United States Secretary of Defense - James Mattis – remarkably failed to mention “the two-state solution”, or even the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” in his keynote address -“US Policy in a Changing Middle East” - delivered at the International Institute for Strategic Affairs 14th Regional Security Summit in Manama, Bahrein held between 26-28 October.
Mattis’ pointed omissions can only fuel speculation that a “one-state solution” – possibly involving the creation of a Jordan enclave in the 'West Bank' - could now be uppermost in President Trump’s thinking.
Billed as “The Middle East's premier security summit” – the attendees included some of the most powerful policymakers from the Middle East and beyond to address the region's most pressing governance challenges.
Jordan’s King Abdullah in the opening address at the Summit - delivered by his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi – had warned:
“There have been many attempts to delay and subvert the hope the two-state solution offers. Today, these negative efforts include the fallacy of a single, bi-national state. Any such solution, based on unilateral acts and unequal rights, would be a moral disaster and a recipe for continued conflict.”
Safadi reinforced Abdullah’s message in his own speech the following day:
“As His Majesty said yesterday, the fallacy of one-state solution is something that we all need to keep our eyes wide open as it is being put on the table. If there is no two-state solution then one-state solution, then Israel is going to have to do determine whether it is going to be apartheid South Africa or a democratic Israel where Palestinians within Israel are going to have to exercise their political rights. So, this is the kind of situation that we are looking at.”
The King and his Foreign Minister’s gloomy prognostications would disappear in their entirety if that “one-state solution” did not comprise Israel and the entire 'West Bank' - but did comprise Jordan united with a Jordan enclave in part of the 'West Bank' leaving Israel and the rest of the 'West Bank' united as well - a twist on the usual definition of a one-state solution.
A Jordan enclave would:
- Contain possibly 95% of the existing 'West Bank' Arab population - once again being reunified in a single territorial entity with Jordan as existed between 1950 and 1967
- Enable Jordanian citizenship to be restored to the enclave’s population - as previously existed between 1950 and 1988.
- Remove apartheid fears - since the Jordan/enclave population would be entirely Arab with family ties extending over the two banks of the Jordan River
- Be as democratic or undemocratic as the re-united populations wished – as occurred between 1950 and 1988
- Complete the original two-state solution first contemplated by the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine:
an Arab State – Jordan - sovereign in about 80% of the territory of the Mandate -and
a Jewish State – Israel – sovereign in about the remaining 20% of the Mandate
Interestingly – Safadi – in answering a question on resolving the seven-year old Syrian conflict – remarked:
“I think if we all look in the mirror and ask ourselves the question, have we been following the right approach to solving the problem, I think facts on the ground will tell us no. We need not double down on positions that have gotten us where we are now. We need to be more realistic. We need to follow new approaches that will bring about a political solution to that crisis.”
The single bi-national state is neither a fallacy nor a disaster - if both national entities are Arab.
A Jordan enclave in the 'West Bank' – negotiated between Israel and Jordan under President Trump’s auspices – could indeed prove to be the new approach and realistic political solution to ending the 100 year-old Arab-Jewish conflict.
Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog