring new ideas to end the conflict, the Malta Meeting trotted out the old and familiar phrases that have formed the vocabulary of Middle East diplomacy for decades.

In doing do the Mediterranean Union has shown itself unable to break free from the failures of the past and embrace new and innovative ideas - such as the return of Jordan to the West Bank - which might offer some hope to resolving what President Obama has described as “an intractable problem”.

Abdullah Bristles As Palestine Fizzles

Jordan’s King Abdullah is clearly feeling the pressure as the spotlight increasingly focuses on the role Jordan will have to play in resolving the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank between Jews and Arabs.

This became very clear in the interview given by the King to Fareed Zakaria, in Davos Switzerland during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on 29 January.

The two-state solution - designed to create a new Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt in the West Bank and Gaza - has comprehensively failed despite the most intensive diplomatic efforts to achieve such an outcome during the last 17 years

The root cause of failure has been the Arab League’s refusal to budge from its 43 years old negotiating position that demands:
1.the ceding by Israel of sovereignty in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza

2.Israel accepting millions of Arabs into the Jewish State

Offers by Israel to cede sovereignty in excess of 90% of the West Bank - which houses 95% of the Arab population living there - were rejected by the Arabs in 2001 and 2008.

Israel is not prepared to cede any further territory in the West Bank for security reasons. This area also houses the majority of the 500000 Jewish population who currently live in the West Bank.

Israel’s evacuation of Gaza in 2005 has proved disastrous with Hamas seizing control from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 - effectively dividing the proposed new State into two separately controlled fiefdoms.

The failure of President Obama to get Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations for the last twelve months - which assuredly won’t go anywhere even if they were to be resumed - has sent power brokers scurrying to find alternatives to the two-state solution.

King Abdullah in his above interview expressed his own fears when stating:
“Actually, this is probably the first time where I am somewhat pessimistic”

His gloomy mood was further emphasised when he said:
“…sooner or later there is an invisible line in the sand that we will cross that will be clear to everybody, whether or not the viability of a two-state solution is there. And I hope we haven’t crossed that yet but when –or God forbid –we do cross that line, then I think we doom the Middle East and the region to many decades of instability.”

With the deepest respect to His Majesty - that invisible line was crossed when the Palestinian Authority rejected the offer made by Israel in the negotiations conducted in 2008.

Israel’s chief negotiator in 2008 - Udi Dekel - spelt out the reasons for that failure when he told Ha’Aretz on 25 January in a revealing interview:
"The Palestinian approach was in principle the demand of 100 percent of their rights from 1967. The practical aspect interested them less. They are not willing to discuss any further compromise," he said. "We tried to build scenarios, some of them were imaginary, about specific compromises, but we found the Palestinians taking an approach of ‘all or nothing’."

Israel’s former National Security Advisor - Giora Eiland - has recently called for Jordan to replace the Palestinian Authority as Israel’s negotiating partner.

This has clearly upset King Abdullah who said in the above interview:
“There are pushes by certain elements of the Israeli government to say Jordan takes a role in the West Bank. That is never going to work and we have to be very clear that Jordan absolutely does not want to have anything to do with the West Bank.

All we will be doing is replacing Israeli military with Jordanian military. The Palestinians do not want that. They want to have their own statehood.

And again, what type of West Bank are we talking about? We are talking about a viable entity. What I think these people are offering to try and pull Jordan in is really nothing that would create enough statehood or make the Palestinians feel that they have something that’s called their home. So Jordan – I’m on the record; we’ve said this so many times –we will not have any role in the West Bank.”

King Abdullah is in a state of denial and needs to reverse his negative stance for the following reasons:
1.Jordan was the last Arab occupier of the West Bank between 1948-1967 when it could have - but failed - to give the Palestinians their own statehood in 100% of that territory after the Jews living there had been driven out following Jordan’s conquest of the West Bank in the 1948 War of Independence. Jordan’s return to the West Bank would substantially restore the status quo existing in 1967.

2.Jordan extended its sovereignty, and consequently all applicable domestic law, to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in April 1950. Reinstatement - where necessary - could be easily achieved.

3.West Bank Arabs were Jordanian nationals between 1950 - 1988 - until their nationality was withdrawn by Jordan. Jordanian nationality could now be as easily reinstated by Jordanian legislative decree.

