Palestine - Netanyahu's Knockout Narrative

David Singer
20 Mar 2009

As Benjamin Netanyahu struggles to form Israel’s next Government there are many politicians around the world hoping against hope that he fails in the mission entrusted to him by President Shimon Peres.

Mr Netanyahu is not cast in the mould of Israel’s current caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who clings to power without a party or a base of political support.

Netanyahu will come to the job - if he succeeds - with a firm parliamentary majority and a party solidly behind him that will enable him to attempt weave his own magic in trying to bring peace between Jews and Arabs.

He has a very different story and  narrative to tell that has not been heard for a long time.

He does not favour the “two state solution” which would see the creation of a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan.  He has seen 15 years of wasted effort trying to create such a state disappear down the diplomatic drain. This solution was always a fiction based on nothing in history, geography or demography to support or justify its creation.

Pursuing such a solution involved the creation of another fiction - the Palestinian Authority -which has mutated and produced the son of fiction -Hamas - and any multitude of offspring with any and every name one can dream up to glorify death, martyrdom and the end of Israel as the one and only Jewish state in the world.

Netanyahu favours a different kind of “two state solution” based on the allocation of sovereignty of the West Bank between Israel and Jordan - a de facto position that existed between 1948-1967 until Jordan foolishly joined its Arab compatriots to wipe Israel off the face of the map and got soundly trounced in the process.

Israel has enjoyed a signed peace treaty with Jordan since 1994, That peace treaty has survived many pressures that could have easily seen it torn up and trashed. That it hasn’t is a tribute to both countries and demonstrates that Jews and Arabs can live at peace with each other even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Netahyahu’s narrative is neither novel nor new. However it is a narrative whose revival has become vitally urgent for one simple reason  - there is no other solution that can break the current impasse short of war.

Netanyahu best encapsulated his views when he made the following statement to the United Nations on 11 December 1984.

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.

The demography may have changed in the last 25 years but the history and geography haven’t
No amount of diplomatic doublespeak can gloss over the fact that in 1946 Jordan became an independent sovereign Arab State in 77% of historic Palestine - whilst Israel became an independent sovereign Jewish state in 17% of historic Palestine in 1948.

The remaining 6% - West Bank and Gaza - belongs to neither Jordan nor Israel. Dividing these last pockets of Palestine between Israel and Jordan {and possibly Egypt with whom Israel also has had a peace treaty since 1979}seems to have reasonable prospects of succeeding if the parties negotiate in good faith having regard to the existing populations of both Jews and Arabs living there at present.

Politicians are notorious for changing their minds but they don’t easily foresake basic historical and geographical realities.

Netanyahu will hopefully challenge the flawed logic of the Quartet - America- Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - in swallowing hook line and sinker the absurd notion that an Arab living in Ramallah is somehow religiously, ethnically, socially and culturally different from an Arab living in Amman - just one hours drive away.

Why each needs a separate state to thrive and prosper in, to be independent and to exercise self determination remains unexplained. Why do they need two armies, two arsenals two governments and two bureaucracies? Why they can’t live together under the banner of one unified State where they presently reside and work- as they did between 1948-1967?

Arab spokesmen from Jordan’s King Hussein to PLO leader Abu Iyad endorsed the view decades ago that these Arabs were one people with one history and one fate.

Trying to quarantine Jordan from playing any active role in resolving the issue of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza - and the return of Jordan to occupy the pre-eminent position it once possessed there - has been pure folly and resulted in death, injury and trauma for both Jews and Arabs over the past 40 years - and one could argue even longer - that could have been avoided.

Allowing Jordan to ignore or escape its responsibilities as one of the two successor State to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine has allowed a firm political base in international law to be undermined with the shallow thinking that has led to the collapse of the “two state solution” heralded with such fanfare by President Bush in 2003.

Diplomats with egg on their face are now readying themselves to push an equally irrational and fictitious plan - the Arab League Peace Initiative - to create the illusion and the mirage of peace.

They all need to be challenged - and Netanyahu has the knockout narrative to sock it to them.