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%.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Palestine - Kerry's Confidentiality Curtain Comes Crashing Down

[Published 4 August 2013]

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurance of total confidentiality in the conduct of negotiations between Israel and the PLO has come crashing down on his head within 48 hours of making his claim.

With the two chief negotiators flanking him - Kerry solemnly proclaimed:
“The parties also agreed that the two sides will keep the content of the negotiations confidential. The only announcement you will hear about meetings is the one that I just made. And I will be the only one by agreement authorised to comment publicly on the talks in consultation obviously with the parties. That means that no-one should consider any reports, articles or other or even rumours reliable unless they come directly from me and I guarantee you they won’t.”

What Kerry did not promise was their joint agreement to bar unauthorised private comments by any of them on the conduct and progress of the talks.

It certainly was going to prove very difficult to ban any such private discussions at all - let alone swear to silence those persons to whom unauthorised statements might be made by any of the players during the projected nine months of negotiations.

It didn’t take too long for Kerry to become the first victim of this accidental or deliberate oversight - as Y Net news was to report the next day:
“WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry estimated in conversations with Congressmen that Israel will retain 85% of the settlement blocs in a future peace deal, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

According to the report, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators who recently met in Washington to discuss timetables for negotiations, also discussed the fate of West Bank settlements and the possibility of land swaps.

Immediately after Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat left Washington, Kerry phoned some of his friends at the House of Representatives to report about the talks.

In separate phone calls Kerry assured the congressmen, most of whom were pro-Israel, that Israel’s interests are being safeguarded.

According to one congressman, Kerry said he believed 85% of Israel’s biggest settlement blocs will remain under Israeli sovereignty. He added that the US administration had safeguarded Israel’s interests.

The congressman, who described himself a true friend of Israel, asked Kerry whether the Palestinians will ever recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to which the secretary of state reportedly replied “that’s one of my goals. A homeland for the Jewish people.”

The congressman got the impression that all core issues had been raised during the Washington meetings, including the question when to discuss the status of Jerusalem. According to him, Kerry was optimistic and said “We had a good start.”

No denial of the accuracy of this report or the conversations alleged to have been held by Kerry with the unnamed Congressmen has been issued by Kerry to my knowledge.

The report - if accurate - is particularly significant since it heralds for the first time America’s agreement to honour two of three fundamental commitments made by President George Bush in his letter to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004.
” The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state….”

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

The Bush letter was the crucial understanding that underwrote Israel’s decision to unilaterally disengage entirely from Gaza and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank.

Bush’s letter made absolutely clear America’s appreciation of what Israel’s disengagement proposal involved:
“The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents.”

The risks envisaged in 2004 could not have foreseen the disastrous consequences for Israel and for the Palestinian Arabs in 2007 - when Gaza and the West Bank were divided into two separate and warring fiefdoms - still controlled in 2013 by two unelected and inimical foes heading two organisations - the PLO and Hamas - that both have the same objective - the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.

What is particularly intriguing is whether Secretary of State Kerry’s reported remarks to the Congressmen amount to cherry picking of parts of the Bush letter or whether America intends to honour a third commitment to Israel contained in that letter:
“It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.”

These three conditions have been vigorously rejected by the PLO in previous negotiations.

In the tug of war that the current ongoing negotiations will involve - America’s position on these three commitments made to Israel will become crucial.

If America stands by its above commitments - then the PLO will have to make some very painful concessions if the negotiations are to be successfully concluded.

I guess the leaking of another private conversation will let us know whether the the PLO has caved in this time around.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Palestine - Kerry Commits Harakiri

[Published 29 July 2013]

US Secretary of State John Kerry has fallen on his sword in attempting to seek a renewal of negotiations designed to culminate in the creation of a new Arab State between Jordan and Israel for the first time ever in recorded history.

He has apparently learned nothing from the failed attempts of his predecessors - James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Each was confident in his or her ability to persuade and cajole Israel and the PLO to do a deal - but all failed for one simple reason - both Israel and the PLO hold the following positions from which neither is prepared to resile.