4.Jordan ceded its claims to sovereignty in the West Bank in 1988 in favour of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) - which itself had previously ceded any claims to “exercise regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” under Article 24 of the 1964 Charter of the PLO. These semantic name games can again be easily reversed.

5.Jordan - together with Israel - comprise the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine possessing sovereignty between them in 94% of former Palestine. Only 6% of Palestine - the West Bank and Gaza - remains unallocated between them.

6.Jordan’s return to the West Bank can immediately free its Arab residents from Israeli occupation and control, give them Jordanian nationality, a home and a State -Jordan.

7.Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel provides mechanisms for peacefully settling outstanding issues such as water, refugees and Jerusalem.

King Abdullah needs to heed the following advice given by him in his interview with Fareed Zakaria:
“Don’t take no for an answer. There are members of my society that, when I say ‘Let’s do something’, there’s a – I wish I could translate it into English–but it’s ‘Tsk’. The Arabs will know what I mean when I say ‘Let’s move this sector of society’ –‘Tsk, that’s never going to happen. We can’t find the money’. And I think that has been the major challenge that I’ve had over the past 10 years. It is not to be intimidated by the ‘Tsk’ that I get from society."

King Abdullah must show real leadership at this time of crisis and ready himself for negotiations with Israel - for nothing else has a chance of succeeding. This will avert the doom and instability predicted by the King following the collapse of the two-state solution.

Now is certainly not the time for King Abdullah to say “Tsk”. Please think again Your Majesty.

Palestine - Jordan And Egypt In State Of Denial

[Published January 2010]

Jordan and Egypt need to replace the Palestinian Authority as the Arab partner to negotiate with Israel on the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem according to a paper entitled “Regional Alternatives To The Two State Solution” written by Israel’s former National Security Advisor - Giora Eiland

Eiland’s paper contains two suggested alternatives to the “two-state solution”. He states that there are other creative alternatives that will present themselves once Jordan and Egypt replace the Palestinian Authority as Israel’s negotiating partner.

Eiland presented his paper to a special Ambassadors’ Forum briefing for members of the diplomatic community representing around 30 countries in Israel and at a conference hosted by the University’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies last week.

In an introduction to Eiland’s paper BESA’s Director - Professor Efraim Inbar - commented:
“It is clearly a study that challenges conventional wisdom. The great difficulty of changing thought patterns that have become entrenched within dominant paradigms, such as the widespread notion of the need to establish a Palestinian state, is well known.”

The time to change those entrenched thought patterns has now emerged for the following reasons:
1.Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have gone nowhere in the last 16 years

2.The Palestinian Authority now refuses to further negotiate with Israel until Israel ceases all building activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - which Israel is not prepared to do

3.The Palestinian Authority shows no preparedness to change the negotiating position which its alter ego - the PLO - has adopted for the last 42 years - namely a sovereign and fully independent state in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza with its capital situated in Jerusalem and no recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

4.The Palestinian Authority has lost its status as sole spokesman for the Palestinian Arabs since 2007 and is now locked in a bitter power struggle with Fatah for total control of the Palestinian Arabs and the government of any future state

5.Gaza and the West Bank have been split into separate fiefdoms governed respectively by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and no unification of the two areas under one government appears likely to occur.

Eiland asserts that Israel made a grave mistake in trying to resolve the Palestinian problem on its own without the involvement of Egypt and Jordan. The position has now been reached in his opinion where no allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem will ever occur without the direct involvement of these two nation states.

There are very strong and supportive views for this position:

•Egypt was the last Arab State to occupy Gaza between 1948-1967 and Jordan the last Arab State to occupy east Jerusalem and the West Bank during the same period of 19 years.

•During those 19 years no Jew resided in these areas and the “two state solution” could have been implemented at any time by Jordan and Egypt in that period if the Arabs had wanted to do so.

•The loss of those areas to Israel in 1967 and the fact that 500000 Jews now live there makes it impossible to return to the 1967 armistice lines that then separated the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem from Israel.

•Since 1967 both Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel - Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 - that have been maintained and respected by all signatories.

