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(photo credit: AP)
Former MK and journalist Uri Avnery alleges that in 1981 defense minister Ariel Sharon had planned "to encourage the Palestinians to trigger off a revolution in Jordan and to dethrone King Hussein" so as to "transform Jordan into a Palestinian state under Yasser Arafat and to negotiate the future of the West Bank with the Palestinian government in Amman."
At that time, Avnery was still a member of the Knesset. He has since become rather popular as a Jewish anti-Zionist (and anticommunist, by the way), particularly in Germany. The plan, into which he claims to have been initiated by Sharon personally, outrages him today, as if he was a confessing monarchist to whom the throne of the king of Jordan is sacred.
What would, in fact, have been the arguments against the "Jordanian option"? And what would be the arguments against it today? Jordan, like the remaining Palestinian areas, was originally part of theMandated Territory of Palestine governed by the British Empire, an area that would have offered sufficient space for a Jewish and an Arab state. Jordan covers 78 percent of this area, and was separated by the British as "Transjordan" in 1922. The remaining Palestinian areas, however, which today comprise Israel plus the West Bank plus the Gaza Strip, and whose total area is not much larger than Kuwait, will hardly support two sovereign states, even less if these are hostile to each other.
LET US look at the facts: Jordan's territory is more than four times Israel's, and its population density is only one sixth of Israel's. The majority of the Palestinian refugees who fled during the wars of 1948 and 1967 live in Jordan, and about 60 percent of all Jordanians call themselves Palestinians. Until 1967, the West Bank was occupied by Jordan: it was actually formally annexed, and the Palestinian Arabs living there were considered Jordanians (and, even today, they often hold a Jordanian passport). But, tellingly, none of them called for an intifada against Jordan to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, and none of the Palestinian Arabs ever fought against the Egyptians in Gaza, who had occupied the Gaza Strip since 1948. The fighting has always and exclusively been directed against Israel's existence.
When the PLO was founded in 1964, it did not call for the liberation of the territories occupied by Jordan and Egypt, but for the destruction of Israel; nobody within the PLO talked about a Palestinian state at that time, not even Ahmed Shukeiri, until 1967 chairman of the PLO. In Article 24 of its 1964 Charter, the PLO still explicitly renounced any sovereignty claims to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The strategy did not change until after 1967, when these territories were no longer occupied by Jordan or Egypt but by Israel. As early as in 1965, the PLO boasted of having killed 35 Jews, and the number increased as the years went on.
This shows the dishonesty of the lamentation, repeated like a mantra, that the assaults on Jews are only a reaction to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which took place only in the course of the Six Day War.
As is well known, that very same year Israel offered to negotiate the return of all the occupied territories in exchange for genuine peace, but at the Khartoum Conference the Arab states answered with the famous triple "no": "no" to peace with Israel, "no" to recognition of Israel, "no" to negotiations with Israel. Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba was the only Arab leader who, as early as 1965, supported an agreement with Israel. The Khartoum Conference restated the old position of the notorious mufti of Jerusalem: Not an inch of sacred Muslim soil would be allowed to make up a sovereign Jewish state. In this context, it should be recalled that Jimmy Carter was the first to propose a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; not until then did the PLO seize this suggestion.
In reality, the only viable option, which not even the Palestinians can raise reasonable objections against, is the following: The West Bank (or large parts of it) is united with Jordan, and Gaza with Egypt. (When, in February 2008, the Palestinians overran the Egyptian border fortifications into Sinai, their rallying cry, addressed to the Egyptians, was: "We are one people.")
According to surveys, 30% of Palestinians living in the West Bank are in favor of such a solution. But it meets with resistance from the Hashemite dynasty of Jordan, which fears for the loss of the throne; it therefore renounced any territorial claims to the West Bank back in 1988. As reported by the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad, King Abdullah considered a confederation between Jordan and the West Bank a "conspiracy against his kingdom and against the Palestinians."
All the well-known Palestinian groups demonize such a plan: The creation of a second Palestinian state next to Jordan has always been just a pretense for them to conceal their anti-Israel policies, and the recognition of Jordan enlarged by the West Bank as the state of the Palestinians would deprive them of this pretense.
Their real objective has always been the destruction of Israel and, with their phony anger at the "Zionist arrogance," they would still pursue this goal even if the Jews of Israel retreated all the way to Masada or Tel Aviv.
The writer is a lawyer in Germany and recently published The Eternal Scapegoat: Holy War, 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and the Dishonesty of the So-Called Left in the Middle East Conflict. This article was recently printed in German in the monthly konkret. (Translation: Dr. Margret Szymanski-Schikora)