By Janet Tassel
Remember that Oslo Accords handshake between a gloomy Yitzak Rabin and the repulsive Yassir Arafat-- the archetypal Odd Couple—enfolded by the smarmy Bill Clinton? Daniel Pipes, calling that moment “embarrassing,” put paid to the fiasco a couple of years ago: “Palestinians and Israelis agree on little, but with a near universality they concur that the Oslo accords failed.” As he explained,
Rabin’s mistake was simple and profound: One cannot “make peace with one’s enemy,” as he imagined. Rather, one makes peace with one’s former enemy. Peace nearly always requires one side in a conflict to be defeated and thus give up one’s goals.
This was written in 2009. By now, it is probably safe to say, everyone whose eyes are open to facts rather than illusory hopes, must sadly agree. The peace process is dead, a stake through its miserable heart; likewise the Alice-in-Wonderland “two-state” solution. This despite Leon Panetta’s recent insulting command that Israel “get back to the damned table.”
So what is left? It looks as though we are back at a discussion of the original “two-state solution”: Is Jordan, in fact, the real Palestine?
Yes, according to a number of prominent politicians and writers. Here, for example, is the Dutch political leader Geert Wilders:
Jordan is Palestine. Changing its name to Palestine will end the conflict in the Middle East and provide the Palestinians with an alternate [sic] homeland….There has been an independent Palestinian state since 1946, and it is the kingdom of Jordan.
British columnist Melanie Phillips agrees, citing the well-known history of the 1921 Mandate, under which “Winston Churchill, for reasons of realpolitik, gave away three quarters of Palestine to the Hashemite dynasty to found (Trans)Jordan (leaving all the rest to be settled by the Jews)….”
Thus was formed Mandatory Palestine, and the story of Winston Churchill’s maneuver, instigated by a “suggestion” from T.E. Lawrence, is documented in Joan Peters’ magisterial From Time Immemorial.
She also cites the Balfour Declaration and Lord Balfour’s wistful hope that considering “all the ‘territories’ that had been given to the Arabs,’…the ‘small notch’ of Palestine east and west of the Jordan River, which was ‘being given’ to the Jewish people, would not be ‘grudged’ to them by Arab leaders.”
Moreover, as Melanie Phillips documents, “the Arabs themselves repeatedly” claimed that Jordan is indeed Palestine.” Here are but a few of her citations:
“Palestine and Transjordan are one.” King Abdullah…12 April 1948.
“We are the government of Palestine, the army of Palestine and the refugees of Palestine.” Prime Minister of Jordan, Hassa’ al-Majali, 23 August 1959.
“Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is one people and one land, with one history and one and the same fate.” Prince Hassan, brother of King Hussein…2 February 1970.
“The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.” King Hussein, 1980.
Another famous one is the response by one Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi to the 1937 Peel Commission, which suggested the partition of Palestine, “There is no such country [as Palestine]! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.” (Mitchell G. Bard, Myths and Facts.)
This argument, simmering for some ninety years, has lately been reheated and served up again in the news. It seems that Jordan’s King Abdullah II has emphatically rejected the policy of his father and grandfather. “The Jordanian option is an illusion,” he says. “Jordan is Jordan, and Palestine is Palestine.” And, he continues:
The so-called “substitute homeland” exists only in the minds of the weak….We know our direction, and our path is clear in our quest to protect Palestine’s future, and safeguard our rights when the future of Jerusalem and the refugees’ right of return are negotiated….We support the Palestinians’ right to establish their state, and our position has not, and will not change. (Israel National News)
Now, as Israel National News reminds us, King Abdullah must be constantly watching his back. “Jordan’s ‘Palestinian refugee’ majority [some three-quarters of its population] has been heavily involved in recent unrest in Jordan—during which there have been credible threats on Abdullah’s life.” We are reminded of the events of “Black September,” 1970, when Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, cracked down on Arafat and the PLO, then resident in Jordan, killing thousands and evicting the rest from the country. They too wanted to create a state.
Abdullah’s advice to Israel? Unless it pursues a two-state solution (with the PA, not Jordan), he warns, “Israel has an expiration date.” At the same time, he says, “Jordan will defend its rights and support its vision of a permanent solution that would ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and a just realization of the right of return.”
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, while the Israeli Knesset back-pedals hesitantly on the issue, one outspoken member doggedly keeps the question on the front burner. He is Dr. Aryeh Eldad, a prominent member of the small National Union party. A professor and plastic surgeon, head of the burns unit at the Hadassah Medical Center, he was the senior commander of the Israel Defense Forces medical corps for 25 years. Dr. Eldad opposed the withdrawal from Gaza, and even advocated civil disobedience against that “suicidal” policy.
Eldad comes naturally, one might even say genetically, to his fervent nationalism. His father, Israel Eldad, was a fiery Revisionist Zionist, author, paramilitary fighter, and occasional prisoner of the British. Israel Eldad died in 1996, but not without passing the fire to his son.
To Aryeh Eldad, the Palestine-is-Jordan “discussion is relevant and more urgent than ever. The shocks and upheavals in the Middle East will not pass Jordan by.” He has long been “a proponent of defining Jordan as the ‘Palestinian state’ over creating such an entity in Israel’s biblical heartland,” according to Israel National News. He continues stubbornly to press the government “to abandon the bilateral track instituted by the Oslo Accords and pursue a separate diplomatic track with Jordan.”
The king is not interested. Indeed, he is positively annoyed. “This is not acceptable,” he grouses. “We cannot keep bringing up the subject every year. There are people who blow this issue out of proportion. It is the unsettled who raise it. Regrettably, although we keep reassuring these people, they keep bringing it up again and again…We need to move forward.” (Israel National News)
To which Eldad responds, “Abdullah knows full well that there is no other justification for Jordan and he is overwhelmed with fear of the masses in Amman today to do what they did to Mubarak and Gaddafi.” In conclusion (for the moment), he recommends, “It is better Abdullah announce today that Jordan is the national homeland for the Palestinians—or else seek asylum in London.”
This would appear, then, to be a riddle without an immediate solution. If it continues unresolved, however, as Melanie Phillips writes, it bids fair to be the principal reason why the “murderous impasse continues to this day.”