Jordan's King Abdullah - the Ham in the Sandwich

by david singer - Date: 2007-03-10 - Word Count: 850 Share This!

Jordan's King Abdullah is a desperate man judging by his historic speech to the United States Congress on 7 March 2007 - and with good reason.

The Road Map - designed to create a second Arab state in former Palestine, in addition to Jordan -has unfolded in total disarray.

The Road Map had begun as a vision of President George Bush on 24 June 2002. It was an answer to, and a rejection of, the Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Arab League in Beirut just three months earlier.

The detailed provisions of the Road Map were finally endorsed and launched in a blaze of publicity in April 2003 by the strongest negotiating team ever assembled in world history -America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - affectionately dubbed the Quartet.

The Quartet's newly created State was to be born by 2005. But as of today, it is still only a twinkle in the eyes of its' sponsors and any prospects of conception, let alone its' birth, passed long ago.

On the face of it the Road Map was a sure fire winner. However its' failure to predict intransigent Arab negotiating positions was to prove its' downfall.

Only 6000 square kilometres of land known as the West Bank and Gaza was involved - an area about the size of Tokyo or Chicago.

Israel had already agreed to forego its' claims to at least 4000 square kilometres and possibly even more - depending on whose version you accept - in negotiations at Camp David presided over by President Clinton in 2000.

Surely all that was needed was a push and a shove, a tweak here and a tweak there, to divide the remaining 2000 square kilometres between the disputants thus ending what the Quartet seriously claimed to be the most intractable problem facing the world.

This has not occurred for two reasons - the Arabs wanted it all and they demanded that the 400000 Jews living there be thrown out.

Now King Abdullah has appeared before the US Congress to promote the Arab Peace Initiative as the way forward out of the Quartet's dilemma. But this Initiative demands precisely these very same unacceptable outcomes.

One must feel sorry for the predicament of King Abdullah being caught up as the unwilling filling in the Road Map - Arab Peace Initiative sandwich.

Arab unity demands he stand by the Arab Initiative and be seen to be one of its' major sponsors as the Arab world tries to rally international support for this totally flawed and outdated plan.

History and his heart should tell him something else - he needs to give the hapless Quartet the opportunity to re-route its' Road Map by announcing his readiness to negotiate the division of sovereignty of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel.

The reasons for this are compelling:

(i) Jordan was the last sovereign Arab occupier of the West Bank from 1948 -1967 during which time its' Arab residents were Jordanian citizens and subject to Jordanian law.

(ii) Such negotiations would conclude the division of the land contained in the Mandate for Palestine between the two successor States to the Mandate - Jordan and Israel.

(iii) The negotiations would take place within the parameters of the existing peace treaty signed by Israel and Jordan in 1994, where "deal breakers" such as refugees, Jerusalem and water have already been identified and solutions prescribed.

(iv) The negotiations could be concluded within a relatively short period of time based on the general principle that the heavily populated Arab areas would become part of Jordan whilst the heavily populated Jewish areas would become part of Israel

(v) No Arabs or Jews would be forced to leave their present homes. Where Jews or Arabs found themselves on the wrong side of the new border, they could be given the option of staying as citizens or being compensated if they wanted to move.

Jordan clearly does not have the strength to announce and enter into these negotiations of its own volition.

It needs the political, financial, and military support of the Quartet and the endorsement of the Arab League.

King Abdullah's plea to the Congress for "America's leadership in a peace process that delivers results not next year, not in five years, but this year" must be understood in the light of the choices now facing the Quartet, Jordan and the Arab League.

Following the Road Map in the direction of the Arab Peace Initiative can only lead to a dead end and guarantee many more years of death and suffering for the Jewish and Arab inhabitants in the region.

Dividing the West Bank between Jordan and Israel can open a new page in the Road Map that will answer His Majesty's emotional plea before the Congress for all people in the region to be allowed to live in peace and harmony.

Let us hope that the ingredients for the new peace sandwich will include lashings of encouragement and support by the Quartet and the Arab League for Jordan's central role in resolving the conflict.

If it doesn't, who will eat the stale sandwiches and who will be left to pick up the crumbs?

Related Tags: israel, palestine, peace, congress, america, bush, quartet, jews, russia, ham, sandwich, jordan, arab, president, king, united nations, european union, league, initiative, abdullah, mandate, west bank, gaza

David Singer is an Australian lawyer and conveyor of Jordan is Palestine International, an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor states to the Mandate for Palestine.

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