Palestine: Reunification trumps confederation

Israel and Jordan could negotiate a settlement where no one would have to leave his present home in the West Bank.

Peres and Jordan ambassador Obeidat 300 (photo credit: GPO)
Peres and Jordan ambassador Obeidat 300
(photo credit: GPO)
A viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the reunification of the Arab populated areas of the West Bank with Jordan - as existed between the years 1948-1967.
This follows revelations in the London- based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that Palestinian Authority (PA) President 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 advisers 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’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, told The Jerusalem Post that the confederation idea would be discussed with Jordan - but only after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Abbas's announcement is a mockery of the United Nations decision to grant it non-member observer state status as he has now admitted Palestine still does not exist. 
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef 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.”
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.    Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal 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 with the West Bank not shown as a separate territorial entity.4.    Hassan gave a public address at a black tie gala to the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London, seven days before Abbas took to the podium at the United Nations in November.
Jordan's return to center stage has been further strengthened when Abbas bypassed negotiations with Israel in his unilateral move at the UN. The following are the consequences incurred:
1.    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has said he will only accept a Palestinian state that is created on the ashes of Israel.2.    Israel withheld four hundred million dollars in taxes collected on behalf of the PA over the next four months to meet unpaid water and electricity bills that the PA owes to Israeli utility companies.3.    Israel announced plans to revive –settlement construction that was kept on hold since 2004 to placate the PA and provide incentive to continue negotiations with Israel 4.    Abbas has gone "cap in hand" to Arab countries begging for help to the tune of one hundred million dollars a month to stay afloat.
The two-state solution to the Israeli-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.
Jordanian King Abdullah II should also be cognizant of the following resolution that supports reunification of the West Bank and Jordan which was 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.
The resolution - unlike the November 29 General Assembly resolution - still has relevance and meaning 41 years later for both Jordan and the PLO.
Abdullah could do worse than to reaffirm his agreement with the 1971 resolution and rebuff any attempts at a confederation. He should also make 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 UN has clearly backfired and his proposal to confederate with Jordan can only further embarrass and disaffect many countries that support him.
In the upcoming diplomatic manoeuvring regarding the future of the West Bank, there is no doubt that reunification with Jordan certainly trumps confederation.