The two-state solution has suddenly come back to life.
Thought dead and buried after Hamas had shown that it could indiscriminately fire rockets from Gaza into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over a 50 day period – even forcing international carriers to cancel flights into Ben-Gurion International Airport for 24 hours – Caroline Glick reported on its amazing resurrection:
“Something extraordinary has happened.
On August 31, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an audience of Fatah members that Egypt had offered to give the PA some 1,600 kilometers of land in Sinai adjacent to Gaza, thus quintupling the size of the Gaza Strip. Egypt even offered to allow all the so-called “Palestinian refugees” to settle in the expanded Gaza Strip.
Then Abbas told his Fatah followers that he rejected the Egyptian offer.
On Monday Army Radio substantiated Abbas’s claim.
According to Army Radio, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi proposed that the Palestinians establish their state in the expanded Gaza Strip and accept limited autonomy over parts of Judea and Samaria.
In exchange for this state, the Palestinians would give up their demand that Israel shrink into the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, surrendering Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Sisi argued that the land Egypt is offering in Sinai would more than compensate for the territory that Abbas would concede.
In his speech to Fatah members, Abbas said, “They [the Egyptians] are prepared to receive all the refugees, [and are saying] ‘Let’s end the refugee story.’” “But,” he insisted, “It’s illogical for the problem to be solved at Egypt’s expense. We won’t have it.”
Secretary-General of Abbas’ office – al-Tayyib Abd al-Rahim – said the reports were “fabricated”.
Arutz Sheva reported:
“Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday denied reports that he had offered to establish a Palestinian state in the Sinai Peninsula – the website of Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
In a speech to mark national teachers’ day and which mostly dealt with education Sisi stressed that no one can make such promises and that there is no room for talk about the matter.”
Amidst these claims and denials – the idea of land grants by Egypt – and also Jordan – now remain the last route to peacefully creating the two-state solution so earnestly sought by the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.
President Obama’s policy for bringing such a state to fruition was expressed in his State Department speech on 19 May 2011 – which has now been well and truly trashed as a result of the latest Israel-Hamas War:
“We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.“
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks at a joint press conference with President Obama in London on 25 May 2011 now sound equally as ludicrous in 2014:
… the Palestinians need to know that we understand their need for dignity and for a Palestinian state, using the ’67 borders as land swaps as the start point. That is I think what is so key to the speech that’s been made. So neither side now has I believe the excuse to stand aside from talks.
At the time I wrote the following:
“Now in 2011 – apparently to satisfy the Palestinians “need for dignity “ – Israel is being asked by America and Britain to consider transferring sovereignty of Israeli land to a sovereign Palestine to compensate that State for the loss of any areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem that Israel seeks to retain.
This is a request that is doomed to failure in the light of Israel‘s escalating security and national interests – particularly in the face of the dramatic developments that have taken place in Egypt and Jordan in recent months and the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
… To believe Israel should now offer additional Israeli territory to bring the border between it and a sovereign Palestine closer to the heartland of Israel is irrational and absurd.
For Obama and Cameron to espouse such a policy seems the height of folly and farce.”
I also pointed out at the time:
“If Arab dignity is the key – then there is another policy that should be explored – the grant of sovereign Jordanian land to the Palestinian Authority equivalent to the area of the West Bank land retained by Israel.
The area of Jordanian land required to satisfy such Palestinian dignity is extremely small. The entire area of the West Bank is only 5640 km2. Assuming Israel’s security needs necessitated it to acquire sovereignty in 20% of the West Bank – Jordan would be required to make a land grant of about 1130 km2 to a sovereign Palestine. Given Jordan‘s area is 92300 km2 – compared to Israel’s 22070 sq km2 – Jordan’s security and national interests would hardly be affected.
Obama’s land swap proposals – enthusiastically backed by Cameron – have now become the latest in a long line of lost opportunities presented in 1937, 1947, 1948-1967, 2000, 2008 and 2014 to create a second Arab State in Mandatory Palestine – in addition to Jordan.
Land grants by Egypt and Jordan are lifelines desperately needed by Obama now – if the two-state solution is ever to eventuate.
As Obama signs up Egypt and Jordan to join his coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State – he might just be whispering this politically savvy message in their ears.
David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network.