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

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security