1. Israel has demanded the PLO recognise Israel as the Jewish State and that any new Arab state - created as a result of negotiations - be demilitarised.

These demands are non-negotiable - since the PLO Charter - first promulgated in 1964 - does not accept the right of the Jewish people to have their own state existing alongside 22 Arab Islamic States and calls for armed struggle to eliminate the Jewish State.

2. The PLO demands that Israel withdraw from every square meter of the West Bank and East Jerusalem - the ancient biblical heartland of the Jewish people legally sanctioned for Jewish settlement under the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter - and that its 600000 Jewish residents be removed from their homes and businesses.

Land swaps - first suggested in 2008 - are unlikely to succeed.

3. The PLO demand that millions of Arabs be given the right to emigrate to Israel - threatening an end to the Jewish majority by demographic default rather than military conquest - is not one that can be accepted by Israel or foregone by the PLO.
Reconciling these irreconcilable demands has proved to be a diplomatic graveyard for Kerry’s predecessors - and so it will be for Kerry.

Kerry must be feeling decidedly uncomfortable after his five hour dinner date with PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman last week - to read journalist Stuart Littlemore referring to:
“... the obnoxious quisling Abbas. As everyone knows, this ‘grey suit’ is living a privileged life on borrowed time. His term as Palestinian President officially expired in January 2009, but the western-backed parasite has clung like dried excrement to power.”

Abbas has no constitutional imprimatur to sign anything that could remotely be seen as constituting a binding peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Littlemore was equally as scathing of PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat - who no doubt has also been dining with Kerry in Washington this past week:
“In the Palestinian corner we have one of President Abbas’s closest aides, Saeb Erekat. He’s their chief negotiator and has occupied that vitally important position for 20 years, during which he has achieved… well, what? He must be the most unsuccessful negotiator on the planet. Why is he still there? We know perfectly well why. He’s a loser and can be relied on to fail.”

The Palestinian Information Centre published many responses from prominent Palestinian Arabs that provide clear warnings to Kerry and Israel that decisions taken by the PLO will be unenforceable and not worth the paper they are written on.

Professor of Political Science Abdul Sattar Qassem condemned the decision to return to negotiations and considered it treason. He also considered the resumption of negotiations a deal to sell Palestine, demanding the Palestinian people to dismiss these “traitorous negotiators”

Member of the central committee of Fatah Abbas Zaki stated that pressures were exerted by the Arabs on Abbas to push him to accept negotiating with Israel.

Dr. Ahmed Bahar, First Deputy Head of the Legislative Council, said in a statement that a return to negotiations according to the Israeli conditions was political suicide, and direct liquidation of Palestinian rights and national constants.

Hassan Khreisha, Second Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, also considered the resumption of negotiations “political suicide”, and revealed that the leadership in Ramallah accepted Israeli bribes to return to negotiations.

Hovering over any resumed negotiations - if indeed they ever get off the ground - is the spectre of Hamas - which will never accept anything other than the total elimination of the Jewish State.

Kerry would surely have been alerted to the growing frustration within Jordan that led to a highly unusual and rare demonstration in central Amman on 24 July calling for a Jordanian “Republic,” that would combine the “East and the West Bank.”

The location for the demonstration - Jamal Abdel Nasser Square (Interior Ministry Circle) - was the site for the largest ever protest held in Amman on March 24, 2011.

When Kerry twigs that Jordan - part of creating the problem that has plagued the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1948 - must now be part of any solution in those disputed territories in 2013 - then perhaps he might be able to succeed where former Secretaries of State have so miserably failed over the last 20 years.

Continuing to kow tow and bend to the demands of people like Abbas and Erekat has been and will continue to be a recipe for unmitigated disaster and failure.

Kerry is still apparently on a learning curve - one that unfortunately will lead to a diminution in his reputation for concluding successful negotiations and result in the continuing humiliation of the prestigious and influential office of Secretary of State.

“Know a person by the company he keeps” - is an adage that Kerry needs to embrace - and soon

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Palestine - European Union Can't Be Judge And Jury

[Published 22 July 2013]

The decision by the European Union (EU) to boycott Jewish organisations and institutions based in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will bring much joy to the Arab world’s on-going vicious hate campaign of denigration and demonization of the Jewish State.

