Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hashemite Kingdom of Wadis Arabia Alternative II

It seems again as if the United States, in their rush to find a "solution" to the Israeli/Palestinian problem are focusing on the borders of a Palestinian state defined by the pre-1967 borders of the West Bank and Gaza.

This solution again does not in any way solve the dilemma of what to do with the millions of Palestinians warehoused for decades in refugee camps. Where do they go? What do they do? And again what will the Palestinians within the above mentioned borders do for a living. What about full sovereignty? What sense of pride will the Palestinian people have in their work, their country, their future under the solutions being rushed to acceptance by governments looking for a quick fix and not long term solutions?

I have adjusted my original outline for a Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine with, what I feel, are a few major but key adjustments. The first is to redefine the solution as the Hashemite Kingdom of Wadis Arabia. This solution encompasses a region, not a country or people from one nation. It requires a name for the entire region and a group of people for a common goal.

The second and perhaps most noticeable is the redrawing of the southeastern dividing boundary between Wadis Arabia and Saudi Arabia. It is my belief, after some consideration, that Saudi Arabia would not wish to part with Duba, Saudi Arabia and its key port and transportation links in northwest Saudi Arabia.

It is also my belief that the creation of new port facilities in the new area of Wadis Arabia facing the Red Sea would create a massive amount of new jobs for the new kingdom. The creation of port facilities here would also allow for the transfer of industrial type facilities away from the Taba, Eilat, Aqaba, Haql area for use then by mainly tourist and water desalinization facilities. A tiny corner of the much larger Saudi Arabia would become a major focus and center of growth for an enlarged Wadis Arabia.

Next is the addition of the consideration of adding the districts of Tyre, Bint Jbeil, Marjeyun and Hasbaya in Lebanon to the new kingdom. This addition is based upon two factors. One is the allowance of a direct connection to the Litani River in Southern Lebanon. As massive amounts of fresh water leave to the Mediterranean through this river, any collection or diversion of this incredibly valuable resource as both an economic and well as political tool for long term peace in the region should not be ignored. More than money, more than arms, more than rhetoric, the transfer of the lower Litani basin to Wadis Arabia would provide a much more effective lever to the hope of peace and expanding viability to the new kingdom.

The second reason is based upon the complete lack of attention paid to these four districts by the powers that be in Beruit over decades of opportunity. The relatively small population of perhaps 250,000 in total would receive much greater attention in a Wadis Arabia area of influence. The addition of the water and agriculture possibilities of this area to a Wadis Arabia far exceed any use for the area shown by Lebanon in the past many decades.

Also by allowing the very center of Hezbollah to become a part of a solution, not only for themselves but the Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis and other displaced peoples cannot be overlooked as another way to defuse tensions in the region while also bringing renewed purpose to all of those of the current lower Litani River basin.

The inclusion of the Nabatiya district has been considered as well but was not included at this posting.

It cannot be stressed enough that this entire concept of a Hashemite Kingdom of Wadis Arabia is based upon a few simple principles.

A viable homeland must be found for all Palestinians. This means not just larger camps and walled communities with little long term prospects. It means a solution of a state with framework to all of the rights and privileges of any other country in the world.

It should be led by a government that has had decades of experience in governing effectively and have the acceptance of its neighbors.

The use of a long term solution to the water problems of the entire area must be the basis for any solution, not threat of war, current boundaries or current political sovereignty. It is for water that they all will come and all will agree.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Palestine 1948 Part II

If one clicks on the link below, one will find that indeed in the pre 1948 Palestine, Beersheba, Ashkelon and Eilat were all enhabited by a majority of Palestinians.

It it to this Triangle of Palestinian population that any new Palestinian homeland must refocus as the center of reclaimed land. A new Palestinian homeland MUST be VIABLE and with no limitations upon future growth or defense. These conditions can only be achieved with Beersheba, Eilat and Ashkelon in the answer, not Nablus, Ramallah or Janin.

Palestine 1948 | Palestine Think Tank

Palestine 1948 | Palestine Think Tank

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Comments by Jake Tapper; ABC news. 3 June 2009

President Obama on Israel: 'Part of Being a Good Friend Is Being Honest'
June 02, 2009 7:15 AM

In an interview that aired last night and this morning, President Obama told NPR that in terms of the U.S. relationship with Israel, "part of being a good friend is being honest. And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly negative – not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests. And that’s part of a new dialogue that I’d like to see encouraged in the region."

Later today the president will fly to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he will neet with King Abdullah, after which he will fly to Cairo, Egypt, to deliver a major address to the Muslim world. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be front and center on the agenda.

We're also told the president will discuss terrorism, oil prices, and Iran with King Abdullah. The president is expected to press Arab countries to formally recognize Israel.

"I think that we do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace," the president said. "And that’s going to require, from my view, a two-state solution that is going to require that each side – the Israelis and Palestinians – meet their obligations. "

The president as of late has been publicly expressing much more frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's settlement policy than he has with Bibi's Palestinian's counterparts.

"I’ve said very clearly to the Israelis both privately and publicly that a freeze on settlements, including natural growth, is part of those obligations," Mr. Obama said. "I’ve said to the Palestinians that their continued progress on security and ending the incitement that, I think, understandably makes the Israelis so concerned, that that has to be – those obligations have to be met. So the key is to just believe that that process can move forward and that all sides are going to have to give. And it’s not going to be an easy path, but one that I think we can achieve."

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and other Democrats in Congress have been expressing concern that the president's approach is not even-handed,

“My concern is that we are applying pressure to the wrong party in this dispute,” Berkley told Ben Smith of Politico. “I think it would serve America’s interest better if we were pressuring the Iranians to eliminate the potential of a nuclear threat from Iran, and less time pressuring our allies and the only democracy in the Middle East to stop the natural growth of their settlements.”

Berkely said that "when Congress gets back into session the administration is going to hear from many more members than just me."

“There’s a line between articulating U.S. policy and seeming to be pressuring a democracy on what are their domestic policies, and the president is tiptoeing right up to that line,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y, told Politico. “I would have liked to hear the president talk more about the Palestinian obligation to cut down on terrorism.”

Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy last week reported that Netanyahu seems flummoxed grousing, according to an associate, "What the hell do they want from me?"

Netanyahu, looking for "loopholes and hidden agreements that have often existed in the past with Washington," writes Rozen, is confused that the Obama administration's opposition to settlements has no wiggle room.

- jpt

Comment posted by me on in response to above news article. 3 June 2009

All sides, and I mean ALL sides. have been building towards this stalemate for decades now. No one can back down, no one can be seen to giving in. And far to many political stands in nations all over the world are based upon what THEY can get out of the dilemma. The Arab world needs to consider the fact that the even the most moderate wishes for a Palestinian state involve a geographical boundary that precludes the Palestinians from ever living in a viable, forward looking country. Israel needs to realize that while they him and haw about a solution, the longer term worries such as water and poverty slip further and further behind in their own backyard. All sides need to take a deep breath, stand WAY back and take a good long hard look at what would work. What would be a viable solution for not only Israel, ALL the Palestinian people and the region as a whole?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An article about West Bank water in the 27 May 2009 UK Guardian newspaper

Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank
Palestinians losing out in access to vital shared aquifer in the occupied territories
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, Wednesday 27 May 2009 18.05 BST

A deepening drought in the Middle East is aggravating a dispute over water resources after the World Bank found that Israel is taking four times as much water as the Palestinians from a vital shared aquifer.

The region faces a fifth consecutive year of drought this summer, but the World Bank report found huge disparities in water use between Israelis and Palestinians, although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians have access to only a fifth of the water supply, while Israel, which controls the area, takes the rest, the bank said.

Israelis use 240 cubic metres of water a person each year, against 75 cubic metres for West Bank Palestinians and 125 for Gazans, the bank said. Increasingly, West Bank Palestinians must rely on water bought from the Israeli national water company, Mekorot.

In some areas of the West Bank, Palestinians are surviving on as little as 10 to 15 litres a person each day, which is at or below humanitarian disaster response levels recommended to avoid epidemics. In Gaza, where Palestinians rely on an aquifer that has become increasingly saline and polluted, the situation is worse. Only 5%-10% of the available water is clean enough to drink.

The World Bank report, published last month, provoked sharp criticism from Israel, which disputed the figures and the scale of the problem on the Palestinian side. But others have welcomed the study and its findings.

Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli head of Friends of the Earth Middle East, said there was a clear failure to meet basic water needs for both Israelis and Palestinians, and that Israelis were taking "the lion's share".

"The bottom line is there is a severe water crisis out there, predominantly on the Palestinian side, and it will be felt even worse this coming summer," Bromberg said at a conference on the issue in Jerusalem.

He said the Joint Water Committee, established in 1995 with Israelis and Palestinians as an interim measure under the Oslo peace accords, had failed to produce results and needed reform.

The World Bank report said the hopes that the Oslo accords might bring water resources for a viable Palestinian state and improve the life of Palestinians had "only very partially been realised".

It said failings in water resource and management and chronic underinvestment were to blame. In Gaza, the continued Israeli economic blockade played a key role in preventing maintenance and construction of sewage and water projects. In the West Bank, Israeli military controls over the Palestinians were a factor, with Palestinians still waiting for approval on 143 water projects.

"We consider that the efficiency of our aid in the current situation is compromised," said Pier Mantovani, a Middle East water specialist for the World Bank, which is an important source of aid for the Palestinians.

Most went on short-term emergency projects with limited long-term strategic value. It was a "piecemeal, ad hoc" approach, he said.

Yossi Dreisen, a former official and now adviser at the Israeli water authority, disputed the Bank's findings and said many remarks in the report were "not correct". He produced figures suggesting Israeli water consumption per person had fallen since 1967, when Israel captured and occupied the West Bank, while Palestinian consumption had risen.

Israel argues that the water problem should be solved by finding new sources, through desalination and water treatment.

"There is not enough water in this area," said Dreisen. "Something must be done. The solution where one is giving water to the other is not acceptable to us."

However, Fuad Bateh, an adviser to the Palestinian water authority, said Israel continued to have obligations under international law as the occupying power and should allow Palestinians water resources through an "equitable and reasonable allocation in accordance with international law".

He accepted that there was a lack of institutional development and capacity on the Palestinian side, but he said the Palestinians were caught in an unequal, asymmetric dispute. Palestinians had not been allowed to develop any new production wells in the West Bank since the 1967 war.

"Palestinians have no say in the Israeli development of these shared, trans-boundary, water resources," he said. "It is a situation in which Israel has a de facto veto over Palestinian water development." © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Netanyahu Chooses Warehousing by Jeff Halper

Netanyahu Chooses Warehousing
by Jeff Halper

Posted on the MRzine site on 25 May 2009

Would Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu say the magic words "two states" after his meeting with President Obama? All Israel held its breath. (He didn't). The gap between the two is wider than those words could ever have bridged, however. Obama, I believe, sincerely -- perhaps urgently -- seeks a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a pre-condition, he understands, to getting on with larger, more pressing Middle Eastern issues. Netanyahu, who rejects even the notion of a Palestinian mini-state as grudgingly accepted by Barak, Sharon and Olmert, is seeking a permanent state of "warehousing" in which the Palestinians live forever in a limbo of "autonomy" delineated by an Israel that otherwise encompasses them. The danger, to which we all should be attuned, is that the two sides might compromise on apartheid -- the establishment of a Palestinian Bantustan that has neither genuine sovereignty nor economic viability.

For his part, Obama seems to understand the strong linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hostility towards the West so prevalent in the Muslim world. His administration has been quite candid about the need to move forward on Palestine in order to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue, and his ability to withdraw from Iraq, stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan and deal with the challenge political Islam poses to the "moderate" Arab states also depend, to a meaningful degree, on forging a new relationship with the Muslim world , which requires an end to the Israeli Occupation.

Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have already presented the outlines of their new "reframing" of the conflict:

The Iran threat is preeminent, uniting the US and Israel into a strategic alliance and completely overshadowing the Palestinian issue;

Such "slogans" (as Lieberman characterized them) as occupation, settlements, settlers, land for peace and even the "simplistic" two-state solution must be abandoned in order to "go forward" according to a new slogan: "economy, security, stability" -- meaning improving the Palestinian economy while ensuring Israel's security. The stability that results (Lieberman invokes the "stable" situation between the Greek and Turkish populations of Turkish-occupied Cyprus as his model) will then somehow facilitate some future and vague peace process;

Israel will continue to expand its "facts on the ground." Just the day before the Netanyahu/Obama meeting the building of a new settlement was announced -- Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley, the first settlement to be officially established in 26 years. Two days after returning from Washington, Netanyahu further declared: "United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." It then announced that it will continue building within the "settlement blocs." Just a month before, on the day Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell were to arrive in the country, the Israeli government announced that it would conduct massive demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. This "in your face" approach signals the Administration that Israel is not about to accept dictates, as the Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon put it, testing just how assertive Obama will be.

Both the US and Israel seek broader involvement in the peace process by the Arab states, but once again, Israel has its own particular spin on that. While the US is formulating a comprehensive approach to peace and stabilization in the entire Middle East region (which King Abdullah of Jordan calls a "57-state solution" whereby the entire Arab and Muslim worlds would recognize Israel in return for a genuine end to the Occupation), Israel's formula of putting "economic peace" before any politically defined peace agreement tries to create a state of normalization between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world that would relegate the Palestinian issue indefinitely to the back-burner. Given the record of the so-called "moderate" Arab states, and given the opposition to a rising Iran they share with Israel, their involvement does not necessarily bode well for the Palestinians.
Then there are the mechanisms for delaying or undermining negotiations:

Creating insurmountable political obstacles, such as the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." Netanyahu well knows that the Palestinians will not accede to that, the fact that such recognition would prejudice the equal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, a full 20% of the Israeli population, being an important consideration. The fear of further ethnic cleansing ("transfer" in Israeli parlance) is a real one. When she was Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livni stated clearly that the future of Israel's Arab citizens is in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel itself. And remember, last year the Israeli Parliament passed a law requiring a majority of two-thirds to approve any change in the status of Jerusalem, an impossible threshold. Similar legislation, supported by the government, will be passed on other issues such as dismantling settlements and ratifying any peace agreement.
Delayed implementation. OK, the Israeli government says, we'll negotiate, but the implementation of any agreement will wait on the complete cessation of any resistance on the part of the Palestinians. "Security before peace" is the way the Israeli government frames it. Since, however, there has never been any indication that Israel would agree to a viable Palestinian state, and since Israel views any resistance, armed or non-violent, as a form of terrorism, "security before peace" actually means "stop all resistance and you may get a state." The catch here is that if Palestinians do stop their resistance they are lost. Without Palestinian pressure, Israel and the international community would lack any motivation for making the concessions necessary for a genuine solution. And even if an agreement is reached, "security before peace" means that it will not be implemented until Israel unilaterally decides the conditions are ripe. This so-called "shelf agreement" erects yet another insurmountable obstacle before any peace process.
Declaring a "transitional" Palestinian state. If all else fails -- actually negotiating with the Palestinians or relinquishing the Occupation not being an option -- the US, at Israel's behest, can manage to skip Phase 1 of the Road Map and go directly to Phase 2, which calls for a "transitional" Palestinian state before, in Phase 3, its actual borders, territory and sovereignty are agreed upon. This is the Palestinians' nightmare: being locked indefinitely in the limbo of a "transitional" state. For Israel, such a situation is ideal, since it offers the possibility of imposing borders and expanding into the Palestinian areas unilaterally while seeming to respect the Road Map process.
Needless to say, all of this is to avoid a real two-state solution, the very idea of which is anathema to the Likud-led government. More than a decade ago Netanyahu set out his vision of Palestinian self-determination: somewhere between "state-minus and autonomy-plus." The best, if bleakest, term for what Israel is intending for the Palestinians is warehousing, a permanent state of control and suppression in which the victims disappear from view and their situation, emptied of all political content, becomes a non-issue.

Although the Obama Administration may truly desire viable two-state solution and even understands all Israel's tricks, it is also clear that without significant pressure it cannot be achieved. And here is where the real problem arises. Israel's trump card has always been Congress, where it enjoys virtually unanimous bi-partisan support. And Obama's own Democratic Party, which received almost 80% of the Jewish vote in 2008, has always been far more "pro-Israel" than the Republicans. It may well be that Obama and Mitchell will try to take American policy in a new and more assertive direction and the leaders of his own party will balk, fearful of not being re-elected.

In this case, the "compromise" between the desire to resolve the conflict and the inability to move Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories so that a viable Palestinian state may emerge may be nothing less than apartheid. The difference between a viable Palestinian state and a Bantustan is one of details. Already signs are that the Obama Administration will allow Israel to keep its major settlement blocs, including a "Greater" Jerusalem, and prevent the Palestinians from having sovereign borders with the neighboring Arab states. Since few appreciate the crucial meaning of such details, Israel believes that it can finesse an apartheid situation in the guise of a two-state solution. Over the past decades the job of civil society has been to force governments to fulfill their responsibilities and enter into a political process that will actually lead to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Now that that process is upon us, our task is now to keep it honest.

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at . The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Response to article "Netanyahu Chooses Warehousing" by Jeff Halper

The following are comments made by me in response to an article entitled "Netanyahu Chooses Warehousing" by Jeff Halper in the 25 May 2009 posting of MRzine.

The nations of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon need to coordinate with the Palestinians and create a unified "Water Compact" for the entire region. The need for Israel to be involved in these discussions would bring the current government to the bargaining table much faster than any other method used in the past.
Israel needs not to solve any Palestinian question, nor indeed perhaps any Iran question, as much as it needs to solve it's long term water needs.
A "water compact" involving the flows of the Litani, Jordan and Yarmouk River basins and the use of the water table under the West Bank put under control of any "warehoused" Palestinians is really Israel's worst nightmare. Not to be invited to be a part of "that" process is the greatest lever the entire region has against any sort of settlement.
Finally, I for one, do believe the solution resides in a "two state" solution, but just not any where near the geographic form being considered to date. That form just does not provide for a viable Palestinian state for all the millions on the ground and still displaced. Palestinians will never need sovereignty over Nablus as bad as they really need sovereignty over perhaps Eilat and either Beersheba and/or Ashkelon. If 400,000 Israelis need to move for peace, perhaps everyone should consider another group of 400,000. And as to the West Bank, the "right of return" becomes the "right not to leave".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My comment to Richard Z. Chernoff article.

I also believe that any solution to the conflict/refugee crisis should involve Jordan. But it is not enough to just cobble Palestinian territories to Jordan and be done. Is a combined Jordan/Palestine currently in any position to absorb the needs of 10 million displaced? Just enlarging the "aid" pool is no solution. Refugees in other countries must be also addressed. Enough is not being considered of what Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon should be willing to "give up" to create a viable homeland for Jordanians/Palestinians/Iraqi refugees. The current boundaries for West Bank and Gaza, even with "minor" adjustments, are just not ever going to work. Lack of defense, water, sustainability and the notion of two winners from any such current solution cannot be ignored. A much more comprehensive solution is needed. This involves the Northern West Bank remaining permanently within the State of Israel. This involves the newly formed premise of not the right of return, but of the right not to leave (for both sides). From the Arab point of view this also involves the giving of parts of their territory to the creation of a much more viable regional Jordanian/Palestinian/Arab homeland. These countries donating land and/or water compact treaties are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon, i.e. Israel giving the Golan not to Syria, but to Jordan/Palestine for a Syrian/Lebanese long term water development in the Litani/Jordan/Yarmouk basin.

Richard Z. Chernoff article about Jordan/Palestine in May 20 2009 Huffington Post

The Huffington PostMay 20, 2009
Richard Z. ChesnoffPosted: May 20, 2009 01:38 PM
A Stairway to Paradise: A Palestinian/Jordanian Union

Analysts are comparing Monday's White House meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to a new couple's first dance. The duo went out of its way to avoid stepping on each other's toes and walked off the floor smiling broadly to the public. But O & N were far from mutually infatuated. Obama failed to warn about a military option if Tehran continues nuclear weapons development, and Netanyahu spoke about "immediate negotiations" with the Palestinians, but fell short of agreeing to Obama's impassioned call for a two state peace formula.

We're bound to be seeing more fancy two-way Terpsichore in the months to come.

One way up the stairway to Mideast paradise might be by reviving some old steps rather than tapping to ones that are certain to trip us up.

Take for example the idea that the long festering Israel-Palestine sore can be cured by simply establishing an independent Palestinian state. That might have worked a long time ago but the Palestinians have rejected it whenever it was offered and today they are so economically bereft and so politically divided between the PLO of Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas rejectionists of Gaza that the idea of a viable unified Palestinian state is all but doomed to failure.

The answer may not be in establishing a tiny politically unworkable, economically unsustainable demilitarized Palestinian state, but by forming one that exists in federation with neighboring Jordan. That idea has been around for years and often only whispered - or laughed at as it was when I broached it in a column of mine some years ago. But a few Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian opinion makers are now beginning to talk cautiously again about renewing the so-called "Jordanian option": the establishment of an autonomous West Bank/Gaza Palestinian province/state linked politically, economically and even militarily to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Israeli political scientist Michael Bar-Zohar even proposed the idea recently in an op-ed column in the influential Jerusalem Post. A former Knesset member and the official biographer of both Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion and current President Shimon Peres, Bar-Zohar points out that the total area of the West Bank is 2,270 square miles, less than half the size of Los Angeles county! A third of that paltry plot is desolate desert. "Does anybody believe that that this tiny slice of territory, sandwiched between Israel and Jordan will provide enough living space for the local 2.4 million Palestinians" - not to mention the millions of Palestinian refugees who supposedly want to return to a Palestinian homeland?

Bar-Zohar also points out that the mostly arid Gaza Strip - which is separated from the West Bank by a sizable stretch of Israeli territory - is a mere 141 square miles with 1.5 million Palestinians already living there. "Those who want to give them a decent chance in life", suggests Bar Zohar, will have to transfer good numbers of them to the West Bank. Would it be able "to absorb yet another million Palestinians on its poor, arid territory?"
Bar-Zohar's solution "goes far beyond the childish two state approach." He proposes a regional solution that would involve Jordan and possibly even Egypt. Jordan would federate itself with the West Bank. Egypt - which borders Gaza - would ideally involve itself by giving Gazans land to develop in the vast, empty spaces of Northern Sinai.

Linking Jordan and the West Bank would not be for the first time. The Hashemite Kingdom itself was carved out of the Palestine Mandate which originally included all of what is now Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Transjordan. Jordan's legendary Arab Legion seized the entire West Bank during Israel's 1948 War of Independence (Egypt took the Gaza Strip). For 19 years, Jordan's King Hussein firmly ruled the West Bank as part of his kingdom (there was never talk of an independent West Bank Palestinian state back in those days).. During the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jordanian monarch foolishly listened to Egypt's Gamal Nasser and attacked Israel. The IDF promptly defeated the Jordanian forces and raised the blue & white flag over the West Bank.

Even then, King Hussein left his West Bank options open, claiming a "special relationship" as the official guardian of the al Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem's other Muslim holy places. Jordan also became home to more than 1.6 million Palestinian refugees and was one of the only Arab states to ever allow Palestinians to become equal citizens. Today, more than 60% of Jordan's population is of Palestinian origin -- including the kingdom's elegant young queen, Rania.

Jordan's Palestinian welcome mat has not been problem-free. During the 1970s, Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization became such a threat to the Hashemite king that Hussein launched a deadly counterattack, forcing Arafat and his band to retreat from Jordan.

Eventually, the late Hussein grew weary of Palestinian whining and manipulating. I was one of the foreign correspondents at the Hashemite palace in 1988 when he announced that he was "divorcing" the West Bank. The Palestinians would be on their own.

Hussein's son, the young King Abdullah, has never been as interested in the West Bank as his father once was. But Abdullah increasingly warns of a major new Mideast war if the Arab-Israeli conflict is not settled. And he is also said to understand that the Palestinians are presently incapable of ruling themselves. No doubt he doesn't want the Palestinians pushing him and his family out of their jobs. But he is believed to have taken a renewed interest in the West Bank and in finding a fail safe way to play a role there.

A Jordanian-West Bank union, in which some Palestinians loyal to the king could even serve in the Jordanian forces, may be just that. It will take US initiative. Why not offer financial compensation to West Bankers and Gazans willing to to move to unsettled parts of Jordan? Why not a border with Israel secured in part by Jordan? Why not a Palestinian West Bank and Gaza linked to Jordan with an economic union that bonds both to Israel's burgeoning economy?

Anything would be better than existing options offer the Palestinians: more bloodshed, more corruption, more hatred, more suffering for all sides.

Friday, March 27, 2009

But first some back round, by David Shasta

This is a subject of which I have been fearful of entering. But the more I become aware of the details of the situation in the Middle East, the more I feel the need to speak out.

For fear of a loss of advertising revenue, virtually no publication will criticize Israel’s policy vis-a-vis non-Jews living in Israel and Israel’s neighbors.

Yet, there is an option, free for the taking that can lead to relative peace and harmony. David Shasha calls it the “Levantine Option.” This article is unavailable on-line so I will post it in its entirety.

Sephardim and Israel Today: “The Levantine Option” on Shaky Ground by David Shasha

About five years ago I formulated a radical perspective on Middle Eastern politics which I called “The Levantine Option.” This new formulation was an attempt to restore an old way of seeing things that was fitted into a dynamic and fresh new context. “The Levantine Option” is an idea predicated on the traditions of Jews native to the Middle East. These traditions contain a significant Arabic component where the indigenous culture of the region has been fused with the realities of Judaism and Jewish identity encapsulated in the rabbinic tradition.

“The Levantine Option” is built on the hallowed foundations of Sephardic Religious Humanism; an elastic concept that goes back to the writings and ideas of Maimonides and his heirs. Sephardic Religious Humanism incorporated the learning of Greco-Roman wisdom into a parochially Jewish context. The religious mandates of the Jewish religion, its ritual laws and traditions, were opened up to the expansive modalities of the Greco-Roman intellectual system; a rich synthesis of sacred Jewish values and politics, science and philosophy.

Enabled in great measure by the opening provided by Islamic scholasticism, Sephardic Religious Humanism showed that Judaism could adapt and transform itself.

The traditions of Sephardic Religious Humanism were fiercely contested by Ashkenazi rabbinic authorities who saw in the new modalities a fearsome liberality and an acceptance of new and different ideas. Ashkenazi authorities looked to seal off Judaism from the new ideas and set Judaism apart from the world and its evolutionary changes.

It is not well-known that the initial impetus in the 19th century for a return to Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel came from two Sephardi rabbis living in the Ottoman Balkans - Judah Alkalai and Judah Bibas. Their Zionism was one that sought to affirm the right of the Jewish people to be secure in their own country and to serve as a proud member of the international community.

While the ideas of these two Sephardic rabbis influenced the Eastern European Jews who became the de facto leaders of the emerging Zionist movement, the core humanistic ideas of the Sephardic tradition were often ignored in the new formulations of the Zionist idea.

Ideas of separation from the indigenous populations of the Middle East became the norm that European formulations of Zionism articulated. Such a move led to many of the problems that Israel faces as it marks its 60th anniversary as a nation.

Rather than seeing integration of Jews into the cultural and historical contexts of the region, Zionism is today seen by itself and by others as an alien element in the region. From the early concept of what the Zionists called “Avoda Ivrit” - Jewish labor - to the current desire for a separation between the Jewish and Arab peoples whether by the use of physical walls or cultural barriers, the Zionist orientation has sadly followed the Ashkenazi pattern of alienation and parochialism.

It is today a radical idea - given the violent modalities that have subsumed both the Zionist idea as well as its Arab nationalist counterpart - to assert that the future of the region rests in a cultural symbiosis that would continue to acknowledge the genius of the old traditions of Sephardic Religious Humanism that were so pronounced in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East.

With a fierceness that frequently borders on the pathological, many individuals reject the idea that Jews were once a legitimate and accepted part of the Arab world. We are warned that Jews were simply tolerated by a hegemonic Arab triumphalism that kept them in their place. This ignores and diminishes the great accomplishments of Arab Jews who integrated Judaism into the dominant cultural trends in the Middle East.

Indeed, at the dawn of the modern age, marked by the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, reformist movements in the region acknowledged the indigenous Jewish presence in the region and welcomed Jews as partners in the process of national regeneration. Early forms of Sephardi Zionism acknowledged this cultural symbiosis and demanded of the Ashkenazi Zionists a requirement to acknowledge the realities of the region; its history, its values, its culture.

But from the very start of political Zionism, this native Levantine Jewish voice was silenced. There were Jews whose names are not at all known today such as Albert Antebbi, Elie Elyashar and Haim Nahum Effendi who counseled for a Sephardic role in the Zionist enterprise and in the development of a new Middle East.

As scholars such as Abigail Jacobson, Yaron Harel and Michelle Campos have shown in their researches into the subject of native Middle Eastern Jewish thinking during this period, not only were these voices silenced, but the ideas they presented were mocked and vilified. Rather than accepting the native place of Jews in the region, the incoming Zionist leadership incorporated alien ideas into their thinking which served to ensure that Zionism would become a foreign element in the region.

A corollary to this point was the tension it created between Ashkenazim - whose culture and history would come to dominate the new state and its ideology - and the Sephardim, the indigenous Jews of the Middle East, who were marginalized and often demeaned in the Zionist mission.

As Arab Jews continued to live in their ancestral homes in the region, some adapted to the new Zionism, while some did not. A seismic shift took place in their world that would be deeply disorienting. In the course of a few decades, Jewish life in the Arab world would come to an almost complete end and with it the rich and varied cultural traditions of those Jews.

What I have called “The Levantine Option” died in the 1950s and 60s when Jews were forced to leave the Arab world under the specter of an intractable stalemate between Israel and its neighbors that was not merely a matter of politics and territorial dispute, but of a more insidious cultural divide which isolated Israel from its neighbors.

Arab Jews were forced to undergo a cruel process of De-Arabization that left them bereft of their organic identity. The “melting pot” mentality as it took hold in Israel was in essence a process of Ashkenazi acculturation; a process which has continued to this day in the alienated culture of the state.

So in spite of Israel’s success in re-establishing Jewish sovereignty over the land, the problems that have been created by its alienated stance has led to a residual violence and a sense of paranoia and entrapment that has gripped so many Israelis who have little hope that the country will ever find normalcy. The parallel obstinacy of an Arab world that has also rejected its own native traditions of liberalism and pluralism has added to this dysfunctional picture of a region that is now permanently on edge.

While “The Levantine Option” is an idea that will be fiercely contested by those who hold to the useless orthodoxies - ideas that have led us into violence, anomie and racial hatred - the idea merits examination as a means to restore dignity and rationality to what is now a completely unworkable mess.

“The Levantine Option” and its foundation of Religious Humanism with its ethnic tolerance and pluralism is an idea whose allure rests in the fact that it is the native modality of the region and has its roots in the thinking of the greatest figures in the cultural history of the Jews, Muslims and Christians.

To those who would seek to strangle the idea, the question should be asked quite bluntly: Do you have a better idea of how we should bring people together?

Over the course of many fruitless decades punctuated by hatred, cruelty and violence at the hands of the different protagonists in this drama, the failed premise that continues to inform the discussion is that peace and stability will come from an acknowledgement of the differences between Jews and Arabs.

“The Levantine Option” asserts that the future of the Middle East will come when Jews and Arabs learn that they share a culture and that this shared culture flowered in the many centuries of life in the wake of the cultural giants of the region such as Maimonides, Al-Farabi, Averroes and so many others whose names and memories continue to be venerated in the parochial communities that have now been wrenched apart under the rubric of a failed set of nationalisms.

From Tikkun Magazine, May/June 2008

Mr. Shasha can be reached at and you can Google Tikkun

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Letter to two contributors to

Dear Yousef Al-Helou and Dina Jadallah-Taschler

I enjoyed your articles and commentary at

I know Palestinians have been fighting for the return of their homelands for now going on 62+ years. With each passing year the lands under Palestinian control have slowly but unabated continued to shrink. And as frustrations mount among all involved, the speaking with one voice has also continued to ebb. If you really want to see a long term solution to the Palestinian state I encourage you to read and reflect on, yes, another approach to the conflict.

I have long been concerned about the plight of Palestinians, especially the children. I agree with the need to the establishment of a Palestinian state. However I find that the concept of a viable Palestinian state going forward from even the most extreme wishes of the current Palestinians of all political parties, ie, total return of the West Bank to pre 1967 borders, "right of return" and the opening of Gaza to the world would not in anyway constitute a viable country.

The first problem would be "right of return". This is just not going to be agreed to by the Israeli government. Point to resolutions, show refugees with keys and children among rubble. It still is not going to happen. That leaves the complete control of p re 1967 West Bank borders and the Gaza. That may be fine for those currently living in the area, and with the evacuation of all current Israeli settlements in the West Bank, space could be found for an additional half million or so. So where do the rest go? What are they going to do for jobs? What about demographics? That time bomb of population growth so often sited as the main reason that Israel would not allow a one state solution does not stop ticking with the return of the Gaza and West Bank.

Right now. Today. If Israel were to say that they were packing up and would be out of the West Bank by 1 November 2009, who among the Palestinians is to be in charge and what are they offering as a viable government, country and way forward. I sure don't see any type of road map to that question and that is all in the Palestinian camp. No Quartet, no Arab League. Just among the Palestinians themselves.

If the Palestinians take a cold hard look, their solution involves all those keys having locks to come home to. It involves those aid packages, for bankers and civil servants, to keep on coming. So what do the 55% under 17 look forward to. Besides make work jobs for political support by Hamas and Fatah, I sure haven't seen any road map again here. And that is also all the 17 and under living outside of the West Bank and Gaza.

60+ years and instead of looking forward it seems like way too much time and effort has been spent looking back. What was lost. What might have been. The three solutions offered are homes that don't exist any more, scarce land and jobs for those who long to come home and anger that has no end in sight. Is that really all that you have to offer those millions of Palestinians under the age of 17 who are expecting a future.

It is not to late to back up, take a deep breath and really decide what it means to be a Palestinian state going forward. What does a Palestinian state need to really make that happen? What is really needed for peace in the entire neighborhood. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Do all their problems go away with a current peace plan? What has any one of them have to give up to make Palestine whole? Does any current solution in the neighborhood still not leave Palestine to be the poor stepchild of the region?

Take a few hours. Read my blog. I know it is not the answer. But it does focus on some topics and solutions that might possibly be missing from any current discussions to date.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Gary L. Tucker

Denver Colorado.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AP Article: Hamas not budging in Israel, Fatah talks

Hamas not budging in Israel, Fatah talks
By KARIN LAUB – 1 hour ago
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — An opening of Gaza's blockaded borders, access to billions of dollars in foreign aid, a popularity boost — Hamas would have much to gain by working out a prisoner swap with Israel and a power-sharing arrangement with its West Bank rivals.
Instead, Gaza's Islamic militant rulers have been clinging to their demands and displaying a stubbornness that would seem irrational considering the enormous stakes.
But Hamas apparently believes that time is on its side and that its adversaries — Israel, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the West — will eventually fold, analysts say.
"They are not acting like people who are negotiating from a position of weakness," said Robert Blecher, an analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank.
Egypt has been mediating parallel sets of talks involving Hamas — with Israel on exchanging a captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and with Abbas' Fatah movement on a transitional government that would pave the way for new elections.
Hamas wants Israel to release 450 prisoners with lengthy terms for Schalit, and resists demands by Abbas that the unity government commit to the Palestine Liberation Organization program, including its recognition of Israel.
In both cases, Hamas is refusing to make concessions that could lead to a lifting of the Gaza closure, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas' violent takeover there in 2007.
"Hamas is sticking to its demands," spokesman Ayman Taha said after the failure of the prisoner talks Tuesday, even adding a threat that Hamas would try to capture more Israeli soldiers. On Wednesday, Hamas' military wing said it might harden demands in future talks.
Such swagger comes, in part, from surviving the border blockade and Israel's recent military offensive in Gaza, which served to emphasize how hard it would be to bring Hamas down.
Ending Gaza's isolation has become more urgent since the war — reconstruction requires open borders and huge sums in foreign aid, already promised by donor countries. But Hamas seems in no hurry.
In the final stage of negotiations over prisoners this weekend, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to free 320 prisoners of the 450 Hamas was demanding.
Compromise on the prisoners might be seen in Gaza as inadequate compensation for the hardship that befell the territory after Hamas-allied militants captured Schalit in a cross-border raid in 2006. Israel closed Gaza's borders, bombed Gaza's only power station and unleashed military strikes that killed hundreds.
Hamas is also under pressure from the families of prisoners not to leave any lifers behind.
"Getting the prisoners out is more important than open borders," 70-year-old Khadije Salameh said Tuesday, flanked in her living room in the town of Khan Younis by the gold-framed posters of her imprisoned sons Hassan and Akram.
Hassan Salameh is among the 11 prisoners Israel says it will never free. Arrested in 1995, he is serving 48 life terms for masterminding several suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis.
The release of the 11 names and Olmert's pledge not to lift the blockade without Schalit will tie the hands of his designated successor, hard-line Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Hamas could have a tough time getting a better deal from Netanyahu.
The deadlock complicates the international community's plans for Gaza reconstruction.
"We are not able to bring anything in for rebuilding Gaza until the case of the Israeli soldier Schalit is resolved, and that's what the Israelis are telling us," Karen Abu Zayd, who runs the major U.N. aid agency in Gaza, said Tuesday.
Donor countries are ready to give billions of dollars to fix the war damage, including repairing or rebuilding 15,000 homes, but can't do so without open borders and won't give the money to Hamas.
The purpose of the Palestinian unity talks is to form an interim government made up of both rival factions until new elections are held by January 2010.
Such an arrangement would let funds start flowing, but would force Hamas to soften its opposition to Israel. And Hamas can't afford to compromise on its principles, especially with the possibility of elections in less than a year, said Hani Basoos, a Gaza analyst now based in Europe.
Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction, in contrast to Fatah, which seeks a Palestinian state alongside Israel. An implicit recognition of Israel would also undercut Hamas' main argument in any election campaign that Fatah's 16 years of peace talks with Israel have been a waste of time.
Hamas has shown that its stubbornness is not a negotiating tactic, Basoos said.
"If they wanted to compromise, they would have done it last year or the year before," he said. "It is a waiting game."
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spiral West Bank?

This is a very cleaver idea about dividing the West Bank. I do not know the author, but hope to have his/her/their permission to leave the link here. If not, it might disappear soon.

But I do like the attempt at further solution options besides what is being hashed over at the moment.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

And now what?

The new government of Israel.

The government of Gaza.

The government of the West Bank.

Millions still without a homeland after 67 years.

Who will step up and say enough is enough for the vast majority of Palestinians who do NOT live in Gaza or the West Bank.

It is time to "go around the bumps in the road".

The other countries of the region, yes Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon; it is time to "go around". You don't need the US. You don't need the EU. You don't need Russia or Iran or to get the process moving.

Yes there are many steps.

Yes they may not all succeed.

But no step proposed is dependent upon any of the other steps being accepted, implemented or traded in any way.

Each one stands or fall of its own weight.

But together they each put one more step in the path to a viable, vibrant and forward looking country for those who wish to join in the dream.

May they be Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis,Palestinians, Christians, Iraqis, Druze, Syrians or Jews from either Europe or Africa.

Together they can all chose to join together to create a new and wonderful path to peace in the region.

If not will you be the one to tell the children or the parents of the children that it is best for all if they just remain wanderers a little longer.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why perhaps a different approach? Because after 62 years the children should go home.

Hamas? no. Fatah? no. Reminder that this blog is for all the children of the area.

copy of letter sent to

Dear Common Ground:

While it indeed seems that there is stalemate in Palestine - Israel conflict it is my contention that taking the conflict as involving Palestinians and not Palestine per se is really more of a tract to take right now.

Peace process bogged down? Neither side budging?

GO around it all.

I have a number of steps that should be considered in finding a solution to Palestinians plight. Again NOT Palestine plight, Palestinian plight. And it needs to be made that. Palestinian's of all countries. Must millions continue to suffer while just one narrow avenue of solution is followed.

Nowhere do current solutions to the conflict leave a Palestine that is in anyway a functioning independent country with prospects for long term healthy advancement.

I encourage you to read some of my thoughts and comments at:

I encourage feedback, comments, arguments and perhaps, just perhaps the passing of some of my ideas to others in the area for their input as well.

Gary L. Tucker

Denver Colorado USA

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

East Jerusalem - Amman as capital.

For decades now it has been the wish of the Palestinian people to reclaim long lost territories and to return to East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent state.  This wish, nay demand, is rooted in long held emotions of times lost.  And of promises yet fulfilled.

However I am here to make the case that Amman should be considered for the seat of Government for the King and the Legislative Bodies.  And Jerusalem sound be considered for the seat of all Courts of Greater Palestine.

Amman has the infrastructure for the largest part of running the government.  The ministry buildings, telecommunications, transportation, offices of foreign delegations, to say nothing of the residence of the King, all make Amman the logical choice for the seat of the Executive and Legislative bodies.

However the case can easily and rightfully be made for East Jerusalem to be the Judicial capital of the nation.  This is done in other countries.  South Africa springs instantly to mind. 

The administrative staff for the highest levels of the Judicial branch are not as large.  As much of the work of the judiciary is also done at various government and religious levels spread throughout the country, the need for a large central body is also decreased.

However it cannot be overlooked that the oversight of the supremacy of law should and could find no better home than Jerusalem.

