Egypt and Jordan – Lifelines to Gaza and West Bank
By: Guest Authors
By: David Singer
The growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is slowly leading to the realization that removal of Hamas and its 20000 terrorist army from there has become a fundamental priority in permanently ending the suffering of Gaza’s civilian population.
This understanding has been complemented by the acknowledgment that the Palestinian Authority has been reduced to the status of a political eunuch following
1. its failure to achieve any breakthrough in 15 years of fruitless negotiations with Israel and
2. the embarrassing loss of its political and administrative control over Gaza to Hamas in the bitter confrontation played out between them in 2006 and 2007.
These views are reflected in articles appearing in the Washington Post on 5 January 2009 â€“”The Three State Option” â€“ written by John Bolton former US ambassador to the United Nations and in the Jerusalem Post on 6 January 2009 â€“ “The Solution to the ‘Palestinian Problem’” â€“ written by respected international analyst Daniel Pipes .
Messrs Bolton and Pipes have both advocated a Jordanian â€“ Egyptian rescue package as the solution to end the chaos and mayhem in Gaza and avoid the threatened crisis that will inevitably occur in the West Bank as President Bush’s Roadmap is finally determined to have run out of roads to traverse.
Both Bolton and Pipes recommend that Jordan return to control the West Bank and Egypt do likewise in Gaza -replicating the position that had existed from 1948 until 1967 when both territories were lost to Israel in the Six Days War in June 1967.
Despite continuing rosy and optimistic assessments claiming an imminent breakthrough in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the parties still remain poles apart in their negotiating positions.
The Palestinian Authority continues to insist on the following two demands being accepted by Israel
1. The removal of all 500000 Jews now living in the West Bank and
2. The return to Israel of millions of Arabs (and their descendants) made homeless by the 1948 Arab-Israel War.
Israel has clearly indicated its outright rejection of these two demands and the last twelve months of intensive and exhaustive negotiations have failed to make any real dent in the negotiating positions of either side.
The Arab Peace initiative 2002 has now been touted as the saviour of these negotiations but it fails to offer any answers to resolving these two deal-breaking demands. Indeed it virtually imposes their acceptance as essential to the success of the Initiative. It is presented by the Arab League on a “take it all or leave it basis” and accordingly will be left at the starting gate by Israel.
In essence then the so called solution to the “Palestinian problem” â€“ the creation of a new Arab State in the West Bank and Gaza â€“ has become insoluble because the Arab conditions for its creation are unattainable in any negotiating process.
The international community has posited many solutions for the last 90 years to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs to the territory once called “Palestine” – all of which have been refused by the Arabs resulting in continued and ongoing death, injury, trauma, suffering and misery for both Jews and Arabs.
This situation has not been helped by the failure of the 21 Arab League member states â€“ with the notable exception of Jordan – to resettle and offer permanent citizenship to those Arabs who fled the fighting in 1948 between the fledgling state of Israel and six invading Arab armies. It has also not been helped by the refusal of these member states – other than Egypt and Jordan – to recognise Israel, to enter into peace treaties with Israel and to grant each other full diplomatic representation.
Therefore the re-entry of Jordan and Egypt into the West Bank and Gaza respectively remains the most realistic option available to manage and contain – if not finally resolve – the current conflict.
Successful conclusion of negotiations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt (possibly under United Nations Chairmanship) could
1. Offer the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza – presently stateless – Jordanian or Egyptian citizenship
2. End the current humanitarian crisis in both Gaza and the West Bank
3. Allow every Arab or Jewish resident of the West Bank to continue living in his current home
4. End any actual â€“ or perceived – Israeli control or restrictions over Gazan and West Bank Arabs
5. Finally resolve sovereignty in the 6% of Palestine that still remains unallocated between Jews and Arabs since the Mandate for Palestine was promulgated by the League of Nations in 1922.
6. Set up an International Tribunal to compensate Arabs affected by the 1948 War and Jews who were forced to leave Arab countries in the wake of its aftermath
Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been given enough time to achieve some positive advance towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. They have both proved themselves unequal to the task.
The call by Bolton and Pipes for their replacement by Jordan and Egypt as Israel’s negotiating partners needs to be urgently embraced â€“ and demanded – by the international community.
Refusal by Israel, Egypt and Jordan to sit down and attempt to negotiate the future of the West Bank and Gaza – with the backing of promised financial aid, military and diplomatic assistance from the international community – will herald an end to any peaceful efforts to settle the conflict between Jews and Arabs.
The international community cannot let this happen due to the objection of one or more of these parties.
It should make clear that to do so will result in all further military and financial assistance to the refusing parties being withheld. It should also make clear that it will turn its attention away from resolving “the Palestinian problem” to resolving other conflicts around the world where its prestige, financial clout and influence will be more appreciated and likely to yield positive results.
President elect Obama will be searching for a way out of the current impasse caused by the failure of the Roadmap negotiations and the current invasion of Gaza by Israel. No doubt he will be made fully aware of the views of John Bolton and Daniel Pipes. Hopefully he sees the merits of their proposals and adopts them.
This way forward could also be President Obama’s lifeline â€“ not only that of the Gazan and West Bank Arabs.