Thursday, January 29, 2009

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.

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