US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has set a cat among the pigeons with his claim that:
“Under certain circumstances I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”Friedman clearly was speaking for the Trump administration – not just himself personally – when he continued:
“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves. These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”Friedman accused the Obama administration – which in the last month of Obama’s presidency allowed passage of a United Nations resolution in December 2016 condemning Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law – of giving credence to Palestinian Arab arguments “that the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem belong to them.”
“Certainly Israel’s entitled to retain some portion of it”Friedman was spot on.
The right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in at least some parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem was recognised by:
- the 1920 San Remo Conference
- the 1920 Treaty of Sevres,
- articles 6 and 25 of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (Mandate) and
- article 80 of the 1945 United Nations Charter
“The absolute last thing the world needs is a failed Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan,”He could have also added that:
- Jordan is a Palestinian Arab state that has occupied 78% of the land comprised in the Mandate for Palestine since 1922
- Redrawing the international boundary between Jordan and Israel in direct negotiations between those two states as successor States to the Mandate could see parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem incorporated within each of these two existing states thereby eliminating any danger a failed third state would pose to their security and existence.
Friedman reportedly said the United States would coordinate closely with Jordan – which could face unrest among its large Palestinian population over a plan perceived as overly favourable to Israel.
“We don’t want to make things worse. Our goal is not to show how smart we are at the expense of people’s safety.”Trump has seemingly anointed Jordan to replace the rejectionist Palestine Liberation Organization as Israel’s negotiating partner on the future of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It now appears that Trump’s proposals will not see the light of day unless Trump receives an unqualified assurance from Jordan that it is willing to negotiate with Israel before the plan’s details are released.
Recognising Israel has claims in the West Bank and East Jerusalem sends a clear signal to Jordan and the rest of the Arab World that time is not on their side. The opportunity to yet again miss another opportunity to make peace looms large.
Trump has targeted the West Bank and East Jerusalem – as he already has in West Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – with amazing prescience.
(Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones” — one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog)