January 29, 2012
Palestine, Back to the FutureBy Ted Belman
There was a time when the lands now known as Israel (including Judea and Samaria and Gaza) and Jordan were called "Palestine." In fact, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 declared that "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
There followed considerable cooperation between the Jews, represented by Chaim Weizmann, and the Arabs living in Mespotamia, now Iraq and Jordan, represented by Emir Feisal. As a result, the Feisal-Weizman Agreement was signed in January 1919, in which it was agreed that the Jews would get the lands lying west of the Jordan River watershed to the Mediterranean.
Two months later, Feisal wrote to Felix Frankfuter, the then-leader of the American Zionists, extending a welcome:
Unfortunately, that initial agreement and embrace was overtaken by events. The British and the French had other plans.
Finally, the allied powers -- Britain, France, Italy, and Japan -- passed the San Remo Resolution in evidence of their agreement:
This agreement was binding in international law, as these powers had the right to dispose of these lands.
What remained was for the League of Nations to draw up the Palestine Mandate. Originally, the boundaries of Palestine included what is now Jordan, but a few months prior to the Palestine Mandate being passed by the League of Nations in September 1922, the Jews were told that they must consent to the removal of Jordan from the Jewish homeland if they wished the Mandate to be passed. And so they did, under duress. And so was born Article 25 of the Mandate:
Pursuant to this paragraph, Britain severed all lands lying east of the Jordan River from the Palestine Mandate and gave the lands to the Hashemites. It was first renamed Transjordan and then just Jordan.
When the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations in 1945, the Charter of the United Nations described "Mandates" as "Trusteeships" and specifically included in Article 80 the following:
There followed many resolutions, wars, and peace processes, all designed to erode Jewish rights to the land described in the Palestine Mandate, and all to no avail. For all intents and purposes, the peace process is dead, and Abu Mazen, otherwise known as Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the PA, has refused to negotiate for the last three years.
This futile effort has resulted in a search for alternate solutions. Newt Gingrich went public with his newsworthy statement that "[w]e've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community." Gov Romney did him one better and said, "It's the Palestinians who don't want a two-state solution; they want to eliminate the State of Israel." Didn't they know that in our PC world, one is not supposed to declare that the emperor has no clothes? The fiction underlying the failed peace process is more important than the truth.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution which provided that "peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people."
The Florida Senate just filed a similar resolution with some important changes. It was proceeded by these recitals, inter alia:
In it, the Members of the Senate affirmed:
Of particular interest is the fact that the Senate is affirming that the San Remo Resolution was a binding resolution under international law for the legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel. This flies in the face of all attempts by the international community to deny Israel those rights by asserting their interpretation of the provisions of Fourth Geneva Convention as making the settlements or the "occupation" illegal. The Fourth Geneva Convention does no such thing. Nor has anything else, since the Mandate in 1922, derogated such rights. Furthermore, U.N. Res. 181 , which was the basis of the Partition Plan, was a recommendation only. Also, SC Res. 242 didn't contradict the original rights of the Jews.
This resolution is expected to pass and also to be incorporated into the Republican Party platform.
If not the two-state solution, then what?
The "Jordan is Palestine" solution has been mooted for decades. It is now gaining traction due in part to the Arab Spring, which began a year ago. Jordan now is feeling the tremors. The majority of Palestinian leaders in Jordan favor Jordan becoming a democratic/secular state. They have watched in dismay as similar forces in Egypt were overwhelmed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. They are determined not to share Egypt's fate. They are led by Mudar Zahran, the author of "Jordan's King and the Muslim Brotherhood: An Unholy Marriage."
Zahran, in his ground-breaking article, "Jordan is Palestine," published by Middle East Forum in December 2011, argues:
The rationality and achievability of this solution need no elucidation. The solution itself needs only for the U.S. to get behind it. While such an initiative by the U.S. would be a departure from the position it has held since the founding of the State of Israel, it would not be a departure from her original position. As noted in the proposed Florida Senate resolution mentioned above, such a position was "affirmed by both houses of the United States Congress" in 1922. These resolutions unanimously endorsed the "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in the area of Palestine -- anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
And Zahran's brave stance -- in which he wants the new Jordan, governed by Palestinians, to embrace Israel in true friendship -- is also not new or novel. It is a return to Emir Feisal's warm embrace of the Jews in 1919.
Thus, we are returning to our future.
FOLLOW US ON