Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin were reportedly overheard having the following spirited conversation in heaven recently - frankly reflecting on the mistakes they both had made in trying to reach the "Peace of the Brave" for which they and last surviving member of the trio - Shimon Peres – had received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
Yitzchak: I always thought that the way to peace between the Jews and the Arabs involved re-subdividing [the large area including today's Jordan that the British called] Palestine into two States with Jewish Israel sovereign in about 20% of [former] Palestine and Arab Jordan sovereign in about 80% of Palestine.
Shimon persuaded me to pursue a different path by accepting Oslo.
In hindsight this was a terrible error of judgement by me and cost me my life, the lives of thousands of Jews and Arabs and the maiming, wounding and emotional scarring of our respective populations.
Yasser: Look Yitzchak, I know you weren't happy with Oslo. I felt it in that famous handshake at the White House. I was aware of your comment in The Australian newspaper on May 27, 1985:
"One tiny State between Israel and Jordan will solve nothing. It will be a time bomb."
Oslo would have created just such a State.
Yitzchak: I think my then prediction is more relevant today than ever - considering the collapse of Oslo, 9/11, your 2001 refusal of Barak's offer, the second Intifada, the failed Roadmap, the 2006 Lebanon War, the 2008 Abbas rejection of Olmert’s offer, the 10000 rockets fired into civilian population centres in Israel from Gaza since 2007, Operation Cast Lead in 2008, what's happening now in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank and Iran’s nuclear threat to wipe out Israel.
The Quartet members are making a big mistake pursuing the two-state solution.
They supposedly respect my memory but not my opinions. They know I also said when making my prediction:
"the Palestinians should have a sovereign State which includes most of the Palestinians. It should be Jordan with a considerable part of the West Bank and Gaza. East of the Jordan River there is enough room to settle the Palestinian refugees."
Yasser: On June 25, 1987 I myself told the New York Review of Books that before the Second World War:
"Jordan was an emirate, completely part of Palestine."
I know my history as well as you, my dear partner in peace. We both agreed that Jordan was part of Palestine - part of the problem and part of the solution..…
Yitzchak: We really should have built on this common agreement when we finally decided to talk about peace.
Yasser: … I also told Der Spiegel in 1986:
"Jordanians and Palestinians are indeed one people. No one can divide us. We have the same fate."
Yitzchak: Even Jordan recognised the historic and demographic reality of what you were saying. As early as Spring 1982 Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan was quoted in the Foreign Affairs Review as endorsing the words of a leading Jordanian social scientist:
"the Jordanians and Palestinians are now one people, and no political loyalty, however strong, will separate them permanently.”
Yasser: Farouk Kadoumi, the Head of the Political Department of the PLO, told Newsweek on 14 March 1977:
"Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people."
Farouk stood by my wife Suha during my dying days in hospital in France. Now there is more concern about whether I was poisoned than there is about the failed peace process.
Yitzchak: So why did you insist on separate Palestinian and Jordanian delegations at the Madrid Conference in 1991 instead of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation?
Yasser: Come on Yitzchak. You know there had been a power struggle between King Hussein and myself for control of Jordan. Could I ever forget or forgive how my followers and I were driven out of Jordan in September 1970 and the slaughter that was inflicted on us at that time? Do you think it was fun being shunted to Lebanon and thence to Tunisia?
Yitzchak: But surely you could have resolved your dispute by retaining King Hussein as Jordan’s monarch and appointing yourself as Jordan’s Prime Minister. By burying your differences you could have ended up as Prime Minister of 80% of Palestine instead of President of nothing.
Yasser: That's all water under the bridge. Now that I have been removed from the scene is there perhaps something we can do to influence those left behind down there to re-subdivide [former] Palestine along the lines you suggested 27 years ago?
Yitzchak: Well I know Shimon is just as aware as you and I are of Jordan's role in bringing peace to the region. Shimon told the Jewish Telegraph on April 19, 1991:
”It is not obstinacy to regard the populations of Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza as having greater similarities than differences. The Jordan River is not deep enough to turn into a knife blade serving to cut one piece of territory into three slices. Most of Jordan's population are Palestinians: the residents of the West Bank are Jordanian citizens and Jordan has distributed tens of thousands of passports to residents in the Gaza Strip. Jordan is therefore an existing State. It has an army. There is therefore no need to set up another State, another army."
Yasser: Shimon might now be President – but he is not the Israeli Government.
Israel’s Prime Minister - Bibi Netanyahu - needs to endorse Shimon’s view and make it Israeli policy
Yitzchak: Bibi’s view is very similar to Shimon’s. Bibi told the United Nations on 11 December 1984:
“ Clearly, in Eastern and Western Palestine, there are only two peoples, the Arabs and the Jews. Just as clearly, there are only two states in that area, Jordan and Israel. The Arab State of Jordan… does not allow a single Jew to live there… It also contains 4/5 of the territory originally allocated by this body’s predecessor, the League of Nations, for the Jewish National Home. The other State, Israel … contains less than 1/5 of the territory originally allocated to the Jews under the Mandate…. It cannot be said, therefore, that the Arabs of Palestine are lacking a state of their own. The demand for a second Palestinian Arab State in Western Palestine, and a 22nd Arab State in the world, is merely the latest attempt to push Israel back into the hopelessly vulnerable armistice lines of 1949.
Bibi eventually changed direction under extreme pressure from President Obama by proposing a demilitarized third state in former Palestine on 14 June 2009. That idea has gone down like a lead balloon.
He and Shimon need to resume enunciating their long held shared vision once again, but with the "West Bank" now peopled with hundreds of thousands of Israelis, they will have to reevaluate the area of Jordan-Palestine.
Shimon also needs to remind his Presidential confreres what Ariel Sharon - in an induced coma since 2006 - told Time on April 17, 1989:
"Jordan is Palestine! The capital of Palestine is Amman. If Palestinian Arabs want to find their political expression, they will have to do it in Amman."
Ariel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the idea of building of a security fence in the 'West Bank' has effectively begun to divide former Palestine into Jewish and Arab sections - forming the basis for calling an international conference to re-subdivide Palestine along the lines I first suggested in 1985, with changes taking all the Jewish communities there as a fait accompli.
Yasser: That's all fine, but what about my beloved Jerusalem? Can I ever hope that my mortal remains will be reburied there?
Yitzchak: Yes. It is possible [that you could be buried there]. East Jerusalem was part of Jordan between 1948-1967 and would have been so today had King Hussein kept out of the Six Day War. The Holy Places, however, are specifically to be dealt with in the Peace Treaty I signed with King Hussein in 1994.
We can't solve all the problems from here. Those on earth are charged with negotiating the final outcomes. Now is a propitious time for them to attempt to do so.
Yasser: How can we get the Quartet to abandon its plans to continue pursuing the impossible? Visions have a habit of turning into the worst nightmares.
Yitzchak: The Quartet should heed the above things we said while on earth, but which we unfortunately failed to try to put into practice. This will be the finest tribute they can pay to our memories and will merit the Nobel Prize that we were in truth prematurely awarded. This will be the real peace of the brave. Pressure must be put on Jordan to re-subdivide Palestine, the same kind of pressure that is being put on Israel to accept the badly flawed and thoroughly discredited Road Map. Then perhaps the peace we all desire will be attainable.
Yasser: Shalom Yitzchak
Yitzchak: Salaam Yasser.
It is hard to believe that I first published this conversation in 2004. Everything said then still remains true today in this updated version.
Re-subdivide what was formerly called Palestine, a name that had no connection with tsovereignty of he Arabs who now call themselves the "Palestinian people", into two states - one Jewish - one Arab. Jordan is the Arab Palestine. Two people need two states - not three.
Hopefully another update will not be necessary in 2020.