•Jordan - with Israel - are the two successor States to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and currently exercise sovereignty in 94% of Mandatory Palestine. They are obviously the best negotiating partners - with Egypt - to resolve Arab and Jewish claims to sovereignty in the remaining 6% - the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The Egyptian response to Eiland’s proposal has been less than lukewarm.

A representative of the Egyptian embassy in Israel said that the Palestinian problem should not be turned into an Egyptian problem.

This view is hard to accept since Egypt partially created the problem by doing nothing between 1948-1967 in Gaza when it had the opportunity to do so.

Jordan severed its ties with - and any claims to sovereignty of - the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1988 to the PLO. The failure of the PLO and its successor - the Palestinian Authority - to achieve Arab sovereignty in the last 22 years only highlights the need for Jordan to resume negotiations with Israel to try and achieve a better outcome.

This is especially so since the signing of Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel in 1994 already deals with such contentious issues as refugees, water and Jerusalem. The only issue still to be resolved is the new border to be drawn between these two sovereign states.

Whilst there has been no official response from Jordan to Eiland’s suggestion, it is interesting to note that a Jordanian prosecutor agreed on 21 January to hear a lawsuit against two Israeli lawmakers - Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Arye Eldad - after they called for turning Jordan into a Palestinian state.

Arye Eldad - made the following response to such news:
“Apparently in Jordan, telling the truth is against the law. This is a ridiculous attempt to impose Jordanian law on Israel - which allows freedom of speech. No lawsuit can change the fact that Jordan is Palestinian and that the Hashemites are ruling over the Palestinian majority in a dictatorship.”

Eldad said he would continue his efforts to persuade American congressmen and leaders all over the world that Jordan must be the Palestinian state.
“There need to be two states for two peoples,” Eldad said. “The Palestinians have a state, Jordan, and I will continue my campaign to make sure the world realizes this. The next time the world sees a stalemate in the diplomatic process, they must know that this is as a realistic option.”

Eiland’s proposal for negotiations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt indeed remains the only possible way to finally resolve sovereignty in the West Bank ,Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Perhaps Eiland should replicate the advice given by US Embassy spokesman in Israel - Keith Hoyer - when commenting on American Special Envoy George Mitchell’s shuttle diplomacy:
“He’s just trying to persuade, and sometimes you persuade by restating your position, again and again and again, until you get an agreement”

As time goes by and the “two state solution” sinks slowly to the bottom of the harbour - Eiland’s message - if repeated often and loud enough - will be eventually heard by the international community and the Arab League looking for a lifeline to avoid them all going down with the ship.

Palestine - Abbas Attempts The Turkey Trot

[Published January 2010]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Turkey on 6 January and attempted to dance his own version of the Turkey Trot - 100 years after its first introduction to the ballroom floor.

The Turkey Trot was a dance made popular in the early 1900s. The basic step consisted of four hopping steps sideways with the feet well apart, first on one leg, then the other with a characteristic rise on the ball of the foot, followed by a drop upon the heel. The dance was embellished with scissor-like flicks of the feet and fast trotting actions with abrupt stops.

Abbas seems to have now adopted some similar fancy footwork in his approach to resuming negotiations with Israel

He reportedly told Turkey’s assembled diplomats that he was ready to resume talks with Israel if Israel recognized the legitimacy of the Annapolis peace process initiated in November 2007 - which he said was a road map that required Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian and Arab territory and from East Jerusalem.

His statement to the Turkish diplomats marks a remarkable sideways step by Abbas who had previously refused to resume negotiations with Israel unless Israel froze all building activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and also recognized the 1967 armistice lines as the border of a future Palestinian State.

Abbas however seems to have been dancing on one leg in front of the Turkish diplomats because the Annapolis process
•Does not bind the current Israeli Government
•Does not require Israeli withdrawal from “occupied Palestinian and Arab territory and from East Jerusalem”
- as Abbas led the Turkish ambassadors to believe for the following reasons:
1.The then Israeli Government in 2007 never ratified Annapolis - nor did the Knesset - Israel’s sovereign Parliament.
2.The one document that binds Israel is its ratification of the 2003 Road Map formulated by President Bush and adopted unanimously by the Quartet - America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations subject to 14 reservations made by Israel and communicated in writing to President Bush.
3.Israel’s then Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - made it quite clear to Abbas and the world leaders assembled at Annapolis on 27 November 2007 that the negotiations under Annapolis were to be “based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter from President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

Letters from American Presidents to Israeli Prime Ministers are important documents and none was more important than the one President Bush wrote to Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 to procure Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza.

That letter made it clear - amongst many other commitments - that the Arabs could not expect to regain 100% of the West Bank and Gaza in any negotiations with Israel.

The Arabs however refused to play ball and insisted on 100% - not the 93% offered by Israel plus an additional area from Israel’s sovereign territory to make up the remaining 7% that would be retained in the West Bank by Israel.

Instead of pressuring the Arabs to accept this proposal the Quartet - America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - sought to pressure Israel into more concessions that would have seen the West Bank ethnically cleansed of Jews who had returned to live in their biblical heartland since 1967 - after having been kicked out of there in 1948 by six invading Arab armies.

In going for Israel’s jugular the Quartet cut its own collective wrists and - with assured predictably - failed to get an agreed outcome by the Annapolis expiry date - 1 January 2009.

Abbas’s crocodile tears and slick foot movements are now the order of the day. Like the Annapolis Conference they are a total waste of time.

Perhaps Abbas should now reflect on the only game in town - the Roadmap - and Israel’s 14 reservations to it - and reflect why six years of negotiations have so far come to nought.

Abbas’s cursory dismissal of these 14 reservations by Israel has been one of the major obstacles to achieving any negotiated settlement of the claims by Jews and Arabs to sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza

The first of those reservations immediately indicates why the Roadmap cannot succeed whilst it remains unimplemented:
“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. There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror. The security plans to be implemented are the Tenet and Zinni plans.”

There is nothing unambiguous in Israel’s demands - dismantle Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrrorist groups, end weapons smuggling and weapons production.

If Abbas seriously wants to return to the Annapolis process then he needs to affirm the parameters on which any negotiations will be conducted and acknowledge the centrality of the letter from President Bush to then Prime Minister of Israel - Ariel Sharon - on 14 April 2004 and accept Israel’s reservations to the Road Map.

The sooner Abbas acknowledges and accepts these two crucial documents as integral to any negotiations, the sooner he might find a partner to do the Turkey Trot with him.

Both partners will still however have to really engage in some scissor like flicks of the feet - if any progress is ever going to be made in achieving the creation of a brand new sovereign Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Fatah and Hamas - Reconciliation Or Divorce Of The Year?

[Published January 2010]

The world waits with bated breath as the marriage counsellor - Egypt - frantically tries to bring Fatah and Hamas to the mosque to renew their vows once again after a particularly bruising and public slanging match that has seen the West Bank and Gaza split into separate Hamas and Fatah fiefdoms whilst supporters of both factions have been murdered, imprisoned, tortured, discriminated against and had their legs broken over the past two years.

The situation in the past year alone is best summarized by the Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies in its December 2009 Report titled “Bastion of Immunity, Mirage of Reform” :
“Under the cover of the war in Gaza, Hamas embarked on several repressive measures targeting Fatah members, figures who oppose Hamas’ rule, and suspected collaborators with Israel, and it is suspected that dozens of people were killed, either shot to death or as a result of torture. Hamas personnel also broke the legs and arms of dozens of other people to compel them to stay in their homes. Also, some government employees in Gaza were replaced with Hamas loyalists.

In the West Bank, under the authority of Fatah, hundreds of Hamas sympathizers remain in detention; it is thought that at least two of the detainees have died as a result of torture. The West Bank authorities fired civil servants and teachers suspected of Hamas sympathies, while the salaries of thousands of employees of the Palestinian authority inside the Gaza Strip were suspended. Licensing for associations and companies in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip is now preceded by a security check,and those organizations that have affiliations with the “wrong” party are refused Licenses.”

News reports are very confusing concerning the progress reached by these two antagonists in becoming reconciled once again with each other.

Sri Lanka’s Daily News reports that Hamas head Khaled Meshall visited Saudi Arabia on 2nd January and told Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Affairs Minister:
“We made great steps forward reconciliation,”

though he made clear that Hamas still has some points to settle regarding the Egyptian reconciliation proposal which was made last October and unconditionally signed by Fatah in Cairo but not by Hamas since then.

On the other hand Xinhua News Agency reported that Mohamed Dahlan a member of the Fatah Central Committee ruled out any forthcoming reconciliation stating:
"Hamas movement is the only party that obstructs reaching an inter-Palestinian reconciliation deal… it is also because that Hamas stance is controlled by regional powers."

He was no doubt referring to Hamas’s financial backers, arms suppliers and exporters of terrorism - Syria and Iran.

Yet any delay in reconciling was denied by Hamas spokesman - Ahmed Yousef - who said that reports that Hamas does not want to sign the Egyptian reconciliation protocol are:
“… untrue and rootless. Hamas leaders are ready to go to Cairo once they are invited to sign the pact. Hamas movement doesn’t want to make any change in the text of the Egyptian drafted pact of reconciliation. However, there are some notes that need to be clarified and amended through a session of dialogue, then Hamas will sign the reconciliation agreement"

No doubt any such side understandings will be not be made public making any publicly revealed document not worth the paper it is written on.

However Egypt may not be issuing an invite to Hamas to visit Cairo very soon following protests over an international aid convoy to Gaza, led by George Galloway, which turned violent on 6 January at the border between Egypt and Gaza killing one Egyptian soldier and leaving dozens injured.

Egypt has also come under fire recently from Hamas for stepping up efforts along the Egyptian border to stop tunnel smugglers from moving supplies into Gaza. Egypt’s construction of an underground barrier to cut off the tunnels has drawn criticism from a number of neighbouring Arab states, who call the barrier a “wall of death.”

Egypt maintains that it is protecting its borders, and that aid to Gaza should be sent via internationally recognized channels.

Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is certain to have further exacerbated relations with Hamas by telling Kuwait Times on 6 January:
"They (Egypt) have a right to protect their borders," he said, hinting the tunnels were being "misused".

The international community is certainly anxious to see the reconciliation take place as soon as possible. European Union Foreign Affairs supremo Catherine Ashton told the Strasbourg Parliament on 15 December 2009:
“Today, however, the Palestinians are divided both politically and physically. Credible negotiations require a strong and united Palestinian partner. Israel stands to gain, not lose from a strong Palestinian partner.”

I doubt that Israel will see it this way. Any idea of negotiating on the future status of the West Bank with a team containing any Hamas members would be a certain “no-no”. Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist organization and would be extremely reluctant to engage in negotiations with a joint Fatah-Hamas team.

Israel’s national interest must surely be best served by keeping Hamas from gaining any position of power, control or influence in the West Bank.

Hamas has also made it clear that it will never negotiate with Israel. On 21 June 2008 Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan slammed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and told Xinhua News Agency :
"We are not thinking of trying the ridiculous negotiations that the others have tried but failed to remove a single checkpoint in West Bank….

adding that
"the Zionist enemy must depart and recognize the Palestinian people’s rights."

Article 13 of the Hamas Covenant 1988 also makes this refusal to negotiate with Israel abundantly clear in stating:
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours."

All in all the prospects of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah look very bleak indeed - especially when one looks at the provisions of Article 27 of the Hamas Covenant which make it clear that Hamas is opposed to a secular State of Palestine as proposed by Fatah - the major organization that controls the Palestine Liberation Organization:
"Secularism completely contradicts religious ideology. Attitudes, conduct and decisions stem from ideologies. That is why, with all our appreciation for the Palestinian Liberation Organization - and what it can develop into - and without belittling its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are unable to exchange the present or future Islamic Palestine with the secular idea. The Islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion and whoever takes his religion lightly is a loser. The day the Palestinian Liberation Organization adopts Islam as its way of life, we will become its soldiers, and fuel for its fire that will burn the enemies.”

Therein lies the basic problem forever preventing any lasting reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah - unless Fatah abandons the secular State and adopts the formation of an Islamic State as its goal.

For Hamas to also give up - and surrender - its present territorial power over Gaza to Fatah seems a most improbable scenario.

If however Hamas and Fatah were - for whatever reason - to eventually reach a reconciliation of convenience they would certainly not be sleeping in the same bedroom. Neither could possibly trust the other after what has occurred between them over the past two years.