|Image credit: Israelidiplomacy.com|
President Trump has completed six months in office without managing to get Israel and the PLO to resume their negotiations – stalled since April 2014.
Trump’s failure has not been for lack of trying.
The President has turned on his political charm offensive – inviting both Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the White House – whilst making personal visits to Jerusalem and Bethlehem – all apparently to no avail.
Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman have been actively engaged on the ground in both Jerusalem and Ramallah in talks with Israel and the PLO – yet nothing of significance has emerged to indicate the PLO is ready to meet Israel without preconditions face to face across the negotiating table.
Even if these two adversaries resumed negotiations – there appears little chance of the PLO modifying demands that:
1. it be granted sovereignty over every square metre of Judea and Samaria (“the disputed territories”) and
2. Jerusalem be divided.Offers by Israel in 2000/2001 and 2008 to cede its claims in more than 90% of the disputed territories have already been rejected by the PLO.
Trump needs to identify a new Arab partner to replace the PLO and join Israel in allocating sovereignty of the disputed territories between Jews and Arabs.
That partner should be Jordan – for four compelling reasons:
1. Jordan and Israel have enjoyed a signed peace treaty since 1994 which already contains provisions for resolving contentious issues in the disputed territories such as water, and refugees – and Jerusalem.
2. The PLO Charter does not recognise Jordan or Israel’s right to exist as separate territorial units:
“Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.'
Palestine during the British Mandate (1922-1948) encompassed Israel, the disputed territories and Jordan.
· invasion and annexation of the disputed territories contrary to international law between 1948 and 1967
· continuing role in the disputed territories by extending Jordanian citizenship to the Arabs resident there until 1988 stamp it as eminently suited to resolve a problem it helped to create.
4. History, geography and demography qualify Jordan and Israel – the two successor States to 95% of the territory of the British Mandate – to resolve sovereignty over the disputed territories – just 4% of the Mandate.
Netanyahu eloquently articulated this position at the United Nations on 11 December 1984:
This fetid swamp urgently needs draining – Israel and Jordan are the parties that can make it happen.“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 four-fifths 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 one fifth 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.”
President Trump – over to you to weave your proven negotiating skills.