A realistic one state solution

Discussion in 'Politics' started by dddooo, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Debate has begun in Palestinian and Jordanian newspapers - and in official circles on both sides of the Jordan river - over a plan to incorporate West Bank Palestinians into a confederation with Jordan, creating a kind of bi-national state with two governing assemblies.

    ...a closer look reveals why interest in the plan is growing. First, an increasing number of Palestinian officials appear willing to concede that deterioration of conditions in the occupied territories ensures that a two-state solution may no longer be viable. In addition, the violent internal power struggle between Fatah and Hamas has created profound insecurity among West Bank Palestinians. As a result, even a plan that would effectively end the dream of Palestine in all but name garnered 30 percent support in a recent poll conducted by the Near East Counseling Institution in Ramallah.

    Second, Palestinians see Jordan's relative stability and affluence. They don't trust their own leaders to provide either and fear that it's the Israelis who will continue to dictate their future. That's why dozens of Palestinian business leaders, elected officials, and opinion-makers accepted King Abdullah's invitation to join Jordanians and Israelis in Aqaba last month to discuss peace plans for the region - and why confederation reportedly figured prominently in their discussion.

    As for the Jordanians, former Prime Minister Abdel Salam Al Majali now argues that confederation would solve one of the kingdom's most pressing internal problems: A majority of Jordanians are of Palestinian descent, a fact that often draws Jordan into the maelstrom of Palestinian politics. The new state would feature two legislative assemblies. The first, based in the West Bank, would represent all Palestinians - including those who already live inside Jordan and hold Jordanian citizenship. The country's current assembly would be reserved for East Bank Jordanians, members of tribes which generally support the monarchy.

    In addition, some Jordanians believe confederation would make Jordan a major regional player. Though King Abdullah will keep his distance when the plan is discussed publicly, it's unlikely that Al Majali would forward the idea without tacit approval from his king.

    It's not just Jordan's elite that finds the idea appealing. Some within the Muslim Brotherhood, mostly Palestinian Jordanians with ties to Hamas, are inclined to consider the idea, since their presence within a new Palestinian assembly would give them greater legislative influence than they command within Jordan's Parliament.

    It's no mystery why many Israelis will consider the idea. If implemented, the country would receive security guarantees from Jordan's pro-Western monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president.

    That serious people on all sides are discussing the idea says something important about relations between Israelis and Palestinians: Though the conflict seems interminable, the status quo can't last forever. Too many on all sides want relief from the miseries of constant struggle. For now, confederation is simply a bridge too far. But few still believe that peace without painful compromise is possible.

    Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy...