How realistic is a peace proposal based on a Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli confederation? What does it say about the Palestinian leader’s goal?
By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News
Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas recently claimed that President Donald Trump had offered him a US peace plan based on a confederation with Jordan. If true, it would hardly be the first time this plan had been proposed over the decades.
How realistic is such a proposal, and why has it resurfaced again? What does it mean for Israel and her neighbors?
Unsurprisingly, Jordan firmly rejected Trump’s confederation peace plan. The majority of Jordan’s population consists of Palestinian Arabs from Judea and Samaria and their descendants.
By contrast, the Hashemite royal family of Jordan hails from Saudi Arabia.
Jordan’s minority Hashemite rulers have been threatened by PA for many years. In 1970, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the predecessor to the PA as the prime Palestinian political institution, tried to topple Jordan’s King Hussein. This resulted in an open military conflict between Jordan and the PLO, which ended with PLO being expelled from Jordan.
Late Palestinian leader and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat had also tried to radicalize the Palestinian Arab majority in Jordan.
Jordan eventually dropped its claims to Judea and Samaria in 1988 and wants nothing to do with the PA. The reason Jordan strongly pushes for the two-state solution is that it sees it as a survival insurance.
PA priorities: Palestinian state vs. destroying Israel?
By contrast, Abbas reportedly accepted Trump’s plan with the caveat that Israel be included in such a confederation. This admission reveals that the PA’s state-building advocacy rarely goes beyond rhetoric. In practice, like Hamas, the PA has invested far more resources in fighting the existence of the Jewish nation-state than establishing another Arab state next to Israel.
Abbas hopes to accomplish two goals by insisting that such a theoretical confederation includes Israel. First, Israel’s strong high-tech economy would provide a crucial flow of capital and know-how to the largely impoverished surrounding Arab population. Unlike Israel’s highly developed economy, Jordan and the PA are poor and dependent on international financial aid.
Second, and more important, Jews would become a minority in such a confederation with a clear Arab majority.
The total Arab population in Jordan, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel numbers approximately 15-17 million. By contrast, there are fewer than seven million Jews living in Israel. In other words, Ramallah sees the confederation plan as a potential vehicle to dismantle the Jewish State of Israel.
The PA has systematically radicalized its population to reject the existence of a Jewish nation-state within any borders. For years it has demanded that millions of Arab “refugees” move to Israel instead of becoming citizens of a potential future PA state.
As long as the Hashemite family rules Jordan, the confederation plan has little chance of success. While Israel embraces peace, the Jewish state does not intend to commit national suicide by becoming a minority in an Arab-majority confederation.
Identity based on rejecting Israel
However, the resurfaced confederation plan does reveal why Arab-Israeli peace remains so elusive. Since its founding in 1964, the PLO has prioritized revolutionary warfare and terrorism over state building. Instead of developing a positive identity for the Arab population in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, the PA has advocated an identity that is based on a rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland.
Rather than investing in building a modern economy, the PA has embezzled international aid worth billions of dollars. Like Arafat, Abbas has used the international aid to enrich himself and his inner circle at the expense of his own population. Much of the aid ended up in the PA leadership’s secret bank accounts worldwide. This has created a situation where most Arab families in Judea and Samaria are impoverished and depend on international aid and job opportunities in Israel.
To make things more complicated, Gaza is ruled by Hamas, which is even less interested in building a modern and thriving society. When Israel withdrew from the Strip in 2005, it left vibrant greenhouses worth millions of dollars. Instead of using them to develop Gaza’s economy, Hamas had them destroyed. And instead of investing in schools and hospitals, Hamas has focused on building an expensive underground attack tunnel network and developing rockets against Israel.
Much of the international community sees Israeli Jewish communities beyond the green line as the main obstacle to Arab-Israeli peace. However, ironically, these Jewish communities provide vital employment opportunities to the local Arab population in Judea and Samaria.
What was Trump thinking?
While the confederation plan will likely remain a pipe dream, it casts light on why the two-state solution is equally unrealistic. This raises the question as to why President Trump suggested it in the first place. One reason could be to test the PA’s commitment to the two-state solution. Another reason could be that Trump is aware of the fact that the PA’s economy is too weak to sustain a separate Arab state.
The situation west of the Jordan River will remain as it is for the foreseeable future. Jordan rejects a confederation and the PA is not genuinely committed to establishing a separate peaceful Arab state next to Israel. A thriving Jewish nation-state powerhouse will therefore continue to exist alongside two failed and rival entities dependent on international aid: Hamas-run Gaza and PA-run Ramallah.