October 3rd, 2018

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The Palestinian Confederation Idea

A New Confederation Plan?

Israeli Press is reporting on a new attempt of a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians–a “confederation plan” for the Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria (West Bank).   The original plan for confederation came from Yigal Allon after the 1967 war.   

Recent History

From 1948 to 1967, Jordan ruled the West Bank (including East Jerusalem and the Old City) and claimed sovereignty over it.  They did not give the Palestinians of the West Bank Jordanian citizenship.  Egypt ruled Gaza and did not give them citizenship.  Jordan is ruled by an Arab clan known as the Hashemites, who are not considered Palestinians, though the majority population of Jordan is Palestinian. 

Jordan was part of the original Palestine Mandate.  In the League of Nations partition plan, Jordan was created and separated from the territory west of the Jordan that was still under the Balfour Declaration and affirmed as a homeland for the Jewish people.  The U. N. in 1947 presented another partition plan giving the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and Gaza a state; and a state for the Jews on the rest of the Land.  Israel accepted this plan and the Arab world rejected it.  Then ensued the War of Independence that Israel won, but with the loss of the old city Jewish quarter in Jerusalem and the East Jerusalem Jewish areas including Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital.   

The Allon Plan

The 1967 War gave Israel control of the whole area west of the Jordan.  But now the famous demographic argument began.  It states that for Israel to survive as a Jewish state it cannot incorporate the overwhelming number of Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel.  This would create an Arab majority in democratic Israel.  So well before the Oslo accords, and as a way to find peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Allon presented the first plan of separation from the West Bank Arabs.   Allon was a famous general and political leader in the Labor party.

The Allon Plan included keeping for Israel the areas of East Jerusalem, especially those areas that were Jewish before the ’48 War, and then adding Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.  Secondly, it promoted Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and military outposts that both would be important for strategic depth and Israel’s security.  The idea was to expand Israel and to see the Palestinians incorporated into Jordan. 

Jordan’s Response to the Allon Plan

For many years it was hoped that Jordan–under King Hussein–might accept such a plan, since he claimed the West Bank for Jordan.  But he was not then open to the territorial compromise that the Allon plan envisioned.  Then eventually he renounced all rights to the West Bank.  Why?  Because he has his own demographic problem.  In Jordan many Palestinians do not have full rights and could rise up and overthrow the Jordanian rulers, the minority Hashemites. 

The Oslo accords did not explicitly call for a Palestinian state, and some say that Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin–who signed the Oslo accords–did not envision a Palestinian State.  But in the years following Oslo, the negotiations quickly went in that direction, and the Palestinians were twice offered a state by Prime Minister Barak and Prime Minister Olmert.   However, when Gaza broke from the Palestinian Authority and was taken over by Hamas, any realistic prospect for a two-state solution was killed, in spite of the continued talk that seems to still favor this idea.  I have written that I think Gaza should be linked to Egypt and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank in confederation with Jordan.