The EU announcement heralds the end of any influence it has as a member of the Quartet - America, Russia, the United Nations and the EU - which itself can now no longer claim to act as an impartial negotiator seeking to bring about an end to the long running conflict between Jews and Arabs whilst the EU remains a member.

The EU cannot be surprised if Israel takes retaliatory action in response to its decision including any of the following:
1. Forbidding the transfer of EU funds to non-government organisations in Israel engaged in activities designed to advance the interests of the Israeli Arab population to the detriment of the Jewish majority.
2. Ending all co-operation with the EU in Area C of the West Bank by terminating existing development and infrastructure programs for the benefit of the Arab population and forbidding any such activities in the future.
3. Ordering the closure of the office of the Delegation of the EU to Israel.
A statement released by the EU Delegation on 16 July gave the following as one reason to justify the EU guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards:
“The guidelines are also in conformity with the EU’s longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law.”

The illegality of Israeli settlements has never been the subject of any binding authoritative legal decision to my knowledge by any court anywhere in the world.

At best the EU longstanding position is an opinion - and nothing else. It is counterbalanced by other opinions that take the view that Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is legal by virtue of the provisions of article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter.

In fact the courts of one of the EU member states - France - ruled that Israel did not violate international law by building a light rail line in eastern Jerusalem.

The ruling on March 22 by the Versailles Court of Appeals came in response to a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the France-Palestine Solaridite association against three French firms that participated in the construction of the light rail network. The plaintiffs claimed that the firms were responsible for human rights and international law violations.

In the 32-page ruling, the judges wrote that international treaties applied to Israel’s occupation of lands captured in 1967 and that those conventions - including the Hague Convention of 1907 - state that:
“the occupying power can and even must establish normal, public activity in the occupied territory.”

The EU position is certainly on very shaky ground.

This latest decision by the EU is the first time the EU has acted to give teeth to the political decision taken by the foreign ministers of the EU Member States at the EU Foreign Affairs Council of 10 December 2012 - which stated
“all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967”

The statement makes the EU intentions abundantly clear:
“The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support.”

In declaring that the EU does not recognise any claim by Israel to sovereignty in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - the EU has purported to pre-judge and dismiss Israel’s territorial claims to such areas in direct contravention of a joint statement issued by the Quartet on 10 April 2002:
“We reiterate that there is no military solution to the conflict and call on the parties to move towards a political resolution of their disputes based on UNSCR 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace — which formed the basis for the Madrid Conference of 1991. We reaffirm our support for the objective expressed by President Bush and spelled out in UNSCR 1397, of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side within secure and recognized borders”

The EU decision has acted to interfere in the determination of secure and recognized boundaries between Israel and Palestine by pre-empting that Israel has no claim to sovereignty in any part of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The EU is free to pursue any policy it wants - but also must accept the responsibility for the fall - out and criticism that will inevitably follow.

Does the EU now take the gracious step and bow out of the Quartet due to this conflict of interest - or does it have to be told to go packing by the other members of the Quartet?

The EU clearly cannot be both judge and jury and the remaining three members of the Quartet must make that very clear immediately - if they themselves wish to retain any credibility and influence in resolving a satisfactory outcome to the Jewish- Arab conflict.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jordan/West Bank Bi-National State Under Discussion

[Published 12 July 2013]

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been discussing the creation of a bi-national State in the West Bank and Jordan according to Professor Richard Falk - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.

Professor Falk is revered by the Palestinians whilst simultaneously being targeted by many others - including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay - for his controversial views on a range of matters including his suggestion that the Boston marathon bombing was a justifiable response to America’s interventionist US foreign policy and his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on his web site.

Writing in his blog “Citizen Pilgrimage” - Professor Falk disclosed discussions were taking place on a bi-national State during an exchange he and I were having - after he had written:
“I do agree with you about the ‘two state’ solution being a dead letter, and rather bad faith on all sides to pretend otherwise.

The question seems to me to be “What Next?” I think the Jordanian option is one answer, but not one I endorse. There is a need for this discussion, I agree to this extent.”

