Time for Mubarak to contribute some real estae
Photo: Reuters

Durable solution is possible

Op-ed: Time has come for Jordan, Egypt to give real estate to PA, not just moral support

There is no enthusiasm in what seems to be yet another chapter in the endless political process between the Palestinians and Israel. There have been so many talks over the past 17 years, and so many tragic failures that it is difficult for a pragmatic person to see much hope in them.


However, against all odds, this time it just might turn out different.


If all the concerned sides come with clean hands, good faith, a willingness to compromise and down to earth expectations – a durable solution can be put in sight.


For starters, a good working assumption should be that the Jews will not disappear from Judea and Samaria’s biblical landscape. Neither will the Arabs. Arabs should be permitted to build their homes in their villages. So should the Jews. Another practical working assumption is that Hamas and its ilk must be eradicated and if there is terror there are no talks. The alternative is absurd.


A viable two-state solution should be based on the simple criteria of Maximum Area, Maximum Israelis and Minimum Non-Israelis within Israel's borders, and a similar equation within the Palestinian borders, while limiting the evacuation of residents (of both nationalities) to an absolute minimum. For that to work, both sides will need to compromise.


Aside from the Palestinians and Israel, there are additional players with stakes in a successful outcome to the talks. Jordan, with its vast population majority being Palestinian, has a keen interest in the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state to the west of the Hashemite Kingdom. Egypt, which has skirmished with the militant Muslim Brotherhood for decades, would also like to see a solution to the Palestinian problem that could ease the Islamic threats from its southern border and from Gaza.


Hence, in order to secure a viable two-state solution, the time has come for Jordan and Egypt to give more than their limited moral support. They should give some real estate.


Barren or mostly Palestinian populated land, adjacent to what was once known as the West Bank of Jordan, should be handed over to the Palestinians. The same should be said for such land south of Gaza. The talks in Washington are a good opportunity to further develop this concept.


'End discriminatory freeze'

The "window of opportunity’ metaphor in its Middle Eastern context has become banal, but it might ironically be true today in describing the state of affairs between Israel and the Palestinians.


Clearly, there are forces that are either against or indifferent to a peaceful solution of the conflict. Even the central players, which seem to currently hold unbridgeable positions, have good reason to avoid risk and prefer a status quo that has enabled economic growth and a mitigation of terror from the territories.


However, today there is also a rare merger of interests and opportunities that can lead to a brighter day.

The Likud-led Israeli government is one of the most stable in memory, with no real alternative in sight. If the Palestinians want to reach an acceptable agreement with Israel, this is the government to do it with. The Palestinians know that.


Despite being depicted as weak, the Palestinian Authority has refrained from terrorism under President Mahmoud Abbas, which is much more than can be said for his predecessor or can be expected from most of his potential successors. His ability to confront Hamas is still to be proven. President Obama is only in his second year in office with about a year before he begins his re-election campaign that leaves little time for failures in Middle East peace brokerage. President Mubarak would like to leave his son and successor with one less issue to deal with and King Abdullah has dubbed this year “the year of decision." 


If this September will bring an end to the discriminatory construction freeze and a beginning to impartially constructive negotiations, we might all be in for a pleasant surprise – if not we will get more of the same.



פרסום ראשון: 09.02.10, 18:10
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