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

35 up close

Click on image to make it larger

The 35 in Sulha 35

Click image to make it larger

Beginnings of Sulha 35 Plan

Sulha 35 is based upon the concept that any solution to the Palestinian question must include a clear plan for economic growth and stability going forward.  I just don't ever see that happening using the framework of establishing two separate areas of the current Gaza strip and the proposed 1967 West Bank boundaries.

This is especially true of all Palestinians NOT living currently within those borders.  This is not a solution for almost 70% of all Palestinians today.  

Within the framework of current negotiations, the sticking point of "right of return" is addressed over and over again to no avail.  The Sulha 35 Plan instead changes this point to one of "right to not leave".  Thus any Palestinian or Israeli living where they are currently living, under the Sulha 35 Plan, no matter what boundaries are redefined or redrawn, no one is to be made to move to some other place without free self will.

It is, instead, the proposal that many of the neighboring effected countries gather together to provide a very compelling permanent destination alternative for the millions of displaced and embattled Palestinians and Israelis.  The Sulha 35 Plan even includes possible solutions for a large Druze population of the region.

We can consider Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and the current Palestinian settlement areas as all being possibilities to a solution.

Any long term viable economic and peace settlement, in my mind, must provide a "one contiguous country" possible solution for the Palestinians that became a major factor in considerations.

This meant then, finding a way to induce Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel to remodel thinking towards a solution.  Israel is commited to a two state solution with one being a Jewish state with a very high Jewish majority of the population in a defendable and historical position. 

So what could Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt really bring to the table?

First there should be a determined effort to create a viable alternative path to a just solution.  This new path, in my mind, involves those countries around Jordan to provide something besides money and lip service to peace.  

Saudi Arabia should consider a land swap.  A land swap much larger than the one done a few decades ago to expand Aqaba.  This swap would entail a large stretch of land south of the current boundaries of Jordan to provide a country with a greatly expanded coastal area.  Although this area is currently not that populated, it could become a very viable source of potential growth for the citizens of Jordan, Palestinian refugees as well as Iraqi refugees.  

Tourism, transportation centers and perhaps a location for an Arab League military installation spring instantly to mind.  

Later we will present a small portion of Egypt that also could be traded to the present day Jordan to also greatly expand the possibilities of commerce.

This model in and of itself would provide not only a new and balanced alternative to temporary (or as temporary as anyone can consider 67 years) Palestinian refugees as well as Iraqi refugees but also I would hope find great favor for the current Jordanian government to undertake the consideration of this path.  

I also mention in a post later on why I feel that Syria should consider giving up the rights to the Golan Heights not to Israel but to Jordan as well.   This would be a major keystone in the long simmering hostilities in the area.   The current Druze population on the Golan, as well as any current Israeli or returning Syrians, would all be welcome to either stay or return to their homelands.   

The Syrians would get major recognition from all sides for moving a step closer to peace.  They would also join a major water compact with Jordan which is also to be discussed later in this blog.  It is also my hope that the Golan will become a major source of wind power for the area and a transit point for a water compact with Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

It is then my contention that with these three land trades, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, that Jordan then takes the mantle of The Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine.  These newly acquired territories and people to then enjoin to the government and political system that is currently in place in Jordan.

It is also my firm belief that King Abdullah II of Jordan and his government will in short order bring the new regions and peoples into the current system.  It is also my contention that with the expanded territories and possibilities that accepting those that were once not so included will change.

Even at this point there could be a Palestine and a Greater Palestine.  Each is not dependant on any quid pro quo by anyone else or each other.

It is at this point however that the next step in the progression to peace would be for the Kingdom of Greater Palestine to negotiate with Israel on the idea of Israel offering a good chunk of the Negev and parts of the coastal plain of southern Israel to Jordan.  It could be done in stages.  Perhaps only one stage is accepted.  Perhaps just Aqaba and surrounding area.  But then again perhaps Israel can come around to the point of view that my proposal for land to be given up by Israel to Greater Palestine is in the best interest of long term peace.  And with a friendly neighbor between Israel and Gaza.......   That is very tempting.

And here again vast amounts of the proposed land to trade are not as historically and culturally as important in Israeli history as perhaps it is in the Palestinian and Arab histories.
I do recognize the significance of Hebron, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem.  But here I feel that the importance of a contiguous state and one that includes East Jerusalem in some form or fashion is to be a major goal for peace.  If although it is not a single state but perhaps Greater Palestine and Palestine, then freedom of movement between the two states I hope will be a given.

As to Gaza joining Greater Palestine.  I do not know.  Surrounded by what is hopefully other Palestinians and other Arabs, the Hamas will see fit to join.  If they do not, then let them too carry on as a sovereign state.   

Again this is not anything that is conditional on anyone currently living in Gaza or the West Bank agreeing on or being a bargaining chip.

But if Israel can see the value of having the Kingdom of Greater Palestine as a negotiating partner of increased strength and being positioned between the current Gaza and West Bank in the form of land on the coastal plain, then this step can move forward.

It is at this point that I remind all that this in no way requires any Palestinian in either the West Bank or Gaza to relinquish control over any territories that they currently occupy.   They may remain there for as long as they so desire.  They never have to give up sovereignty of what is theirs  as of right now.

And if indeed the Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine were to ask those of the 5 governates of Gaza to vote to join Greater Palestine then that would be up to both mutual parties.

And if the lower part of the West Bank were to vote as one to join Greater Palestine, that too is for them to decide if and when the time should ever come.  They can vote as well to NOT join.  That is for them to decide.

And all peoples, whether Jordanian, Saudi, Egyptian, Druze, Israeli, Iraqi, Palestinian or Christian can stay just where they have always lived as of right now.   But they can also have the freedom to move somewhere else;  to keep their homes and businesses to live in or to rent out or to sell.  Even as lands may change sovereignty that does not mean that anyone has to move.  In summation this is a plan for the right of NOT having to move.

Whether they also remain as citizens of their former country or chose to join as citizens of their new homelands, that too is totally up to them.  

As I write this I know that the cry is going up, "what about the northern West Bank?"  Well it seems to me that over time the Palestinians of the West Bank have negotiated to live and govern in relatively defined areas.  (See Oslo Accords).  It is my contention that if and indeed the Greater Kingdom of Palestine comes to fruition that the areas of Palestinian control in the northern West Bank be thought of as semi islands off the coast of Greater Palestine.

They would, of course, be under Israeli control and sovereignty, but again what has changed in 67 years about that.  They also would be allowed to move, stay, buy, sell or rent.  They could become citizens of Greater Palestine or remain citizens of Palestine or citizens of Israel.   It is my contention that Israel would leave much of the local governance to the current leaders as a matter of course.

(Later on I go into some detail about how allowing a Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine to be created and to grow and prosper is perhaps the one viable solution to Israel's ongoing water crisis.   This, more than perhaps defense or demographic shift, is the real ticking time bomb for Israel over the next few decades.)

I have, later in this blog, proposed a transportation method to connect the northern enclaves to a Greater Palestine in a manner that I feel would be most agreeable to Israel.  Over time it is my wish that they return to the harmony once enjoyed by the citizens of the area perhaps a century ago.

And in a sense this also would be the solution to the problem of the "right of return".  In this case it would be to enjoy the right "not to leave".   Those returning in other areas would be returning, not perhaps to their original lost homes, but to a country poised for peace and with a great unbound potential for growth.

In the end it is imagined that it is inevitable that large numbers of people WILL be likely to want to move.  But here the amounts of peoples of ALL parties seem to me to be fair and equitable.  

I also cannot but hope and pray that with a solution such as this that ALL the countries and parties of the region can again return to focusing on living and finding health, wealth and solace.  

As for the timetable for this, let us start tomorrow and find out.

Jordan / Saudi land trade: Step 1

Click on Image to make it larger.

The new Israel. And what of the rest?

The picture below is an outline of what Israel would become under the Sulha 35 Peace plan.

This boundary is, of course, open to debate and discussion.  

As to the question of East Jerusalem:  I am of the mind that it will, in the end, be as it always has been a balance of security over numbers.  In the end I believe that the overriding principle for a just solution is for the area of the Dome of the Rock to be accessible to all Arabs without having to cross Israeli land to do so.

This boundary outline also shows that northern West Bank of Palestine is to remain within Israel.  Thus in my Sulha 35 Peace Plan it is not so much a "right of return" as it is a "right to not leave".  

However my plan also is based upon creating an environment within a newly created New Jordan that becomes inductive to creating not only a homeland  for ALL Palestinians but also displaced Iraqis and others as well.  

The creation of a Hashemite Kingdom of Greater Palestine is not in any way based upon any negotiations or agreements that must be made between Israel and the citizens of Gaza or the West Bank. Indeed Israel and THEN Gaza and the citizens of the West Bank would be only the final steps in a much broader plan.

Could this be the boundary of a new Israel?

Click on picture to enlarge

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Hashemite Kingdom of .......

For the last 42 years Israel and Palestine have attempted to find a way to get back to a boundary line lost even longer ago in 1947.  The 1947 demarcations are even more blurry given the century long shifts of who goes where.

It seems that the very wide picture of a solution to the Israeli - Palestinian problem has been narrowed and focused over the years to where it is now fought street by street and hill by hill around a very tight set of requirements by both sides.  It is crossing those last few hurdles that have, it is generally agreed, ground to a halt for decades.  

It is my contention that the only real solution would be to back up, not to 1967, or 1947 but perhaps to a time and solution never even contemplated until now.

My solution is based upon a few very simple premises.  

1. Israel cannot let the narrow band of land between the Northern West Bank and the sea to be a finalized boundary for the two countries.

2 No Palestinian state can thrive and provide a homeland for all refugees living in other countries based upon the two divided parcels existing today.  A solution for Palestine will need a viable solution to self creating of wealth.

3. A mechanism must be in place for ALL eligible Palestinians to vote on any solution and form of government.

4. Any solution agreed to by both sides means that large numbers of people will be given the opportunity to move.  This "opportunity" should shared as equally as possible between countries.

5. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia cannot escape being part of any solution.

6. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Israelites owned a Hilton on the Red Sea.