Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:
Don't get me wrong. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland is a nice guy. And he
has a lot of legitimate criticism to make regarding Israeli policy.
But, unfortunately, he has succumbed to the poisonously dangerous imperative
to propose a "solution" even if he doesn't really have one.
Proposing that the Jordanian army deploys in the West Bank may allow one to
finish an Op Ed with the satisfaction that it concluded with a "solution"
and not just criticism.
But the former head of the National Security Council is certainly capable -
and owes his audience - to think beyond the time it takes to hit the "send"
button to submit the piece.
There are so many scenarios in which having the Jordanian army deployed in
the West Bank can have catastrophic consequences that there isn't even a
need to start listing them here.]
Eiland: Two-state solution 'untenable'
Hilary Leila Krieger, Washington , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 23, 2008
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council,
warned in a new report that the current formulation of the two-state
solution is untenable.
"Israel and the Palestinians do not truly desire the conventional two-state
solution, and the Arab world - especially Jordan and Egypt - does not truly
support it either," he wrote in his paper, which he presented at a
Washington Institute for Near East Policy conference this weekend, and was
set to discuss at a WINEP event Tuesday.
"Contrary to other disputes - where the devil is usually in the details -
here the devil is more in the concept."
He assessed that the maximum that Israel is politically able to give is less
than the Palestinians are politically able to accept, asking, "What is the
basis for believing that now we can resume the same negotiations and be more
He challenged conventional wisdom that previous negotiations, and
particularly the Clinton parameters for Israeli and Palestinian states
worked out at the end of former US president Bill Clinton's term, came close
to ending the core disagreements and only needed minor adjustments to
present a resolution.
"It's a solution that not only can't be agreed on, but probably can't be
implemented," he charged, referring to the challenges in evacuating and
relocating so many Israeli settlers as well as the security environment,
among other concerns.
Instead, Eiland proposed two dramatic formulations to deal with some of the
problems in the current framework.
For starters, he suggested that Egypt give the Palestinians 600 square
kilometers of land from the Sinai peninsula to double the size of the Gaza
Strip, so that the cramped million-plus population will have room to spread
out and develop.
In exchange, Egypt would be given a comparable sliver of land along the
Negev border with Israel as well as a tunnel connecting Egypt and Jordan
directly under Israel's southern tip.
He also proposed Jordanian security control for the West Bank, since a major
obstacle for Israel has become the rise of Hamas and the concern that any
Palestinian state in the West Bank would be taken over by the radical
Israel, he argued, needs the security of having a proper armed force in the
area, with Jordan being the obvious choice because it has a vested interest
in making sure extremists don't get a toehold in the West Bank from which
they can threaten Jordan.
"Moderate states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia seem more willing than
ever to be proactively involved in the peace process," he wrote in his
report, suggesting that they take steps to make good on that posture.
But Eiland noted that their cooperation on these points might prove
difficult, referring in his report to the Jordanian presence as "not yet
politically correct," but said that "tacit support for this idea has been
expressed in private talks."
Jordanians at the weekend conference, however, categorically ruled out
"Good luck finding Jordanians who will accept this idea," said former
Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Muasher, Eiland's co-panelist Saturday.
"This is a non-starter."
And Samia Kabariti, a Jordanian diplomatic official present at the event,
stood up to strongly denounce Eiland's suggestion.
"The Jordanian option is not an option," she declared.
Analysts have pointed out that Jordanians don't want to be in control of a
potentially hostile Palestinian population any more than Israelis do, and
that such control could prove destabilizing to a regime with a large
Palestinian constituency ruled by a Hashemite monarch.
Muasher instead proposed that Israel revisit the Arab peace initiative,
which he himself helped draft. The 2002 initiative, which received a cold
reception in Israel, calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all
territories taken in the Six Day War, including east Jerusalem, in exchange
for normal ties with the Arab world. It also calls for an agreed-upon return
to Israel of Palestinian refugees.
"Israel's response to the Arab peace initiative was not the right thing,"
Eiland acknowledged. "It's better to say, 'Yes, but...'"
At the same time, he said, in asking Israel to accept a return to the 1967
borders, the initiative hadn't made any accommodation for the experiences of
Israel during the past four decades or the current realities it faces.
One point of agreement between the two speakers was that time was not on the
side of the moderates.
Muasher said that he was now against a gradual process of small steps.
"The time that we thought we were giving to proponents of peace so that they
could build trust," he said, "we have given to the opponents of peace."