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by Moshe Arens,
John Kerry has arrived in the area once again and in his pocket is a framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which he expects Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas to sign off on, sooner rather than later. It presumably addresses the “core issues”: the borders of the Palestinian state-to-be, its capital, the Palestinian refugees, the territorial “swaps,” security arrangements, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. In other words, the whole lot – everything that has made an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority a mission impossible until now, but which according to the U.S. secretary of state will now turn it into mission possible.
But the bottom line, the be-all and end-all of the suggested agreement, is that once implemented there will be three Palestinian states without a single Jew in any of them: East Palestine (Jordan), West Palestine (Judea and Samaria), and South Palestine (the Gaza Strip).
The exclusion of Jews from these territories is, of course, not one of the principles listed in the framework agreement, but it is the basis without which, as things stand at the moment, that agreement falls apart. Call it “two states for two people” until you’re blue in the face and pigs can fly. But it’s four states for two people – three without Jews and one whose population is 20-percent Arab.
A precondition for this arrangement, though not explicitly stated in the proposed framework agreement, is that all of the area, down to the last square kilometer, conquered by the Jordanian army in its invasion of Palestine in 1948, must be turned over to the West Palestinian state. If towns or settlements with a sizable Jewish population located beyond the 1949 armistice lines – i.e., the so-called settlement blocs – are to be included in the State of Israel, they must be “swapped” for unpopulated areas that are currently part of the state, which will be turned over as compensation to West Palestine. Thus, the latter will contain no Jews but will cover the exact number of square kilometers as did the area under Jordanian occupation until 1967. Why the Jordanian attempt to destroy the State of Israel in 1948 should become the basis for Palestinian territorial claims is an issue Kerry prefers not to address; he simply expects Israel to swallow it.
Kerry may not be aware of the fact that the territory of all three Palestinian states, together with that of today’s Israel, was intended to constitute the territory of the Jewish state, in accordance with the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, bestowed upon Britain after World War I. One of the provisions there was that Jewish settlement on the land was to be encouraged by the Mandatory power.
It was Winston Churchill, as Britain’s colonial secretary, who arbitrarily decided to turn over the area east of the Jordan to Abdullah, the son of Hussein, the sharif of Mecca, and to close it to Jewish immigration and settlement. This is now the Kingdom of Jordan, whose population is 70-percent Palestinian; today Jordanian law calls for the death penalty to be handed down to anyone selling land to a Jew. The Jewish settlements that were established in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip during the days of the British Mandate in Palestine were destroyed by the Egyptian and Jordanian armies during the May 15, 1948 invasion, and their inhabitants were killed or deported.
Kerry’s framework agreement in effect implies that Judea and Samaria – before becoming a third Palestinian state – be cleared of all Jews. This position is hardly consistent with the principles of democratic rule, and is not likely to be supported by most people in the democratic world. Whether Israel can subscribe to such a principle is a decision the Israeli government will have to take – unless Mahmoud Abbas surprises us all and declares that he would welcome Jews in the Palestinian state he wishes to establish.