In order to hasten the process of the creation of an independent Palestinian state, new thinking on many aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to be introduced. King Abdallah II of Jordan, who abstained from attending the Arab summit meeting in Algiers, believes that the Arab initiative adopted by the Beirut Arab Summit in 2002 should be supplemented by more conducive offerings in the Algiers Summit, although it appears that the Arab summit has rejected his proposals.
Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi tried to present another initiative in Beirut but faced immediate rejection, that of a con-federal arrangement between Israel and Palestine (Isratine). Qaddafi will once again try to put his initiative on the agenda of the present summit. The public reaction coming from the summit indicates that even though this time the Arab leaders are willing to listen to the Qaddafi’s proposal, they are not intending to accept it.
The two countries that have the longest borders with the future Palestinian state, Israel and Jordan, should be the natural partners to a community-type con-federal relationship resembling the EU process of integration. Israel, Jordan and Palestine together should be the ones to analyze and discuss the Qaddafi proposal.
Israel, who will have to withdraw from the occupied territories and dismantle most of its settlements, as well as feel reassured on the security level, should look seriously into a proposal raised by Lova Eliav, who lost his job as Secretary General of the Labour Party in the 1970’s because he opposed the Labour Party’s position on the policy of his party toward the Palestinian people. Eliav advocated the creation of a Middle East “Benelux”, and he gave it the name of Isfalur (Israel, Falastin, Urdun –” using the Arabic name of Palestine and Jordan.)
Others as well advocated this approach, among them the late Abba Eban, late Yasser Arafat, but this notion never took roots.
Jordan, which in the past was threatened by the possibility of becoming the Palestinian state through the defunct Jordanian option, or the old position of Ariel Sharon, that part of the West Bank combined with the transfer of Palestinians to Jordan would be the Palestinian state, should examine new possibilities. Qaddafi’s proposal may have immediate harmful effect to the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan. The Eliav proposal of a Middle East “Benelux” on the other hand could stabilize the relations among its three components – Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
The State of Palestine and its new leaders who are facing an uphill battle to establish an independent, contiguous, sovereign and viable state for the Palestinian people should also examine the need of new thinking to overcome the many obstacles facing the creation of a Palestinian state in the near future. Issues such as the future of Jerusalem would become soluble by not being only the capital of Israel and Palestine but also as the seat of Isfalur. This will allow the present religious status quo to remain intact, the three partners being represented in this context. It will keep Jerusalem as an open, undivided city for the three countries, and it would lead to the security borders of this new entity to expand from the Mediterranean to the borders of Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinian refugee problem would become manageable; they would become the citizens of the State of Palestine; they could work and live in all three states and Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora would have the right of return to the new state of Palestine.
Israeli settlements would also become a lesser divisive issue; the re-alignment of the settlements deep inside the Palestinian state to settlement blocs near the green-line would allow Jewish citizens of Israel to work and live in Palestine in a similar manner to the Palestinian citizens to work and live in Israel.
The most important objective is the psychological factor – the citizens and leaders of the three states would become partners instead of antagonists, it would allow joint development, it would stabilize the region, it will also bring down unemployment.
Maybe this timely discussion at the Algiers Summit by Muammar Qaddafi will open the road to a more positive thinking of new, fresh approaches to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.