Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
Considering the choices, transfer is by far the most humane and the most politically promising policy Israel has amongst its dwindling options. Transfer, not as a response, but as an initiative; not as a punishment, but as a palliative. Let's agree that a two-state solution is the only political way out of the present conundrum. Two states for two peoples. The Jews here, the Palestinians there. Yet a two-state solution is just not feasible if applied to the tiny sliver of land nestled between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Two sovereign governments, two armies, cheek to jowl, eyeball to eyeball, squabbling over a field here, a hilltop there, whose waste flows where, airspace, shipping passages, weapons arsenals... The past two years of daily conflict have proven that a two-state solution west of the Jordan doesn't stand a chance. We are doomed to a terror forecast that will read much like the weather: ups and downs, hot spells, days when the heat breaks, storms and calms, but, like the weather, always with us, always worth noting before you leave the house.
Jordan, which comprises most of the land mass of mandatory Palestine, is a country of which 75% of its citizens is Palestinian. It is a Palestinian state in all but name and king - King Abdullah, direct descendant of Mohammed. However, King Abdullah is married to Queen Rania, daughter of an aristocratic Palestinian family from Tulkarem, and together they have been blessed with a son, crown prince al-Hussein, heir to the throne. Given the luxury of time, Jordan, within one generation, will become a country with a Palestinian majority equal in proportion to the Jewish majority of Israel, under the ruling staff of Hussein, the Palestinian king. This is not a matter of speculation. Barring a foreign invasion, military coup, or regicide, this is inevitable.
Jordan, for the past thirty years has served as a valuable buffer between Israel to its west and Iraq, Iran and Syria to its east and north. Israel has based its policy on the recognition of Jordan's strategic importance. Yet, two factors have changed, that require a reassessment by Israel. The first is Oslo. Oslo created a heavily armed terrorist entity between Israel and Jordan. Not only does Jordan no longer serve as a buffer between Israel and its enemies (the Palestinians and the Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis and Saudis, that arm and underwrite them), but, in the event that a Palestinian state does emerge east of the Jordan river, Jordan will be swallowed up by this state. The second factor is the Jordanian policy presently being conducted by King Abdullah vis-a-vis the American-Iraqi conflict. The United States, which considers Jordan to be a friendly state and has granted her a free trade accord, as well as tremendous political support, has expected Jordan to take an active part in the American effort to unseat Saddam Hussein. Yet Abdullah, publically coy and demurring, has been secretly aiding and abetting Saddam, to the increasing displeasure of the United States. Abdullah is gambling away his strategic importance to the United States.
Given these facts, and the inevitable violence and turmoil that will explode in the Middle East the minute the United States actually mounts an attack on Iraq, wouldn't it be in Israel's interest if the pot boils over east of the Jordan, and not west? Even a surgical transfer of Palestinians, say, one West Bank city, to east of the Jordan would create enough unrest to finally call the Jordanian bluff. With or without King Abdullah, Jordan will become the recognized Palestinian state. Even if today's Palestinian leaders reject it, it will have become a new political reality. The United States, as well as Europe, will recognize it. How could they act otherwise? The Palestinian seat of government, the Palestinian army, and Palestinian sovereignty will all be situated east of the Jordan. This may or may not lead to a gradual resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it will create a separation of populations, strategic depth so necessary to Israel's survival, a Palestinian State unencumbered by Israeli occupation, and an end to daily acts of terrorism.
Could a situation similar to the Pakistani-Indian conflict, with both adversaries maintaining a nuclear arsenal eventually occur? Certainly. But this is a danger that haunts any political or military scenario. Today's situation is bad, and tomorrow will only be worse. Transfer, separation and a two state solution, if pursued together, and not as mutually exclusive programs, can provide the beginnings of a better and more secure political environment. As our Foreign Minister is fond of saying: ?What's the alternative??
Yitshak Reuveni is a web designer and part-time guitar maker, living in Maalei Adumim.