I then sent Professor Falk a recent article written by me arguing for the creation of a bi-national state in Jordan and the West Bank to embrace the aspirations of the Arab populations of both territories.

Professor Falk’s response on 8 July was unexpected and very encouraging:
“I have read your article with care, and it does provide a clear alternative to the two-state solution. It is also an approach that I know from my diplomatic contacts is being encouraged by Israeli negotiators in private meetings with the Palestinian Authority, and toward which the PA has not expressed outright rejection, but apparently a willingness to consider.”

Whilst expressing that he had several problems with this solution - which he enumerated - Professor Falk continued:
“Given the paucity of decent alternatives, if the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people genuinely accepted such a solution without it being imposed, it might be better than nothing, and the best among bad options.”

I addressed Professor Falk’s concerns to which he made the following response:
“Without attempting to respond point by point because there are some underlying gaps separating our positions that cannot be bridged by reasoning or compromise, I will merely express my reservations about advocating a resumption of negotiations”

Two of Professor Falk’s reservations were:
1. “I do not discern any support among Palestinians for the Jordan bi-national option that you are proposing"

This was a surprising statement in view of the fact that he had earlier indicated that Palestinian negotiators had expressed a willingness to consider such a proposal and were in fact negotiating with Israeli negotiators on such a proposal.
2. "I find no interest in this approach among Jordanians, either those in government or those in leadership roles among the various ethnicities living in the country.”

Professor Falk was apparently unaware that the following statement had been recently made by Jordan’s Minister of Culture - Barakat Awajan:
“Jordan and Palestine are joined by one culture and connected by blood, geography and sacred ties”
My attempt to respond to Professor Falk has been met by an impenetrable fire wall. Three efforts to contact him using three different computers have not been successful. That is unfortunate.

Professor Falk is obviously well placed to know what is going on among the Palestinians.

I would regard his comments on discussions for a bi-national State being conducted between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as well-sourced and authentic.

Jordanian knowledge and acquiescence in those negotiations can be gleaned from the above statement by Jordan’s Minister of Culture - which incidentally was made face to face to his Palestinian counterpart Anwar Abu Aisha in Amman.

US Secretary of State Kerry has not been travelling backwards and forwards between America and the Middle East merely to have his prestige and reputation trashed in a repeat of what has occurred to previous Secretaries of State over the past 20 years.

Creating a bi-national State in Jordan has always been the solution most likely to succeed in resolving the conflict between Jews and Arabs.

It is a solution which accords with the historic, geographic and demographic realities of the region and will result in the Jews ending up with sovereignty in about 20% of Mandate Palestine and the Arabs with sovereignty in about the remaining 80%.

There will be many Jews and Arabs not happy with an outcome that does not yield them 100% and the other nothing.

That however is not what a settlement is about. A good settlement is one which leaves both sides bemoaning what they have gained.

Professor Falk’s opinion that the bi-national state is the best of many bad options will surely resonate with the Palestinians. He has their confidence and their ear. I hope he is instrumental in helping them understand the wisdom of accepting such a resolution - if further conflict and suffering is to be avoided.

Maybe indeed we might at last just be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel after travelling for more than 95 years in the darkness - witnessing conflict after conflict with intolerable suffering for both Jews and Arabs.

After all - the right to breathe is the most fundamental human right we all have.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Palestine - The Bi-National State That Can Work

[Published 1 July 2013]

It is a pity that US Secretary for State John Kerry still believes that a two-state solution is possible after 20 years of failed negotiations between Israel and the PLO to achieve such a result under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.

While in Kuwait on 26 June - Kerry called on Israel and PLO to renew talks to advance such an outcome before it was too late:
“The time is getting near where we need to make some judgments. Last time I was here, I said it’s time for leaders to make some hard decisions. That stands. It is time. Why is it urgent? It’s urgent because time is the enemy of a peace process.”

