Palestine: Reunification Trumps Confederation
By: David Singer
Reunification of the Arab populated areas of the West Bank with Jordan – as existed between 1948-1967 – has again emerged as the most viable solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict.
This follows revelations in the London- based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that Palestinian Authority (PA) President and PLO Chairman – Mahmoud Abbas – has asked senior Fatah leaders to prepare for the formation of a confederation between a Palestinian State and Jordan.
Abbas has reportedly instructed his advisors to provide him with detailed strategic reports about the best way to conduct negotiations with Jordan to revive the confederation plan – first discussed in 1988 under very different political circumstances to those now existing.
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, has told the Jerusalem Post (“Abbas mulls forming confederation with Jordan” – December 13) that the confederation idea would be discussed with Jordan – but only after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef has also told the Jerusalem Post that any talk about the confederation plan now would hinder efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines “because Israel is hoping that a Palestinian state would be part of Jordan.”
The creation of such a state will not occur.
Jordan appears to have been positioning itself to replace the Palestinian Authority as Israel’s negotiating partner - as indicated by the following recent events:
1. King Abdullah’s uncle – Prince Hassan – stated in October that the West Bank was part of Jordan.
2. PLO heavyweight Farouk Kaddumi followed by pointing to the advantages that could follow Jordan’s return to the West Bank.
3. The Jordanian Education Department produced a map in a text book not showing the West Bank as a separate territorial entity.
4. Prince Hassan gave a public address to the Board of Deputies of British Jews at a gala black tie affair in London seven days before Abbas took to the podium at the United Nations on 29 November.
Jordan’s return to centre stage has been further strengthened by Abbas’s decision to proceed with unilateral action to have the “State of Palestine” admitted as a non-observer State at the United Nations with its claim to sovereignty in 100% of the West Bank being recognised at the same time.
Abbas has already paid dearly for his precipitate action in abandoning negotiations with Israel and going it alone to the United Nations – unleashing the following consequences:
1. Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal defiantly opposing a Palestinian State being created anywhere but on the ashes of Israel.
2. Four hundred million dollars in taxation revenues collected by Israel for the Palestinian Authority being withheld over the next four months to meet unpaid water and electricity bills owed by the PA to Israeli utility companies.
3. Israel announcing plans to revive building another 3000 housing units – kept on hold since 2004 to placate and induce the PA to continue negotiations with Israel
4. Abbas being forced to go cap in hand to Arab countries begging to be helped out to the tune of One hundred million dollars a month to stay afloat
Many of those 138 Nations that voted to admit the State of Palestine as a non-observer state must now be shaking their heads in amazement at the latest announcement by Abbas of a possible confederation of that state with Jordan once statehood has been achieved.
It makes a mockery of their decision to grant non-observer status to a state whose chief proponent has now admitted still does not exist.
Even worse Abbas is now flagging that this State – when it achieves its independence – will immediately be prepared to surrender that independence and enter into a confederation with Jordan.
The two-state solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict proposed under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap is rapidly turning out to be nothing but a chimera
Abbas’s confederation proposal is unlikely to resonate with Jordan – which is well aware of the provision in the PLO Charter proclaiming that Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan is “an indivisible territorial unit”. Confederation would give the PLO a foothold and possible opportunity to repeat its 1970 attempt to overthrow the Hashemite monarchy in pursuit of this stated objective.
The King would also be cognisant of the following resolution supporting reunification of the West Bank and Jordan passed at the 8th meeting of the Palestinian National Council in February- March 1971:
“Jordan is linked to Palestine by a national relationship and a national unity forged by history and culture from the earliest times. The creation of one political entity in Transjordan and another in Palestine would have no basis either in legality or as to the elements universally accepted as fundamental to a political entity. .. In raising the slogan of the liberation of Palestine and presenting the problem of the Palestine revolution, it was not the intention of the Palestine revolution to separate the east of the River from the West, nor did it believe the struggle of the Palestinian people can be separated from the struggle of the masses in Jordan…”
This resolution – unlike the November 29 General Assembly resolution – still has relevance and meaning 41 years later for both Jordan and the PLO.
King Abdullah could do worse than reaffirm his agreement with this resolution and rebuff any attempts at confederation – making it clear at the same time that he is prepared to enter into negotiations with Israel to reunify the West Bank with Jordan and restore the status quo so far as is now possible since Jordan occupied the West Bank 45 years ago.
The Hashemites by their astute and diplomatic rule in Jordan for the last 93 years have preserved 78% of former Palestine as an exclusive Arab State in an area originally proposed by the League of Nations for the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home.
The peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel in 1994 has survived intact despite, many occasions when Jordan may have been tempted to end it.This peace treaty already contains negotiating parameters for dealing with such thorny issues in the West Bank as water, refugees and Jerusalem.
Hopefully Israel and Jordan could successfully conclude negotiations where no one – Jew or Arab – would have to leave his present home or business in the West Bank.
Abbas’s provocation of both Israel and Hamas in approaching the United Nations has clearly backfired and his proposal to confederate with Jordan can only have further embarrassed and disaffected many countries that supported him.
In the upcoming diplomatic manoeuvring that is now being undertaken regarding the future of the West Bank there is no doubt that reunification with Jordan certainly trumps confederation.