The promise of protection of ALL people to rights, fairness, freedom and the  eternal vigilance of that promise is indeed at home in a city such as East Jerusalem. 

And it is that state of mind of freedom that no border or amount of land can really be used to define a people.  A border may define a city, but it does not define the laws that one believes in.  And it should not stop freedom from being everywhere, under any sky.

It may be one block, it may be one hectare, it may be hundreds of sq km.   But one could rightfully say, "And Justice, for me, will always be in East Jerusalem."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Northeast Sinai to Greater Palestine

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, it is my belief that what almost all of the adjacent countries can really do to help kick start a new Greater Jordan.  Egypt is no exception.   My idea is just the very eastern part of the North Sinai Governate.  

The addition of Taba to the Haql, Aqaba, Eilat ring of cities is I feel vital.  The transformation of the Taba airport for either airfreight or military use would create just that many more jobs in the region while leaving the Aqaba Airport for civilian use and the Eilat Airport to revert to other uses for such centrally located land.

The addition of territories to the northern coastal plain I feel will also add not only to the economics of a new Greater Palestine, but it will be a major emotional boost to have such a long coastal region to ring the Gaza Strip.  I feel that the idea of being able to expand out in ALL directions from the former enclave will be a very dramatic and empowering feeling.  Not only for those who live there currently, but any who many wish to move to the area upon the expansion.  

The redirection of the current cites of the Gaza to being the center of a much larger region will do much to promote the idea of new possibilities.  The freedom to now turn ones attention to moving forward with a new life.

And finally it will be, much as the addition of a bit of Saudi territory, a signal to others that perhaps this new Greater Palestine is actually a place to go to for a new life for more than just the Palestinians.   That peoples from different back rounds can indeed find a new start here.  

The Iraqis, Saudis, Egyptians, Bedouins, Christians, Jews and others who find themselves living in the Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine have indeed found a new and welcoming home.

And they will all have to work together to make it a reality.

And what really do the Egyptians and Saudis who now live in these areas perhaps get by staying and becoming citizens of Greater Palestine.   I think in the end it is because being a part of Greater Palestine, even with as much work that will be need to be done, is such a greater part of the whole than they currently are in their respective homelands now.  Each slice of the proposed Egypt or Saudi Arabia to join Greater Palestine; are they now but on the very edge of awareness with their current countries.  

I am in no way saying that they are not wanted and a part of each of their respective countries.  But I am saying that perhaps by moving to a smaller pond they will become, overnight, much bigger fish.   

And they are not in any way that much different people in either Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Greater Palestine.  They can just help become a part of a different and exciting new story.

Just a thought.

Oh yes. What about that section?

Click on image to enlarge.

Palestinian Children Refugees

Palestinian Refugee Camp part 3

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lebanon Refugee Camp part 2

Lebanon Refugee Camp part 1

So to recap thus far and at this critical juncture of time.

The Palestine Road 35 Peace Plan/Sulha is based upon a few overwhelming factors.

Starting with that around 2/3's of all Palestinians do not live in the present West Bank or Gaza or do not live in a permanent home and no concrete solution for that is even been presented to be debated.

The current Arab/Saudi Plan does nothing to really create a viable economically forward looking united country of Palestine.

Israel just cannot let go of a few issues such as land neck along the coast, water resources in the upper West Bank and recognition that there is a united and willing participant government on the other side of any agreement.

Each faction in the dispute, and there are more than just two, or even three or four, have become so focused on their small part of the puzzle and what they need to do to settle just their part in their favor, that all are looking down and focusing on a small part of the puzzle.

My concept is to distract away from this current negotiations by offering a much much larger idea to consider.   

In each step of this developing plan, the current step between any two parties is not contingent on any action or response by any other party not involved.   Hence Saudi Arabia trading land with Jordan is not contingent on anyone else doing or promising to do anything else.  (The one exception is Israel giving the Golan to Greater Palestine with the acceptance by Syria, but this step is just an idea for long term viability, is rooted in a water sharing concept and the concept itself is not contingent on any outcome of any kind.)

It is also to be noted that this plan requires that no one leaves their current home.  If anyone wants to stay right where they are that is their right.  It will just be agreed that at some point in time in the future the sovereignty of the land upon which you live may change.  If anyone does wish to move the plan recognizes that someone else may wish to purchase or rent your home or living space.   This is to be negotiated as any other real estate transaction.  

Anyone living and owning property in any area in which sovereignty changes is entitled to continue to own that land and pass on that land as long as they wish.  This shall negate any claims upon land by anyone before 1947.   

As part of the process Israel will agree to transfer sovereignty of some of southern Israel to Jordan.   This is not conditional on any other countries or peoples agreement.  

Gaza and certain parts of the lower West Bank will be recognized as independent and can vote to join or not to join The Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine.  That is their decision.   But they are voting to join an established country with established laws and government.  This is part of the deal.  If any agree to join the new Greater Palestine then they are citizens of the new expanded nation and will have full rights and responsibilities as do all citizens.

Whatever the vote all will be Palestinians where ever they live.

 It is my hope that the 5 provinces of Gaza are allowed to vote separately but that is not a requirement. 

 Because the the provinces of the lower West Bank are not all separately connected to the new Kingdom of Greater Palestine they will have to all vote as one.  The outline of that part of Jerusalem is not of my willingness to outline. 

 I can only say that I believe that it is based upon two lines of thinking.  
One is that any solution must mean that the entrance to and sovereignty over the Temple Mount must not mean the crossing of any country boundary or through any check point that is not controlled by a country of the Muslim faith.  

The second is a numbers trade off.  The more Muslims that can be put on the southern West Bank divide the less that are remaining in any remaining Israeli sovereign territory.  

It is also my belief that this idea allows for numerous examples, (and more to come) of economic incentives for expansion in the newly formed Greater Palestine

   This expansion will lead to many of the younger Palestinians and those displace in other countries to find a desire to move to those areas of jobs in the new Greater Palestine.  

Any Palestinian moving from another country to Greater Palestine may apply for citizenship in the newly expanded country.

If all provinces/governates of Gaza and Hebron, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem all vote to join Greater Palestine then all Palestinians everywhere shall become citizens of Greater Palestine instantly( if not a recognized citizen of any other country).  If any provinces/governates of Gaza and/or the Lower West Bank vote against joining Greater Palestine then those Palestinians outside of those areas who do not wish to become citizens of Greater Palestine shall then be considered citizens of the remaining Palestine.   Those Palestinian citizens living in the Upper West Bank can chose to become Israeli citizens or not.  To become an Israeli citizen one must own land in Upper West Bank and to have lived their before land transfer to Jordan of the southern portion of Israel.

Any Jews, Druze, Christians, Bedouins living in any territory that does not end up being under the sovereign control of Israel have the right to remain just where they are.  They are to have the full protection of the law of the land to which they remain.  They may apply for citizenship of Greater Palestine if they wish.

Map of Golan Heights in Greater Palestine?

Click on image to enlarge.

The Golan Heights in Greater Palestine?

Most of what I am about to expand upon in this current posting is based upon the linked article with appropriate footnotes included with the article.

As you can see in this sulha, the sovereignty of Golan Heights (less the Shaaba Farm to Lebanon) is transfered to the New Greater Palestine instead of back to Syria.
The reason for this is less for military and geopolitical reasons than more the current reality in 2009 that the biggest threat to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and ANY solution to the Palestinian question is WATER!!!!!!

Lebanon has more water than it knows what to do with.  Literally it has done nothing to improve major water initiatives on a major scale for years.  Of course with Syria and Israel with boots on the ground for the better part of a quarter of a century the Lebanese can be forgiven not having the long term stability to do more.

And what Lebanon has done, even on a small scale is impressive.  But in there lies the rub.  It seems that a lot of that attention and priority are for the urban plains for water and power while much irrigation posibilities, (read here Shia population of the east and southern portions of the country.  And of course it cannot be overlooked that the number one source of water in the entire country just happens to flow, in the form of the Litani River, from the eastern valleys southward before taking a 90 degree right turn towards the Mediterranean.  All this flows through the highest concentration of Shia in the country.  

And that amazing 90 degree turn:  well it happens just before it would enter Israel.  

But back to the Shia.  The only really amazing engineering on the Litani over the past many decades has been the damming and then diversion of some 230+ MCM of water through the Markaba-Awali tunnel to provide water and power for the coastal areas.  You have to give it to the Lebanese on this plan.  It goes through 4 seperate penstocks on its way and is taped for electrical generation at each drop. These series of 4 drops provide 35% of all of Lebanon's power.  The last one does send power to the lower southwest of Lebanon, otherwise it is pretty well directed ouside of the Litani (read Shia) territory.