This fatuous statement sounds very hollow when considering virtually the same pronouncement made in 2007 by Jordan’s King Abdullah:
“We have a finite amount of time. Physically, there may not be a chance for a future Palestinian state. This is why the urgency is now. Is the situation ideal? Far from it. But we have our backs against the wall and I believe that time is running out. Arabs and Muslims realised that this is our last chance. I think it is beginning to dawn on Israelis and Palestinians. They need to reach out to their brothers and sisters and say, ‘We need to take one step back because if this continues we may lose our final opportunity.’”

Rather than repeating these pointless prognostications of imminent doom - surely it would be better to examine alternatives to the failed two-state solution - which cannot possibly happen because of the entrenched positions of the protagonists to the 130 years old long running Jewish-Arab conflict.

One alternative proposed by the Arabs is the “bi-national State” - one in which the West Bank and Israel are merged into one territorial unit where all its citizens - Jews and Arabs - enjoy equal rights within the one State and rights of each national group are respected and protected.

Such a proposal was rejected this week by Israel’s President - Shimon Peres:
“Peace is a moral foundation of Judaism; it is an existential need of the Jewish state. A binational state contradicts the vision of Herzl; it endangers the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.”

President Peres’s rejection is understandable - given that it would signal the inevitable end of the Jewish National Home prescribed in 1922 by the Mandate for Palestine and preserved in 1945 by article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

Indeed it would mean a return to the pre-1948 days of violent confrontation between Arabs and Jews that had led to the Peel Commission in 1937 and the United Nations in 1947 recommending partition of Palestine into one Jewish State and one Arab state - proposals rejected on both occasions by the Arabs.

Anyone believing this proposal to restore the territorial status quo existing before 1948 can happen again in 2013 must have rocks in his head.

There is however a different bi-national state that could work - one in which the West Bank and Jordan are merged into one territorial unit where all its citizens - Jordanians and Palestinians - enjoy equal rights within one State and the national rights of each other are respected and protected.

Such arrangement actually existed successfully between 1948-1967 when the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Transjordan were unified into one territorial unit and renamed Jordan in 1950. During this period not one Jew lived there - all having been driven out by the invading Transjordanian army in 1948.

Now 500,000 Jews live in about 5% of this territory - and therefore a complete return to the status quo existing at 1967 is not possible. Negotiations will need to be undertaken to redraw the international border between Israel and the newly created bi-national state of Jordan.

Will these negotiations succeed?

Certainly the prospects of success are far greater than could ever have been expected for the two- state solution for the following reasons:
1. This territorial structure has already successfully operated between 1948-1967.

2. Both national groups - identifying themselves now as Jordanians and Palestinians - are Arab and overwhelmingly Moslem - sharing a common history and a common heritage.

3. This bi-national Arab state would comprise about 80% of the territorial area of the Mandate for Palestine - whilst its neighbour - Israel - would comprise about 20% of the Mandate.

4. Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994 containing within it agreed negotiating parameters to resolve outstanding contentious issues such as refugees, water and Jerusalem.

5. Evidence has already emerged of very close co-operation between the PLO and Jordan culminating in the signing of an agreement on 31 March 2013 recognizing Jordan’s custodianship over Jerusalem’s Holy Places.

6. Not one Jew or Arab would have to leave his current home or existing business.

7. 99% of the entire territory of the Mandate would have been allocated between Arabs and Jews with sovereignty in the remaining 1% - the Gaza district - to be finally determined.

Instead of trying to flog a dead horse to the winning post before the outbreak of another war - wouldn’t it be more prudent for US Secretary of State Kerry, King Abdullah of Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making judgements and hard decisions that could result in their backing a potential winner that could lead to an end to the Jewish-Arab conflict and their possibly sharing the Nobel Peace Prize?

Clinton's $500000 Speech Leaves One Speechless

[Published 21 June 2013]

The thought that anyone was prepared to contribute to paying former American President Bill Clinton $500,000 to deliver a 45 minute speech at the Peres Academic Centre during the festivities marking Israeli President Shimon Peres’s 90th birthday is truly staggering - especially after hearing what he had to say.

He regurgitated the now dead mantra that the only solution to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs was the “two state solution” - claiming:
“I just don’t think that in all these years a credible alternative has been presented that would preserve the essential character of the state of Israel — a Jewish but democratic state.”

