Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Comment by me posted to Economist May 25, 2011

In the end it is all about respective perceptions. Size, distance, water, ease of movement, what government said what when and what did they really mean and the most inexcusable one, whether an Israeli life or an Arab life is of more value or is considered a greater loss.
This entire mess was started by foreign powers promising the same things to many different people with an "ends justifies the means" mentality. That duplicite mentality has never left the prolonged tragedy that is the Israeli Palestinian conflict from either side or from any outside power offering to help.
Is it really the short distances involved or the weapons of the moment or is it the water underneath? Is it really the memories of lost land decades or centuries ago or is it the embarrassment of having to tell your fellow citizens that you have used huge portions of your own populations to cling to power and that their living in fantasies of what should be are duplicity of the highest order?
The world conspires by the allusion that peace between Israel and Palestinians is but a short checklist of easily solved problems by pragmatic leadership but the idea of the Jordanians and Palestinians finding common cause and direction is a fantasy beyond consideration. Perceptions.
I would like to add a few of my own that I think are perhaps never considered but would do much to promote peace in the region.
The first and most important is the reach of Israel all the way to the Gulf of Aqaba. It physically and mentally divides the Arab and Muslim world. There is no land route for a society that was founded on and thrived financially, intellectually and spiritually by the free movement of an entire society across vast distances. As Israel speaks of the Israel of old, the historic foundations of the Arab world of old are perhaps forgotten.
It is my belief that any peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab world might really start with a decision to make the exchange of any peace with the agreement to transfer sovereignty to all of the Negev south of the 30th parallel to Jordan.
Such a corridor would be a vast financial and mental boost not only to Jordan but to the entire Arab World. This in turn would perhaps make the re unification of a joint Jordanian/Palestinian homeland solution more in the realm of possibility. The promise of this international corridor would be a major incentive for all the Arab powers to rethink what they are willing to give and what needs to be done to solve the entire Palestinian peoples forced dislocation for the past six decades. Again perceptions. This is really the "corridor" in the modern age that is not indefensible.
Perhaps the long discussed Med/Red/Dead Sea water diversion project should go forward. But instead of raising the Dead Sea to recent levels perhaps the idea of raising it to approximately -1000 feet or -305 meters should be considered. It would involve the movement of a short distance of industrial, agricultural and residential areas but not a huge amount of population. It would however create a most effective major physical and mental boundary of the eastern West Bank for a vast majority of its distance. Jericho would become a seaside community.
Finally the perception of the West Bank/Jerusalem being one unified problem to be decided as such. Perhaps it should be considered as Jerusalem, al-Quds, Samaria and Judea (the western 2/3 rds). Perhaps they should be considered as the four distinct and separate areas that they are. Perhaps the proposal that the Palestinians of the West Bank might consider sovereignty of two and Israel of two. Totally of the Palestinians choice. The other two areas would become part of Sovereign Israel forever and the other two with basically 1967 borders would become part of a completely sovereign and united Jordan/Palestinian homeland. Respective Jewish, Muslim and other religious citizens of the affected areas would be allowed to choose the citizenship of their choice but would be allow to remain with full and equal protection and rights within their chosen area of residence.
If the Palestinians choose al-Quds and Western Judea a corridor of some width would be created to join this area to Gaza. Amman would be the administrative capital and al-Quds the judicial capital of a combined nation or federation of Jordanians and Palestinians.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon would donate portions of their countries to the new Jordanian/Palestinian homeland to also help with settlement. A regional water compact is for another time and discussion but is of vital importance to long term stability in the entire region as well.
Finally. The newly discovered gas fields offshore of Palestine and Israel would be used 50/50 to fund both the Jewish and Palestinians and their dependents displaced since 1947. It would also fund education on each side as to the "honest" history of their counterparts over the past centuries.

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