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PA Rejects

Federation
Proposal
BY SAMUEL SOKOL

ISRAEL CORRESPONDENT

Palestinian officials emphatically


rejected a plan for an expanded Jordanian
kingdom that would include “three
‘states’: the East Bank, the West Bank, and
Gaza,” as proposed by retired Israeli
major general Giora Eiland.

Giora Eiland’s proposed Jordanian-


Palestinian Federation.

Eiland, a senior research fellow at the


Institute for National Security Studies and
former Israeli National Security Advisor,
presented a paper detailing a proposed
Jordanian/Palestinian “federation” enti-
tled “Regional Alternatives to the Two-
State Solution” at Bar Ilan University’s
Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center on Monday.
He also proposed a land swap in which
Egypt would give 720 km of land to the
Gaza Strip as “Gaza in its current size is
not viable” and would quickly become a
failed state.
The Egyptians were quick to pan the
idea, saying, “the Palestinian problem
should not be turned into an Egyptian
problem.” Egypt is currently building a
steel wall on the border between the
Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip.
The plan calls for the West Bank [Judea
and Samaria] and Gaza to be reorganized
as states “in the American sense, like
Pennsylvania or New Jersey.” They would
maintain independence regarding inter-
nal administration, but as per the
American model, foreign policy and
national defense would be handled by
the “federal” government in Amman.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reject-
ed the idea out of hand, telling the Five
Towns Jewish Times, “Jordan is Jordan.
Palestine is Palestine. Time for this talk is
over. Now we are pursuing the two state
solution and that’s what we want.” Another
official from the PLO Negotiations Support
Unit said that “as far as we are concerned
[federation] is not an option.”
Eiland admitted that his plan could
not be implemented immediately in
Gaza, due to Hamas’s hold on the territo-
ry, but was confident that it could eventu-
ally be incorporated into the new
64 January 15, 2010 5 TOWNS JEWISH TIMES
Jordanian state. He refused to comment
on the Palestinian Authority’s emphatic
dismissal of his plan.
He stated that “when the circumstances
are right [in Gaza]. Israel will conduct
political negotiations on this solution
with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delega-
tion, as was supposed to occur in the
framework of the 1991 Madrid conference.”
During Monday’s presentation, the for-
mer general explained, “these two solu-
tions do not have the zero-sum nature of
the conventional two-state solution.
They enlarge the political pie and hence
make it is easier to find a way to divide it.
The two approaches—the Jordanian-
Palestinian federation and the territorial
exchange—do not contradict each other.
They can become part of a single solution
that combines the advantages of both.”
A two state solution is not feasible
according to Eiland, as “the maximum
that any government in Israel can offer
the Palestinians and survive politically is
much less than the minimum that any
possible Palestinian leadership can
accept and survive politically.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office
refused to comment but did say that
Eiland was only speaking for himself and
not on behalf of the government of the
State of Israel. The Prime Minister’s
spokesman reiterated Israel’s commit-
ment to a two state solution.
Eiland stated that bringing Judea and
Samaria under Jordanian control would
be a positive step in ensuring that
nation’s security. “If an independent
Palestinian state is established in the
West Bank, it will likely fall into Hamas’s
hands…The way to prevent instability in
Jordan, which would be fueled by the
future West Bank Hamas regime, would
be through Jordanian military control of
this territory,” he claimed.
However, there is no indication that
Jordan wants the responsibility for fight-
ing Islamic fundamentalism in the form of
Hamas, an offshoot of the radical Egyptian
Muslim Brotherhood. Jordan renounced
its claim to Judea and Samaria in 1988.
The Jordanian government expelled
the Palestine Liberation Organization
from its territory following bloody clash-
es in September 1970 in which thousands
of civilians were killed. The PLO had
effectively set up a state within a state,
similar to Hezbollah in Southern
Lebanon, and was perceived as posing a
direct threat to the Jordanian monarchy.
The events of Black September, as it
came to be known, created a lasting enmi-
ty. According to the BESA Center’s Dr.
Mordechai Kedar, the Jordanians hate the
Palestinian Authority Arabs to an extent
that is not fully understood in Israel. This
would stand in the way of any attempt at
conciliation between the two parties.
Eiland has been intrigued with the
concept of federation for some time. In
2008 he argued for the necessity of merg-
ing the PA and Jordan at an INSS press
briefing held in conjunction with
MediaCentral. In an article written for
the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Eiland asserted, “if…secular, moderate
Palestinians have to decide between
Hamas or Jordan, many prefer Jordan.”
Jordanian officials did not seem to
have any knowledge of the Eiland plan
when contacted by this newspaper.
Neither the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv
nor the foreign ministry in Amman
responded to requests for comment. ❖
5 TOWNS JEWISH TIMES January 15, 2010 65