Is There a Jordanian Solution to the Fate of the West Bank?

Sept. 21 2018

In recent weeks, reports have circulated that the Trump administration’s inchoate proposal for ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict involves creating some sort of confederation between the Palestinian West Bank and Jordan. Israeli and Jordanian officials began secretly discussing such an arrangement almost immediately after the Six-Day War in 1967, and the idea, despite having died many deaths, continues to resurface periodically in various forms. Considering whether it remains realistic today, Oded Eran notes that since 1970—when it was nearly overthrown by a Palestinian revolt—the Jordanian monarchy has opposed any move that would increase the Palestinian population of its kingdom, which is already more than half of the total:

[Fear of] an increase in the Palestinian segment of Jordan’s population and, as a result, potential demands to provide this majority with political-constitutional expression, is of major concern to Jordan’s Hashemite monarchs. The kingdom’s general conduct regarding a host of challenges, particularly those pertaining to the Palestinian issue, is understandable only in the context of this reality. The laconic response of Jordan’s minister of public diplomacy [when asked about Washington’s reported proposal] left no room for doubt: that the matter is closed and not up for discussion, and that the Palestinians have a right to their own country.

The position expressed [about this issue by the Palestinian Authority president] Mahmoud Abbas was more complex. . . . He did not reject the idea out of hand, and said he might be interested provided Israel were part of the confederation. His spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, clarified that the idea has been on the agenda of the Palestinian leadership since 1984 and would be a framework that complements the two-state solution. . . . Israel’s official public response to the idea of a two- or three-pronged confederation has still not been articulated. . . .

[T]he tripartite model [of a confederation among Israel, Jordan, and a Palestinian state or quasi-state] creates a possibility for creative solutions to issues related to trade, energy, and water, [where] trilateral solutions . . . are preferable.

Although Jordan’s possible resumption of a practical governing role in the West Bank seems at best illusory, the possibility of future Jordanian involvement in solving certain elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be ruled out.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian statehood

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror