Sunday, April 26, 2009
Is Jordan Palestine?
Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday repeatedly blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the Islamist threat--from Iran to Pakistan. It all comes back to the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem, he said several times in an interview on NBC-TV's Meet the Press program.
His host, David Gregory, did not ask the Jordanian King the obvious questions: Assuming Israel were to return the disputed West Bank territories, including East Jerusalem, which Jordan lost when it attacked Israel in the Six-Day War of June 1967, to Jordan or to a new Palestinian state, would that stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda from continuing their conquest of Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan? Would Israel's territorial sacrifice satisfy Iran and its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, or would the Islamist axis press ahead with plans to destroy Israel, drive the United States from the Middle East, and dominate the region?
The answer to both questions, of course, is that the dismemberment of Israel is likely to lead to its destruction, that Iran and its Islamist allies intend to overthrow the status quo, regionally and globally. Just as appeasement didn't stop the Nazis, appeasement won't stop the Islamists.
The Jordanian King is simply trying to save his own skin. Increasingly menaced by Islamists at home, he wants to keep the international/Islamist focus on Israel.
His comments are a reminder that two Israeli leaders--Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Shamir--may have been right about Jordan. It is the Palestinian state, and the world would have long ago recognized it as such if not for the Hashemite monarchy.
In other words, contrary to conventional thinking, the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict has already been implemented. More than 75% of the original Palestine mandate--the land east of the Jordan River, formerly known as Trans-Jordan and now known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan--is an independent Arab state. It contains a majority of Palestinian Arabs in its army as well as its population. Logically, Palestine's Arab state and Jewish State, called Israel, should be able to negotiate the future of disputed areas. Logically....
In October 1981, Sharon told Time Magazine: “I believe that the starting point for a solution is to establish a Palestinian state in that part of Palestine that was separated from what was to become Israel in 1922 and which is now Jordan.... The only strangers are the members of the Hashemite Kingdom ruled by King Hussein.... I don’t mind who takes over Jordan.”
In 1982, Shamir wrote that, "reduced to its true proportions, the problem is clearly not the lack of a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs. That homeland is Trans-Jordan, or Eastern Palestine.... A second Palestinian state to the west of the River is a prescription for anarchy."
Jordan is a River
Sharon and Shamir were basically echoing the view of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist wing of the Zionist movement, which gave birth to the Irgun and Lehi underground organizations from which isarael's right-of-center Herut party and subsequent Likud bloc emerged. In the 1920s, Jabotinsky asserted that Palestine is a territory whose "chief geographical feature" is that "the Jordan River does not delineate its frontiers but flows through its center."
The present Jordanian ruler's father, King Hussein, seemed to agree with that analysis when he said in 1981 that "Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan." Seven years later, Hussein gave in to international pressure and relinquished his claim to sovereignty over the West Bank.
His move was a victory for the PLO, which had long argued that it, not the foreign Hashemite family, was the legitimate heir to rulership of both banks of Palestine.
Following the Six-Day War, the PLO established a de facto state-within-a-sate inside Jordan. Armed, uniformed Palestinians set up checkpoints, collected taxes, and refused to travel with Jordanian license plates on their cars. In the country's southern zone, bordering Israel, they demanded and seized autonomous control, rejecting the King's authority.
Operating from bases in Jordanian territory, the PLO carried out a series of deadly attacks against Israel.
In the 1971 revolt known as Black September, the PLO declared parts of Jordan as "liberated Palestine" and attempted to assassinate and overthrow King Hussein. He put down the revolt, killing an estimated 10,000 Palestinians over the course of about 10 days, and expelled the PLO from his country.
Fearing an attack from the PLO's ally, Syria, which had begun to mobilize its forces, the King appealed to Israel for help. Its air force deterred the Syrians from invading Jordan.
Years later, Sharon and Shamir were known to have regretted the Israeli intervention on the King's behalf, believing it would have been better for Israel to have allowed him to fall.
POSTSCRIPT: The State of Israel is roughly the size of the American state of New Jersey or the state of Massachusetts. The disputed West Bank areas are about as big as one or two American counties. In this context, there is something fundamentally irrational about the so-called international community's obsession with the creation of another Arab state in Palestine. In fact, Gaza, which is ruled by the Iranian-backed terrorist organization, Hamas, is already a de facto state; so the two-state solution is really a four-state solution--three Arab states, Gaza, Jordan, and the West Bank, plus Israel (pending a final onslaught by its enemies behind Iran's nuclear shield).