In all of Lebanon it is estimated that well over 1,000 MCM of fresh water flows either into the Mediterranean or otherwise out of the coutry without being used.   In the water starved Middle East this is considered by many to be a crime.

Perhaps 40% of that flow out of Lebanon occurs, on average, every year from just the Litani emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.  

Somehow, long term, this is going to have to change.  Virtually every country in the region, no matter whom they like or dislike or are aligned with or put up with, any and all, will tell you that if push comes to shove the only thing that ALL of them would go to war over is water.  Three countries, and one that hopes to be, are quickly out growing current water supplies and all five countries know it and two decades hence is a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.

And the other four countries or want to be countries, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Jordan have four other major problems with water besides the lack thereof.  Much of the water they do have is long distances from where they really would like it to be.  Some such as Jordan and any Palestinian state don't have access to water that they claim is theirs either cheaply or at all.
And  much of the water source for Israel, Jordan and Palestine at some points become dangerously high in salt content.  The lower Sea of Galilee has 10 times the salinity of the Litani River at the bend.   And all of this water use is straining the Dea Sea.  It is dropping each year.  This opens sink holes, perhaps causes earthquakes and ruins any long term viability for tourism.  (Yes this is a lovely hotel but the Dead Sea is now way over there).

Syria's major water source, the Euphrates, is actually in the far east of the country.  And it's flow is entirely dependant on the will of Turkey.  Of course Syria has then the same ownership before handing it off to Iraq.  Oh the neighborhood.

But back to the original four states.   If there is to be any long term solution for water in the critical four state area surrounding the Golan, the only country I see being able to play the peace keeper and even gatekeeper in any long term solution would be Greater Palestine.  Greater Palestine is the only one who can deal in any credible way with all the other players.  Every other nation has too much baggage with any other country to be mediator.  And Greater Jordan is also the only one who is going to be able to act as broker to see that first the Shia along the Litani are made part of a comprehensive plan to utilize the water they are losing now to the sea.  Desalination plants in lower Lebanon, powered by power from the Golan, could effectively serve much of the larger cities of southern Lebanon.  Also a series of small retention dams in the hills on both sides of the Litani as it passes through the southern Lebanon mountains would provide a much larger and more stabe source of water than from the Litani.  And the distance for piping (always a major cost) would be relatively shorter than to pump all the way to the Jordan River Valley.

Then the idea of water from the bend of the Litani can be diverted, not directly to Israel, as is most assumed, but instead moving a little more easterly and then flowing along the lower parts of the Golan to the southern edge of the Heights.

Now here is where it again gets interesting.  The Yarmuk River is the upper border of Jordan/Syria and then becomes for a while the border Jordan/Golan.   It empties into the Jordan River and is a major contributor.  Although it flows into the Jordan at something like 100 parts per million of salt.  (Average river is 120 ppm)

This source provides almost 50% of all of Jordans 700mcm of water usage a year.  But the Yarmuk floods almost every winter at the rate of 100-240 MCM that goes to waste.  Ideally to let Syria take more from upstream at this time and contain and to let the rest be diverted into the Sea of Galilee would capture almost all of this otherwise wasted water supply.

If the proposal to take 400 MCM of water from the Litani River before making the bend, piping it over to the lower Golan of Greater Palestine and sending it across towards Israel, at the same time picking up all the runnoff from the Golan would add immeasurably to the water basin.  In this scenario Syria could impound and take a larger slice of the Yarmuk for the Daraa Governate of Syria.

Greater Palestine could divert all of the flood waters of the Yarmuk to the Sea of Galilee for impounding before capturing 40% of the discharge again as usable water.

Also of note here the water coming in the pipe from the Litani flows 20 ppm of salinity.   A diversion of some to the Sea of Galilee and the rest flowing on to the East Ghor Canal would improve salinity in both areas. 

In a perfect world, and perhaps before any such project like this might get off the ground, all sides would agree to play nice and the water from the Litani would drop into Hasbani River (the closest source to the Litani that drains into the Jordan River Valley system)  If all the water entering at the top went out the bottom on the Jordanian side the Israelis would not get any more water directly from this source but would get a much reduced salinity rate at the southern outlet to the Sea of Galilee.  Also the to any Jordan River flow means in the end more flow that can conceivably NOT have to flow into the Dead Sea if other diversion schemes for the Dead Sea are implemented.  

It is also of note that water taken from the Sea of Galilee actually travels as far as the Negev.  This would probably be replace by other sources closer to the area of need allowing for more usage closer to the Sea of Galilee.

Adding to the water picture is the proposal to have one pipeline run from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea through Israel.   The other is a Red Sea/Dead Sea pipeline.   A part of the cost rcovery of both of these projects is based upon the fact that the Dead Sea is some 1200ft or 400m below sea level.  Any power to pump, (desalinated or not or perhaps in dual pipelines carrying both at the same time) and sent to the Dead Sea can be made up somewhat by harnessing the power of just such a major drop at the end of the pipeline.

Why go to all that bother to send water to a salty sea?   Because to control the level of the surface of the Dead Sea does two things.  It creates a set boundary for the Dead Sea.   This allows for an major increase in the use of the Dead Sea for a tourist destination.  This has not been the case in the past many decades.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, to maintain any semblance of maintaining the lake, over 1,000 MCM of water from the Jordan River has to enter the lake each year to attempt to maintain that level.   If this level is maintained by other sources, the need to send so much fresh water into the Dead Sea is no longer needed.

Which brings us back to sovereignty of the Golan.   By having Greater Palestine take sovereignty many things could be accomplished at the same time.  Keep in mind that a pipeline running across the lower Golan is in basis a major obstacle, a wall if you will.  Greater Palestine allowing any former Syrians who used to live there to return is not out of the question.  The Druze who currently remain in the Golan can also stay.  Any Israelis who wish to remain, also welcome.  Any new people from any where else can also feel free to find a home.   This is of course with one caveat:  I would love to see some good portion of the Golan Heights of Greater Palestine filled with wind turbines.  Oh a number of those large ones here and there but also perhaps more as pictured above.

I know that wind power is all the rage and is needed to provide alternative energy.  But to me the one great disadvantage to wind power is that it is not steady.  This limits usage.  But the one usage that it can do with great aplomb:  it can be used to desalinate and pump water over long periods of time.   If water is not needed right now this instance and can be moved from one storage area to another over a long period of time and at an uneven rate.  Well then wind power is just fine.

And all of the water projects in and around the Golan and Greater Palestine all need one thing.  Power.  Of course many of the projects proposed can also make power.   But if you want to build a lot of mini retention ponds or mountain lakes without the added cost of major hydroelectric potential, but still need power for usage, then wind power from the Golan would fit just nicely.   And the need for very long water pipelines and worry about the changing rate not only during any given year but over a great span of time can be greatly mitigated.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Refugee's need a way forward even after any peace.

Just a reminder that any solution between Israel and Palestine must take into account many who are in reality homeless many do not live in either Gaza or the West Bank.    And they have been homeless for decades.  
A solution is going to have to give them not only a home but a way forward.

  (click on image to make it larger)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


So now I am looking at an outline of just what I think Israel might, under the right conditions, really give for peace.   (A repeat of the map is posted just below this entry.)

Yes I think Israel would give this land for peace.  But to whom?  At this point certainly not either government of the West Bank or Gaza.  Then what is the point?

The point, to me, is that all of the population of the West Bank and Gaza represent just @35% of all Palestinians.  Any long term peace initiative is going to have to include the other 65% or nothing is going to really work anyway.

So now we are back to Sudoku.  (If seven goes there in this quadrant, then seven has to go there in that quadrant.)  If Israel is willing to give up a certain amount of land never before considered as a solution, and it is not any current Palestinian government, whom then should they give it too?

The only two possibilities are of course Egypt and Jordan.  They are the only two countries contiguous to the proposed land.   If all things were equal this would be a toss up between either country.  Both have long histories to the area and the conflict.  Both are at peace with Israel.  

But I go back to the core principle of the Sulha 35 idea.  What would make a Palestinian pack up and move from where they are now.  Currently neither Jordan nor Egypt are really primed to be opening their borders to perhaps millions of people.  

But in all reality it would be Jordan that would be easiest to make "Palestinian friendly".  Foremost almost 30% of all Palestinians worldwide already live in Jordan.  This is by far the highest number outside of Palestine itself.

Now all we need to think about is how best to quickly enhance both Jordan's desire to welcome new neighbors and how to make Jordan want to be the destination of millions of Palestinians.

For this we go back in history to Jordan's very height of wealth.   The age of the Nabateans and Petra.  It was the trade center between North, South, East and West.  If Israel's gift to Jordan is as envisioned, that entire quadrant of trade and travel corridors opens once again.

As a center between North Africa and the Middle East I could also envision a Military arm of perhaps the Arab League wanting a naval base of some sort to combat piracy in the Indian ocean and for protection in the Mediterranean.  Also troops trained and stationed for rapid response to natural disasters such as earthquakes could also take advantage of the central location.

But what would really open up and provide perhaps thousands of jobs very quickly is to build a series of railroads running from perhaps Suez down towards Eilat/Aqaba - Duba - Jeddah - Mecca and the rebuilding of a Damascus - Ammon - Tabuk - Medina - Mecca rail as well.  

The Sulha 35 Plan also is based upon everyone in the area giving to Jordan what it can most afford to give, not only at this time, but at any time and that is land.  Land with quick economical value.  Land that means more to a New Jordan that to any of the present owners of such land.

In the beginning it centered on a Saudi/Jordan land swap.   Although this has been done before on a much smaller scale,  for Saudi Arabia to trade the land just directly south of Jordan for land in the desert would be of quick short term value to Jordan and have much longer term value for both Jordan and  Saudi Arabia.  

Jordan seems to be much more geared to take advantage of Gulf of Aqaba strengths than Saudi Arabia.  That entire region is much more on the radar of the Jordanian government for possibilities while to Saudi Arabia it is the far northern outpost.

Then again trading for land in the desert would give Saudi Arabia direct contact with Syria and a part of the Mediterranean to southern Iraq trade routes.  A military presence by the Saudi's further north in the New Saudi Arabia would be a great check on Syrian/Iranian presence in the area.

With a combined military/naval/air station center on the lower part of a New Jordan, that would be a major employer for the new region.  Perhaps at or near Aynunah Bay.

Next you have the combined Haql, Aqaba, Eilat, Taba ring city.  Use the Aqaba airport for all commercial flights to the area, let the Taba airport become again either a military airbase or even better a regional air cargo transhipment center.  The Eilat airport can be transfixed into a shopping center, higher education campus or a museum campus of various forms.

The synergies created by 4 cities and three borders becoming 4 cities in one country cannot be overlooked.  

 On an ecological note, it might also be pointed out that the potential for wind or solar generation in the extended Jordan, while lowering transmission distances to major population centers is also a possibility.   

But then again, to be discussed further later, the options for bringing desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan Valley becomes a much more viable option that the currently proposed Gulf of Aqaba to the Dead Sea project which might have untoward repercussions on the balance of the water in the Gulf.

So it can be said that a there is a great possibility for economic expansion in Southern Jordan, Israel and the Sinai of Egypt by the addition of a small corner of Northwest Saudi Arabia being traded to Jordan.  This expansion is all the more probable if indeed Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt recognize the dynamic power of removing the political and economic boundary from around the Taba, Eilat, Aqaba, and Haql city ring.

It must also at this point be noted that, if indeed, Israel were to voluntarily relinquish sovereignty over much of south Israel to Jordan, that at this point it is really time to rename Jordan as "THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF GREATER PALESTINE".

Indeed "Jordan" or more precisely "Transjordan" was created in 1921 by the British.  Before that all of the territory was a part of a governate of Syria in the Ottoman Empire.

If there is indeed to be meaningful peace going forward the transformation to The Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine is to be a big step.  And with the land and such a huge population of Palestinians already within their borders, Jordan has as much right to change to Greater Palestine as say East Palestine or New Palestine.

I also cannot stress how much just expanding the basic framework of the current Jordanian Royal House and Jordanian laws and government to include newly acquired territories and peoples of a permanent and welcoming nature would give any transformation of that area much greater stability and legitimacy.

Refresher of what Israel might give for peace.

Click on image to enlarge

Debt of Gratitude to Google Maps

As I have said earlier, I spent more than a few months thinking about all of this.  Why now am I posting much of this?  You might think it was because of the current Gaza conflict.  I cannot deny that timing of this is unusual.  

However what really got me going was discovering a new (new to me anyway) bell and whistle on Google Earth.   As you might have already noticed all the maps presented here are from Google Earth.   What I discovered is the "path" feature.  

Before this discovery I had been trying desperately to find a way to draw credible maps of my concepts that could be presented clearly on the internet.   This had been a major part of my energy since perhaps late fall.

It was only when I discovered that by creating a "path" on Google Earth that I could create a credible facsimile of what I was trying to convey.  It is however not an easy task.  It took hours to do just one of the many outlines I created.   And more than once, always near the end of a multiple hour endeavor, I would make a slip of the hand or touchpad and ruin all my work for that session.

So much of the fine detail of proposed boundaries is really, on close inspection, not really that accurate and I don't hold out that they are.  Also boundaries such as to be determined in East Jerusalem or even just the Jerusalem Governate are very sketchy  at best.  I for one would never begin to know every block, street and district on which such things will be decided.

I, again, feel that it is only if some solution for the Palestinian people includes access to the Temple mount that does not involve entering another country, then and only then, will some sort of settlement on East Jerusalem be solved.  

Another factor for the Israeli side.  East Jerusalem Governate has in the area of 500.000 people.  Putting as many of those on the other side of any agreed upon final boundary, without the need to move anyone, is indeed a microcosm of what the greater Sulha 35 is all about as well.

So you put much of Hebron Governate, Bethlehem Governate and Jerusalem Governate on the other side of a solution and the number of people that you have to entice to move from Upper West Bank is just that easier of a task.  And the realization that, while they in no way have to move, many of the Jewish settlements in Lower West Bank are a part of that trade as well.

Israel's dilemma

Israel has been haunted for years in search of a peace plan not knowing how to overcome some very basic problems in the current trend of negotiations.

One has been the security factor.  As military options have made reaction time become even shorter, the narrow neck of coastal Israeli land has never been more perilous.  

Another has been the higher birth rate among non Jewish peoples in the entire Israel/Palestine area.  It is a ticking time bomb for some sort of solution against the current almost one state reality of the region.

This, mixed with the more balanced coverage of the media covering the conflict, has also pushed Israel between a rock and a hard place.

As time has gone on much of the negotiated solutions have addressed so much land with so many people.  The West Bank has become a maze of horror to attempt this balancing act.

From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Israel just cannot seem to let go of any land.

So I got to thinking.  Just what WOULD Israel give up?  This I pondered long and many months.

Then of course the line "It does not mention any Hiltons on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Bible."

So I started there.   Slowly moving north.  Area by area.  Could Israel live without Eilat?  What about Dimona?   Would Israel give up Beersheba for peace?

This thinking went back and forth for literally months.   What would the Israeli's give for peace?   What would they be willing to trade to make that narrow gap along the sea miraculously grow wider and wider?

Then I found about the South District of Israel.  

Now we were talking.  But it was just too much.  Close.  But too much.   Mainly too many people and too many military considerations again (bases, nuclear research facilities).   There was also sights such as Masada.  I just did not think that that could be on the table.   Also there was the great barrier of the Dead Sea and the evaporation ponds.  Can't buy fortifications like that.

So time and time again I revisited the maps of the South District.   Move this line over.  Put that one back.  This line up, that is 100,000 people who would feel the compulsion to move.  Move it back down, they can stay right were they are with no qualms.   In the upper reaches I kept coming back to Highway or Route 35.  The road to Hebron.   Connected the West Bank and Gaza: check.  Nice balance of farm land below with potential for sale/trade with farmers in the Upper West Bank.

And finally it came to Ashkelon.   I had already decided upon Elat and Beersheba as being tradable.  Dimona and Arod not so much.   What would get people to pick up, take all their possessions and leave places like Ramallah and Nablus?  To say nothing of people in East Jerusalem.   Eilat and Beersheba was not enough.  Ashkelon would have to be part of the trade.

So I settled my mind on Route 35.   What below Route 35 would Israel give away?  Keep?  A wall right down the center of much of divided Route 35 could be up in no time.  Sulha 35 just grew from the image of Route 35.

Then, like a Sudoku puzzle, it seems that if this goes there, then that has to go there.  I just kept working like that all based upon Route 35.  Again Sulha 35 Plan