Monday, January 05, 2009

Jordan Is Palestine

A guest post by Lurker:

In 1918, Britain was assigned a mandate by the League of Nations to administer the territory known as Palestine. This territory encompassed both the western bank of the Jordan River (which includes modern-day Israel, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza), and the eastern bank (which comprises modern-day Jordan). Just a year earlier, the British government had committed itself, in the Balfour Declaration, to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in this territory.

In 1921, however, Britain carved off the entire eastern bank -- comprising 76% of Palestine -- and granted control of it to the Arab Hashemite clan, as a reward for their political support during the First World War. While the Hashemites had autonomy, Britain and the international community did not recognize the Hashemites' sovereignty over the East Bank until 1948, when the British Mandate in Palestine ended.

After the Israeli War of Independence, Jordan (then known as Transjordan) annexed those parts of the western bank that Israel had not captured. They dubbed this region "The West Bank", although the state of Israel itself also constitutes part of the west bank of the Jordan. (During the periods of British and Ottoman rule, the areas had been known by their historical names, Judea and Samaria.)

Jordan justified this annexation by arguing that "Jordan is Palestine". By this they meant that Jordan was (in their own view) the only legitimate state in all of Palestine, and since Palestine is a single, indivisible entity, Jordan was entitled to rulership over both the eastern and western banks (which included Israel, of course).

With the founding of the Palestinian national movement in the 1960's, the PLO argued that it, not the foreign Hashemite family, was the legitimate heir to rulership of both banks of Palestine. This eventually led to the PLO's formal establishment of a Palestinian state in Jordan. In the 1971 revolt known as Black September, the PLO declared parts of Jordan as "liberated Palestine", and attempted to assassinate and overthrow King Hussein. Hussein put down the revolt, killing an estimated 10,000 Palestinians over the course of about ten days, and expelled the PLO from his country.

Even after Israel's capture of the West Bank in 1967, Jordan continued to argue that "Jordan is Palestine", and maintained their claim to be the legitimate authority in the West Bank (which Israel accepted in many spheres, such as the educational system). But as the Palestinian national movement developed and gained international support, so did the demand for a second Arab Palestinian state, to be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And so, in 1988, King Hussein gave in to the pressure upon him, and relinquished his claim to sovereignty over the West Bank.

Today, many Jews (including myself) argue that the PLO's demands, and Jordan's capitulation, do not justify the creation of a second Arab state in Palestine. (Or rather a third, since Hamas already has a de facto state in Gaza.) The Jordanian and Palestinian claim that "Jordan is Palestine" was correct from the get-go, and the fact that they later abandoned it for political expediency should not obligate Israel to oblige their later whims.

In his post below, SM presented four arguments against the proposition that "Jordan is Palestine". Most interestingly, he relates to "Jordan is Palestine" as if it were nothing more than a recently-hatched notion used by some Israelis who advocate population transfer, rather than a position held historically by the Jordanians and Palestinians. His post, which is written as though the "Jordan is Palestine" idea was invented yesterday by some right-wing Jews, completely ignores the actual background of the issue.

Each of his four arguments is fundamentally flawed, as I will show here.

1. "The Jordanians don't want it."

In fact, the Jordanians, for decades, were the most avid proponents of the "Jordan is Palestine" position. They used it as their justification for their annexation of the West Bank, arguing that Palestine was one single, indivisible unit, and that the Jordanian government constituted the legitimate government of Palestine. The following quotes speak for themselves:
"We are the Government of Palestine, the army of Palestine and the refugees of Palestine."
-- Prime Minister of Jordan, 23 August, 1959

"Palestine and Transjordan are one, for Palestine is the coastline and Transjordan the hinterland of the same country."
-- King Abdullah, at the Meeting of the Arab League, Cairo, 12 April, 1948

"Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is one people and one land, with one history and one and the same fate."
-- Prince Hassan, brother of King Hussein, addressing the Jordanian National Assembly, 2 February, 1970

"There is no family on the East Bank of the [Jordan] River that does not have relatives on the West Bank ... no family in the west that does not have branches in the east."
-- King Hussein, addressing the Jordanian National Assembly, 2 February, 1972

"We consider it necessary to clarify to one and all, in the Arab world and outside, that the Palestinian people with its nobility and conscience is to be found here on the East Bank [of the Jordan River], the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Its overwhelming majority is here [on the East Bank] and nowhere else."
-- King Hussein, quoted in An-Nahar, Beirut, 24 August, 1972

"The Palestinians here constitute not less than one half of the members of the armed forces. They and their brothers, the sons of Transjordan, constitute the members of one family who are equal in everything, in rights and duties."
-- King Hussein, on Amman Radio, 3 February, 1973 (quoted by BBC Monitoring Service)

"The new Jordan, which emerged in 1949, was the creation of the Palestinians of the West Bank and their brothers in the East. While Israel was the negation of the Palestinian right of self-determination, unified Jordan was the expression of it."
-- Sharif Al-Hamid Sharaf, Representative of Jordan at the UN Security Council, 11 June, 1973

"[Former Tunisian] President Bourguiba considers Jordan an artificial creation presented by Great Britain to King Abdullah. But he accepts Palestine and the Palestinians as an existing and primary fact since the days of the Pharaohs. Israel, too, he considers as a primary entity. However, Arab history makes no distinction between Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians. Most of them hail from the same Arab race, which arrived in the region with the Arab Moslem conquest."
-- Editorial Comment in the Jordanian Armed Forces' weekly Al-Aqsa, Amman, 11 July, 1973

"The Palestinians and the Jordanians have created on this soil since 1948 one family -- all of whose children have equal rights and obligations."
-- King Hussein, addressing an American delegation, 19 February, 1975

"Palestine and Jordan were both under British Mandate, but as my grandfather pointed out in his memoirs, they were hardly separate countries. Transjordan being to the east of the River Jordan, it formed in a sense, the interior of Palestine."
-- King Hussein, in his memoirs

"Jordan is not just another Arab state with regard to Palestine but, rather, Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan in terms of territory, national identity, sufferings, hopes and aspirations, both day and night. Though we are all Arabs and our point of departure is that we are all members of the same people, the Palestinian-Jordanian nation is one and unique, and different from those of the other Arab states."
-- Marwan al Hamoud, member of the Jordanian National Consultative Council and former Minister of Agriculture, quoted by Al-Rai, Amman, 24 September, 1980
2. "The Palestinians don't want it."

Just as the Jordanians argued that "Jordan is Palestine", and saw themselves as Palestine's legitimate rulers, so too did the PLO argue that "Jordan is Palestine". Of course, the PLO saw themselves as the ones entitled to rulership of all of Palestine -- including Jordan:
"Let us not forget the East Bank of the Jordan [River], where seventy per cent of the inhabitants belong to the Palestinian nation."
-- George Habash, leader of the PFLP section of the PLO, writing in the PLO publication Sha-un Falastinia, February 1970

"There are, as well, links of geography and history, and a wide range of interests between the two banks [of the Jordan River] which have grown stronger over the past twenty years. Let us not forget that el-Salt and Nablus were within the same district -- el-Balka -- during the Ottoman period, and that family and commercial ties bound the two cities together."
-- Hamdi Ken'an, former Mayor of Nablus, writing in the newspaper Al-Quds, 14 March, 1973

"...those fishing in troubled waters will not succeed in dividing our people, which extends to both sides of the Jordan [River], in spite of the artificial boundaries established by the Colonial Office and Winston Churchill half a century ago."
-- Yassir Arafat, in a statement to Eric Roleau

"There should be a kind of linkage because Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people."
-- Farouk Kadoumi, head of the PLO Political Department, quoted in Newsweek, 14 March, 1977
3. "The international community doesn't want it."

In fact, until Israel began to indicate a willingness to accept the creation of a second Palestinian state in the West Bank, there were numerous international voices -- even among the Arabs -- that were ready to consider Jordan as a solution to the statehood problem for the Palestinians:
"With all respect to King Hussein, I suggest that the Emirate of Transjordan was created from whole cloth by Great Britain, which for this purpose cut up ancient Palestine. To this desert territory to the east of the Jordan [River], it gave the name Transjordan. But there is nothing in history which carries this name. While since our earliest time there was Palestine and Palestinians. I maintain that the matter of Transjordan is an artificial one, and that Palestine is the basic problem. King Hussein should submit to the wishes of the people, in accordance with the principles of democracy and self-determination, so as to avoid the fate of his grandfather, Abdullah, or of his cousin, Feisal, both of whom were assassinated."
-- Former President Bourguiba of Tunisia, in a public statement, July 1973

"How much better off Hussein would be if he had been induced to abandon his pose as a benevolent 'host' to 'refugees' and to affirm the fact that Jordan is the Palestinian Arab nation-state, just as Israel is the Palestinian Jewish nation-state."
-- Editorial in The Economist, 19 July, 1975

"Palestinian Arabs hold seventy-five per cent of all government jobs in Jordan."
-- The Observer, 2 March, 1976

"Palestinian Arabs control over seventy per cent of Jordan's economy."
- Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, 5 March, 1976

"The potential weak spot in Jordan is that most of the population are not, strictly speaking, Jordanian at all, but Palestinian. An estimated 60 per cent of the country's 2,500,000 people are Palestinians ... Most of these hold Jordanian passports, and many are integrated into Jordanian society."
-- Richard Owen, The Times, 14 November, 1980
4. "It is wrong [to espouse] the forced deportation of an entire population."

This is a straw man argument. When the Jordanians and the Palestinians were arguing that "Jordan is Palestine", they were not calling for the forced deportation of anybody -- except for the Jews, of course. Today, Jews such as myself, who argue that "Jordan is Palestine" are not demanding that any Palestinians be forcibly deported to anywhere. The point, rather, is that Jordan, as an Arab state occupying 76% of Palestine, and home to an overwhelmingly Palestinian population, should satisfy the need for a Palestinian state. First and foremost, this means that the Palestinian refugees should be allowed to settle there and become citizens. For an excellent example of such a proposal, see MK Benny Elon's peace plan. Notice that it rejects from the outset the idea of forced transfer.

As for Palestinians living in Israel or the West Bank, there is no reason they should not be able to go on living there if they so wish. Many of them may choose to move to Jordan/Palestine, and perhaps they may be given positive economic incentives to do so. But they certainly should not be forced to. This would be essentially the same as the creation of the state of Pakistan -- which was founded in order to satisfy the demand for a Muslim state on the Indian subcontinent. After its founding, many Muslims chose to emigrate to Pakistan. But many also chose to remain in India. In the same way, Palestinian national aspirations should be satisfied by the existence of a Palestinian state in 76% of Palestine. It is more than reasonable for Israel to retain control of the remaining 24% -- which includes the Jewish people's historical homeland, Judea and Samaria.

SM argues that "the forced deportation of an entire population" is a "perversion" of Jewish values. This is most peculiar (to put it mildly), since he wholeheartedly supported the forced deportation of the entire Jewish population of Gush Katif in 2005, and currently advocates the forced deportation of the entire Jewish population of Judea and Samaria -- comprising about 300,000 men, women, and children. I, on the other hand -- along with most Israelis who argue for Jordan as a Palestinian state -- do not have such a double standard. As opposed to SM and those of his ilk, we are not calling for the deportation of anybody.

Buy DB's book. (I personally recommend it)
Buy DB's wife a gift (please)

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