That solution had first been formulated in 1922 by the Mandate for Palestine - then proposed in 1937 by the Peel Commission and in 1947 by the United Nations - only to be rejected by the Arabs on all three occasions.

That same solution was available between 1948-1967 when not one Jew lived in the West Bank or Gaza - and again that golden opportunity was not taken up by the Arabs.

Now in 2013 - Clinton was urging Israel to continue pursuing the same solution under the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2003 Bush Roadmap - although such a successful outcome had not been achieved in the last 20 years notwithstanding unprecedented diplomatic pressure being applied by the Quartet - the UN, Russia, America and the European Union.

In a speech singularly lacking in vision - Clinton praised Peres - stating:
“He is one of the great men of vision in the world ... Peres lives in the future, and is always thinking about tomorrow… If you don’t have a vision of where you want to wind up, bad things are going to happen sooner or later… You have a better chance if you are driven by a vision of peace and reconciliation.”

Guest of honor Peres - together with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sitting next to him - would surely have been miffed to think that visionary proposals suggested by each of them more than two decades ago - were not now considered credible alternatives by Clinton to fill the void left by the doomed two state solution.

On 11 December 1984 Netanyahu told the United Nations:
“Clearly, in Eastern and Western Palestine, there are only two peoples, the Arabs and the Jews. Just as clearly, there are only two states in that area, Jordan and Israel. The Arab State of Jordan, containing some three million Arabs, does not allow a single Jew to live there. It also contains 4/5 of the territory originally allocated by this body’s predecessor, the League of Nations, for the Jewish National Home. The other State, Israel, has a population of over four million, of which one sixth is Arab. It contains less than 1/5 of the territory originally allocated to the Jews under the Mandate…. It cannot be said, therefore, that the Arabs of Palestine are lacking a state of their own. The demand for a second Palestinian Arab State in Western Palestine, and a 22nd Arab State in the world, is merely the latest attempt to push Israel back into the hopelessly vulnerable armistice lines of 1949.”

Peres had expressed similar views to Netanyahu - telling the Jewish Telegraph on 19 April 1991:
”It is not obstinacy to regard the populations of Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza as having greater similarities than differences. The Jordan River is not deep enough to turn into a knife blade serving to cut one piece of territory into three slices. Most of Jordan’s population are Palestinians: the residents of the West Bank are Jordanian citizens and Jordan has distributed tens of thousands of passports to residents in the Gaza Strip. Jordan is therefore an existing State. It has an army. There is therefore no need to set up another State, another army.”

Clinton also spoke movingly of his relationship with assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin:
“the saddest day of my presidency was the day prime minister Rabin lost his life ... never a week goes by, even now, that I don’t think of him ...”
Clinton had apparently not thought about Rabin’s vision of peace and reconciliation expressed in the Knesset on 5 October 1995 - just a few weeks before his untimely death.

In presenting the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip for ratification - Rabin declared:
“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 State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.”

Alas - the visions of Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu were overtaken by the illusions of Oslo and the Roadmap - turning a backroom deal between Israel and the PLO - engineered by Peres - into a diplomatic nightmare and a political disaster.

Clinton still clings to the wreckage of an outdated and rejected proposal Peres helped revive - the creation of a second Arab state in Palestine for the first time ever in recorded history.

Clinton needs to articulate the earlier credible alternatives expressed by his dear friends and visionary heroes - Peres and Rabin - supported by their political opponent - Netayahu.

Jordan needs to become directly involved in turning their long standing visions into reality - if the Jewish-Arab conflict is to be peacefully resolved.

Indeed many Arab leaders including Yasser Arafat, King Abdullah 1, King Hussein and Crown Prince Hassan have expressed similar sentiments to Peres, Rabin and Netanyahu.

All the money in the world would not be enough to pay Clinton if he could turn their combined visions into a permanent agreement.

Palestine - Pantomime and Paradox

[Published 13 June 2013]

Any cynicism or disbelief that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu was seriously interested in trying to reach a two-state solution with the PLO was dispelled this week with the revelation that Netanyahu last year offered to free 50 long term Palestinian security prisoners sentenced before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 - in a vain bid to entice Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table.

Abbas’s three year refusal to resume negotiations without a prior commitment from Netanyahu to freeze all building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues to cause US Secretary of State John Kerry growing frustration - after investing considerable time and putting the prestige of his office on the line attempting to get Abbas to backdown.

Netanyahu has always made it clear that he will not commit to any such building freeze - for good reason.

A unilateral decison by Netanyahu to do exactly that for 10 months in November 2009 proved to be a farce. Abbas turned up shortly before the expiry date of the freeze and then had the temerity to request an extension.

Once bitten - twice shy.

In the bizarre bazaar that comprises these negotiations - refusing to agree to a building freeze as a condition for resuming talks apparently does not preclude Netanyahu offering an inducement to get Abbas back to the table by offering to release 50 long term prisoners with blood on their hands.

The Times of Israel report on the proposed prisoner release and the bargaining that surrounded the offer was particularly informative:
“Prior to the offer of 50 releases, Israel had offered to release smaller numbers of the pre-Oslo veterans. Israel’s initial proposal was to free only five or six prisoners, but that number went up over time. A later proposal was to free 25 prisoners in several phases, again conditioned on direct Netanyahu-Abbas meetings, with five more prisoners to go free after each such meeting

Abbas, for his part, did agree to meet with Netanyahu — but only if all pre-Oslo prisoners were released, and not as part of resumed peace talks. Rather, Abbas was willing to meet Netanyahu, after all the prisoners were freed, in order to make clear to Netanyahu, face-to-face, his terms for restarting the negotiations.”

Once again Abbas apparently overreached and ended up a loser yet again - as has occurred on so many occasions with the Palestinian Arab leadership since the Mandate for Palestine was established by the League of Nations in 1922.

After this latest rebuff one can be excused for being slightly bemused when learning that Netanyahu told his cabinet last Sunday that he and Secretary of State Kerry would:
“try to make progress to find the opening for negotiations with the Palestinians, with the goal of reaching an agreement”

However Netanyahu also made it clear that he would not deviate from the position he has consistently adopted since 2009:
“This agreement will be based on a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and on firm security arrangements based on the IDF (Israeli military)”

It must be crystal clear that the PLO can never agree to these conditions - which would undermine the PLO Charter claiming all of former Palestine to be an indivisible part of the Arab homeland.

So too - Israel can never accept the two-state solution propounded by the PLO - a Jew-free Arab state in all the territory lost by Jordan to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War - having its capital in Jerusalem - its current 500000 Jewish population having to abandon their homes - whilst millions of Palestinian Arabs are allowed to emigrate to Israel.

The two-state solution to be artificially created for the first time ever in history - as contemplated by the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap - is dead in the water.

Is the international community so blind in failing to recognise the impossibility of creating a second Arab state in former Palestine - in addition to Jordan - given the totally divergent and unyielding positions that both Israel and the PLO hold?

How many more years must these “negotiations” continue before the penny drops?

More winks, nods, understandings and attempted back room deals leading nowhere seem to be the order of the day - whilst a vicious and unrelenting effort to undermine and delegitimise Israel continues with ever increasing ferocity and intensity.

Airlines, hotels and restaurants will be the only sure winners as the “negotiators” and their entourages flit from capital to capital in the never ending quest to never achieve their very different conceptions of the “two state solution”.

Waiting in the wings is another ” two-state solution” - based on history, geography and demography - that offers hope for the resolution of the long running Jewish-Arab conflict. It involves allocating sovereignty in the West Bank between Israel and Jordan - the two successor states to the Mandate for Palestine.

Not one Arab or Jew need move from his existing home under this scenario.

Jordan must first replace the PLO as Israel’s negotiating partner before this solution can be addressed and progressed.

International diplomatic pressure coupled with financial, military and humanitarian aid to Jordan - rather than the PLO - would materially help in achieving this solution.

Meantime - the paradox of “negotiations with the PLO that are not negotiations” will continue going south until their inevitable denouement.

What cost to human suffering - both Jewish and Arab - will this pantomime continue to wreak until it finally becomes political history?